Notes and Editorial Reviews
Many years ago I made the acquaintance of Brahms’s B flat First Sextet at an amateur read-through. Amazed at the richness and density of the textures, I was aware, however, that this engendered a daunting competitive spirit, as each player strove to make his or her voice heard. In this performance we notice a similar revelling in the work’s glorious fullness, but of course The Lindsays and their colleagues are able to put heart and soul into the music while keeping a careful control of the overall balance.
Nevertheless, the ensemble’s tone, intensified by copious vibrato, can become wearing in extended forte passages such as the earlier part of the Andante (the players at the 1860 first performance, led by Joachim, would
certainly have produced a much straighter sound). With this one qualification, however, the wholehearted character of the playing is a big advantage; the Scherzo has a splendidly earthy quality, its trio wildly energetic. And in the G major Second Sextet the richness of the full, expressive music is balanced by many passages of imaginatively delicate scoring, where The Lindsays, Williams and Watkins delight us with a range of the most beautiful, transparent sonorities. The performances of both sextets have a compelling sense of direction – in the Second’s magnificent first movement, we can feel what a giant the young Brahms had become.
-- Duncan Druce, Gramophone [7/2006]
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