Nicholas Angelich / Gautier Capuçon / Renaud Capuçon / Gérard Caussé

Brahms: Piano Quartets Nos. 1-3

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AllMusic Review by James Leonard

With this two-disc set of the piano quartets, Nicholas Angelich proves conclusively that he is the best Brahms pianist of his generation. His previous Brahms recordings -- a 2005 disc of the violin sonatas with Renaud Capuçon, a 2006 solo collection featuring the Paganini Variations, a 2007 solo collection of the late piano works, and a 2008 disc of the First Piano Concerto with Paavo Järvi leading the Frankfurt Radio Symphony -- showed his skill in a variety of settings. But this disc takes all Angelich has done before and wrapped up in a single package. In these performances of the German Romantic's piano quartets, there's the poetry of his solo discs, the virtuosity of his concerto disc, and the ensemble ease of his sonatas disc. But here Angelich is teamed not only with Renaud Capuçon, but also with his brother, cellist Gautier Capuçon, and with violist Gérard Caussé, and this small ensemble gives Angelich the room to be everything he can be as a Brahms player. He's a fiery virtuoso in the G minor Quartet, a tragic poet in the C minor Quartet, and a lyrical pastoralist in the A major Quartet. But more than that, Angelich is a full partner with the Capuçon brothers and Caussé, and together they turn in performances that sound truly, deeply, and profoundly Brahmsian, that is, brilliant but thoughtful, reticent but emotional, and always consummately musical. No matter how many recordings of these wonderful works one has, this one should be heard by all dedicated Brahms listeners. Virgin's digital sound is clear, warm, and evocative, but with plenty of detail.

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