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*** 1/2 Dvorak: String Quartet in F, Opus 96 ("American"); Piano Quintet in A, Opus 81 Orion String Quartet, with Peter Serkin, piano; Arabesque Recordings

January 02, 2000|DANIEL CARIAGA

Joyous performances of mellow-hearted music are no surprise from the masterly, seldom over-the-top Orion ensemble. This "American" Quartet, ubiquitous among Dvorak's works for the form, unfolds handsomely, with just enough force and panache to make it seem inevitable--a beauteous, fluent reading. And the now-middle-aged Serkin--he was born in 1947--who has been known to create hyperactive moments now and again, here emerges as the most relaxed and songful member of this quintet, a reminder that he comes from a long line of inspired, professional chamber musicians.

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