This is a most useful collection. The most important items (and, in fact, the only truly ‘genuine’ chamber works) are the String Quartet and Lyric Suite. The others are arrangements of more than passing interest (at least the ones by Berg himself) but it is probably the two big works that will interest collectors most.
It's hard to believe this CD was done with only a violin, viola da gama and harpsichord. This is polyphonic music at its finest. It does tribute to Buxtehude, who preceded Bach. The ensemble is perfect - the instruments complement each other. When they go from slow to fast, it is remarkable to hear the contrast. These are expert musicians with a complete mastery of their instruments. They use loud-soft as easily as any masters of the Baroque. The result is joyous, lively and entertaining.
Virgin Classics assembled an all-star team of chamber musicians to put together this five-disc set of Gabriel Fauré's complete music for strings and piano. Only the String Quartet, Op. 121, by the Quatuor Ebène, was previously released. Fauré's chamber music - with the exception of a couple of short works for cello and piano - isn't as well known outside of France as that of Debussy and Ravel, although the two piano quartets are widely admired.
Dietrich Buxtehude is probably most familiar to modern classical music audiences as the man who inspired the young Johann Sebastian Bach to make a lengthy pilgrimage to Lubeck, Buxtehude's place of employment and residence for most of his life, just to hear Buxtehude play the organ. But Buxtehude was a major figure among German Baroque composers in his own right.
This collection of the complete chamber music of Poulenc shows the varying styles that he employed. From the jazzy, bitonal passages of the Sonata for Clarinet and Bassoon and the Sonata for Horn, Trumpet and Trombone which has been described as 'Pergolesi with his wig awry' (Roger Nichols, Grove) to the profound beauty of his last three sonatas for wind. All are extremely accessible. The Nash Ensemble gave a series of concerts of Poulenc's music at the Wigmore Hall earlier this year to great critical acclaim and Hyperion are delighted to be able to present this wonderful collection on this, Poulenc's centenary year.
The complete Schumann chamber music? On just seven discs? Is that really possible?