Brahms' String Quartets Nos 1 & 2 performed by the New Zealand Quartet

A
a
-
Album title:
Brahms
Composer(s):
Brahms
Works:
String Quartets Nos 1 & 2
Performer:
New Zealand Quartet
Label:
Naxos
Catalogue Number:
8.573433  
Performance:
starstarstarnostarnostar
Recording:
starstarstarnostarnostar
3
Reviewer:
BBC Music Magazine
Brahms' String Quartets Nos 1 & 2 performed by the New Zealand Quartet

Brahms’s First String Quartet came out when he was 40. Beethoven’s long shadow hung over this genre just as much as over the symphony, and it seems that Brahms worked on the form over a long period of time before acceding to his friend Joseph Joachim’s pleas for some additions to the repertoire. A tribute to Joachim finds its way into the Quartet No. 2, which includes the Hungarian violinist’s personal musical emblem, F-A-E, standing for frei aber einsam (free but lonely), plus a distinctly Hungarian slant to the final two movements. These are subtle and powerful compositions, as full of shades of emotion as Brahms’s symphonies, as firmly wrought in technical terms and almost as conceptually substantial. Quartet No. 1 shares its key with the Symphony No. 1 and like that work possesses a driven quality, an impassioned matter-of-life-and-death eloquence. 

The New Zealand String Quartet finds its chief strengths in the balance of voices, the conversational nature of the writing and the flexible spread of weight between the instruments. Yet these pieces’ distinctive personalities could perhaps come through more strongly; the playing is certainly committed and faithful, but hot on the heels of an exceptionally stunning recording of the C minor work by the Brodsky Quartet (on Chandos) it feels by comparison less powerfully defined and even somewhat impersonal at times, lacking also a comparable richness and variety of tone.

Jessica Duchen

The Cypress String Quartet performs Beethoven's String Quartets Nos 1-6
The Cypress String Quartet performs Beethoven's String Quartets Nos 1-6
previous review Article
Miniatures, Seven Songs and Seven Dances by performed by Arthur Aharonyan and the Hugo Wolf Quartett
Miniatures, Seven Songs and Seven Dances by performed by Arthur Aharonyan and the Hugo Wolf Quartett
next review Article
We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. Cookies perform functions like recognising you each time you visit and delivering advertising messages that are relevant to you. Read more here