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Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, May 2019

Brilliant and scintillating are adjectives that could be used to describe these performances as well. The players that make up this British ensemble are outstanding musicians in every respect. They are also ambassadors for one of their country’s underrated and neglected Romantic composers. Recommended to all lovers of chamber music, especially of that in the Mendelssohn mold. © 2019 Fanfare Read complete review

Clive Paget
Limelight, March 2019

The most substantial work here is the ambitious Sextet, for string quartet, piano and bass. A brooding work in F Sharp Minor, its moody opening Allegro holds the attention over its nearly a quarter hour span. A Schubertian Scherzo and lyrical Andante precede a well-argued and stormy finale…

The Villiers Quartet, Jeremy Young (piano) and Leon Bosch (bass) give mostly sympathetic performances, the natural recording decent, if a little cavernous. © 2019 Limelight Read complete review

Bob McQuiston
Classical Lost and Found, February 2019

Pianist Jeremy Young, the Villiers Quartet (VQ), which is named after a street in central London with strong musical associations, and double bassist Leon Bosch give us the Sextet. After that, Mr. Young, VQ first violinist James Dickenson and cellist Nick Stringfellow remain on stage for the Trio. Then VQ second violist Tamaki Higashi along with violist Carmen Flores return for the Quartet. Except for an intonationally queasy spot or two in the upper strings, they make a strong case for these Bennett bonbons.

The recordings were done a year ago at the Royal Northern College of Music Concert Hall, Manchester, England. They present an appropriately sized soundstage with the stringed instruments placed left to right in order of increasing size, and the piano centered just behind them. All are well balanced against one another with the strings characterized by pleasant highs, a natural sounding midrange and clean bass without any hangover in lower cello or double bass passages. © 2019 Classical Lost and Found Read complete review

Andrew Farach-Colton
Gramophone, December 2018

The Villiers play with admirable warmth…

Cellist Nick Stringfellow applies some lovely legato con portamento in the first movement and Jeremy Young maintains a light touch in the finale’s intricate figuration. © 2018 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Stephen Greenbank
MusicWeb International, November 2018

All the performances brim over with personality, and these delightful scores could have no better advocates. The warmth and intimacy of the Manchester venue further adds to the recording’s success. © 2018 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Remy Franck
Pizzicato, November 2018

William Sterndale Bennett’s chamber music is charming, and has very often a ravishing lyrical intensity. The performances are fresh and dynamic, making this release an admirable program of lovely chamber music. © 2018 Pizzicato

Records International, November 2018

The quartet is one of Bennett’s earliest surviving works (1831), revealing a precocious talent still strongly influenced by Haydn. Mendelssohn is the model for the sextet of 1835, though Bennett’s highly virtuosic piano writing, with its concertante interplay, reinforces the work’s lyrical qualities (and requires dexterity) as well as its advanced harmonies and hymnal beauty. The concise Chamber Trio (1839) radiates sheer charm while displaying an even greater grasp of structure and is the first English example in the trio form where both string instruments are given parts independent of the piano. © 2018 Records International

David Denton
David's Review Corner, October 2018

William Sterndale Bennett was born, like myself in the industrial city of Sheffield in northern England, but even there his music is now seldom performed in concerts. Both of his parents died in successive years while he was still very young, and he was brought up in Cambridge by his grandfather, who, like William’s father, was a professional organist. There he displayed such a precocious musical talent that he was admitted to London’s Royal Academy of Music aged nine. During his teenage years he began composing, his String Quartet completed in 1831 when he was fifteen, his First Symphony coming the following year. That was to carry his name to an international audience, Mendelssohn pronouncing him “the most promising young musician I know”. He became a prolific composer, particularly in the field of Piano Concertos—he was a piano student at the Royal Academy—but hidden away was a small crop of chamber music. So why didn’t he become the great composer expected of him? The answer maybe two-fold, audiences in his homeland, at that time, brought up on a diet of Germanic music, had little interest in British music until Elgar arrived. Equally, as you will hear from this disc, Bennett did not develop an individual voice, though if his music had carried the name Mendelssohn or Schumann, it would have a place in the standard repertoire. So let me, without bias, commend this disc to you. The String Quartet is full of pleasing thematic material, expertly constructed in four movements, Bennett’s interweaving of instruments a constant joy. Four years later he wrote the Sextet, a score little short of forty minutes, and scored for piano, string quartet and double bass. A generally happy and pleasing score that at times becomes a virtuoso piano concerto with string accompaniment. Finally a short Chamber Trio for piano trio. Brilliant keyboard playing from Jeremy Young with the outstanding Villiers Quartet being quite passionate Bennett advocates. Perfectly balanced sound engineering. © 2018 David’s Review Corner

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