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  • String Quartet No 1, String Quintet In G (Belcea Quartet)
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String Quartet No 1, String Quintet In G (Belcea Quartet)

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Product details

  • Composer: Johannes Brahms
  • Audio CD (12 Jan. 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: EMI Classics
  • ASIN: B00012SZ2M
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 408,076 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Allegro
2. 2. Romanze: Poco Adagio
3. 3. Allegretto molto moderato e comodo - Un poco piu animato - Allegretto
4. 4. Allegro
5. Allegro Non Troppo, Ma Con Brio
6. Adagio
7. Un Poco Allegretto
8. Vivace Ma Non Troppo Presto - Animato

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By P. Bennett on 21 April 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Played with passion and elegance - full bodied and close up sound with individual instruments all clear in their parts
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Exceptional readings for this unusual pairing 12 Aug. 2006
By Discophage - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The Belcea Quartet is a young and upcoming British string quartet, and this CD proves that their growing reputation is not just hype, as what they give us here are magnificent readings of these two works, not usually paired on record.

Though a relatively underrated work, Brahms' second string quintet is one of the composer's most glorious compositions, of symphonic grandeur and arch-bent lyricism, replete with glorious melodies. Here joined by Thomas Kakuska, the violist of the famed Alban Berg Quartet, the Belcea Quartet has all the required power, richness of texture, homogenous ensemble and perfect pitch. Their first movement, "Allegro no troppo, ma con brio", taken at a rather spacious tempo but full of vigour, has breathtaking intensity. Their adagio does not linger but its lyricism is all the more harrowing as it is not heart-on-sleeve nor lachrymose, and the last pages have a dramatic power seldom heard since the recording by the Amadeus Quartet in the mid-60s. In the 3rd movement ("poco Allegretto"), they do not do the mistake, often encountered with others (as the Budapest Quartet on Sony, the Ludwig Quartet on Naxos, Isaac Stern and partners on Sony among others) of adopting a sluggish and wailing tempo that would turn the movement into a second adagio; on the contrary, theirs is fast and agitated, which doesn't preclude charm in the middle section. Their finale has wonderful gusto. This is a reading equal to the best, which include, to mention only those that have recorded only the 2nd quintet, the Alban Berg Quartet on EMI (coupled with the clarinet quintet in a not so good reading with Sabine Meyer) and the Melos Quartet with Gérard Caussé on Harmonia Mundi (paired with a good reading of the clarinet quintet with Michel Portal).

The same qualities are at play in the first string quartet: symphonic power and high-strung drama in the two outer movements (both written "Allegro), arch-bent lyricism in the 2nd movement "Romanze-poco Adagio" as well as in the 3rd movement "Allegretto molto moderato e comodo", magnificently sustained by the viola's profound chant and a fleeting tempo that again avoids turning the movement it into a second adagio.

This is an indispensable addition to any serious Brahms discography, and makes one hope that the Belceas will record Brahms' remaining string quartets, quintets and sextets.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Great Performance 4 Nov. 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Brahms has written some wonderful melodies. Both works on this disk feature such melodies. Brahms has given many fine specimens of chamber music, but left us with only three String Quartets. This is probably because of very high expectations about his own music, leading him to discard twenty string quartets before publishing his first two, one of which is on this disk. The String Quintet comes roughly 15 years later but the music is equally thrilling, if of a different style.

About the performance.

Belcea Quartet are a rising star in the UK and worldwide. Every time I listened to them live, it was a fantastic experience. Their recordings have been consistently highly rated, including those of Schubert and Ravel, Debussy. I can't find any flaw in their performance in this Brahms cd and I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to this disk repeatedly. I am not very fond of applying adjectives to performances, but I will say that it is a fine one.

Belcea Quartet are joined by Thomas Kakuska of the Alban Berg Quartet, who plays the 2nd viola in the String Quintet.

If you're just looking around, consider this. It is a buy you're not likely to regret.

If you are either a chamber music lover either a Brahms fan this comes highly recommended.

(Since this is 2006, check out their Mozart disk as well.)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A standout 1st quartet from the UK's Belcea Quartet 24 July 2013
By jt52 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I was very happy to acquire this CD because I have - incredibly - had remarkable trouble finding Brahms chamber music recordings that a) are performed artfully, and b) recorded very well. This 2003 CD by the Belcea Quartet does well on both fronts.

The program consists of the 1st quartet in c minor (1873), a composition which attracted the particular interest of Arnold Schoenberg, who thought it showed Brahms' style concentrated into its essence, and the late 2nd quintet (1890) for string quartet plus viola. These are not Brahms' most popular works but they are both very fine, if not always great.

The Belcea Quartet I think presents a remarkable performance of the 1st quartet, in my memory, the best I have heard. It is dramatic, expressive and involved. I was especially impressed by the performance by front woman Corina Belcea. This quartet relies particularly intensively on the performance by the 1st violin and Corina is simply put great: emotional, rhythmically nuanced, with excellent yet delicate projection above the ensemble.

The Op. 111 quintet is I believe a less impressive composition than the quartet, but it's still a major Brahms work and holds many great moments. The addition of a viola to the quartet affects the way Brahms arranged the melodic presentation - the violas and cello play the led melodies much more often than in the quartet - affecting the Belcea's interpretation and making it more of an ensemble piece. They do well although for me it wasn't a musical experience on the level of the 1st quartet.

The recording shows one of the premier younger chamber music ensembles making nice strides and putting together a consistently satisfying pair of interpretations. The sound engineering is absolutely exemplary, with very low digital distortion and a nice spatial setting for the music. This is a very fine recording that you will want in your collection if you are a Brahms fan. Nicely done.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A triumphant Brahms pairing from the Belceas 31 Jan. 2013
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Here from 2003 is remarkable Brahms from the young Belcea Qt. In every bar one hears the combination of freshness, exuberance, and emotional directness that excited British critics - I only wish the Belcea were as highly regarded in the U.S. Their readings of Brahms's first quartet, written when he was forty, and his second string quintet, written when he was fifty-seven, could hardly be bettered. they will appeal to newcomers sheerly for the flow of beautiful music -captured in excellent sound by EMI - and even more to old hands, because both works pose problems that need solving.

Brahms didn't excel in writing string quartets, and the excellent program notes to this CD explain why: he was intimidated by Beethoven's example (as in symphony writing), worried about having anything new to say, and struggled to fit his advanced chromatic harmonies into the narrow container of four voices. At forty the composer felt he was ready, but frankly, his Op. 51 no. 1 is pure overkill. the note writer points out that compression and struggle dominate the entire work. Beethoven gave us episodes of great compression and struggle, but not in this surging, unrelenting fashion. To do justice to Brahms's huge ambition, the Alban Berg Qt. tries to prove that it can match a symphony orchestra in intensity and depth, but for me their effort sounds over-wrought. It compounds the work's weakness.

The Belcea avoid this trap with more rounded, lyrical playing that doesn't tip over the edge. They bring as much song as they can to the turbulent key of C minor - the same key as Brahms's first symphony - and minimize the anguish. Like the ABQ, they produce a beautiful sound and a lovely unanimity of feeling. Everything is in place for a great performance that owes its success to some judicious decisions, even though the result sounds spontaneous, as it must in Romantic music.

Brahms's rich harmonies worked better when he wrote for more than four instruments, and one could easily claim that his best chamber music includes the piano, which afforded the entire range of an orchestra. But he also loved the relaxed mood of the serenade, and his two most lyrical forms, the string quintet and sextet, take us into sunnier climes. The second quintet, Op. 111, stands at the end of writing large orchestral works and at the beginning of an inward journey that is autumnal in the sense of seasoned, wise, resigned, and melancholy. So despite the cheerful key of G major (shared with the upbeat Dvorak Sym. 8), this is a work of mixed moods and struggle before finding peace. The surging cello melody that launches the work is deceptive: the moody minor-key inner movements tell the real story, emotionally speaking.

I tend t find late Brahms depressing; it's like watching Brahms struggle publicly with old age. But the two string quintets are irresistible works if you are willing to accept their ambivalence. The Belcea add so much energy and momentum to each movement, without ignoring the swirling undercurrents, that the result is a total success. they don't bring out false sunshine or succumb to overhanging clouds. Instead, it's a constant play of light and shadow that holds one's attention from bar to bar - very nice.
1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful 23 Nov. 2009
By F. L. Markley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The quintet is beautifully played with lots of energy. Equal to the best live performance I've heard.
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