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Piano Quartets by Beethoven, Mozart & Hummel / Ames Quartet

Album Summary

>Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus : Quintet for Piano and Winds in E flat major, K 452
>Hummel, Johann Nepomuk : Quartet for Piano and Strings in G major, Op. posth. 4 (only 2 movements)
>Beethoven, Ludwig van : Quartet for Piano and Strings in E flat major, Op. 16
Ensemble Composers

Notes & Reviews:

"Dorian Sono Luminus invites you to hear a "new" take on some famous pieces for winds, performed here by the Ames Piano Quartet in their 10th release with the label. Though most often heard in the more common versions for wind quintet, enjoy these works in their piano quartet versions published by Mozart and Beethoven, matched with the beautiful Piano quartet by Hummel. The Ames Piano Quartet, the resident chamber music ensemble at Iowa State University, holds a distinctive position in the chamber music field as one of the few professional touring piano quartets in the world. The combination of their lush string sound, blended with the orchestral quality of the piano, produces an exquisite and rare sonority. The Washington Post aptly described it as "one of the most heavenly combinations of instruments around. " This sonic treat will delight listeners with this fresh take on these popular works, not performed as they are usually heard, but with the original composer's hands guiding the way. Performed by one of the world most preeminent piano quartets, the sonorities of these arrangements are sure to delight fans of the more commonly heard wind versions, as well as lovers of piano quartet music."

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Ayrshire Farm, Upperville, VA (06/15/2010-06/17/2010).



Reviews

The Ames Piano Quartet Aims to Please
Dorian was always one of my favorite independent classical music labels. And while I was sorry to see them close up shop, I was glad that Sono Luminus bought the assets and revived the label. Dorian was always about not just top-notch performances. They were also concerned about the quality of the recorded sound. Happy to say, Sono Luminus has been continuing both traditions. The Ames Piano Quartet has been mainstay of the Dorian label for years, and their newest recording of Mozart, Hummel, and Beethoven quartets doesn't disappoint. The sound is somewhat transparent -- it doesn't sound like a studio engineer's fixed anything up. The instruments sound natural, with real presence -- very much as they would in a live performance. Because the Ames has been together for quite a while, there's a comfortable interplay between the performers as one might expect between old friends getting together. No one's the star here. These are four colleagues coming together for one purpose -- to make great music. The disc features three works from the classical era; Mozart's Piano Quartet in E-flat major, K. 452; Beethoven's Piano Quartet in E-flat major, Op. 16, and Hummel's Piano Quartet in G major. Each work has a different character, and the Ames Piano Quartet each credibly well. Mozart is sufficiently light and airy, but still played in such a way that the work's substance comes through. The Ames tackles the Beethoven quartet differently, ramping up the emotional content as one might expect. The end result is convincing, if a little on the sedate side. This is Beethoven with combed hair and an unruffled collar. That's not to say it's a bad performance at all. In fact, it tends to highlight rather than hide Beethoven's connection to the older classical style of Mozart and Haydn. Hummel probably comes off the best in this recording. Sandwiched between two giants, Hummel doesn't suffer that much by comparison. It's clear that the quartet devoted as much attention to Hummel's music as they did with Beethoven's and Mozart's. The structure of the work is well-defined, and the phrasing shows off the motives in the best possible light. Definitely an enjoyable listen. If you look at the flow of all three works, the disc starts with something uplifting and appealing, moves to something comfortable, then finishes with something dramatic -- almost like a very large three-movement work. Having the opening and closing works in the same key further carries the analogy. Surly that was all part of the plan. If you're familiar with the Ames Piano Quartet, then this a worthy addition to your collection. If not, the Hummel should be worth the price of admission, even if you have the other works. Definitely recommended.
Submitted on 02/24/11 by RGraves321 
Charming Quartet!
Three excellent examples of Chamber Music are featured on this disc: Mozart’s Quartet in E-flat Major, KV 452, Hummel’s Quartet in G Major, and Beethoven’s Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 16. The Mozart begins with charming and somewhat noble, playful music. The 2nd movement opens with some warm and introspective tunes (extremely well played), giving way to a rather punchy 3rd movement (Allegretto) with a catchy motive that forms the basis for the concluding section of the piece. Hummel’s Quartet is a short two movement work that opens with thematic material being passed from piano to strings, forming the basis for a dialog between the two that is both warm and organic. The 2nd movement opens with strings, but quickly gives way to striving piano music that leads to some rather delightful interplay between the various groups of instruments, each playing a vital and balanced part in the musical conversation – a very intellectually stimulating musical conversation. This is wonderful music that is far too infrequently performed, and this recording makes you want to hear it live. Finally, we come to Beethoven’s Quartet in E-flat Major. The 1st movement (Grave) opens with some strong chords that lead into questioning, directed music that is perfectly balanced – no instrument is too loud, or too soft, or too dominating. Rather, each gives exactly what it should and it feels just right. The 2nd movement (Andante Cantabile) starts slowly and somewhat tenderly, with the strings picking up the thematic material and mood and the piano guiding the way. This contrasts with the 3rd movement (Rondo) which starts proudly and self-confidently, and leads to sterner material, finishing rather in-between the two. This recording is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish, the music being performed in a well balanced and delightful manner, the quality of the recording is top-notch, and the liner notes are well-written and informative without being overly technical. Very highly recommended.
Submitted on 03/28/11 by KlingonOpera 
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Works Details

>Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus : Quintet for Piano and Winds in E flat major, K 452
  • Ensemble: Ames Piano Quartet
  • Notes: Ayrshire Farm, Upperville, VA (06/15/2010-06/17/2010)
  • Running Time: 26 min. 8 sec.
  • Period Time: Classical
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 1784

>Hummel, Johann Nepomuk : Quartet for Piano and Strings in G major, Op. posth. 4 (only 2 movements)
  • Ensemble: Ames Piano Quartet
  • Notes: Ayrshire Farm, Upperville, VA (06/15/2010-06/17/2010)
  • Running Time: 18 min. sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Chamber Music

>Beethoven, Ludwig van : Quartet for Piano and Strings in E flat major, Op. 16
  • Ensemble: Ames Piano Quartet
  • Notes: Ayrshire Farm, Upperville, VA (06/15/2010-06/17/2010)
  • Running Time: 25 min. 12 sec.
  • Period Time: Classical
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 1796