Schumann & Dvorák: Piano Quintets – review

Jonathan Biss (piano), Elias String Quartet

The fast-rising pianist Jonathan Biss attributes efficacious qualities to these two chamber music masterpieces, calling them "euphoria machines". If you could bottle what's in them, he writes in a programme note, "it might bring an end to war and pestilence; it would certainly slow the drug trade". Ambitious words, reflected in playing of wonderful exuberance and fire in both works. The Schumann, written at a time of immense industry in the composer's life, has a piano part almost as grand and challenging as a concerto. I've never thought it "utterly happy", as Biss does, but these superb players could almost convince you Schumann was looking out on a cloudless sky when he wrote it.


Fiona Maddocks

The GuardianTramp

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