Franck Piano Quintet in F minor & Fauré Piano Quintet No. 1 in D minor

Composed in 1879, the Piano Quintet in F minor by César Franck belongs to the fruitful final period of his creative life. It heralded the start of an impressive sequence of late orchestral and chamber pieces which set the seal upon his career. The Piano Quintet was premiered in Paris on 17 January 1880 by the Marsick Quartet with Saint-Saëns at the piano.

During the last quarter of the 19th century and into the 1920s, it was Gabriel Fauré who made the most substantial and lasting contribution to French chamber music. Fauré’s Piano Quintet no.1 renews the powerful concentration of his earlier Piano Quartets in its outer movements, while also looking forward to the composer’s later works in the sophisticated phrasing and chromaticism of its extended Adagio. Vibrant and spirited, it may be counted among the composer’s finest creations. Paul Conway

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“This is a forceful performance, mature in every sense, and the Wihan Quartet know how to imbue it with grand passion without lapsing into garish sentimentality and Shikimori matches them at every turn. The ensemble is immaculate with enough give and take to let individual flourishes come through, each always listening but with a different contribution to the conversation. Overall… this is a disc to savour.”

Simon Mundy, Classical Music Magazine

“Mami Shikimori is the glue that holds the Quintets together in a very tight and thoughtful manner. This allows the Wihan Quartet to capitalize on their own brand of embellished punctuations. An irresistible winner at best.”

Christie Grimstad,

“This beautifully recorded juxtaposition of two three-movement, minor-key, harmonically progressive French masterpieces — the other being Fauré’s Piano Quintet No 1 in D minor — makes for a deeply satisfying disc. Both achieve a balance of the string and keyboard forces, avoiding the clatter of an overdominant piano, and sporting exquisite tintinnabulations such as in the Franck’s central Lento or the Fauré’s opening stretch.”

Paul Driver, The Times

“Pairing César Franck's Piano Quintet in F minor and Gabriel Fauré's Piano Quintet no.1 is D minor is such a good idea – full of stimulating contrasts of mood and music – one wonders why it hasn't been done before. Franck's Quintet was premiered in 1880, at the start of his most fruitful decade, and its Wagnerian harmonies and sensuality are wafted on a cloud of Catholic incense. The Wihan Quartet tear into the con fuoco finale like men possessed, while pianist Mami Shikimori shimmers and sighs in the slow movement's half-lights, fully emphasizing Franck's sentimento direction. From Franck to Faure's Quintet (1906) is to step from the steamy emotional hothouse into a cool and gentle breeze. The F-major finale started life as the theme for the Pie Jesu of his famous Requiem and Shikimori and the Czech quartet eloquently express its warm and clear-eyed joy. The recording quality is excellent too.”

Norman Stinchcombe, Midlands Classical Music Making

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