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Rick Anderson
Baker & Taylor CD Hotlist, August 2017

Brahms’ third string quartet is a thing of wonder and delight—emotionally effusive but also light and joyful, and gorgeously lyrical. The New Zealand String Quartet performs it here with equal joy as well as technical mastery, and the result is a revelatory interpretation. The clarinet quintet conveys a somewhat darker and more aching mood—understandable, I suppose, since it was written at the very end of Brahms’ life and is among his last chamber works. Here as well, the performances are simply wonderful. This disc would make a welcome addition to any classical collection. © 2017 Baker & Taylor CD Hotlist




William Dart
The New Zealand Herald, June 2017

One of the NZSQ’s real strengths has always been its unstinting energy in handling rhythmic elements. Not only does this make for compulsively watchable live performances but it also transfers remarkably well to disc.

You’ll be transfixed from the first minute of this outing as the players navigate the swerving and swirling textures until they relax with an insouciant, almost polka-like, dance tune.

Brahms’ rich lyricism, another hallmark of his late romantic style, is never sacrificed; leader Helene Pohl soars over the Andante while Gillian Ansell’s viola introduces the ensuing scherzo with a graceful Viennese lilt.

Campbell bewitches us with song in the Adagio, floating over gossamer strings and the final minute, recalling the work’s opening page, may well have you returning immediately for a second hearing. © 2017 The New Zealand Herald Read complete review



Lindis Taylor
Middle C, June 2017

The players produce an immediately arresting spirit and though the mood of the music calms later, the clarity of each instrument never dims and the emphatic triplet rhythms are a constant delight.

…I simply get weak at the knees listening to a recording of this quality—no, not just technical flawlessness or interpretation that accords with today’s fashions such as adherence to the performance practice of the music’s own era, but old-fashioned adolescent emotion, spiritual and heart-strings-pulling rapture. My main criteria are not artistic integrity, intensity of expression, but simply to be moved by the obvious love that all five players feel for this very special masterpiece.

Many performances are rewarding and are no doubt as deeply satisfying as this. However, none touch me more movingly. © 2017 Middle C Read complete review



Paul E. Robinson
Musical Toronto, June 2017

Sixty-five when this recording was made, Campbell retains the same beauty of sound and chamber music sensitivity that have always made him a special artist. In the members of the NZSQ, he has collaborators of similar distinction. This is a magnificent performance of one of Brahms’ late masterpieces, in which the clarinet is perfectly balanced in an equal partnership with the strings, which is as it should be. I give full credit to the players for this achievement.

The New Zealand String Quartet, which is celebrating its 30th-anniversary this year, remains an ensemble of the first rank.

Violist Gillian Ansell plays her solo with gorgeous tone and the most delicious phrasing. © 2017 Musical Toronto Read complete review



Phil Muse
Audio Video Club of Atlanta, June 2017

It’s another winner from the New Zealand String Quartet! This finely honed ensemble, consisting of Helene Pohl, Violin I, Douglas Beilman, Violin II, Gillian Ansell, Viola; and Rolf Gjelsten, Cello, show the cohesiveness allied with the instinctive freedom that made their Mendelssohn cycle and their earlier account of Brahms’ Op. 51 Quartets such successes. Here they take Quartet No. 3 in B-flat, Op. 67 in such a way that Brahms’ frequent changes in texture, rhythm, and color seem so positively intuitive as to be second nature. © 2017 Audio Video Club of Atlanta Read complete review



Hank Zauderer
My Classical Notes, April 2017

Performed by James Campbell (clarinet), with the New Zealand String Quartet.

Johannes Brahms wrote his String Quartet in B flat major, Op. 67 in 1876 and its largely cheerful qualities culminate in a theme and variations finale of exceptional imagination and mastery of form.

Brahms’ last chamber music was inspired by a great exponent of the clarinet, Richard Mühlfeld, for whom he wrote four works including the Clarinet Quintet. This dazzling masterpiece is notable not only for its underlying elegiac mood, but also for its thematic interrelation and the wide expressive range of the solo instrument. © 2017 My Classical Notes Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2017

Having followed in Mozart’s footsteps, Brahms allows the clarinet to become part of the texture of the string instruments, giving it a modicum of solo status, the beautiful lilting melody that opens the second movement being one of those rare moments. James Campbell’s long experience in the world of chamber music has that musical intelligence to admirably blend with his colleagues, the performance never becoming too robust, and at the same time avoiding any sentimentality. It unexpectedly comes to a rather sombre conclusion, following on a lightweight scherzo that had been influenced by Mendelssohn. The third, and last of the string quartets, opens the disc in a boisterous rustic quality, with an underlying dance rhythm that contrasts with the sadness and drama of the following Andante. The performance avoids the often inserted happiness in the following Agitato, a mood they continue into the finale. With this disc, the New Zealand String Quartet complete their recording of the Brahms quartets, my one reservation regarding violin intonation when reviewing the first disc being here less apparent. Even in a profusion of much acclaimed versions that are already available, the two releases are recommended in the bargain price category. © 2017 David’s Review Corner





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