Ernest Bloch / Kocian Quartet / Ivan Klánský - The Two Piano Quintets (2003), 7/10

One of the best examples of a perfectly executed interpretation of a score. This quintet captures the feeling and momentum from every moment in each piece, drawing out maximum emotional potential from each movement. It is almost laughable how superior this recording is in comparison to others that are available, particularly in streaming services. Bloch composed a thoroughly violent yet delicate piece of music in his quintets, and the performers excel in bringing out both the aggression and the subtle touches of delicacy in each. The Czech group, particularly Klánský on piano, exert a complete understanding of the compositions backed with a depth of performance experience that results in a truly beautiful and mournful, yet radiant listening experience. There are a number of emotions and motifs explored that all feel surprisingly cinematic and tangible despite their grand gestures, creating a narrative that can be easily visualized as well as heard through these expressive performances. The two bookend sections of each piece, along with perhaps the fifth movement, carry the heaviest weight as supremely varied and discrete phrases that exhibit the greatest sense of both elation and grief. Still, even the less variable passages carry a grace that is essential to their impact, making it an impressively consistent recording. While yes, I have an affinity for chamber works with these particular aesthetics, I cannot deny the album’s power as an exceptional recording.