This collection of great chamber music brings together nine giants of music in works which reveal their most immediate and individual expressive worlds. The term 'chamber music' broadly implies music on an intimate scale performed by a limited number of musicians. The heart of civilised 18th-century European musical culture is best represented by that most perfect of forms the string quartet, developed by Haydn and Mozart into models of elegance and expressive balance. Embracing instruments new for his time, Mozart's chamber music also resulted in sublime masterpieces such as the Clarinet Quintet, but it was Beethoven who expanded the length and complexity of the string quartet to its limits. Beethoven left an indelible mark of progress and change on every genre of music, and both the 'Archduke' Trio and 'Kreutzer' Sonata are milestones in chamber music history. Beethoven's Romantic independence of spirit and powerfully personal musical language was carried forward by Schubert and Mendelssohn, both of whom introduced emotion-enhancing literary sentiments into their expressive range. The symphonic proportions of Brahms's Clarinet Quintet places it at the pinnacle of the classical line through Mozart and Beethoven, but Romantic ideals in music were already being applied to the cause of national identity. Antonin Dvorak's 'Dumky' Trio takes its name from a ballad of lament, integrating national dance elements to create a distinctive Czech and Bohemian flavor. The move away from German stylistic examples by the Russian 'mighty handful' can be heard in Borodin's soulful String Quartet No 2. Innovation in chamber music can be found everywhere, but there are few such works as striking as Cesar Franck's Violin Sonata, a flawless synthesis of Classical proportion and the spirit of Romanticism in its cyclic development of a single theme. Great Chamber Music features many wonderful artists from the Naxos label and includes the following works (artists for each CD are listed below):
CD 1 - Haydn String Quartets 'The Bird', 'The Lark', 'Emperor', Piano Trio 'Gypsy Rondo'
(Kodaly Quartet, Kungsbacka Piano Trio)
CD 2 - Mozart Flute Quartet No 1, String Quartet 'Spring', String Quintet No 4
(Jean Claude Gerard, flute, Villa Musica Ensemble, Eder Quartet, Janos Fehervari, viola)
CD 3 - Beethoven String Quartets 'Razumovsky' and No 14
CD 4 - Beethoven Piano Trios 'Ghost' and 'Archduke'
(Takako Nishizaki, violin, Csaba Onczay, cello, Jeno Jando, piano)
CD 5 - Schubert Piano Quintet 'Trout', Mendelssohn String Octet (Jeno Jando, piano, Istvan Toth, double bass, Kodaly Quartet, Auer String Quartet)
CD 6 - Beethoven Violin Sonata 'Kreutzer', Franck Violin Sonata In A (Takako Nishizaki, violin, Jeno Jando, piano)
CD 7 - Mendelssohn Piano Trio No 1, Schubert Piano Trios No 1, Notturno (Gould Piano Trio, Stuttgart Piano Trio)
CD 8 - Dvorak Piano Trio 'Dumky', Borodin String Quartet No 2 (Joachim Trio, Budapest Haydn Quartet)
CD 9 - Schubert String Quartet 'Death And The Maiden', Dvorak String Quartet 'American' (Kodaly Quartet, Moyzes Quartet)
CD 10 - Mozart, Brahms Clarinet Quintets (Jozsef Balogh, clarinet, Danubius Quartet, Boris Rener, clarinet, Ludwig Quartet)
Playing time: 15 hr 42 min