Saturday, June 2, 2012

Alexander Melnikov and Jerusalem Quartet: Schumann: Piano Quintet, Op. 44 & Piano Quartet, Op. 47 2012

Schubert does a riff on Beethoven? Well...sort of. While bebop players are often known for "borrowing" a phrase from their contemporaries this musical practise is as old as music itself. Schumann reached an artistic impasse midway through 1842 and left behind the solo piano works of the past to look to something fresh. Despite an early passing at the age of 31 from what was then diagnosed as typhoid fever, Schumann was a prolific composer with a keen eye for detail or the subtle nuances that would separate his compositions from those of Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Schubert who were his contemporaries of that time. Chamber music made a powerful impact upon Schumann who documented that his previous solo piano work was far to restricted for his overflowing musical imagination.

The resulting works as performed by Alexander Melnikov and the Jerusalem Quartet are at times rousing with a dynamic lyrical sense of purpose. While the piano quartet would be what some jazz aficionados would call a smoker, Melnikov displays an immeasurable talent for control and to guide the dynamics of this work to a more stable conclusion. The piano quintet has the quintessential baroque style with an ebb and flow that is captivating with a nice all most layered textured effect for great warmth and character.

The Jersualem Quartet was founded in 1993 and has been on a steady climb in the classical ranks ever since. Melnikov makes a grand statement of fluidity and technique while never losing himself in the possible self indulgent air of artistic superiority but instead delivers a steady and reliable flow that would be considered well above average for these works. Impressive performances from all participants and a welcome addition to any devote of chamber music.

While Schumann's claim to fame may be the standard bearer of the early Romantic period the Chamber music offerings are further confirmation just how deep his virtuosity could go while remaining accessible in the face of numerous personal problems.

A 5 star release.