Please wait...

Hyperion Records

Click cover art to view larger version
Track(s) taken from CDA67471/2
Recording details: July 2005
Wathen Hall, St Paul's School, Barnes, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: November 2006
Total duration: 39 minutes 41 seconds

'The G minor Quartet (No 1) opens simply, with Hamelin shaping the line beautifully but unaffectedly, the Leopold players gradually entering, their playing filled with ardour. The Zigeuner-finale is irresistibly ebullient, with a jaw-dropping ending … the other aspect that is so impressive about these readings is the sense of absolute precision, which lightens the textures and keeps edges crisp … Hamelin and the Leopold get to the heart of the matter in the soulful Poco Adagio and while they in no way lack heft when it's needed, particularly in the opening movement, there's always a dancing quality to their playing which does much to illuminate textures' (Gramophone)

'The Scherzo of the C minor Piano Quartet (No 3) is dispatched with dazzling brilliance yet never sacrifices the music's underlying sense of stress and anxiety. Even more stunning is Hamelin's fingerwork in the Ronda alla Zingarese of No 1 in G minor, the playing outstripping all rivals in terms of its blistering pace and unbridled aggression' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Hamelin can produce an authentically chunky Brahmsian sound when requried. But his liquid beauty and delicacy of touch ensure that the strings are never overwhelmed. There is vigour and passion aplenty, too … you will hear more sumptuous performances of the vast A major Quartet, but few that sing as tenderly or bring such a dancing, Schubertian grace to the scherzo & finale. In the C minor, conceived under the shadow of Schumann's final illness, Hamelin and the Leopold Trio catch all of the first movement's brooding, youthful despair and keep the tense night-ride of a scherzo fleet and airborne' (The Daily Telegraph)

'A delight from start to finish: this is such cultivated and characterized playing, which becomes quite exultant in the finale. It's also beautifully recorded by Hyperion. Given that, this new set can take a well-earned place at the top of recommendations of these three works' (International Record Review)

'A typically lucid, expressive performance' (The Sunday Times)

'I doubt we will ever hear better recorded performances of the three piano quartets than we have here … Kate Gould's cello in the moving slow movements of Nos 2 and 3 is breathtakingly beautiful, while in No 1, Marc-André Hamelin's verve and articulation will make you smile and scratch your head in wonder' (Classic FM Magazine)

'It's a pleasure to say that these new recordings are just as fine, if not better, than any I've heard … pianist Marc-André Hamelin (so distinguished in his numerous concerto and solo recordings for Hyperion) knows just when to stretch a phrase or lighten a chord … while always sensitively rendering his part in relation to the strings … the Leopold String Trio's intelligent use of vibrato and portamento gives a perfect finish to its already attractive tone. Together with Hamelin, the results are magic … if you think you know these works, think again: these are performances to challenge you afresh' (Limelight, Australia)

'Dans les Intermezzi op.117, le poids de l'attaque restitue magnifiquement le parfum de chaque harmonie, l'exactitude de l'articulation fait ressortir la beauté de chaque voix, la sobriété de l'expression respecte totalement l'intégrité de chacun de ces trois joyaux. Marc-André Hamelin montre ici à qui ne le saurait pas encore, avec beaucoup plus d'évidence que dans son récent Concerto no 2 du meme Brahms, qu'il sait être bein plus qu'un formidable pianiste' (Diapason, France)

'La réunion de l'excellent Leopold String Trio avec l'étonnant virtuose qu'est Marc-André Hamelin promettait donc beaucoup … subtil et impétueux, le pianiste canadien se révèle presque toujours exemplaire' (Le Monde de la Musique, France)

'Impossible de résister à l'attrait qu'exerce la musique de chambre de Brahms, avec ses épanchements contrôlés, sa force lyrique doublés d'une connaissance magistrale des possibilités techniques de chaque instrument … les 3 Intermezzi pour piano seul en fin de disque offrent un bis poétique et tendre' (Pizzicato, Luxembourg)

'Das Klavier ist die Stütze des Fort-gangs, das tragende Element; und mit Hamelin am Klavier gelangt diese Einspielung zu einer Intensität, die Brahms als Neuerer mit Blick auf sinfonische Größe in der Kammermusik und als großartigen Klangkünstler darstellt—so sollte Brahms klingen, nicht anders' (Ensemble, Germany)

'This is bracing, high-voltage stuff, with phrasing and razor-sharp articulation that positively command attention … these are richly integrated, profoundly organic performances of epic scope … this is a magnificent release by any standards' (Piano, Germany)

Piano Quartet No 1 in G minor, Op 25
composer
1857/61

Allegro  [13'53]
Andante con moto  [9'45]

Other recordings available for download
Marc-André Hamelin (piano), Leopold String Trio
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Piano Quartet in G minor Op 25, was seemingly conceived about 1857, drafted in 1859 while Brahms was employed at the small ducal court of Detmold, and polished up in Hamburg in 1861. The abandoned C sharp minor Quartet had been an out-and-out product of his years of youthful Romantic turmoil, of Sturm und Drang. The genesis of the G minor, by contrast, spans from the turbulent years of the mid-1850s to the more considered classical stance of Brahms’s late twenties. It combines a troubled Romantic vocabulary with a poised, almost symphonic mastery of musical architecture. Yet the finale, with its unbridled gypsy music, displays all the young Brahms’s taste for vigorous horseplay. The whole quartet seems continually to strive beyond its chosen medium, towards an orchestral sense of colour, scope of expression and range of development. (These tendencies were given full rein by Arnold Schoenberg when he arranged the work for large orchestra in 1937.)

The sombre, spacious first movement is the most searching sonata-structure Brahms had yet written. The outer spans of exposition and development, with their almost reckless expansion and length of themes, are held in balance by the ruthless concentration on the one-bar motif that is the foundation of the very first theme, continually raising the level of tension, in the development. The way the recapitulation reshuffles the principal elements is unparalleled in a major sonata-style work, even introducing a completely new idea. The coda, beginning hopefully with sweet tranquillo-writing for strings alone, blazes up in a passion only to gutter out quietly in implied frustration.

Brahms calls the C minor second movement an Intermezzo: one of the first examples of the species of (sometimes deceptively) gentle scherzo he was to make his own. A delicate, moderate-paced, rather subdued interlude full of expressive half-lights, its poignant understatement throws the larger movements into relief. It refers, obliquely, to his love for Clara Schumann: the main theme is a haunting version of Robert Schumann’s ‘Clara-motif’ (a characteristic five-note falling–rising melodic shape), which Brahms took over in several works for his private symbolism.

The E flat slow movement begins as a full-hearted song, but develops into a strutting, almost military march in C major. This colourful parade somehow resolves the expressive tensions that have shadowed the work up to this point, making possible the sheer animal vitality of the concluding Rondo alla Zingarese. Startlingly extending a tradition of ‘gypsy’ finales that goes back to Haydn, this is the most unbuttoned episode in Brahms’s long love-affair with the popular and exotic Hungarian idioms he had imbibed from his violinist friends Reményi and Joachim. The movement’s devil-may-care abandon, with its extremes of pulse, virtuosity and emotional affliction, suggest his tongue was at least half in his cheek; and the extravagant piano cadenza that forestalls the whirlwind coda seems to parody Liszt himself.

from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2006


Other albums featuring this work
'Brahms: The Complete Chamber Music' (CDS44331/42)
Brahms: The Complete Chamber Music
MP3 £35.00FLAC £35.00ALAC £35.00Buy by post £40.00 CDS44331/42  12CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  

Show: MP3 FLAC ALAC
   English   Français   Deutsch