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Penguin Guide, January 2009

Like the Shostakovich Piano Quintet, with which it is aptly coupled, the Schnittke Piano Quintet of 1972–5 is one of the composer’s most poignant and haunting works. Dedicated to the memory of his mother, and darkly elegiac, it was finished in the year of Shostakovich’s death. Its mood of gloom, unrelieved except for a painfully plaintive waltz in the second of the five movements, inspires Berman and the Vermeers to a performance as powerfully concentrated as that of the Shostakovich; if the CBC studios in Toronto do not always flatter their tone, this is a real bargain.

Penguin Guide, January 2009

It is luxury casting to have on the Naxos budget label the Vermer Quartet, one of the finest in America, in partnership with another star artist, Boris Berman. This is a dedicated performance, recorded for Canadian radio, which with fearlessly extreme dynamic contrasts brings out the full greatness of the piece. The Schnittke Piano Quintet of 1972-5 makes an apt and unusual coupling, similarly one of the composer’s finest chamber works. The CBC studio recording is acceptable, and if the sound  is somewhat wanting in warmth and bloom this is still a formidable bargain.

Strings Magazine, June 2003

Dmitri Shostakovich's great Piano Quintet balances the somber, dark Russian soul with an appealing lightness and exuberance. The refined performance of these artists reflects our times, but misses the rougher, incendiary aspects of the recording by the composer who lived in that tumultuous period of Russian musical suppression. Alfred Schnittke's Piano Quintet, written over a three-year period (1972-76), is a tragically expressive work dedicated to the memory of his mother. Whether it is the macabre waltz of the second movement, the ghostlike, spare first movement, or the melancholic, wistful finale, the work is an evocative tribute to a departed loved one."

Art Lange
Fanfare, April 2003

"Pianist Berman and the Vermeer Quartet offer a riveting performance of Schnittke's concentrated, contemplative elegy-and an equally powerful, if differently focused, interpretation of the familiar Shostakovich score. In residence at Northern Illinois University at DeKalb, the Vermeer has long been a fixture in Chicago concert halls, with a special passion for Beethoven, an affinity that helps them underscore the intensity in Shostakovich's Piano Quintet without becoming over whelmed by it. In comparison, where the justifiably famous Richter/Borodin Quartet account broods and soars with Slavic urgency, Bennan/Vermeer stress musical decisions over emotional ones, with crisp, clear ensemble textures that may not register as "profound" as the Russians but build towards convincing resolutions of each movement. All told, a marvelous disc, and at Naxos's price, an easily affordable one."

Erik Levi
BBC Music Magazine, January 2003

"Boris Berman and the Vermeer Quartet prove to be extremely sensitive to the emotional demands of each work, giving highly accomplished and committed performances in adequate, if somewhat studio-bound sound."

Kevin Sutton
MusicWeb International

"These are magnificent performances. The sense of balance and ensemble here is near perfect. Particularly pleasing is the ability of these musicians to recognize when their individual lines are important and when in turn to get out of the way of a colleague...This is music-making of the first order, and repertoire worthy of inclusion in the canon of masterworks of the genre.

This is a disc that all lovers of great chamber music should own. Once again Naxos proves that quality and high price are not synonymous. Recorded sound it superb. Recommended without reservation."

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