Early music wins the laurels this month, from Jordi Savall’s medieval fiddle to David Skinner’s William Byrd and a trifecta of Handelian delights.
Here are two exceptional reissues. The Brahms consists of 1980s recordings featuring András Schiff with the Takács Quartet in the F Minor Piano Quintet, and with Viennese colleagues in the Horn and Clarinet Trios. VPO principal clarinetist Peter Schmidl is heard in the Clarinet Quintet.
If that weren’t enough, Schiff plays the four-hand Variations on a Theme of Schumann, joined by
no less a partner than Georg Solti. This fine collection covers works from all periods of Brahms’s life, but is especially recommendable for the autumnal late works. An interesting comparison may be made with the heart-on-sleeve Clarinet Quintet played by a Viennese ensemble of an earlier era, in the massive but treasurable Westminster Chamber Music collection. Fascinating generational differences.
The ASMF disc restores Argo recordings from 1968 when Neville Marriner still played violin with the ensemble. Boccherini’s late quintet (one of over a hundred of the composer’s works in this form) is typically gentle and mellifluous, while Mendelssohn’s Octet is a recognised masterpiece. Both are very well played, though I think the Academy’s English good manners suit Boccherini better.