Bruckner's early string quartet is more a composition exercise than a full-fledged work of art, but the quintet is something else entirely: a chamber music masterpiece to rank with the great symphonies in expressive intensity and sheer musical grandeur. Indeed, there are a few places where Bruckner seems to demand an almost orchestral volume of tone, and the slow movement has been successful performed (and recorded) by a full string orchestra. The Intermezzo is none other than an alternative scherzo for the quintet, composed because the original players at the premier found Bruckner's first thoughts too difficult. Well, the members of L'Archibudelli certainly don't find the music too difficult–you won't find better performances anywhere.
In nearly every respect this is outstanding. The Rondo brillant and the Fantasie, both written for the virtuoso duo of Karl von Bocklet and Josef Slawik, can sound as if Schubert were striving for a brilliant, flashy style, foreign to his nature. Both are in places uncomfortable to play (when first published, the Fantasie’s violin part was simplified), but you would never guess this from Faust’s and Melnikov’s performance; they both nonchalantly toss off any problem passages as though child’s play. The Fantasie’s finale and the Rondo brillant are irresistibly lively and spirited, and this duo’s technical finesse extends to more poetic episodes – Melnikov’s tremolo at the start of the Fantasie shimmers delicately, while the filigree passagework in the last of the variations that form the Fantasie’s centrepiece have a delightful poise and sense of ease.
Rondo Veneziano is an Italian chamber orchestra, specializing in Baroque music, playing original instruments, but incorporating a rock-style rhythm section of synthesizer, bass guitar and drums, led by Maestro Gian Piero Reverberi, who is also the principal composer of all of the original Rondo Veneziano pieces. The unusual addition of modern instruments, more suitable for Jazz, combined with Reverberi's arrangements and original compositions, have resulted in lavish novel versions of classical works over the years. As a rule in their concert tours, the musicians, mostly women, add to the overall Baroque effect wearing Baroque-era attires and coiffures.