30 JUNE 2020


The albums below are "Classical Releases Of Current Key Significance," or "CROCKS", if you will. To purchase an album, simply click on one of the Web site retail outlets given in the "AVAILABILITY" table under the write-up.

The album cover may not always appear.
Draeseke: Cpte Stg Qts V1 (Nos. 1 & 2); Constanze Qt [CPO]
With this recent CPO release, German composer Felix Draeseke (1825-1913), makes a welcome return to these pages (see 30 April 2017). It gives us the first two of his three string quartets, these being the only recordings of them currently available on disc.

Felix's music is grounded in that of Beethoven (1770-1827), Mendelssohn (1809-1847) and Schumann (1810-1856). That said, when it came to the opposing camps of Wagner (1813-1883) versus Brahms supporters, Draeseke was very much aligned with the former. He even spent time with Richard at his villa on Lake Lucerne in Switzerland.

You'll also find his creative output has affinities with the works of Max Reger (1873-1916) and even Richard Strauss (1864-1949), although he was frequently very critical of the latter. In that regard, the pedantic album notes paint him as somewhat of a curmudgeon.

Both Quartets are four-movement works, and the First (C minor, Op. 27; 1880) opens with a sonata-form one, marked allegro risoluto (fast and tenacious) [T-1]. This has a vivacious, introductory riff (VI) [00:01], portending the opening theme, which is a troubled thought (VT) that soon appears [00:16], followed by a related, coquettish tune (VC) [01:04].

VC along with VT bridge into a consummate development [02:42], where the composer treats us to a new, VI-VT-VC-derived, searching thought [03:27]. Then VI initiates a recapitulation [04:18] with nostalgic titbits of past ideas and a VC-triggered coda [06:45]. The latter has wisps of sadness and a surprise, forte "So there!" cadence [07:25] that ends the movement demonstratively.

Next, a highly chromatic, contemplative, Wagner-like Largo (Slow) [T-2], which is in two parts, each being through-composed. The first takes the form of a moving lament [00:01]. It has some pizzicato [04:17] that calls up a somewhat, songful second [04:33], which closes things with a tiny ray of hope.

Then the mood turns sanguine in the following scherzoesque third movement. Here "Minuetto" outer sections based on a VC-related, delicate dance tune (VD) [00:01 & 04:02] surround a flighty "Intermezzo" [02:49-04:01] [T-3], featuring a playful version of VD.

This sets the stage for the concluding Presto con fuoco (Very fast and fiery) [T-4] that commences with a runaway version of VT (VR) [00:00]. VR adjoins a flowing, companion melody (VF) [00:49], which is succeeded by a splash of VR [01:27] and engenders a brief, serenade-like segment [01:36].

The latter gives way to a caesura and the momentary return of VR [02:07]. It has a tiny pizzicato postscript, and after an anticipatory pause, fathers a fetching fugue [02:29] that transitions into the return of VF [03:43]. Then there's a big tune repeat of VF [04:02], and it plays a game of developmental tag with VR. This calls up a spirited coda [05:32], which ends the work 🙂ingly.

At one point the composer wrote that the Second Quartet (E minor, Op. 35; 1886) was dearest to him for its warmth of feeling (see the album notes). This seems born out in the amatory, odd numbered movements, the first being a sonata-formish, allegro moderato (moderately fast) marked one [T-5]. It begins with three, connected amatory ideas that are respectively pining (AP) [00:04], compassionate (AC) [01:22] and sighing (AS) [01:57].

AP as played by the violin, then serves to introduce the intricate, chromatically colored development [02:38] and subsequent recapitulation [04:44], where there are tender memories of AC [05:18] and AS [06:20]. These are followed by AP on the cello [06:41], which is picked up by the other instruments, giving rise to agitated passages. But the foregoing suddenly die away into nostalgic, AP afterthoughts [07:16] and a scurrying coda [07:47] that concludes the movement perfunctorily.

The allegro vivace (lively and spirited) "Scherzo" [T-6] has capricious, outer passages of Mendelssohnian persuasion. They surround a melodically related, pensive trio marked un poco più largo (a little more broadly) [01:40-03:29], which bears a rhythmic similarity to the mazurka.

Then the mood becomes loving in the third Adagio molto espressivo (Relaxed and very expressive) [T-7], which might best be described as a "Theme and transformations". Here an extended melodic line undergoes three sublime, adjoining treatments [00:01, 02:56 & 06:15]. They bring to mind those continuous passages of music found in Richard Wagner's later works, such as the Liebestod (Love death) scene that ends his opera Tristan und Isolde (1857-59).

The infectious, sonata-rondo, finale has an AC-derived, tarantella-like first theme (AT) whose opening brings to mind the Beethoven Pastoral Symphony (No. 6, Op. 68; 1808), frolicsome, third movement's initial measures. AT makes a seamless transition into a related, rhapsodic second idea (AR) [00:48], which is another of those extended Draeseke melodies.

AR engenders an animated development [02:27], where AT fuels a fugue [02:54]. This is gradually overtaken by the return of AR [beginning at 03:24]. But AT suddenly reappears [05:33], powering a rondoesque recapitulation with intermittent wisps of AR [beginning at 06:16]. The music then wanes into nostalgic reminders of AP (see above) [beginning at 07:22] and an excited coda [08:07] that brings the work to a no-nonsense conclusion.

These groundbreaking performances are by the Constanze Quartet (CQ), which is based in Salzburg, Austria, some 150 miles west of Vienna. It specializes in works by past composers still awaiting discovery, and the CQ's talented, lady musicians' (violinists Emeline Pierre & Esther Gutiérrez Redondo, violist Sandra García Hwung, cellist Marion Platero) careful attention to phrasing, tempos and dynamics, bring out all the subtilties of this intricately structured music.

Made during late 2017 at Kirche der Christengemeinschaft (Christian Community Church) located in Salzburg, the recordings project a generous sonic image in affable surroundings. The CQ artists are comfortably spaced from left to right in the same order as listed above, and well balanced against one another.

The sound is characterized by glassy highs, a pleasant midrange and lean bass. In that regard, some may find the string tone somewhat richer on headphones as opposed to speakers. However, everything considered, this disc gets an "Audiophile" rating.

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (, Y200630)

- AVAILABILITY - Records International

The album cover may not always appear. The album cover may not always appear.
Skoryk: Vn Concs V1 (Nos. 1-4); Bielow/Sirenko/Ukr NSO [Naxos]
Skoryk: Vn Concs V2 (Nos. 5-9); Bielow/Sirenko/Ukr NSO [Naxos]
Ukrainian composer Myroslav Skoryk's (1938-2020) terrific orchestral arrangements of Niccolò Paganini's (1782-1840) 24 Caprices for Solo Violin (Op. 1; 1802-17) was one of last year's "Best Finds" (see 28 February 2019). What's more, he also penned nine concertos for that instrument, the Seventh of which appeared on a Naxos CD of some six years ago (see 8 September 2014).

Now with the two recently released albums pictured above, they give us another version of that along with world premiere recordings of all the others. The first four are on the disc to the left (DL), and the remaining five fill out that on the right (DR). All of them are wonderful, single-movement works, each of which lasts around fifteen minutes. Incidentally, with Myroslav's passing of just a few days ago, we dedicate this recommendation to his memory.

Proceeding chronologically, No. 1 [DL, T-1] dates from 1969 and is in three adjoining parts, the initial one being a "Recitative". This starts with an ominous stroke on the tam-tam [00:01] and high note for the soloist [00:02], who launches into a disputatious discourse with the orchestra that the album notes by the composer say is based on Carpatho-Ukrainian folk material. It has virtuosic, cadenza-like violin passages [beginning at 01:45] with arresting, brass and percussion embellishments.

Then there's a pause and knock on a wooden block [05:13], announcing the subsequent "Intermezzo" section, where the violin plays a flowing, Slavic-sounding melody [05:15]. This undergoes an eerie exploration [07:48], and some pizzicato [08:07] calls up tutti passages, out of which a chorale-like tune for the winds materializes (CT) [09:15 & 09:55].

CT invokes some pugnacious outbursts from the soloist and orchestra [10:33]. These give way to another pause followed by, the third part that's a cheeky "Toccata", beginning with a saucy, halting tune for the violin (SH) [11:32]. And are those wisps of the melody for that old harbinger of doom, the Dies Irae (DI) [12:16-12:26], which the composer's famous, compatriot Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943) frequently quoted.

Here vivacious, martial, violin-dominated passages, give way to a serenade-like afterthought [14:17]. Then a frenetic, drum-accented, SH-based episode [15:29] ends the Concerto with some fiddle fireworks and a final forte orchestral chord.

Twenty years would pass before Skoryk wrote another work in this genre! His No. 2 of 1989 is a single "Moderato" [DL, T-2] that might best be described as a theme-and-variations (T&V) in a sonata-form superstructure. It has an opening statement with a tutti preface [00:00], over which the soloist plays an oneiric, lyrical main subject (OL) [00:09].

Subsequently, OL undergoes several transformations of varying disposition. The first of them range from cheerful [01:19] to songish [02:01] with avian accents [02:29], pining [02:38] and capricious [03:12]. Next, there's a choralelike one [03:45] having wisps of that DI mentioned above [04:32], as well as bird calls [04:59]. It's followed by a flighty treatment [05:21], demanding cadenza [07:04-08:55] and frenetic tutti passages [08:57].

These wax and wane into a substantial pause [10:06] and OL-initiated recapitulation [10:10]. Here the music turns increasingly animated [11:20] and becomes a moving epilogue [12:04] with what seems like the sound of distant church bells. This builds and dies away, bringing the Concerto to a tranquil conclusion.

Myroslav's Third (2001) [DL, T-3] begins atypically with a cadenza for the soloist that's a "Moderato" marked, spastic, fugato-tinged utterance (SF) [00:00], momentarily accompanied by twittering woodwinds [01:27-01:55]. SF is then picked up by the orchestra [02:16] and undergoes a pensive, "Espressivo" ("Expressive") examination. This becomes quite lyrical, and after a bit of agitation [04:29], makes a chorale-like transition [beginning at 05:15] into a fidgety, "Rubato" ("Syncopated") episode for all [07:09].

This is a funeral march, which gives way to SF-related, fidgety passages [09:58] that become increasingly pronounced. They have plenty of fiddle fireworks, and fade into a hanging, tam-tam-underscored, high note for the soloist that ends the work morosely.

It seems the Fourth Concerto (2003) [DL, T-4], which also starts "Moderato", has programmatic associations of a seismic nature. Moreover, the composer infers it opens with a sustained, "earth's crust" chord for the orchestra [00:01], under which there are tamtam-timpani-accented, "earthquake" tremors. Then the violin enters playing an extended, searching theme (ES) [00:02].

ES undergoes a dramatic examination, and the music gives way to an animated, virtuosic episode [04:21]. This transitions into a moment of respite [06:06], followed by woodblock-knock-accented, equine, hoofbeat-like passages [07:38]. These engender three, "stampeding" episodes [08:41, 10:13 & 11:58], the last of which falls away into nostalgic, violin reminders of ES [12:26]. They adjoin a bustling afterthought [13:55] and some quirky violin work [15:07]. But in the end, a sudden, percussive fortissimo concludes the work and this disc with a 9.5-magnitude, seismic jolt.

Both releases have the same musicians, production staff and recording location. Consequently, commentary regarding all these performances and their sound will be found at the end of this write-up.

Moving to the album pictured on the right, we first get Skoryk's Fifth Concerto (2004) [DR, T-1], which is at heart another T&V. It begins "Moderato" in the orchestra with a couple of forte, major-triad (FMT) chords [00:01] -- shades of the Beethoven (1770-1827) Eroica Symphony's (No. 3, 1803) opening measures. They give way to the main subject that's a gently swaying idea (GS) presented by the soloist [00:13].

GS then undergoes a variety of transformations that range from jazzy [01:33[ to yearning [01:51], flighty [03:28] with a pizzicato tidbit [04:35-04:59], meandering [05:00], antic [05:49], hymnlike [06:43] and doleful [07:33]. Then an agitated treatment [09:32] succeeded by a pause, turns frenetic [11:06].

This comes to a climax [12:02], which bridges via capricious, FMT-GS-based passages [12:30] into back-to-back cadenzas [12:53 & 13:21]. These call up orchestral fugato fragments of the opening measures [13:48] along with some fancy fiddling that end the work definitively with six, alternately, octave-spaced FMTs [14:46].

The next Concerto (No. 6; 2009) [DR, T-2] is yet another T&V that gets off to a "Moderato", orchestral start [00:00], this time with two raucous, dissonant, forte chords succeeded by a subdued one. They set the tone for a sorrowful, Slavic sounding, binary theme (SB) played by the soloist, which has a weeping first part [00:19] and sobbing second [01:02].

SB subsequently undergoes five transformations, that vary from march-like [01:37] to gently rocking [02:44], flighty [03:26] melancholy [03:59] and reverent [04:38]. Then a cadenza-initiated [06:15], violin-fireworks-filled treatment gives rise to respectively tragic [07:02] and frenetic [08:14] ones. The latter ends with a weary violin [09:17] that calls up whimsical, percussion-brass-tinged passages [09:32].

These bridge into a violin-triggered [11:38], terrific, joyful, Russian dance, which ends in percussive, tam-tam-laced mayhem [13:06] and a sudden pause. Then a stretto-introduced coda [13:25], having sad memories of SB, concludes the Concerto with a violin flourish [14:46] and definitive, forte, orchestral chord [14:49].

Its immediate, "Moderato" marked successor (No. 7; 2011) [DR, T-3] begins like a funeral march with repeated, step-like strokes on the bass drum [00:00], where the soloist enters between the seventh and eighth, playing an angular, striding theme (AS) [00:06]. This is followed by a comely, aria-like one (CA) [01:08].

The foregoing material is then explored [01:29], giving way to an engaging, "Espressivo" development [04:58]. It's highlighted by a triumphal outburst [06:15], Gypsy dance [07:08] and humongous, demanding cadenza. This starts with plucky pizzicato passages [08:12], after which there's a pause followed by searching, bowed ones [09:28].

The latter call up a frenzied tutti rejoinder [11:52] that gives way to nostalgic memories of CA [12:03], which adjoin bustling, AS-reminiscent thoughts [14:15]. They invoke a curt, violin outcry [14:44], brass shriek [14:53], and bass drum stroke [14:56], which ends the work like it began.

Subtitled "Allusion to Chopin", the Eighth Concerto (2011) [DR, T-4], like the Fourth [DL, T-4], has programmatic connotations. Moreover, the composer tells us it was written to honor the 200th anniversary of that great Polish composer's (1810-1849) birth. Accordingly, Skoryk combines "quotations" from Frédéric's solo piano oeuvre, such as his Preludes (1834-41), Mazurkas (1830-49) and Sonatas (1828-44), with ideas of his own. What's more, he says the music is a representation of events in Chopin's life and his premature death; however, no further details are given.

Generally speaking, this work is austere compared to its eight companions. Moreover, it opens "Andante" with ominous, drum-roll-underscored, shimmering strings [00:00] and antsy passages [00:20]. These give way to the soloist intoning a lovely melody (LM) [01:56] based on his Frédéric's Prelude in E minor (Op. 28, No. 4; 1836-39), which was apparently played at his funeral.

LM is contemplated and followed by a vivacious development [04:16] that wanes into a capricious, mazurka-tinged tidbit [04:52], which turns meditative [05:25]. Then there's a pause and skittish bridge [06:33] into an idea for the violin [06:57], seemingly derived from the Mazurka in C major (Op. 67, No. 3; 1835}.

The latter is food for some inspired thoughts [07:44] that adjoin a frenetic episode [08:36], after which there's a grim motif (GM) [10:10] hinting at his Second Sonata's (B♭ minor, Op. 35; 1839) third movement entitled "Marche funèbre" ("Funeral March"). Subsequently, GM is dramatically explored, and that DI, which we mentioned in regard to the First Concerto [DL, T-1], makes a campanological entrance [11:08].

This builds to a horrendous climax, followed by a restive pause [12:51]. Then there's a DI-based, killer cadenza [12:56], after which more tolling bells [14:39] and a sighing passage invoke a DI-LM-derived, reverent epilogue [14:54]. It ends the work despairingly with a percussively-spiked, death rattle [16:55], frightful shriek [17:15], and heart-stopping drum stroke [17:19].

Things turn a bit brighter in No. 9 of 2014 [DR, T-5]. This opens "Moderato" with another of those Skoryk binary themes, the one here being reflective (RB). It has a sighing, tutti, first part (RS) [00:00] followed by a wistful second (RW) played by the violin [00:32]. RB is then explored [01:55], and followed by several treatments that range from flighty [02:51] to jazz-like [03:48], regal [04:27], scampering [05:19], big-tune [05:28], as well as threnodiol [06:07].

The latter gives way to a whimsical episode [07:59] with fiddle fireworks and the triumphant return of RS in the orchestra [10:00]. This wanes into nostalgic allusions to RW played by the soloist [10:39], which adjoin subdued memories of RS for all [12:07]. These make an agitated bridge [13:01] into soulful violin reminders of (RW) [13:16] and a thoughtful pause. Then a forte brass chord [14:03] ends the work dogmatically.

The composer's compatriot, violinist Andrej Bielow, along with the Ukrainian National Symphony Orchestra (UNSO) under their Artistic Director and Chief Conductor, Volodymyr Sirenko, give technically stunning, superb accounts of all nine concertos. Considering the rarity of this music, they'll probably be the definitive performances of them for some time to come.

The recordings were made on nine separate dates between February 2015 and 2016 at the National Radio of Ukraine's Great Concert Studio in Kiev (also spelled "Kyiv"), some 250 miles north of Odessa (also spelled "Odesa"). They project a generous sonic image in a reverberant, enriching venue with the soloist positioned just left of center. Pan Bielow's violin is beautifully captured and balanced against the massive forces of the UNSO called for in these brilliantly scored works. Moreover, the string tone here is as good as it gets on conventional CDs.

The overall instrumental timbre is characterized by a bright, but pleasant high end, rich midrange, and clean bass that goes down to rock bottom. Both releases are demonstration quality and easily earn "Audiophile" ratings. This and their highly interesting musical content make them strong candidates for "Best Finds" of 2020. In that regard, sound enthusiasts may want to take them along on their next high-end shopping expedition.

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (, Y200629, Y200628)

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The album cover may not always appear.
Stöhr, R.: Ste for Fl, Vn, Vc & Pno; Stg Qt 2; Stg Qt 3 ("Serenade" mvmt only), Various Soloists [Toccata]
Over the past five years Toccata has given us some outstanding chamber music by Austrian-born and trained Richard Stöhr (1874-1967; see 30 April 2018), who emigrated to the US in 1939, where he changed his last name to "Stoehr". Now they follow up with more of the same on this release from last January. The three works included here were written in 1942-43, when he was an instructor at St. Michael's College, Colchester, Vermont. All are first recordings, which further show what a master he was at creating and manipulating interrelated themes.

The opening selection is his four-movement Suite for Flute, Violin, Cello and Piano (Op. 76; 1942). This unusual combination of instruments suggests the composer, then known as Stoehr, may have written it for musicians he'd met in America.

It gets underway with a ternary, A-B-A "Prelude" [T-1], where the piano first introduces a grave (serious), chromatic motif [00:00]. This hints at a modal, reverent theme (MR) soon played by the other instruments [00:10], which becomes the subject matter for both "A"s. On the other hand, "B" [02:56-04:03] is based on a poco agitato (somewhat excited), MR-related, flighty tune. But the final "A" ends the movement tranquilly much like it began.

The next one titled "Waltz" [T-2] is a delightful tempo di valse (waltz speed) creation that harkens back to Richard's days in Vienna. It's based on a cousin of MR that takes the form of a playful thematic nexus (MP) [00:00]. MP is repeated [01:24] and followed by a somewhat sorrowful treatment [02:48-04:02]. However, this makes a perky bridge into piano reminders of MP [05:33], which call up an antsy coda for all [05:45] that ends the movement excitedly.

Then there's "Morning Devotion in the Woods" [T-3], which is a charming, programmatic tidbit. It starts quasi recitativo (like a recitative) with avian flute calls (ACs) [00:00], answered by chirps from the other instruments. After that, the cello plays an andante religioso (slow and religious), MR-related, gorgeous melody (MG) [01:14], which considering the movement's title, could well be a paean to nature.

MG subsequently engenders a winsome serenade [02:18], having some somber, MG-related thoughts [04:08, 05:43 & 08:21]. It gives way to more ACs [09:07 & 10:10] and the return of MG [09:30] that ends the movement tranquilly.

The closing "Introduction and Finale" [T-4] opens with an andante (slow) preface for the piano and strings, where they intone an MR-like, melancholy melody (MM) [00:00]. But the music suddenly shifts gears in an allegro (fast) episode, marked doppio movimento (twice the movement), which starts with a jolly version of MM (MJ) [00:55]. It contains a couple of spirited countersubjects, the first being an impish number (MI) for the flute [01:10], and the second, a whimsical tune spun out by the violin (MW) [01:41].

MW is then the subject of a captivating examination [02:34], followed by nostalgic memories of MJ [03:35]. These trigger a hora-like, dance episode [04:25], having a sentimental piano solo [05:21-05:54]. Then bits of MJ [06:12], MI [06:27] and MW [06:51] bridge into a subito fortissimo (suddenly strong) cadence that ends the work definitively.

Richard would write five string quartets. The first two were composed in Austria sometime prior to 1939 (specific dates not readily available) and include a G minor one, which remains in manuscript, as well as another in D minor (Op. 22). Then shortly after moving to the US, he'd pen the others that are respectively in E♭ major (Op. 86; 1942), A minor (Op. 92; 1943) and E minor (Op. 114; 1945-46). That said, this release is filled out with music from his earlier American efforts, which the album notes refer to as Quartets "No. 2" and "No. 3".

No. 2 (E♭ major, Op. 86; 1942), is in four movements and has an allegro moderato (moderately fast), sonata-form-like opener [T-5]. This commences with a casual, meandering idea (CM) [00:00] adjoining a related, skittish riff (CS) [01:18] that gives way to a graceful countersubject (CG) [01:38]. CG is then contemplated, and CM initiates a deft development [04:13], followed by a CM-CG-invoked recapitulation [06:40].

The latter includes a serenade-like exploration of the foregoing ideas that bridges delicately into somber memories of them. These are punctuated with a forte whiff of CM [10:36], which brings the movement to a perfunctory conclusion.

The subsequent "Scherzo" [T-6] is a presto (fast) trinket with CS-tinged, pixilated passages that could be out of Mendelssohn's (1809-1847) music for A Midsummer Night's Dream (1826-42). They alternate with related, waltzlike, yearning ones [beginning at 01:31] and close this music in airy fashion.

Next, there's a moving adagio mesto (sorrowfully slow) [T-7] movement, having a searching, chromatic preface. This materializes into a melancholy idea (SM) [00:47], which brings to mind subdued moments in Dvořák's (1841-1904) American String Quartet (No.12, Op. 96, B. 179; 1893). Then SM bridges [01:27] with some underlying pizzicato [01:41] into a poco animato (somewhat animated) warm theme (SW) [01:44].

SW shines forth [02:54] over a pizzicato cello, walking bass [03:00], and there's a remembrance of SM [04:57-05:54]. But SW resurfaces [05:55] only to become saturnine [06:53], thereby ending the movement in the same mood it began.

The final one marked allegro giusto (lively and precise) [T-8] is an infectious rondo with a sassy introduction followed by a pert, folk-dance-like number (PF) [00:18] that's explored. Then there's a pizzicato-initiated repeat of PF [01:18] wrapped around a wistful version of itself (PW) [01:52].

Subsequently, PF undergoes several treatments, ranging from playful [02:40 & 02:57] to hymnlike [03:12], plucky [03:48], songlike [04:23], yearning [04:49], tender [05:09] and snappish [05:29]. These terminate in a frenetic poco presto (somewhat fast) coda [05:50], having a last reminder of PF [05:52[ along with some closing, chromatic machinations [06:16], which end the work excitedly.

Filling things out, Toccata gives us a teaser, namely only the second of the four movements that comprise the Quartet No. 3 (A minor, Op. 92; 1943). Titled "Serenade" [T-9], it's another ternary structure (see above), but this time around, the "A"s are based on an innocent, lullaby-like melody (IL) [00:00]. They surround a "B" [01:55], where the music might be compared to honeybees buzzing around an IL-related nest. Be that as it may, the last "A" [04:23] brings the movement to a soporific conclusion.

This release features talented, Canadian flautist Conor Nelson as well as six superb US musicians, namely violinists Velda Kelly, Priscilla Johnson and Judith Teasdle, violist Susan Schreiber, cellist Stefan Koch, plus pianist Mary Siciliano. Nelson, Kelly, Koch and Siciliano deliver a captivating performance of the Suite. It's followed by sensitive accounts of the Quartets, where Mr. Koch is joined by Mss. Johnson, Teasdle and Schreiber.

These recordings were made on several occasions in a 2014-19 timeframe. As on Toccata's previous Stöhr release (see 30 April 2018), they took place at The Brookwood Studio, Plymouth, Michigan, and present a comfortably sized sonic image in warm surroundings, where there's no feeling of that confinement sometimes associated with studio venues.

The artists are well positioned and balanced against one another. More specifically, moving from left to right, the Suite features a cello-violin-piano-flute lineup, while the Quartets find the instruments placed in order of increasing size. All in all, this disc earns an "Audiophile Stripe".

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (, Y200627)

Amazon Records International