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Paul L Althouse
American Record Guide, September 2010

Franck’s Piano Quintet, one of his finest works, is an intense, often dark affair with typical French attributes—clarity, balance, wit, poise—overrun by a dark seriousness that sounds somewhat Germanic...the urgency is there, but without the suggestion of overplaying. Biret, as we would expect, plays very well...and the quartet (with Carl Pini as first violinist) is fine...This disc is filled out with Mahler’s one-movement Piano Quartet, the earliest Mahler work to come down to us. Even though he was younger than Franck by some 38 years, his work was written earlier (probably 1876 vs 1879). In later life Mahler recognized this work was quite derivative; indeed, the working out of the ideas is formulaic. But it’s not at all a bad piece, particularly for a 16-year-old.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, May 2010

Continuing the recordings originally made for the American label, Finnadar, these performances from the Turkish-born pianist, Idil Biret, are making their first international appearance. The single movement work from Mahler’s student days is of no real importance apart from showing the quantum leap he took when writing his first symphony following on the influences of Brahms and Dvořák he shows here. It is Franck’s Piano Quintet that is the disc’s main attraction, the introduction smouldering with the feel that something is about to happen. That eventually erupts with Biret’s outgoing flourish leading into the first Allegro, announcing a performance that will be strong in dramatic content, the movement’s closing pages working up a real head of steam. Though the central Lento looks to the song-like content, it is it’s robust and passionate quality that is the main feature before the quintet tear into the finale with an abandon that seems ready to blow the music apart, rhythms at times almost stamped out as the reading moves inexorably to the massive cumulative outburst. It is a pity the accompanying booklet, so full of praise for Biret, fails to mention anything whatsoever regarding the London String Quartet. A group by that name has existed since the early part of the 20th century, and over the years had contained many of the greatest names in British music. At the time of recording it had the admirable Carl Pini as the leader, the group’s excellent intonation having at the lower end Roger Smith’s wonderfully rounded and powerful cello. The recording sessions took place in 1980 and are of satisfying quality for their age.

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