Arcanto Quartett

Brahms: String Quartet No. 1; Piano Quintet

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Well-played and thoughtfully interpreted, this Harmonia Mundi disc coupling Brahms' C minor String Quartet and F minor Piano Quintet is quite good on a technical level. The players, the Arcanto Quartett with pianist Silke Avenhaus, exhibit a tight ensemble in fast movements, finely drawn balances in slow movements, and a secure sense of tempo and rhythm even in the most complex passages. But the recording fails to explore the more emotional side of Brahms. While the outer movements of the quartet are driven enough, the work's central Romanze and Allegretto are merely pretty. And while the five players' performance of the quintet's Scherzo is amazingly tight, it, like the rest of the performance, lacks fire. There have been many better recordings of both works, and only listeners who have to hear every recording of these standard repertoire items will need to seek out this disc.

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