Brahms – Complete String Quartets & String Quintet No. 2
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Brahms – Complete String Quartets & String Quintet No. 2

At a time when innovation and authenticity are still held in the highest regard, one might question the purpose of yet another new recording of Brahms’s chamber music.

The German philosopher Gadamer argues that a musical composition grows in significance with every performance. It is the task of a performer to translate the text (i.e. music) handed down to us by Brahms. That text is admittedly more or less fixed, with indications of pitch, duration of notes and a few subsidiary instructions, but its actual meaning only comes to light once it is interpreted by a performer. A new rendition is thus not merely a reproduction or imitation. Every interpretation gives the work a renewed understanding and perspective. There are no absolute truths in music, rather every performance has its own immediate truth.

We decided to record this album with a pure gut-string setup. Not only because these unwound strings mimic the sound that Brahms knew, but also because they provided us with new sonorities and rhetorical possibilities. We took a deep dive into 19th-century performance practice and embraced the liberties granted by a flexible tempo rubato and the use of portamenti. We experienced new dimensions of Brahms’s music every time we immersed ourselves in it.

— Judith van Driel & David Faber, from the booklet notes

Brahms – Complete String Quartets & String Quintet Op. 111

First recording of these works on unwound gut strings and early romantic bows, debut album for Rubicon Classics.

‘Beautifully poised performances recorded with gut strings. Nothing feels mannered. Rubato is sensitive, and portamento discreet; the overwhelming impression is one of warmth, this Brahms smilier and cuddlier than some performances suggest.’

— The Arts Desk —

‘The leaner sonorities of the Dudok Quartet’s gut-strung set-ups and this ensemble’s exploration of late 19th-century performance practices prove enlightening in many ways, particularly in making more lucid the luxuriant textures.’

— The Strad —

'Diese eruptive Kraft gehört zu den Markenzeichen der Einspielung, wie auch ihr sehr eigenes Klangbild. [...] Damit erzielt das Ensemble eine große Transparenz und Flexibilität: Die Phrasen sind oft sehr sprechend geformt, das Vibrato ist sparsam dosiert. So entsteht ein breites Farbspektrum, mit einer Fülle an Kontrasten.'

— Fono Forum —

Brahms III

(English tranlation)
Jan Brokken
Jan Brokken — Brahms III

Every year, we commission an essay by a famous author on the work that is central to us in that year.


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