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Brahms: The Piano Piano Quartets Op 25, 26, 60 [Import]

Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax Audio CD

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Product details

Disc: 1
1. Allegro
2. Intermezzo. Allegro, ma non troppo - Trio. Animato
3. Andante Con Moto
4. Rondo Alla Zingarese. Presto
5. Allegro non tropo
6. Scherzo. Allegro
7. Andante - Allegretto Tranquillo - Andante
8. Finale, Allegro Comodo
Disc: 2
1. Allegro Non Troppo
2. Poco Adagio
3. Scherzo, Poco allegro - Trio
4. Finale, Allegro

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars quite good, overall 23 May 2002
By new music guy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Along with the piano quintet, B major trio and clarinet trio, these three works represent the best example of Brahms' chamber music writing for piano and strings. All three of these pieces are truly incredible, and this is a recording that for the most part does justice to them.
Often, classical music discs made up of some of the best performers in the world result in either commercial nonsense, such as the 3 Tenors, or polar extremes in musical ideas, such as Gould and Rose's Beethoven collaboration. This works better, as these are among the more mild performers on their respective instruments.
Ax has always been a fairly tame performer compared to some of the other great pianists like Martha Argerich. He plays the notes, and he generally plays them quite well, but he often fails to truly make the magical things happen.
Stern was no longer at the height of his powers at the time of this recording, but these quartets are technically fairly easy on the violin, and Stern's mind was certainly still working. He generally sounds quite good.
Laredo makes an excellent violist, subtly adjusting from his violin sound and normal position to blend in as a middle voice.
Ma was much younger when this was recorded, and sounds like it. He was a much simpler player, and wasn't nearly as adept at the incredible color changes and ideas he's learned to express over the last several years.
The g minor piano quartet is probably the weakest piece of the three, though it's still fine. This group takes all the tempi slightly faster, and the famous finale races along at an incredible pace. It's classic Hungarian Brahms, masterfully written and masterfully played.
The A major is a far more majestic piece, and also gets an excellent performance overall. Ax makes the minor section of the slow movement absolutely terrifying in one of his best performances, and the light scherzo and finale are kept sweet and simple.
The c minor is incredibly dark and somber, and is given the best performance by the quartet. There are times when the music could have flowed more - in Yo-Yo's solo in the third movement, there are numerous breaks in the line that don't follow the harmonic rhythm, but he plays so beautifully it hardly matters.
Overall, this is an excellent CD, not perfect, not unusual or distinct, but certainly a good recording of this great music, and worth owning.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Famous four tackle Brahms 28 Jun 2002
By ViolaNut - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
These three pieces are some of the greatest in the literature, and for the most part this is a good recording. Unlike many chamber music collaborations between soloists, these four don't let the music disintegrate into a shouting match or an ego contest (thank goodness). However, as usual, Stern's sound is rather thin and doesn't quite hold up to the power and depth that Brahms demands; I would also prefer a "real" violist rather than a "switch-hitter", but Laredo is mostly admirable and perhaps he simply adjusted to better balance Stern's more slender tone. And nothing beats the slow movement of the c minor quartet - this and the third movement of Beethoven Op. 132 would be my choices for that old "If you could only take ____ to a desert island..." question. Overall a commendable collection; the good parts far outweigh the weak.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, assured readings, but the G minor is a weak link 11 Mar 2010
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I am a huge admirer of Isaac Stern the chamber musician, dating form his early days at Casals' postwar festivals in Prades and Puerto Rico to the late phase when he teamed up with Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax. No major label has given us a set of the three Brahms piano quartets to match this one in the decades since. The mesh of talents is very satisfying. When Brahms includes a piano in his chamber music, its voice dominates. After all, Brahms was a virtuoso pianist himself when young. The writing is so varied that it requires a thorough musician to carry it off, and Ax is such a musician. In that regard, these readings surpass the usual choice, which is to take a Piano trio and insert a viola. An ensemble as good as the Beaux Arts Trio cannot compete with a star like Ax, not to mention the other stars in his orbit.

Having said that, there's a caveat. Brahms's piano quartets are dominated by the first in G minor, the one that Schoenberg orchestrated and that most concert programs include. You can't earn top honors without a really smashing reading, and this one isn't. The gypsy-flavored finale is too slow and foursquare, lacking in fire. Just sample the searing account led by Martha Argerich (DG) or Murray Perahia (Sony), and this one feels a bit sleepy. There's lack of fire in the A major Quartet, too, and too often Ax substitutes broad sweep for dynamism. But I don't want to cavil. These are very fine readings, and the individual musicianship is as good as it gets. Sony's sound, even without being refurbished, is also very attractive.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brahms 17 Oct 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I think that Brahms had a stroke of genius when he wrote these quartets. They become even more magnificent when left to the artistry of these four musicians! This is one of my most treasured cds, and I would suggest it to anyone; musician, classical music fan, or just music fan. My favorite of the quartets is the g minor-it has such energy and is full of sound and substance. I wish that when I have the opportunity to play this (I play the viola) that it comes near to the quality of this recording. I also bought another cd of the same grouping of musicians and love it as well-these four have a magic together! I highly suggest this recording! It serves well to listen to for enjoyment, and also as a source for ideas of musicality.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good! 10 Nov 2009
By Waldstein - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
These piano quartets by Brahms are very enjoyable, as is normal for chamber works by Brahms. The sound quality (recorded 1989 and 1986*) is good. I think the performers did a good job on these quartets. The pieces are played with a good deal of energy, especially the G Minor and C Minor. I would recommend these CDs too anyone wanting the Brahms piano quartets.

Piano Quartet in G Minor
1st Mov. - 13:38
2nd Mov. - 8:05
3rd Mov. - 10:13
4th Mov. - 8:05

Piano Quartet in A Major
1st Mov. - 16:46
2nd Mov. - 12:51
3rd Mov. - 11:40
4th Mov. - 10:55

Piano Quartet in C Minor*
1st Mov. - 10:55
2nd Mov. - 4:12
3rd Mov. - 9:09
4th Mov. - 10:57
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