Beloved of the Gods

Gavin Dixon
MusicWeb International (UK)

The Mozart Clarinet Trio, an arrangement of themes from The Magic Flute and a Mendelssohn string quartet: this is an unusual and eclectic programme for a CD. In fact, The Magic Flute arrangement is for the same forces as the trio (clarinet, viola and piano) and Mendelssohn’s Op. 13 quartet is an example of his more Mozartean side ... the maturity of the Dean Emmerson Dean Trio in the first two works is in stark contrast to the youthful exuberance of the Tinalley String Quartet in the Mendelssohn.
The Dean Emmerson Dean Trio is made up of viola player (and respected composer) Brett Dean, his brother Paul playing clarinet and Stephen Emmerson at the piano. Their reading of the ‘Kegelstatt’ Trio is muscular and assured. Dialogue between clarinet and viola makes up much of the work, and the two brothers achieve an impressive stylistic continuity, complementing each other elegantly with their respective timbres. Paul Dean has a satisfyingly woody clarinet tone and suppleness in the quieter dynamics that is ideal for this chamber music environment. Brett Dean is not a shy or retiring sort of viola player, and the focus of his tone prevents his playing being subsumed by the potentially more dominant clarinet and piano. His lower register is particularly satisfying, drawing cello-like sonorities from the lower strings ...
The Tinalley String Quartet are a young Australian ensemble who clearly have the technical skills and tight sense of ensemble required for Mendelssohn’s 2nd String Quartet ... Their steady reading is at its most effective in the slower passages. The second movement, despite being marked Adagio non lento, benefits from the measured, deliberate pacing. The end of the work reprises the Adagio opening of the first movement, and again, the unaffected simplicity of the quartet’s tone and their cautious tempo provides a stately frame for the work, a touch of classical elegance to counter any suspicions of triviality in Mendelssohn’s music.
Recent advertising features for recordings on the Melba label have carried the tagline ‘The perfect gift, superb sound and superior presentation’. Their claims to superior presentation are well founded, with both the design of the box and the information in the liner-notes up to the company’s usual high standards ... The claim that the CD would make a perfect gift seems reasonable ... the box looks spectacular. Put it in your granny’s stocking it should keep her entertained until Boxing Day.