Suk: Piano and Chamber Music - Dörken, Tetzlaff, Donderer, Ridout, Tetzlaff
Ars Produktion ARS 38 298
Classical - Chamber
Suk: Piano Quintet, Životem a snem 'Things Lived and Dreamed'
Kiveli Dörken, piano
Christian Tetzlaff & Florian Donderer, violins
Timothy Ridout, viola
Tanja Tetzlaff, cello
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Review by Adrian Quanjer - June 2, 2020
Some time ago I had the pleasure of reviewing several ARS Produktion releases featuring the German-Greek pianist, Danae Dörken, solo or with orchestra, deserving unreserved recommendation. At the time I did not realize that her sister, Kiveli, was an accomplished pianist as well and, as it turns out, very much so.
Here she is with her debut SACD*), assisted by star violinist, Christian Tetzlaff, together with his sister, Tanja, Violoncello; Florian Donderer, Concertmaster of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, and on occasion of some other well-known ensemble like the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Lucerne Festival Strings, violin; Timothy Ridout, BBC New Generation Artist in 2019, playing the viola. In short: Each and everyone a premium artist of confirmed international prestige. What more can one wish for when making a debut on record? But there is more.
The second trump she holds is Josef Suk’s Piano Quintet in g minor Op. 8. Written in 1893 and revised by the composer in 1915. It has so far hardly been recorded and, more importantly, not available in Super Audio.
Suk’s purpose was to expand Czech chamber repertoire to include Bohemian works with piano, notably for his own chamber group. A most welcome decision. Not only does it fill an important lacuna in chamber repertoire, it also has much to please musicians and audience alike. Technically demanding, combining well-balanced excitement and lyricism, it breathes positive optimism. The lively Scherzo, based on a Bohemian melody, is full of wit and surprise, and the final movement is reminiscent of ditto dance rhythms. Possibly with an eye to the dedicatee, Johannes Brahms, some German elements shine through as well.
Needless to say, that we have here all the ingredients for a highly desirable release. Listeners will not be disappointed. The sound engineers have recorded the piano as an integral part of the musical fabric, and not, as so often happens, the main player standing out from the rest. Kiveli Dörken gets nonetheless plenty of opportunity to excel. In the Scherzo, for instance, her role is structurally important. At least that is how it sounds to me in the interpretation of this high calibre ad hoc group.
In the absence of adequate comparison, the account of Kiveli Dörken cs. has to be judged on its own merits. Ad hoc it may be, but it is clear that all players know one another well. Interplay is perfect as is the overall sound balance. I find the result attractive, convincing, and much rewarding. Thirty-plus minutes of sheer delight.
The second half of the disc is for Kiveli alone. ‘Things Lived and Dreamt’ Op. 30. Judging by the carefully moulded expressions of her playing, these Ten Pieces for Piano must be close to her heart. In her recite she expertly identifies herself with the ups and downs of an artist’s life (Suk’s self-portrait?). It is like reading a journal of hope, joy, and dreams on the positive side, and a fair dose of yearning, tristesse, and resignation on the other. Beautifully shaped and played with marked ‘Leidenschaft’ Kiveli Dörken delivers a personal certificate of competence for us, the listener.
The surround is rich, putting the listener close up-front.
*) It’s sometimes difficult to say whether a release is someone’s debut. This is not the first time that Kiveli Dörken has been recorded. She has participated in other releases on the CAvi-music label with Christian Tetzlaff, Florian Donderer and others. In this case, however, her solo part (Things Lived and Dreamt) sufficiently justifies in my view this release being called a debut.
Blangy-le-Château, Normandy, France.
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