Brandis Quartet

Schubert: The Late Chamber Music for Strings

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With two current and two former members of the Berlin Philharmonic, including a former concertmaster, as members, the Brandis Quartet is essentially a string chamber music reincarnation of the Philharmonic. The same sense of polish, pride, and sublimated passion that infused the Philharmonic's performances under Herbert von Karajan informs its performances as well. Yet there is also a strong sense of kids let out of school in the performances, too, a feeling of liberty, honesty, and even joy that was so often missing from the Berlin's performances under Karajan. In these early-'90s recordings of Schubert's last three string quartets, plus the Quartetsatz and String Quintet, the Brandis plays with consummate beauty of tone and wholly polished ensemble, but with something more, as well. From a technical point of view, the performances are equal to the finest ever made -- the polished Amadeus Quartet's, the soulful Budapest Quartet's, the beautiful Quartetto Italiano, and the intellectual Alban Berg's -- but the Brandis' ardent lyricism and elated tempos give them a wholly individual character. If the Brandis' performances seem a bit too restrained for some listeners, well, as the saying goes, you can take the players out of the BPO, but you can't take the BPO out of the players. Nimbus' sound is positively golden.

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