[ Naxos / CD ]
Release Date: Monday 1 August 2016
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Brahms's two String Quartets, op.51, were the first he published but, completed in his 40th year, are very much mature masterpieces. He was very conscious of the tradition that lay behind the quartet genre, and the spirits of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert ensured that he took the greatest of care when preparing his own quartets. Each perfectly proportioned movement of these works creates its own unique expressive narrative, exploring bitter-sweet tonalities and thematic treatment ranging from tender lyricism to dramatic intensity.
The New Zealand String Quartet celebrates its 29th season in 2016, and its distinguished international reputation has been enhanced through acclaim for their recordings for Naxos. These include three volumes of Felix Mendelssohn's quartets, the first volume (8570001) of which was made a Gramophone Recommends title. This multi-faceted quartet is equally at home with the intensity of Alban Berg's quartets (8557374) given a 10/10 score by ClassicsToday.com who marveled "at the individual players' virtuosity, but you also have to appreciate that the relatively warm yet pleasingly "edgy" quality to the sound and the oneness of spirit in the interpretations come from the highest-order functioning of the well-integrated collective parts of a mature, vital body - that is, a string quartet that's been together a long time, each member sharing life and breath in the music they make together."
"And there is no holding back in these performances: the NZSQ literally attacks and wrestles Brahms' scores to the ground-a positive, friendly intervention, for the good of all concerned. These performances should not disappoint any listener, whether you hate Brahms or love his music, because they take you out of the realm of preconception and just deliver aggressive, uninhibited, and yes, passionate expressions of these scores, respectful of the composer while always working to realize the fullness of the music that Brahms struggled so long and hard to create." (ClassicsToday)
"There are standout moments, including some rapturous playing in the Romanze…[the New Zealand] dig into the music in a way that gets us closer to the music's vulnerable heart" (Gramophone)
String Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 51 No. 1
String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 51 No. 2