One of the most grown-up review sites around

2020
54,928 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


 
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

BUY NOW 

Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
String Quartet in C minor Op. 51 No. 1 (c.1868-73)
String Quintet in G major Op. 111 (1890)
Belcea Quartet
Thomas Kakuska (second viola on Op. 111)
Recorded: Potton Hall, Suffolk, UK (Op. 51/1, July 2003); (Op.111, September 2003) DDD
EMI CLASSICS 5 57661 2 [62:19]


With these performances the exciting Belcea Quartet under the leadership of Corina Belcea place themselves on an equal level with the finest ensembles in Europe. I have observed their progress for some time, both in the recital hall as well as in the recording studio. On the evidence of this release the Belceas go from strength to strength and have attained a full maturity.

The first work is the four movement String Quartet Op. 51 No. 1. It is not known exactly when the work was composed. Perhaps Brahms was exaggerating when he stated that he had composed and destroyed twenty other string quartets prior to the publication of this one. Described as a ‘masterwork’ by many critics Brahms uses economy, structural mastery and an integration rarely encountered in his early chamber scores. The talented Belceas play with an enviable style and a natural warmth. The listener is held in their spell throughout the heart-searching of the score’s solemnity and passion. My main recommendation for this work however is contained on the complete set of the three String Quartets together with the Piano Quintet Op.34 from the Borodin Quartet on Teldec Ultima 8573-87802-2. This is an amazing bargain at super budget price and performed by the Borodins with marvellous precision.

Composed in Bad Ischl in 1890 when the composer was fifty seven, Brahms intended the four movement String Quintet, Op. 111 to be his last chamber work. It has been said that naturalness, harmonious effect and joy immediately come to mind as attributes of this work. One contemporary of Brahms even heard "the cheerful, relaxed atmosphere of the Vienna Prater". The composer could only confirm this impression, "Isn't it so! And the many pretty girls in it!" The Belceas, augmented by Thomas Kakuska on second viola, thoroughly enter into the spirit of the proceedings. The players succeed in expressing the work’s youthful exuberance, its considerable vigour and optimism. The playing is of such a high-calibre that in spite of fierce competition this is now my preferred version.

These are excellent performances from the Belceas and the release is eminently collectable.

Michael Cookson


Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

Eloquence recordings
All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews

 

Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

December
(short month)


Orphic Moments


Metamorphoses Books I & II

November


Donizetti - Le Convenienze ed Inconvenienze Teatrali


Chamber Symphonies 2 & 4


French Cello Concertos

 

October


Shostakovich

 


Return to Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.