Brentano String Quartet  - Reviews

Due to the copyright restrictions in Germany and Switzerland these are only a few reviews which we are explicitly allowed to use. Unfortunately, for this reason a large number of press reviews may not be used at the moment.

  • www.classicalsource.com - London - with Jonathan Biss

  • "The Brentano String Quartet got closest to the wisdom of late-Beethoven in a reading of Opus 135 that you felt transcended the spiritual complexities of the previous Quartets, beginning Opus 127. For a start, the Brentano musicians’ sound is very subtle, the top line leading without being overtly assertive, liberated by cellist Nina Lee’s supremely inventive support, her bassoon-like timbre melting into Misha Amory’s full viola tone. There was a symphonic breadth to their playing that made the slow movement seem longer than it is, and their handling of the Finale’s “Muss es sein?” conundrum a comprehensive expression of the wit and sense of resolution and self-knowledge that defines the music." (Peter Reed, 8.11.16)

  • The Strad - Wigmore Hall London

  • „The Brentano String Quartet uncovered the bite of the opening movement’s [Haydn op. 50/4] rhythmic obsession as well as the uncompromising intensity of the bleak fugue that provides the finale - a link nicely brought out by the encore, Contrapunctus I from Bach’s Art of the Fugue. In Britten’s Third Quartet the Brentano immediately captured the emotional and tonal ambiguity of the opening movement. All the technical showstoppers were impeccably delivered but never at the expense of sheer musical logic. I have never heard the Venetian-inspired bell-like sounds of the introduction to the finale conjured so magically, or the following passacaglia so perfectly paced.” (Geraint Lewis, 07.03.16)

  • The Whole Note - CD Schubert live

  • “It is indeed a wonderful performance of one of the greatest works in the chamber music repertoire.” (2/16)

  • The Guardian - Wigmore Hall London

  • “A mastercalss in eloquence. The Brentano Quartet present the listener with one of those unresolvable but intriguing paradoxes of chamber music dynamics: unlike some quartets, their sound is not overtly dominated by their first violinist. Yet the excellent Mark Steinberg’s purity of tone and precise articulation, which do so much to make the Brentano’s sound so satisfyingly collegial, is at the same time also one of this quartet’s defining characteristics. [...] Bartók’s Third Quartet became the evening’s highlight, not least because this yearning and intertwining score offers so much opportunity for individual players to interact in quicksilver detail, while always working its way towards the explosive ending – in which the boldness of Nina Lee’s cello playing was particularly striking and wholly convincing.” (Martin Kettle, 8.1.15, www.theguardian.com/music/2015/jan/08/brentano-quartet-review-wigmore-hall)

  • The New York Times - Film “A Late Quartet”

  • “The film’s musical centerpiece, Beethoven’s Quartet in C sharp minor (Op. 131), is a tumultuous 40-minute string quartet whose seven movements are to be played without a pause. The ravishing version heard in the film belongs to the Brentano String Quartet, whose recording is piercingly intense.” (Stephen Holden, 1 November 2012)

  • www.allmusic.com - CD Beethoven op.127/ op.131

  • “The Brentano String Quartet brings a special level of refinement and attention to detail in its 2011 Aeon recording. Among its many strengths is an ability to deliver on the chamber music ideals of equal partnership and intellectual dialogue. The group produces a sound that gives the impression of a single, unified instrument that is beautifully balanced and sensitive to the changing importance of individual lines. The differentiation in tone colour runs the gamut between the tenderness of the Op. 127 Adagio and the forcefulness of the Op. 131 Allegro finale.”

  • www.allthingsstrings.co - CD Beethoven op.127/ op.131

  • “The group’s performance of Op. 127 is so overwhelming that you could make a case for its being the greatest of the late quartets.”

  • Boston Globe - “Fragments”

  • “Sunday’s performance by the Brentano String Quartet at Rockport Music had the spirit of a stroll through a painter’s studio, with moistened brushes still glistening, and paint-splattered canvases leaning up against the walls. […] The composer who took the assignment in the most novel direction was Gubaidulina, responding to the final unfinished fugue from Bach’s “Art of Fugue’’ with “Reflections on the Theme of B-A-C-H,’’ a deeply felt work of fierce expressive power. Her piece employs her signature ghostly whispers and rustles but builds to caterwauling climaxes with music of unusual physicality and plaintive glissandi reaching upward in all directions. Silence presses in on all sides of this piece, and the concluding measures seem to speak of ultimate things. The Brentano gave it an excellent performance, and filled the whole afternoon with taut playing that amounted to more than the sum of its parts.”

  • The New York Times

  • “The Brentano String Quartet is something special. [...] Their music making is private, delicate and fresh, but by its very intimacy and importance it seizes attention. [...] As usual with this ensemble, the performances were full of life. [...] They seem to be listening to the same heartbeat.”

  • The Times - London

  • “Such was their ferocity on Saturday night that the instruments almost burst into flames. [...] The Brentanos are a magnificent quartet. [...] This was wonderful, selfless music making.”

  • www.musicweb-international.com - Wigmore Hall London

  • “As an interpretation this was second to none and as a performance it ranks as one of the best performances of a late Schubert [D 887] I have ever heard. What is more, the playing was of such stature, and the interpretation of such insight, that one didn’t want any more, nor could one have stood it.”

  • New York Times - Weill Recital Hall

  • "Still, the notion is generally sound, and this ensemble’s velvety tone and interpretative intensity is ideal for music of maturity and emotional weight."

  • L’Hebdo - Théâtre de Vevey

  • "The execution of the magnificant Adagio, the heart of the work, was magistral. And again the attentive listener immersed in the heart of the mystery. […] the auditory applauded for a long time."

  • The Strad - CD Mozart

  • "These players communicate a wealth of detail through their perceptive structural observation, deftly controlled ensemble, sensitive dynamic nuancing and fastidious balancing and blending parts. They display grace, poise and commendable flexibility […]. These players' enjoyment of their music making is clearly evident. […] Their performance of the work's kernel, the pensive Adagio, is sensitively conveyed with shapely phrasing and faithfully realised dynamic contrasts. The recording combines immediacy with an attractive ambient warmth."

  • Classic FM Magazine - CD Mozart

  • "The Brentanos draw rapt attention to two relatively unplayed masterpieces, particularly the quintet with its rich viola at the heart."

  • Diapason - CD Mozart

  • "This interpretation is of those which require an attentive listening. Just and sober, the Brentanos never seek to force the text. It is especially due to a very coherent articulation, a very sure musical taste and a neat proportioning of the nuances and polyphonic balances that they manage to emphasize the traditional perfection from these two demanding works for the interpreters as for the listeners. […] An interpretation in any point admirable, harmonious and elaborated, in the image of these two master pieces of classical perfection."

  • The New York Times

  • "The Brentano String Quartet is something special. Their music making is private, delicate and fresh, but by its very intimacy and importance it seizes attention."

  • The Independent - Barbican series London

  • "Here [Berg's "Lyric Suite"] was music being made, the listener taken by the eras into the inherent beauty of the piece, regardless of any era. The homogeneity of approach - balance, gesture, stroke - between the players was extraordinary; the tenderness, fluency, dynamic control and architectural sense exceptional."

  • The New York Times - Carnegie Hall

  • "The Brentano is a smart quartet that risks… The musicians plunged into the quintet with visible abandon, bodies wrapped intently around their instruments, riding the music from husky quiet to piercing climaxes."

  • The Times (London)

  • "Such was their ferocity on Saturday night that the instruments almost burst into flames. […] The Brentanos are a magnificent string quartet. This was wonderful, selfless music making."

  • Glasgow Herald

  • "…a miracle of beauty, integration ad soft-grained passion, meltingly radiant in texture and perhaps the high point of an evening filled with wonders."

  • The New York Times

  • "…a raw and impassioned reading that brought out the exhilarating energy generated by Beethoven's colliding lines, the tangled thicket of counterpoint."

  • The Washington Post

  • "A remarkable capacity for magical ensemble playing effervescent."

  • Newsday (New York) - Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall

  • "They play in a tense, coiled style gorgeously suited to the extremes of expression that Berg explicitly demanded in the score: 'mysterious', 'ecstatic', 'delirious', 'tenebrous', 'desolate'."

  • The Washington Post

  • "Spectacular…Superbly balanced…Sublime."

  • Edinburgh - Queen's Hall

  • "To the music of Haydn, Ligeti and Debussy, the players brought pulsations keenly in keeping with each composer, making their programme a study in fine detail, scrupulous colouring, vibrancy, poise, alertness, surprise."

  • The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

  • "Compelling….Mesmerizing…Superb."

  • Houston Chronicle

  • "As profound as a listener could want."

  • The Strad

  • "The glittering clarity of the Brentano's sound was intoxicating. A revelatory performance."

  • The New York Times

  • "As usual with this ensemble, the performances were full of life. They seem to be listening to the same heartbeat."

  • The Guardian (London)

  • "Exemplary performances...startling musical revelations."

  • Kansas City Star

  • "Magnificent. The Brentanos [are] the talk of the chamber-music community."

  • The Daily Telegraph (London)

  • "Hair-raising. An ensemble of exceptional insight and communicative gifts."

  • Los Angeles Times

  • "Brilliant, virtuosic, and still mellow, its members perfectly meshed in sound while retaining their individual personalities - the Brentano String Quartet must be one of the great musical hopes of a field overcrowded with contenders."

  • The Washington Post

  • "The Brentano Quartet could not have offered a more convincing interpretation. […] Rewarding in every way."

  • The Independent (London)

  • "I'd never heard the Brentano before-this was their British debut-but I knew of their reputation. And the agile, wiry intelligence of their playing, in a constant state of alert, was every bit as good as promised."

  • Philadelphia Inquirer

  • "The concert made it clear that these players could well be the best of the latest generation. Their level of individual technique was superb, while musical dialog necessary for rich chamber music was evident from first to last."

  • The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

  • "Delicious contrasts punctuate group's intense playing. […] The players apply expressive heat in subtle degrees, forming coherent musical statements as they share material and clarify contrapuntal dialogues."

  • The Washington Post - Corcoran Gallery of Art

  • "Breathing as one, they made music as a unit, communicating nuances to each other with the lift of an eyebrow or tilt of a head."