"The Glorious Five" by Dr Daniel Kraus
With Radio Bremen as the co-producer, the accompanying booklet does not offer a translation. But it is ultimately the responsibility of Celestial Harmonies - from Tucson, Arizona - that a German text is not supplied. This makes the extensive essay in English written by Roger Woodward even more informative.
It is unusual for a performer to provide such a well informed and intelligent
discussion of the interpreted pieces, and equally unusual for the underlying
performance principles to be discussed in such a straightforward and
sensible fashion, especially the booklet. This allows Woodward to substantiate
his claim that the present chamber version may have possibly been the
original version: "It is possible that it was in this enlarged
string form that the first private performance was accompanied by a
small chamber orchestra form when Chopin first [
All these doomsday prophets who blast the string quartet version talk about Chopin's lack of orchestration abilities, being too heavy handed, and the tuttis being too compacted especially because the Alexander Quartet and Roger Woodward selected the sound of the Boesendorfer over that of the more dazzling and powerful Steinway. By creating a rich and highly nuanced sound spectrum these glorious musicians have taken it on themselves to rehabilitate Chopin and, respectively create the most translucent sound effects.
Given that Chopin's most exceptional accomplishment lies in the fact that he somehow manages to transmit the sound of the Italian bel canto opera, especially Bellini's, to the keyboard-an instrument that is by no means designed to sing - these are the ideal Chopin interpreters. This applies to both phrasing, and articulation, and as far as the strings are concerned, to sparing, but yet powerful vibrato openings.
A piano quartet composed by a fifteen-year-old Beethoven is included as an extra gift, a piece which in many places resembles either a most professional finger excercise or talent show and in hindsight, may spark thoughts of genius. Here again it is a remarkable level of technical mastery that is displayed by the performing musicians.
February 26, 2010