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See latest reviews of other albums..., April 2016

Despite Brahms’ own skill as a pianist and despite the influence of Clara Schumann, who was largely responsible for getting Brahms to transform the music into this form, the quintet requires considerable restraint from the pianist; and the best thing about Biret’s work here is the way she provides that restraint without ever seeming to hold anything back. She simply joins the London String Quartet as an equal partner, takes material handed off to her, hands it back as appropriate, and produces throughout a feeling of mutual assurance and easy camaraderie that serves the music particularly well. © 2016 Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, January 2016

Without any details of the recording’s provenance, I presume it is taken from a performance given by Idil Biret in London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in January 1980. Having done that piece of detective work, I then have to add that the sound has a great deal of air around it, and an exemplary balance between instruments that you would attribute to studio sessions. So what of the performance? That certainly has a feel of spontaneity, yet within comfortable tempos, and though it sags a little in the opening section of the second movement, the basic pulse makes good sense. That is particularly pertinent when we come to the following scherzo which, by comparison, sounds quick, though in fact it is quite steady when compared to today’s thrustful accounts with their outgoing virtuosity. The finale has that thought-through quality that has been the performance’s major attribute, and which is so often sacrificed in high-powered alternative recordings. Maybe Biret at times dominates, though that fault is mostly in the writing, and she is never self-imposing. With a catalogue already well endowed with acclaimed performances there can be no first choice, and this would be one to which I will often return. © 2016 David’s Review Corner

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