After two earlier Dvořák releases, the Trios nos.3 and 4 (Dumky) and the two Piano Quartets, Omri Epstein, Mathieu van Bellen and Ori Epstein are joined by one of their teachers at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel, the violist Miguel da Silva (founder member of the famous Quatuor Ysaÿe) and the violinist Maria Milstein, who was also an artist in residence at the Music Chapel from 2011 to 2014. Together they continue this recording of the Czech composer’s complete chamber music with keyboard, this time in the two Piano Quintets and the Bagatelles.
Deutsche Grammophon is lucky in that World War II didn't slow classical recordings in Germany as it did in the United States but stimulated them: It was essential for wartime morale. Thus, if you can get past any repugnance related to these recordings' genesis, there's a huge amount to enjoy. There's a disc of lieder by all the prewar greats (Franz Volker, Tiana Lemnitz, Erna Berger, and Heinrich Schlusnus), a disc of Wagner featuring young Hans Hotter, opera and operetta performances by Berger and Helge Roswaenge, and a disc showing how the German singers gave Italian opera a distinctively Nordic but highly communicative edge. The set is crowned by a complete Winterreise that was recorded by Peter Anders in 1945 (and sounds it): the cultivated tenor's anguished performance embodies a Germany facing the abyss. –David Patrick Stearns