George ONSLOW: String Quintet, Piano Sextet – Ma’alot Quintet / Markus Becker (piano) / Nabil Shehata (bass) – DG Gold Hybrid

by | Feb 13, 2018 | Classical Reissue Reviews

Nicely performed and recorded music from an obscure composer now returning to some popularity. 

George Onslow: Quintet Op. 81; Sextet Op. 30 – Ma’alot Quintet with pianist Markus Becker and double bass Nabil Shehata. DG Gold Hybrid SACD MDG 903 2012-6 (2/23/18) TT: 56:02

You’ll be forgiven if the name George Onslow doesn’t leap into your mind when thinking of classical composer, but he was quite influential at his peak in the 1820s and 30s. He wrote many chamber pieces, 4 symphonies and 4 operas. After his death in 1853 he became a bit lost to classical listeners, but of late there have been recordings of his works that have met with modern favor.

This new multi-channel disk from DG Gold offers two works by Onslow, including the Quintet Op. 81 and the Sextet Op. 30.

Performed by the Ma’alot Quintet with pianist Markus Becker and double bass Nabil Shehata, this is a fine collection of Onslow’s music. He has a style all his own, and I’m hearing both German and English references.

Both works are a good listen, and I’ll seek out his symphonic works to get another window into his style.

Audio wise the disc is not a sonic spectacular because of the nature of the music. But it is a fine recording. I listened to the SACD layer, and found it full of life in a laid back sort of way. The surround channels were not very active, being reserved for hall ambiance. Altho it is a 5.1 disc, the subwoofer channel was almost inaudible, not because of a recording defect, but the instruments just don’t have much low end. This disc also contains a layer with a 2 2 2 format, more popular in Europe as a surround feature, it never caught on in the U.S.

Onslow is an interesting composer, although pretty much off the radar of many classical listeners.

I liked this disc, so, as mentioned, I will seek out of his music more to get a more complete picture of his talents.

—Mel Martin

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