Chamber Music

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BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonata No. 23 in F Minor, Op. 57 "Appassionata"BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonata No. 23 in F Minor, Op. 57 "Appassionata"
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827):
Piano Sonata No. 23

in F Minor, Op. 57 · "Appassionata"

Performed by Lilya Zilberstein (Piano)

Instrument: Concert Grand Piano D 280 by C. Bechstein

A concert recording from Bad Homburg Castle (Germany), October 2007
Remastered Original Recording

HD Recording · DDD · Duration: 24 Min. 24 Sec.

Digital Album · 3 Tracks

MP3

MP3 Album

320 kBit/sec.

EUR 3,80SpotifyDeezerNapsterGoogle PlayApple MusicYouTube MusicNaxos Music LibraryAmazon MusicPrimephonicIdagioTidalAmazon.comiTunesQobuz HDeClassical HDPresto Classical HDHD TracksReview

***** The best sounding recording of a piano

This performance of two Beethoven sonatas recorded before a live audience in a castle in Germany by pianist Lilya Zilberstein is incredible in two respects. First, the Appassionata is played as well as anyone I know, including the many legends of the keyboard who have recorded this masterpiece. Zilberstein has it all--technique, style, and passion. Equally remarkable is the sound. This is the best sounding recording of a piano I have ever heard--it must be heard to be believed, and if you are lucky to have a fine sound system you are in for a stupendous aural treat. If wish to hear a magnificant performance in otherwordly fidelity I urge you to track this release down before it becomes unavailable.

'Oldnslow' on Amazon.com

Review

***** Exceptional Appassionata

Sonata 23 is a war horse. There are literally 3-5 dozen versions online from older versions Schnabel (much too fast) to Brendel and Horowitz (quite staid) Kissin Gilels Schiff Goode and others. This one has superb recording. It is live and one can feel the tension with the audience. It is exceptionally clean and not exceedingly fast. You can hear the nuances that lay buried in the ear with the speedsters. She has wonderful rubato moments and the phrase to phrase dynamics are exceptionally well done. Importantly it is very exciting to hear though you know every note; it appears fresh as I feel it is new, modern interpretation. Congratulations Lilya. I hope to hear you in concert in Boston.

'George R. Collison' on Amazon.com

Review

***** Even among all Beethoven sonatas on the market, this one stands out

The disc is a product of Germany's K&K label, which specializes in live performances held in historically significant, if not acoustically appropriate, locations. Here they manage both. The Castle Church of Bad Homburg offers a fine ambiance for piano music in general and for Zilberstein's muscular, dynamic style in particular.
The disc offers the first half of a live concert whose date is localized only to October 2007; the second half was devoted to music of Brahms. At 52 minutes the program is short, but it is complete in itself, and one wants to hear the other disc if only to find out whether Zilberstein can sustain the intensity level from this half.
Zilbertstein has managed to devise fresh, fully realized interpretations of these two sonatas - no small feat, especially in the case of the ubiquitous Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 ('Appassionata'). Hear Zilberstein's exquisite shaping of the work's brooding opening page. The Beethovenian short-short-short long motif that plays such an important role in binding the music together is introduced in the shadows, but soon enough emerges as an exclamation with sufficent force to propel the main theme through its numerous harmonic transformations.
The level of tension in the entire sonata is remarkable; even the middle movement seems to see the with repressed energy. The early Piano Sonata No. 2 in A major, Op. 2, No. 2, is equally strong, with a unique rhythmic conception of the main theme. Just sit and listen: even among all the Beethoven sonatas on the market, this one stands out.

James Manheim, All Music Guide USA

Fantasies & Illusions ~ Bach's Sons and the FortepianoFantasies & Illusions ~ Bach's Sons and the Fortepiano
Fantasies & Illusions
Bach's Sons and the Fortepiano

Slobodan Jovanović (Fortepiano/Hammerflügel) plays

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788):
Sonata No. 4 in A Major, Wq 55,4 (H. 186), from: "For Connoisseurs & Amateurs", 1st Collection
& Fantasia in F-Sharp Minor, Wq 67 (H. 300) "C.P.E. Bach's Impressions"

Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (1710-1784):
12 Polonaises, Falck 12 & Fantasia in A Minor, Falck 23

Slobodan Jovanović (*1977):
Iluzija

A recording from the Laurentius Church in Karlsruhe (Germany)

HD Recording · DDD · Duration: c. 79 Minutes


CD
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Featured by Spotify

This release is featured in the editorial Spotify playlist of handpicked new classical releases - August 2, 2019

Spotify Editorial Staff

Review

**** Marvelous music, played with verve and dazzling dexterity

The Bach sons referenced, in this album's title, Fantasies & Illusions - Bach's Sons and the Fortepiano, are Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and his older brother Wilhelm Friedemann. The pianist for this disc, Serbian-born Slobodan Jovanovic, also contributes a brief piece, and penned the extensive program notes about the music. Unfortunately, they are printed in German only, a language I barely know, so I cannot comment on their usefulness. What I can report with confidence is that the music is marvelous, and Jovanovic plays it with verve and dazzling dexterity. The chief thing to know about the Bach boys is that, despite having been instructed almost exclusively by their great father, the music that they produced represented a distinctive break from the world of the Baroque. C. P. E. Bach gives us rather more imaginative and lively music than his sibling, especially so in the fast outer movements of the Classically designed sonata. This music is bursting with joy. But he was also capable of considerable depth and repose, as in the beautiful Adagio of the sonata. The large Fantasia, clocking in here at 11 and a half minutes, is a work of extraordinary inventiveness, and most likely represents a setting down of one or more of the improvisations that the composer was widely renowned for. To my ears it sounds like a precursor to the Rondo in A Minor of Mozart.
Wilhelm Friedemann Bach's polonaises are not as zesty as C. P. E.'s works, but just as expertly constructed, with an added layer of gracefulness that sets them apart. The polonaise format was very popular in late 18th century Germany, although these brief, lighthearted pieces have nothing in common with the massive works that Chopin was to create in the same name a generation later. I first encountered this music many years ago at a live performance by the superb American fortepianist Andrew Willis. There are only a handful of recordings of this delightful music available (alas, Willis not among them), and so this new recording is very welcome, especially given the fine recorded sound and the superbly colorful palette of Susanne Merzdorf's excellent reproduction of a 1782 Anton Walter instrument.
Jovanovic's own music, which dates to 1996, is quirky but intriguing, reminding me of a music box that starts out with a simple, sing-song tune, then begins to malfunction, leading it into odd key changes and rhythmic hiccups before somehow fixing itself and returning to proper working order. He rather bravely inserts the five-minute piece among the polonaises, but despite vast stylistic differences, there is a sense of mutual intellectual curiosity that tends to make the whole sequence flow surprisingly smoothly.

Review

Peter Burwasser - Fanfare Magazine,
also published on Amazon.com, February 2020

Glass & StonesGlass & Stones
Vienna Glass Armonica Duo
Glass & Stones
A concert with the Vienna Glass Armonica Duo (Glass Armonica & Verrophone),
Christa Schönfeldinger (Glass Armonica)
and Gerald Schönfeldinger (Verrophone)
plays works by Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741),
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), Gottfried Keller (1819-1890),
Carl Röllig (1754-1804), Edward Grieg (1843-1907),
Arvo Pärt, Ennio Morricone and Gerald Schönfeldinger
A concert recording from the church of the German
UNESCO World Heritage Site Maulbronn Monastery
HD Recording · DDD · ca. 55 minutes
CD
EUR 22,00SpotifyDeezerNapsterApple MusicAmazon MusicTidaliTunes MasteredFor...HDtracksQobuz HDeClassical HDReview

One of the most satisfying glass harmonica discs ever

The Vienna Glasharmonika Duo, consisting of husband and wife Gerald and Christa Schönfeldinger, is one of the longest established groups wholly devoted to performing music written for glass and their K&K-Verlagsanstalt release Glas & Steine (Glass & Stone) is of an in-concert recording from the summer of 2006. Christa Schönfeldinger performs on a reconstructed instrument that is almost exactly like the glass armonica that Benjamin Franklin invented in 1761 rather than the crystal glasses in a suitcase instrument more commonly used since Bruno Hoffman revived glass music in the 1950s. Gerald Schönfeldinger plays a modern instrument called a Verrophon that consists of a set of test tube-like glasses and contributes three original compositions to the program written in an idiom very well suited to this exotic combination of instruments. The recording, touted as a "Direct 2-Track Stereo" release, is excellent, made at Maulbronn Monastery in Austria, which has superb acoustics. Although the program includes the expected Mozart K. 617a and arrangements of some other pieces by him, it does expand upon our notions of glass harmonica music. Especially notable is the inclusion of Arvo Pärt's Intervallo, written in open score and usually played on the organ but perfectly well suited to the glass harmonica. Ennio Morricone's Il Gatto is included as a way to vary the sound of the program, which includes some glasses as struck with soft mallets in addition to the usual bowing with the fingertip. However, the most striking piece is Vienna Glasharmonika Duo's transcription of Edvard Grieg's lyric piece Der Kobold, which succeeds well in stretching the boundaries of these instruments, demonstrating that fast passagework is possible and the glass harmonica need not be limited to long, sustained notes, even though that's the kind of musical texture that suits it best.... ...Glas & Steine is one of the most satisfying glass harmonica discs ever. The resonance of Maulbronn Monastery helps take the edge off the sometimes-piercing top notes of the glass - notable especially in studio-made recordings - and provides an ambience that is appropriately ghostly and evocative...

Uncle Dave Lewis - All Music Guide

Grand Piano Masters · AppassionataGrand Piano Masters · Appassionata
Grand Piano Masters
Appassionata
Lilya Zilberstein plays
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827):
Sonata No. 2 in A Major, Op. 2, No. 2
Sonata No. 23 in F Minor, Op. 57 "Appassionata"
Instrument: Concert Grand Piano D 280 by C. Bechstein
A concert recording from Bad Homburg Castle
in Germany, October 2007
HD Recording · DDD · c. 52 Minutes
CD
EUR 22,00SpotifyDeezerNapsterGoogle PlayYouTube MusicApple MusicAmazon.com MusicPrimephonicIdagioTidalAmazon.comiTunesQobuz HDeClassical HDPresto Classical HDHD TracksReview

***** The best sounding recording of a piano

This performance of two Beethoven sonatas recorded before a live audience in a castle in Germany by pianist Lilya Zilberstein is incredible in two respects. First, the Appassionata is played as well as anyone I know, including the many legends of the keyboard who have recorded this masterpiece. Zilberstein has it all--technique, style, and passion. Equally remarkable is the sound. This is the best sounding recording of a piano I have ever heard--it must be heard to be believed, and if you are lucky to have a fine sound system you are in for a stupendous aural treat. If wish to hear a magnificant performance in otherwordly fidelity I urge you to track this release down before it becomes unavailable.

'Oldnslow' on Amazon.com

Review

***** Exceptional Appassionata

Sonata 23 is a war horse. There are literally 3-5 dozen versions online from older versions Schnabel (much too fast) to Brendel and Horowitz (quite staid) Kissin Gilels Schiff Goode and others. This one has superb recording. It is live and one can feel the tension with the audience. It is exceptionally clean and not exceedingly fast. You can hear the nuances that lay buried in the ear with the speedsters. She has wonderful rubato moments and the phrase to phrase dynamics are exceptionally well done. Importantly it is very exciting to hear though you know every note; it appears fresh as I feel it is new, modern interpretation. Congratulations Lilya. I hope to hear you in concert in Boston.

'George R. Collison' on Amazon.com

Review

***** Even among all Beethoven sonatas on the market, this one stands out

The disc is a product of Germany's K&K label, which specializes in live performances held in historically significant, if not acoustically appropriate, locations. Here they manage both. The Castle Church of Bad Homburg offers a fine ambiance for piano music in general and for Zilberstein's muscular, dynamic style in particular.
The disc offers the first half of a live concert whose date is localized only to October 2007; the second half was devoted to music of Brahms. At 52 minutes the program is short, but it is complete in itself, and one wants to hear the other disc if only to find out whether Zilberstein can sustain the intensity level from this half.
Zilbertstein has managed to devise fresh, fully realized interpretations of these two sonatas - no small feat, especially in the case of the ubiquitous Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 ('Appassionata'). Hear Zilberstein's exquisite shaping of the work's brooding opening page. The Beethovenian short-short-short long motif that plays such an important role in binding the music together is introduced in the shadows, but soon enough emerges as an exclamation with sufficent force to propel the main theme through its numerous harmonic transformations.
The level of tension in the entire sonata is remarkable; even the middle movement seems to see the with repressed energy. The early Piano Sonata No. 2 in A major, Op. 2, No. 2, is equally strong, with a unique rhythmic conception of the main theme. Just sit and listen: even among all the Beethoven sonatas on the market, this one stands out.

James Manheim, All Music Guide USA

Grand Piano Masters · ImpromptuGrand Piano Masters · Impromptu
Grand Piano Masters
Impromptu
Franz Vorraber plays
Franz Schubert (1797-1828):
Impromptus Opus 90 (D899) I-IV
& Wanderer Fantasy Opus 15 (D760)
Instrument: Concert Grand Piano: D 280 by C. Bechstein
A concert recording from Bad Homburg Castle in Germany
HD Recording · DDD · c. 63 Minutes
CD
EUR 22,00SpotifyDeezerNapsterGoogle PlayApple MusicYouTube MusicNaxos Music LibraryAmazon.com MusicTidalPrimephonicIdagioAmazon.comiTunes MasteredFor...QobuzPresto Classical HDHD TracksReview

***** A wonderful and delicate piece of music...

I wish to write this review not only praising the quality and beauty of music contained on this album but also to thank K&K Verlagsanstalt personally for their generosity towards me. I am a film student who has just finished producing my graduate film. During post production I sort through many different recordings of Schubert Impromptus in particular the Impromptu Op.90 No.3 in G flat major. I felt this music would be appropriate for my film as it holds a certain bitter sweet quality that is rarely found is seldom come across. I chose the recording of K&K's as I believed it to be the most beautiful, with the lovely expression contained in the performance and overall clarity of the piece. I contacted K&K shortly after hearing it and they were kind enough to grant me the use of their recording for which, I am forever grateful.
I cannot explain my gratitude towards K&K Verlagsanstal and also Franz Vorraber for such a virtuoso performance. All I can give is my support of their products and recommendation to others purchase their music.

'Glynncat' on Amazon.com

Review

***** Beauty

This is real music... it's classic and its a beautiful melody... verry catchy and it's soothing. Pretty much just awesome!... not kiddnig.

'Holly Jo McCoy' on iTunes

Review

Qualitative recording

This is a qualitative recording without background noise.

'TianSky' on iTunes

Grand Piano Masters · The NightwindGrand Piano Masters · The Nightwind
Grand Piano Masters
The Nightwind
Severin von Eckardstein plays
Franz Schubert: Piano Sonata No. 14 in A Minor D. 784
Claude Debussy: Images, Set 2, L 111
Nikolai Medtner: Piano Sonata in E Minor, Op.25 No.2
"Night Wind" & 3 encores by Prokofiev, Scriabin and Tchaikovsky
Instrument: C. Bechstein Concert Grand Piano D 280
A concert recording from the Philharmonia Mercatorhalle
in Duisburg (Germany), April 15th 2012
HD Recording · DDD · Duration: c. 77 Minutes
CD
EUR 22,00SpotifyDeezerNapsterApple MusicAmazon.com MusicPrimephonicIdagioTidalAmazon.comiTunes Apple Digital MasterQobuz HDPresto Classical HDeClassical HDHD TracksReview

Severin von Eckardstein Live at Duisburgs Mercatorhalle

The seriousness and intensity with which von Eckardstein imbues Schubert's Sonata in A Minor; the wealth of tone colours this winner of Brussels's Queen Elisabeth Music Competition draws from the C. Bechstein concert grand piano for Debussy's Images; the virtuosity of his interpretation of Medtner's sonata: all this really breathtaking. Ingo Hoddick states in an article published in the Rheinische Post: "Von Eckardstein is captivating through his music with clear tonal contours and his serene and passionate approach of playing the piano. He does it all with virtually no gimmickry or flamboyance - which cannot be said of many contemporary artists..." The CD also includes three poetic pieces by Prokofiev, Scriabin and Tchaikovsky. These encores offered to the euphoric audience demonstrate von Eckardstein's sensitivity in conjuring a magical atmosphere from a C. Bechstein concert grand piano.

Bechstein.com

Haydn · Grand duos pour deux guitaresHaydn · Grand duos pour deux guitares
Joseph Haydn · François de Fossa:
Grand duos pour deux guitares
Four divertimentos for stringquartet by Joseph Haydn,
edited for guitar-duo by François de Fossa (1775-1849),
performed with historical guitares from the 19th century
by the ensemble Duo Sonare:
Jens Wagner & Thomas Offermann
A concert recording from the German
UNESCO World Heritage Site Maulbronn Monastery
HD Recording · DDD · c. 60 Minutes
CD
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***** Elegant music with a superb sound...

These are pleasing contemporary arrangements of Haydn's relatively little-known Divertimenti for string quartet. Undemanding, elegant music which adapts well to the two guitar medium, and has an added interest because this duo plays always on instruments of the respective musical era, rebuilt copies: 'after all, they played on new guitars back then, so why should we have to give concerts with old ones?' !
The sound as recorded in the Laymen Refectory of the 1147 Maulbronn Monastery is superb, and the pleasure vastly enhanced by looking at the fabulous website, with pictures instantly putting you right into the ambience of this World Heritage Site where some 25 concerts are held annually.

Andy Smith on Amazon.com

Review

A superb guitar duo

I was absolutely privileged to witness three concerts by this superb guitar duo. I own all their recordings and don't feel there are many better at historical guitar interpretation than they.

Toka Reva on YouTube

Mozart: All Chamber Piano ConcertosMozart: All Chamber Piano Concertos
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
All Chamber Piano Concertos

The 4 Piano Concertos by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,
which were originally composed for Piano & String Quartet,
performed by Christoph Soldan (Piano) and the Silesian Chamber Soloists (String Quintet)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791):
Piano Concerto No. 11 in F Major, K. 413 · Piano Concerto No. 12 in A Major, K. 414
Piano Concerto No. 13 in C Major, K. 415 · Piano Concerto No. 14 in E-Flat Major, K. 449
Recorded live in two concerts to 'Direct 2-Track Stereo Digital HD'

HD Recording · DDD · Duration: 1 Hour / 26 Min. / 29 Sec.
Digital Double Album · 12 Tracks · incl. Digital Booklet

MP3

MP3 Album

320 kBit/sec.

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***** A fine alternative... I strongly recommend this set.

I accidentally came upon this two disc set on Spotify. If, like me, you are always on the look out for new performances and versions of Mozart piano concertos you will probably enjoy these performances, and at the same time know that they are by the master's hand, so nobody else has fiddled with them ! The string quintet accompanying is very alert and sympathetic to the many strands and gradations of colour, even sometimes sounding like a larger body than they really are. Christoph Soldan is a fine Mozart pianist and his piano is well recorded. I do not know what type or make it is, but it has a very bright and appealing sound which contrats well with the strings. Christoph Soldan has specialised in Mozart for a long time and has many recordings to his name and It is a pity that he is not more well known over here. These are not particularly intimate performances as the performers project themselves well, though there is plenty of feeling and beauty in their playing. I do not like showy or long or gimmicky cadenzas, but I smiled at his in the finale to concerto no, 14. I wouldn't want to be without the full orchestral versions of these concertos and though these do not displace them, they are immensely enjoyable. I strongly recommend this set.

Paul Capell on Amazon.com

Review

Featured by Spotify​

This release is featured by Spotify​ in the editorial playlist CLASSICAL FOCUS

The Spotify editorial team

Musica Sacra · Die ZeitMusica Sacra · Die Zeit
Musica Sacra
Die Zeit
'The period of time'
Songs, arias and instrumental music from the 17th and 18th century
by Johann Rist, Johann Schop (c. 1590-1667),
Nikolaus Adam Strungk (1640-1700),
Heinrich Scheidemann (c. 1595-1663),
Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)
and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788)
Dorothee Mields (Soprano)
& Ensemble Hamburger Ratsmusik:
Simone Eckert (Viola da gamba & Diskant-Viola da Gamba),
Ulrich Wedemeier (Theorbo),
Michael Fuerst (Harpsichord)
A concert recording from the church of the German
UNESCO World Heritage Site Maulbronn Monastery
HD Recording · DDD · c. 60 Minutes
CD
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A spirited rediscovery of true expression that's centuries old

This album is part of a series recorded live at the medieval-era Maulbronn Monastery in southern Germany, but it explores the music of a very different region: the Hamburger Ratsmusik, doubtless a strange name to Anglophone ears, is the Music of the Hamburg City Council, a concert series with a tradition a half a millennium long. It petered out and was then revived.
This concert, conceptualized by gambist and ensemble leader Simone Eckert, collects a group of pieces from the 18th century, all connected by the single theme of time (die Zeit)... The combination of pieces is largely unlike anything that's been put on disc before, and many of them are unknown. The program combines simple, strophic settings like Johann Schop's "O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort" (O Eternity, You Thunder-Word), from the mid-17th century, with Telemann's simple moralistic cantatas, more involved Bachian pieces, and instrumental works of several kinds.
Soprano Dorothee Mields does an exceptional job of communicating the sober but appealing mood of the music, so different from the operatic ideals that informed even much of the output of Bach, and the backing musicians keep everything lively even as the emotion level is low-key; the two Telemann trio sonatas included are nicely differentiated by accompaniment, with one featuring a theorbo continuo.
The whole program breathes and feels like a spirited rediscovery of true expression that's centuries old, and the sound from the monastery is well suited to this music. Recommended, partly in hopes that the album will stimulate further exploration of the repertory from Hamburg, an immensely influential city in its day.

James Manheim, All Music Guide USA

Organ Gloriosa · In honour of the Prince of HomburgOrgan Gloriosa · In honour of the Prince of Homburg
Organ Gloriosa
In honour of the Prince of Homburg
Ulrike Northoff presents
the Great Buergy-Organ in the Bad Homburg Castle Church
with Johann S. Bach: Fantasia et Fuga "The Great",
Georg Muffat: Passacaglia for Organ,
Carl Ph.E. Bach: Sonata No. IV,
Christian H. Rinck: Flute Concerto for Organ Op. 55,
Felix Mendelssohn: Organ Sonata No. IV, Op. 65
Recorded in the Castle Church Bad Homburg
HD Recording · DDD · c. 56 Minutes
CD
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A fine compilation

This fine compilation of show stopping organ works is done full justice by the imposing Bad Homburg Church Organ played with relish and gusto by Ulrike Northoff. Starting off with Bach, appropriately enough, she gives a titanic interpretation of the 'Great' Fantasia and Fugue, BWV 542. The rarely heard Sonata by Bach's son Carl Philipp Emanuel also comes across quite nicely as does an interesting discovery by Christian Rinck, a rather obscure name whose Concerto for organ (originally for flute) certainly warrants some attention. We finally conclude with some Mendelssohn, his fourth sonata which comes across very well played indeed. K&K's presentation is quite excellent with expansive notes and some very striking photographs. The sound is very vivid and immediate although some boom is also detected due to the large, cavernous acoustic.

Gerald Fenech on Classical Net

Review

HI-RES AUDIO

Awarded by Qobuz with the HI-RES AUDIO

March 2012

Schubert: The Death And The Maiden & Janácek: Intimate LettersSchubert: The Death And The Maiden & Janácek: Intimate Letters
String Quartets
Schubert: The Death And The Maiden
Janácek: Intimate Letters
Leos Janácek: String Quartet No.2 "Intimate Letters"
& Franz Schubert: String Quartet in D Minor "The death and the Maiden",
performed by the Amati Quartet
A concert recording from the German
UNESCO World Heritage Site Maulbronn Monastery
HD Recording · DDD · c. 65 Minutes
CD
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An extraordinary reading that rises to the moment

The severe sound environment of the Maulbronn Abbey, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the German state of Baden-Württemberg that dates to the twelfth century, has given rise to a series of recordings covering varying aspects of music from the Western concert tradition. That sound environment is put to intelligent use in this string quartet recital, which pairs well-worn pieces but gives them unusually intense interpretations that are heightened by the hard resonance of the sound. Sample the very beginning of the Schubert "String Quartet in D minor, D. 810" "Death and the Maiden", to get yourself into the disc; the opening chords might be described as slashing. Move on to the second-movement variation set built on the song that gives the quartet its name; where many quartets let a sort of debilitated gloom hang over much of the movement, everything here is a life-and-death struggle. The stronger of the two performances on the disc is that of Janácek's 1928 "String Quartet No. 2," subtitled "Intimate Letters," a hypersubjective work whose emotional content could have been drawn straight from one of Sigmund Freud's contemporaneous psychotherapy sessions. The work is as dissonant as almost any other of its period that does not completely reject tonality, but the dissonance is used in the service of untrammelled expression. The letters evoked are those between the composer and his married mistress. Yet the Amati Quartet's performance, ringing around the monastery walls, brings to mind, to use John le Carré's memorable simile, thoughts that are like birds stuck in a greenhouse. It's an extraordinary reading that rises to the moment offered by a specific performance space, and the disc as a whole, while not for those who like the emotional temperature of their classical music kept to medium, is decisively recommended to those wanting to try out the Maulbronn series.

James Manheim, All Music Guide

Review

I enjoyed it tremendously

It took me completely unawares when the dramatic opening bars of "Death and the Maiden" gripped me by the throat and threatened immediate life-extinction; I felt as if I were living the story myself, and though no maiden, I could certainly relate to her death-obsessed plight. This version is almost orchestral in feeling. While it is true that there is a huge amount of reverb in this space - well, it is a monastery - this only partially accounts for the destructive vehemence that the Amati gives this work. They see and saw their way as if it were the world's last concert, or the devil himself was in the audience. I enjoyed it tremendously...

Steven E. Ritter, FANFARE Magazine

Review

Another thumbs up for this extremely enterprising German label

The enterprising German label K&K has made a name for themselves by issuing critically acclaimed recordings of oratorios and other sacred works in the haunting location of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Maulbronn Monastery. This CD features two string quartets by masters in the genre, Franz Schubert and Leoš Janácek played by the legendary Amati Quartet, one of the finest ensembles currently recording. Both works come across quite beautifully in the sumptuous acoustic and as expected, the Amati play with their exemplary brilliance especially in the "Intimate Letters" which is certainly very hard to bring off. This is another thumbs up for this extremely enterprising German label.

Gerald Fenech on Classical Net

Review

HI-RES AUDIO

Awarded by Qobuz with the HI-RES AUDIO

March 2012

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