Notes and Editorial Reviews
Before I heartily endorse this impassioned and superbly played Brahms Quintet, several factors might affect your decision to buy it. One concerns MDG's overly reverberant, "wrong end of the telescope" sonics. Residual resonance gives loud passages overpowering prominence in relation to softer moments that threaten to vanish unless you strain to hear them. In addition, the piano appears to register at too far a distance from the strings, most noticeably throughout Brahms' thickly scored tuttis in the Scherzo and the Finale. And with just 39 minutes of music at full price, MDG invariably faces better consumer value from cheaper, more conventionally engineered versions coupled with other works (the Rubinstein/Guarneri reference
listed above, for example).
However, if you love the Brahms Piano Quintet, you'll marvel at the fusion of power and clarity pianist Andreas Staier and the Leipzig Quartet achieve. The tricky tempo transitions in the outer movements are gauged to perfection, and no matter how intensely the musicians drive the climaxes, individual and combined timbres never turn raucous or lose definition. Although the quartet members deploy vibrato sparingly, they manage to inflect Brahms' counterpoint with enough tonal variety to suggest that reeds occasionally replace bow hairs. Staier's solid, intelligent harpsichord and fortepiano mastery fully carries over to the modern grand, and his soaring, propulsive handling of the difficult piano part evokes both Rubinstein's generous sweep and Rudolf Serkin's rigorous intensity. Sonic and budgetary issues aside, this powerful, profound performance deserves serious consideration.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Quintet for Piano and Strings in F minor, Op. 34 by Johannes Brahms
Andreas Staier (Piano)
Leipzig String Quartet
Written: 1861-1864; Austria
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