American Quintets: Music by Beach, Price and Barber

A veritable cornucopia of American chamber music

American Quintets: Music by Beach, Price and Barber

Recently released (May 28), this is a somply lovely collection of chamber works performed by the imaginative Kaleidscope Ensemble.

The Kaleidoscope Ensemble was formed in 2017 as the brainchild of Tom Poster and Elena Urioste (who met va the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists scheme). The idea of a flexible make-up of players with an equally flexible repertoire all performed at the top level of excellence makes me think fo the group as a latter-day Nash Ensemble with the latter-day emphasis on dversity in all forms crafted on. The members of the Kaleidoscope Collective on this recording are Matthew Rose, bass; Elena Urioste Melissa White, violins; Rosalind Ventris, viola; Laura van der Heijden, cello and Tom Poster, piano,

The Collective found its love for Amy Beach's Piano Quintet while resident at the Cheltenham Festival. Dating from 1907, the Quintet is an impassioned, decidedly Brahmsian piece. Price was a major pianist but on marriage was forced to give her career up and sought to concentrate on composition instead;m one can hear the sure hand of a pianist in the writing. Tom Poster is fabulous here - he is clearly a magnificent chamber musician, and his string colleagues are no less impassioned first movement. More, collectively they had the full measure of the musical fabric's warp and weft:

Maybe the work's heart is the second movement. It is a masterpiece, blissfuly imaginative, heartfelt and exploratory:

Like Scriabin, Beach experienced synaesthesia - she heard music in colours. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Quintet is cast in F sharp minor (F sharp was one of Scriabin's most used keys) and certainly there is a vital feeling of key awareness. The finale, certainly, positively blazes with fire - the intensity of youth shines through.

Samuel Barber's Dover Beach, Op. 2 sets a poem by Matthew Arnold. It is one of his most beautiful scores (we met a Nocturne by Barber previously on the astonishing I and Silence disc). Matthew Rose has conssistently proved himself as one of the UK's finest singers (and we have a lot of fine singers) - but never have I heard him as imposing and convincing as here, in this rapt performance:

There is a certain beauty in the rediscovery of a sheaf of scores by Florence Beatrice Price (1887-1953) in an attic in Illinois: amongst them were two symphonies and the piece we hear here, the beautfully Romantic Piano Quintet in A Minor (the lesser-nown of her two Piano Quintets). The work uses the language of Spirituals in the second movement as well as incorporating a juba stomping dance rooted in the slave plantations of the Deep South in the third (the work then closes with a Scherzo). The first movement exudes warmth and is heard here in a simply glorious performance; but let's hear those Spirituals of the second movement:

... and, quite frnankly, I can't resist quoting the "Jota" third movement. It's so much fun, and the performance here bursts out of its studio conditions (Potton Hall, Suffolk) into a place of pure joy. and there is not only the performers' exuberance here: Price's way with her paterial also shows her throwing caution to the wind:

The Piano Quintet in A minor that receives its world première recording here, exponentially increasing the musical value of this disc.

As a "Brucie bonus," here's a full concert the Kaleidoscope Collective gave at the Wigmore Hall of music by Dvořák (Piano Quintet, Op. 87) and Coleridge-Taylor Nonet in F minor, Op. 2::

Please note the new Chandos disc is slightly discounted at the time of writing at Amazon at the link below: