Fitzwilliam String Quartet - Bruckner: Quintet & Quartet - AllMusic
Newcomers to the symphonies of Anton Bruckner often find them to be daunting works that demand considerable time, concentration, and erudition. However, a much easier entry point to his music can be found in the String Quintet in F major and the String Quartet in C minor, which have long been overshadowed by the many recordings of the symphonies in their various versions and editions, though increasing availability on CD has made them much more familiar. Characteristics that are well-known in the symphonies -- insistently repeated rhythms, somber chorales, and dramatic fanfares -- are missing in Bruckner's chamber music, though the fluid counterpoint, expansive melodies, rich harmonies, and intricate modulations that make the symphonies so fascinating can be found in the Quintet, and to a less developed degree in the Quartet. Essentially, these pieces and the intervening Intermezzo in D minor present Bruckner in a more manageable form, and the lucid performances by the Fitzwilliam String Quartetmake the music immediately intelligible and appealing. Joined by violist James Boyd in the Quintet, the ensemble produces a warm and radiant sound that dispels any worries of Brucknerian complexity, and even in the pensive Quartet, the playing is ingratiating and quite evocative of Schubert, a key influence in early Bruckner. While these performances are exceptional in technique and expression, the church setting gives the group too much resonance for the intimate nature of the music.