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Dvorak Piano Quintets

in A major, Opp. 5 & 81

Ivan Klánsky & Vlach String Quartet

Naxos 8.555377 [62 mins]

Having been a loyal follower of the Guarneri Trio Prague for their UK appearances and Supraphon CDs I was naturally eager to hear their pianist Ivan Klánsky in the Dvorak quintets. No 2 is an imperishable favourite, first performed in 1888. The earlier one (1972-87) still failed to quite satisfy the composer on its revision and wrote the other quickly in 1987.

It is good to have both together and its very unfamiliarity is a recommendation; one hears known and unknown music quite differently, and one of each makes for a good listening experience. The processes are clear to follow and thoroughly characteristic of this most genial and companionable of composers.

The Vlach Quartet takes the name of the famous quartet of an earlier generation, when Czech string quartets were the world leaders; many collectors will have the complete Dvorak string quartets box of LPs, some of them by the the original Vlachs. This quartet was founded in 1982 as the New Vlach Quartet, subsequently dropping the "New". Their playing with Klánsky has the same quality of mutual attentiveness and responsiveness that I have long treasured with the Guaneri Trio; at £4.99 no more needs to be said!

- - Ivan Klánsky is a great pianist and a great chamber music pianist, never afraid to take centre stage briefly and to display a wide dynamic range from delicate to commanding, yet constantly watching his colleagues - -

Pianist Ivan Klansky has a wonderful way of balancing without needing to avoid playing loud and eschewing domination as appropriate. His pedalling helps to ensure clarity at all times

(This coupling was recorded by Richter & the Borodin String Quartet - n.l.a, but you can hear excerpts on Amazon.)


© Peter Grahame Woolf