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‘Reaching lyrically for the stars’: Christopher O’Riley plays Fuchs

Concert Hall at the University of Memphis, captures the textures of the four rich-sounding instruments, particularly the viola and cello, to such a degree that it becomes an additional element in the musical mix. One such moment occurs when the power and tactile sound with which the first movement of the Brahms closes creates a stunning contrast with the gentle sound of the second movement’s opening bars. Laurence Vittes

Brahms . Mozart

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Brahms Clarinet Quintet, Op 115 a Mozart String Quartets b – No 20, ‘Hoffmeister’, K499; No 21, K575 a Alfred Gallodoro cl Stuyvesant Quartet Bridge F BRIDGE9397 (80’ • DDD) Recorded a 1947, b 1951

Remastered Stuyvesant tapes with the legendary Gallodoro The Stuyvesant Quartet had a relatively short life as far as string quartets are concerned. But the New York-based ensemble packed an enormous amount of activity into less than two decades, including a series of recordings that reveal the exceptional qualities these musicians brought to a varied repertoire.

The performances of works by Brahms and Mozart on this remastered issue reflect the cultured artistry the Shulman brothers –

violinist Sylvan and cellist Alan – espoused with colleagues Bernard Robbins (second violin) and Ralph Hersh (viola). Cohesion and vibrancy are hallmarks of the Stuyvesant’s style, with an emphasis on expressive urgency and subtlety of detail.

Two Mozart quartets (K499 and 575) find the ensemble in noble form, especially in slow movements, marked by playing of songful beauty. Tempi tend toward the brisk side, judiciously so, and vibrato is used with tasteful purpose, adding warmth where Mozart is at his lyrical height.

The ensemble is joined in Brahms’s Clarinet Quintet, Op 115, by Alfred Gallodoro, who had a long, distinguished career as a clarinettist (in the NBC Symphony Orchestra) and saxophonist (in the Paul Whiteman Orchestra) of remarkable fluency. (He can be heard in the latter guise in his nineties on a Bridge recording with the Harmonie Ensemble.)

Gallodoro applies magical phrasing to the expansive phrases in the Brahms and sounds effortlessly acrobatic sailing through the clarinet’s registers. His partnership with the ever-sensitive Stuyvesant is something to behold, more than six decades after these musicians set down the performance for posterity. Donald Rosenberg gramophone.co.uk

Fuchs Falling Canons a . String Quartet No 5, ‘American’ b . Falling Trio c a Christopher O’Riley pf b Delray Quartet; c Trio21 Naxos American Classics S 8 559733 (57’ • DDD)

Piano and chamber ‘trailers’ for Fuch’s opera Falling Man Kenneth Fuchs isn’t the only composer to fashion concert music from recycled operatic material. He’s not even the first American to use smaller pieces to promote bigger works to come (John Adams had pretty much announced Nixon in China with his 1985 orchestral ‘outtake’ The Chairman Dances). But few composers have gained as much mileage – or found greater range – than Fuchs’s ‘Falling’ works, which open and close this collection.

Taken from Falling Man, an extended scena for solo baritone and orchestra adapted by JD McClatchy from Don DeLillo’s post-9/11 novel, Fuchs’s Falling Canon (seven canons for solo piano) and Falling Trio (a single-movement set of variations for string trio) sound as vibrant in performance as they look prosaic in description. The counterpoint unfolds with Hindemith-like clarity, leaving its respective performers – Christopher O’Riley and Trio21 – essentially to countermand the titles of the works and reach lyrically for the stars. I’m not

GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2013 III

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