Bravo Brahms!

22 June 2017 / News

We’re excited to announce that Naxos has recently released the next installment in our Brahms series – this one featuring the 3rd String Quartet alongside the Clarinet Quintet with internationally acclaimed clarinettist (and long-time friend) James Campbell. We were thrilled with the reviews we received for the first album in the series and this second album has attracted no lesser praise.

Here in New Zealand, the recording has so far been reviewed by Lindis Taylor in the online review platform Middle C, and by William Dart for the NZ Herald. Talking first about the String Quartet no 3, William says:

"You'll be transfixed from the first minute of this outing as the players navigate the swerving and swirling textures until they relax with an insouciant, almost polka-like, dance tune. Brahms' rich lyricism, another hallmark of his late romantic style, is never sacrificed; leader Helene Pohl soars over the Andante while Gillian Ansell's viola introduces the ensuing scherzo with a graceful Viennese lilt.” And later in the review,with regard to the Clarinet Quintet, “Campbell bewitches us with song in the Adagio, floating over gossamer strings and the final minute, recalling the work's opening page, may well have you returning immediately for a second hearing."

In his review in Middle C, Lindis Taylor admitted to being deeply moved by our recording of the Clarinet Quintet, saying:

"My frank reaction to this piece would never do in the pages of Gramophone or the International Record Review; I can’t find the usual ‘critic-speak’ phraseology, for I simply get weak at the knees listening to a recording of this quality – no, not just technical flawlessness or interpretation that accords with today’s fashions such as adherence to the performance practice of the music’s own era, but old-fashioned adolescent emotion, spiritual and heart-strings-pulling rapture. My main criteria are not artistic integrity, intensity of expression, but simply to be moved by the obvious love that all five players feel for this very special masterpiece."

Writing in Musical Toronto, Paul E. Robinson says of the Quartet no 3: "Brahms String Quartet Op. 67 is an extraordinary piece and the NZSQ gives it as fine a performance as I have ever heard."

And, of our performance of the Clarinet Quintet with James Campbell, Robinson says:

"Sixty-five when this recording was made, Campbell retains the same beauty of sound and chamber music sensitivity that have always made him a special artist. In the members of the NZSQ, he has collaborators of similar distinction. This is a magnificent performance of one of Brahms’ late masterpieces, in which the clarinet is perfectly balanced in an equal partnership with the strings, which is as it should be. I give full credit to the players for this achievement. Kudos also to producers Norbert Kraft and Bonnie Silver."

We’re delighted he made special mention of Norbert and Bonnie as we feel very fortunate to have some of the best ears in the industry producing these recordings. And kudos to our former 2nd violinist Doug Beilman for this, his last recording with the New Zealand String Quartet.

If you'd like to have a chance of winning a copy of this CD, listen out on Radio New Zealand Concert next Wednesday 28 June  from 10am-1pm on Weekday Classics with Clarissa Dunn.


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