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Leo Ornstein (1893-2002): Piano Quintet, Op. 92; String Quartet No. 2, Op. 99 / Marc-André Hamelin, piano; Pacifica Quartet


Notes & Reviews:

The young pianist-composer Leo Ornstein went from wowing the ladies with his virtuosity to writing a Violin Sonata in 1915 of such atonal violence that it frightened even him. By the late 1920s his style had become more rounded. In the exhilarating hands of Marc-André Hamelin and the Pacifica Quartet these performances of his Piano Quintet Op.92 and String Quartet No.2 fizz with exuberance.

Gramophone Magazine, September 2015
The Pacifica Quartet have more chance to show their mettle in the less extravagant Second String Quartet... both pieces are excellent examples of how far a composer can go on intuition, energy and talent alone.

Sunday Times, 30th August 2015
The American composer lived even longer than Elliott Carter, who esteemed him...The three-movement Piano Quintet and String Quartet No 2 are weighty, spirited utterances in a style hard to seize as Ornsteinian, but worth attention, especially when performed with such panache.

The Guardian, 9th September 2015
Forcefully rhythmic passages built from repeating patterns alternate with sweeping, rhapsodic paragraphs; the Quintet especially is full of eastern harmonic inflections. Pianist Marc-AndrT Hamelin and the Pacifica Quartet are whole-hearted advocates, though even they can't disguise the fact that Ornstein's obsessive treatment of small blocks of musical material becomes monotonous in both works.


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