String Sextet in G, Op.15
Piano Quintet in C, Op.22
Copenhagen Classic with Christina Bjørkøe (piano)
Recorded in October 1999 (Op.15) & March 2003 in the Concert Hall of Danmarks Radio
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: November 2005
CD No: CPO 777 062-2
Duration: 71 minutes
Louis Glass (1864-1936), the Danish composer, is here represented by two very attractive chamber works. Pivoting around the Schubert/Brahms axis (although neither overtly nor in heavyweight manner), and with the transparent honesty and folk-inflected melodies that remind of Dvořák, both pieces here are full of heart, infectious dance measures, soulful lyricism, and unpredictable timbres and harmonies.
The String Sextet (two each of violins, violas and cellos) begins in impetuous fashion, a burst of energy that is sustained across the whole movement – quite striking – and with a lilt that seems moulded with spontaneity. The slow movement has a Schubertian feel – ‘Death and the Maiden’ comes to mind, fleetingly –, the following scherzo has bounce and attack, and the finale (the longest movement) is open-hearted and purposeful, Glass ensuring that the contrasted subjects are fully developed and that the movement is a proper culmination.
The ambitious Piano Quintet (nearly 40 minutes) begins in regal fashion, a triumphant march, this opening movement rich in spaciously stated song-and dance ideas heroically sounded (piano and strings in accord). More winsome material appears later, and the Molto Adagio that follows initially explores darker territory before lighting and shading in Variation-form a Theme that seems to come from nowhere. Both the scherzo and finale are charming and folksy, enjoyably carefree, and deftly written; admirers of Saint-Saëns will be on home-ground.
The performances are technically excellent and well-balanced (both by Copenhagen Classic and guest pianist, Christina Bjørkøe, and in the production itself – the sound is full and vivid). The musicians’ own craft and their appreciation of Glass’s music is praiseworthy. A release well worth investigating.