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Brahms: The Piano Quartets, etc / Hamelin, Leopold Trio

Album Summary

>Brahms, Johannes : Quartet for Piano and Strings no 1 in G minor, Op. 25
>Brahms, Johannes : Quartet for Piano and Strings no 3 in C minor, Op. 60
>Brahms, Johannes : Quartet for Piano and Strings no 2 in A major, Op. 26
>Brahms, Johannes : Intermezzi (3) for piano, Op. 117
Performer Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

"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-Andre Hamelin's verve and articulation will make you smile and scratch your head in wonder" -Classic FM. "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 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)

'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)

'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' (Daily Telegraph)

'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)

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

'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 que ne le saurait pas encore, avec beaucoup plus d'évidence que dans son récent Concerto no 2 du meme Brahms, qu'il sait etre bein plus qu'un formidable pianiste' (Diapason, 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, 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)

'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)

'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 Magazine)

'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 Magazine, Germany)

'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 magazine, Australia)

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
Brahms's three piano quartets sometimes exhibit this tendency but in performances as fine as these it is triumphantly surmounted with a combination of brisk speeds and an extraordinary collective joie de vivre.

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 jawdropping 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. Sample, for instance, the Scherzo of the C minor (No 3) which can, in some hands, sound positively elephantine. Not here though, Hamelin dealing with Brahms's dense chords as easily as if they were single lines.

The epic A major Quartet (No 2), more a symphony than a quartet, is a considerable challenge to players and audience. 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. This music certainly benefits from their defiantly un-Germanic approach. Hamelin signs off with the Op 117 Intermezzi, as well recorded as the rest of the disc. They're elegantly played, but the main reason for buying this CD lies firmly with the quartets.



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Works Details

>Brahms, Johannes : Quartet for Piano and Strings no 1 in G minor, Op. 25
  • Performer: Marc-André Hamelin (Piano)
  • Ensemble: Leopold String Trio
  • Notes: Wathen Hall, St. Paul's School, Barnes, London, England (07/16/2005-07/20/2005)
  • Running Time: 39 min. 8 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 1861

>Brahms, Johannes : Quartet for Piano and Strings no 3 in C minor, Op. 60
  • Performer: Marc-André Hamelin (Piano)
  • Ensemble: Leopold String Trio
  • Notes: Wathen Hall, St. Paul's School, Barnes, London, England (07/16/2005-07/20/2005)
  • Running Time: 35 min. 6 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 1875

>Brahms, Johannes : Quartet for Piano and Strings no 2 in A major, Op. 26
  • Performer: Marc-André Hamelin (Piano)
  • Ensemble: Leopold String Trio
  • Notes: Wathen Hall, St. Paul's School, Barnes, London, England (07/16/2005-07/20/2005)
  • Running Time: 50 min. 12 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 1861

>Brahms, Johannes : Intermezzi (3) for piano, Op. 117
  • Performer: Marc-André Hamelin (Piano)
  • Running Time: 16 min. 16 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1892