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Chamber  Soler: Quintets for Harpsichord & Strings, Nos. 4-6 
Soler: Quintets for Harpsichord & Strings, Nos. 4-6
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Soler: Quintets for Harpsichord & Strings, Nos. 4-6
David Schrader, harpsichord
Chicago Baroque Ensemble
Cedille Records CDR 90000 030

"Cedille continues to delight me with the quality of its engineering and production. The latest release--again demonstrating the recording-booth talents of Bill Maylone--is Soler's Quintets for Harpsichord and Strings . . . Schrader plays a large harpsichord, resonant and full-voiced. The recording seems perfectly balanced between small-room acoustics . . . and large-ensemble spaciousness." (Fanfare)

Padre Antonio Soler's six quintets for harpsichord and string quartet are post-Baroque masterstrokes, blending Baroque and early Classical styles with a savory seasoning of Spanish folk music.

The complete quintets are represented on two CDs, sold separately, and are the only currently available recordings in any format of Soler's quintets, according to the fall 1996 Schwann Opus catalog, and form the first complete set on CD. (The first three quintets are available on Volume I.)

"In terms of crowd-pleasing qualities, the last three quintets of Soler may even eclipse their predecessors," says record producer James Ginsburg. "Yet they also reward the serious listener." In fact, Ginsburg suggest that newcomers may want to start with the second and newest Soler CD, and then, if it whets their appetite, pick up the earlier CD.

While formally less diverse than the first three quintets, the latter three are especially lyrical and offer a stimulating variety of moods and timbres which -- at least in the hands of the present performers -- evoke the sound of woodwinds, chimes, harp, and even Spanish guitar.

Cedille undertook the Soler quintets because they represent neglected yet pleasurable repertoire -- the label's hallmark -- and in Schrader, Cedille found a Chicago-based artist who championed Soler and could be counted on to give a world-class reading, Ginsburg says. The Chicago Baroque Ensemble, two of whose members performed on the first quintets CD, is a relatively new organization that testifies to the quality and depth of Chicago's period-instrument community.

Though rare even on LP, Soler's quintets charmed listeners of the vinyl era. American Record Guide (October 1964) deemed the Quintet No. 6, on Westminster Records, "well off the beaten track of repertoire" and of "considerable musical as well as historical value," with "lovely moments that are worth savoring for themselves." Reviewing a Vox LP set of the complete quintets, Stereo Review's Richard Freed wrote (October 1973), "All six of these are really so endearing that it would take a hard heart to resist the set, once exposed to it." Paul Henry Lang, in High Fidelity (October 1973), called them "charming, melodious, and euphonious compositions."
Click here to download the CD booklet.

Click the Cedille Player at the upper left to hear excerpts from the tracks highlighted in red below. These have been carefully chosen as representative of the recording program.

PROGRAM (74:57)


Quintet No. 4 in A Minor (23:39)
1. I. Allegretto (6:13)
2. II. Minuetto I & II (2:49)
3. III. Allegro assai (5:40)
4. IV. Minuetto con variazioni (8:48)

Quintet No. 5 in D Major (28:30)
5. I. Cantabile (6:59)
6. II. Allegro presto (5:48)
7. III. Minuetto & Quartetto (5:23)
8. IV. Rondo. Allegretto (10:11)

Quintet No. 6 in G Minor (22:27)
9. I. Andante (4:55)
10. II. Minuetto (6:37)
11. III. Rondo. Andante con moto (10:48)

Recorded: May 25-28, 1996 at WFMT Chicago / Producer: James Ginsburg / Engineer: Bill Maylone / Cover: Facade of the Basilica at El Escorial. Ink drawing by Jack Simmerling. / Design: Cheryl A Boncuore / Notes: David Schrader