Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Measured and precise Brahms

Johannes Brahms: String Quartets, Quintets, Sextets

Hanssler has re-packaged the Verdi Quartett's Brahms chamber music, released on four individual CDs in the first decade of the 2000s, into a set that represents excellent value. The performances are for the most part at a very high level, with admirable intonation and coherence. If I had a quibble, it would be that the more controlled, classical approach of the group occasionally results in a loss of emotional content. The lower temperature actually worked out well in the current case, though, since I don't think I could have listened to five hours of Brahms played by musicians wearing their hearts on their sleeves. And turning things up to 11 in this music presents the very real danger of moving into sentimentality and kitsch. That's not the case here; everything is measured and sometimes the tiniest bit careful.

The guests are as excellent as the group itself: in the String Quintets we have violist Hermann Voss, with cellist Peter Buck added for the Sextets. Finally, there's Francois Benda playing beautifully in the Clarinet Quintet. The recording is bright and clear, which only emphasizes the precision of the playing.

This album will be released on April 20, 2018.

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