* EDUARD FRANCK: String Quintet in E minor Op. 15; String Quintet in C Major Op. 51 – Christian Edinger & Tassilo Kaiser, violins/ Rainer Kimstedt & Uwe Martin Haiberg, violas/ Katharina Maechler, cello – Audite multichannel SACD 92.578, 70:46 [Distr. by Naxos] *****:
Violinist Edinger has a special thing for composer Eduard Franck, and has already done four previous recordings for Audite of his music. Eduard Franck was of Prussian origin with dates of 1817-1893, and no relation to Cesar Franck. His chamber music is considered today among his finest, and felt to show a mastery of form and a lively imagination seen in the many attractive ideas found in his works. Franck was a perfectionist and kept delaying publication of his works until they met his demanding standards; thus only a few of his compositions were published during his lifetime. He was a son of a wealthy banker and spent time around Heine, Mendelssohn and Wagner.
There was an enormous amount of chamber music written and published between 1830 and 1870 to serve a growing demand by the public—both professional and amateur. The string quintet had an almost favored position. As a student of Mendelssohn, Franck followed the classicist ideal of clarity in his writing. The chamber works of Schubert were also a strong influence. The first quintet (both of these are first recordings) opens with a feeling of melancholy, but the first movement ends in an explosion of fortissimo force. The work’s slow movement demonstrates the composer’s skill at dense contrapuntal textures.
The later quintet strikes a different idiom. It makes use of the “minor gypsy scale” and the cello enlivens the rhythmic inner tensions. The first movement directly quotes the main theme of the slow movement of Beethoven’s “Pathetique” Piano Sonata. The quintet’s finale is an extended set of variations. Both quintets demonstrate Franck’s great originality and the general high quality of his chamber works.
Audite’s hi-res surround places the five musicians in a discernible horseshoe soundstage in front of the listener, and the string tone is rich and realistic, ensuring the best possible listening experience to these fine works which come to us as “new” music.
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