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Paul L Althouse
American Record Guide, November 2016

[New Zealand Quartet] certainly are a fine group, with a nice feeling for Brahms. What sets them apart is their adoption of consistently slow tempos. This choice brings advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand their playing is very warm and lyrical, and the music has lots of what I guess we could call conventional beauty. © 2016 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, November 2016

These are absolutely scorching-hot, searing—I’m almost tempted to say blistering, scarring—performances, but I hesitate to use words that might suggest raw, abrasive, or corrosive-sounding tone because there’s none of that. These players are so disciplined, so technically accomplished, and so in control of every bow-to-string pressure and finger-to-string movement that the sound they make is without a single blemish.

I have truly never heard these two Brahms quartets played in this way. This is very special and urgently recommended. © 2016 Fanfare Read complete review

Phil Muse
Audio Video Club of Atlanta, October 2016

The New Zealand String Quartet, consisting of Helene Pohl, Violin I, Douglas Beilman, Violin II, Gillian Ansell, Viola, and Rolf Gjelsten, Cello, are back again on these pages, revealing the same careful attention to detail, ensemble, and glowing warmth… © 2016 Audio Video Club of Atlanta Read complete review

Jessica Duchen
BBC Music Magazine, September 2016

The New Zealand String Quartet finds its chief strengths in the balance of voices, the conversational nature of the writing and the flexible spread of weight between the instruments. Yet these pieces’ distinctive personalities could perhaps come through more strongly; the playing is certainly committed and faithful… © 2016 BBC Music Magazine

David Vernier, August 2016

there is no holding back in these performances: the NZSQ literally attacks and wrestles Brahms’ scores to the ground—a positive, friendly intervention, for the good of all concerned. These performances should not disappoint any listener, whether you hate Brahms or love his music, because they take you out of the realm of preconception and just deliver aggressive, uninhibited, and yes, passionate expressions of these scores, respectful of the composer while always working to realize the fullness of the music that Brahms struggled so long and hard to create. © 2016 Read complete review

Hank Zauderer
My Classical Notes, July 2016

Each perfectly proportioned movement of these works creates its own unique expressive narrative, exploring bitter-sweet tonalities and thematic treatment ranging from tender lyricism to dramatic intensity. © 2016 My Classical Notes Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, July 2016

Brahms had, from his early years, attempted to write in the string quartet idiom, but it was not until he was forty that he felt he had two works suitable for publication. They are typical of his output from that period, though the melodic content and harmonic language of the First Quartet’s opening Allegro creates a depth of romanticism we seldom find elsewhere in his music. Maybe the freedom of expression in the second movement almost overflows in the New Zealander’s reading, and I do look for a more lightweight and whimsical approach to the changing moods in the third movement. Contrast the symphonic weight and urgency they bring to the finale that generates an uncommon degree of drama. That mood continues into their highly charged opening movement of the Second, where the choice of a brisk tempo fashions much of the performance. I was particularly pleased with the lightness of touch in the third movement that owes much to Mendelssohn, and they avoid an overblown approach to the finale that we often find elsewhere. Technically these are accomplished readings, with well handled balance between instruments…The last time I compared all the available versions, a few years back, there were already thirty-two in the catalogue, this well-recorded newcomer much recommended in the bargain price category. © 2016 David’s Review Corner

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