David Matthews: Piano Quintet, Op 92; Shostakovich: Piano Quintet in G minor, Op 57

Reviewed on Wed 09 Nov, 2016

David Matthews observes some stylistic correspondences between his music and Shostakovich’s – “not intentional”, he says – so the coupling is an apt one. This first recording, captured in exemplary balance and tonal fidelity, has a nice feeling of rightness to it.

The concise four-movement Piano Quintet (1995) by David Matthews includes a Tango and a Chaconne. It’s a most inviting work that opens in lyrical terms, suggesting an English predecessor of Matthews’s, namely Frank Bridge. This first recording, captured in exemplary balance and tonal fidelity, has a nice feeling of rightness to it, and no doubt the composer was present. It’s a likeable and enjoyable piece, composed with appreciable craftsmanship, written as an engagement present for his wife-to-be. Matthews observes some stylistic correspondences between his music and Shostakovich’s – “not intentional”, he says – so the coupling is an apt one, and this account of the Russian’s Opus 57, composed in 1940, from Martin Cousin and the Villiers Quartet doesn’t force the pace or the emotional content, but rather lets the score speak for itself through stylish and interactive musicianship, as eloquent and edgy as required. The intimate sound is ideal.
–Colin Anderson