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Helen Wallace
BBC Music Magazine, December 2018

Gusty freedom marks the finale’s death dance. This is an austere take on Schubert’s Quartet No. 15, but a convincing one. © 2018 BBC Music Magazine Read complete review

Gil French
American Record Guide, November 2017

In Schubert’s Quartet in G the Tetzlaff Quartet (which includes both violinist Christian and his sister Tanja, the cellist) is clearly superior to the Oslo Quartet. In fact, the Tetzlaff is superior here, period—no need of comparisons. Their technique is spot on, and the rhythmic flow is always clear—a quality essential to tying the sprawling I together; they hold the tempo steady but never rigidly, allowing contrasts and stylistic changes to make their mark. Their tone colors are broad and their blend perfect. Deeply sensitive strong contrasts are especially effective not just because of accents but because of the group’s bright intonation, which gives rich overtones to chords.

Balances are exquisite; I could appreciate the players both individually and as an ensemble. Everything “sounds”, especially chords underneath high tremolos and the tutti tremolo passages. As wonderful as the Andante is, the Scherzo is awe-inspiring from its Midsummer Night’s Dream-like whispered opening that presages the drama to the lullaby-like trio where each instrument is butterfly-delicate. © 2017 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

David Hurwitz, September 2017

[Tetzlaff’s] work is that of a true quartet, well-balanced, precise, and with a welcome give-and-take between the parts.

This is particularly true of the Schubert, a work whose strange harmonies and endless tremolo textures foreshadow Bruckner, and which demand a particularly sensitive handling of the relationship between melody and accompaniment.

Haydn’s Quartet in G minor, Op. 20 (No. 3) makes an ideal disc mate, even leaving aside its complementary tonality. Its first movement, particularly, offers plenty of uneasy emotional ambiguity that’s very well captured here. Charles Rosen, in The Classical Style, presented a typically penetrating analysis, calling its handling of rhythm and motivic development positively upsetting; and in this interpretation the evident care with dynamics and sense of timing conveys the darkness just below the surface particularly well.

…this is a throwback: a classical music release without a stupid title or ridiculous concept, one that lets the greatness of the music speak for itself and offers interpretations that justify the program through purely musical means. Wonder of wonders. © 2017 Read complete review

Huntley Dent
Fanfare, September 2017

Here Christian Tetzlaff, a violinist in the lineage of Szigeti and Kremer who exploits a wide range of unbeautiful tone, sounds grating and even harsh where it’s called for, but in the blink of an eye he and the other members of the Quartet can apply a soothing balm of loveliness. A frequent absence of vibrato adds to the stark effect of the score. Most performances are grateful to return to the relative normality of the other three movements. The Tetzlaffs don’t exaggerate Schubert’s woes, but they maintain a hint of disturbance with keening accents and whispered commentary in the accompaniment of the slow movement.

The Tetzlaff Quartet reading is sensitive and varied, and also expresses the ambiguity of the minor-key harmonies nicely. …Without having to declare that the work is a masterpiece, one can appreciate the world-class level of the present performance, which is Romantic in feeling despite the absence of vibrato. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review

Jed Distler, August 2017

…the Tetzlaff Quartet’s dynamic acuity and rhythmic focus set the stage for a performance that manages to convey both dancing lilt and ghostly introspection, and with the long exposition repeat observed. The stunning cohesion of attacks and releases in the Andante’s sustained chords compensates for moments when the lack of vibrato seems more like a concession to period-performance fashion than an expressive choice. Expression, however, rises to intense heights in the movement’s dramatic outbursts.

…these superbly engineered interpretations can be recommended for their fusion, technical finesse, thoughtful preparation, and musical insights. © 2017 Read complete review

Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, July 2017

…the Tetzlaff Quartet misses no opportunity to take advantage of every weirdness the music affords in a performance of the work like none other I’ve ever heard. The players lurch from pillar to post, stop suddenly, only to begin again as suddenly with a shocking harmonic incongruity that twists your head around. There were moments, I swear, when I was sure Haydn had left the room and had sent in Ernst Krenek in his place. The amazing thing is it’s all there in the music; it’s just that no ensemble I’ve heard play the piece before has dared to make of it what the Tetzlaff Quartet does.

…these performances are really extraordinary. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review

Tim Homfray
The Strad, June 2017

Extreme dynamics feature from the opening of Schubert’s G major Quartet—there is an alarming crescendo not far from the start. The sound has an orchestral richness, emphasised by the resonant acoustic. The rhythm is crisp, and there are strong contrasts between staccato and legato. This is all in the score, of course, but is performed here with a heightened theatrical intensity. Moments of repose are all the more telling: the start of the first-movement recapitulation is an oasis of beauty.

There are more such cherishable passages amid the turmoil of the Andante; the opening cello melody is tenderly shaped by Tanja Tetzlaff and the little canon between cello and first violin is a delight. The scherzo has presages of quicksilver Mendelssohn, tripping along with delicacy and absolute precision. In the finale the players are more interventionist than in the earlier movements, elucidating phrase shapes within the scurrying triplets with touches of rubato or the occasional hiatus. It all amounts to a glistening and powerful performance. © 2017 The Strad Read complete review

Phil Muse
Audio Video Club of Atlanta, May 2017

The Tetzlaff Quartett (Christian Tetzlaff and Elisabeth Kufferath, violins; Hanna Weinmeister, viola; and Tanja Tetzlaff, cello) take a daring approach to the rhythmic and dynamic challenges in quartets by Schubert and Haydn, and the daring-do pays off handsomely. These challenges can be extreme, particularly in the case of the Schubert with its pervasively tragic mood… © 2017 Audio Video Club of Atlanta Read complete review

Richard Wigmore
Gramophone, May 2017

…the Tetzlaff are profoundly satisfying. Most quartets home in on the first movement’s molto moderato and downplay the Allegro. Deploying a huge range of colours and dynamics, including a fragile, desiccated pianissimo, the Tetzlaff never lose sight of the basic pulse. Through all its unnerving shifts of perspective, the whole movement unfolds as a spiritualised dance, with a hint of jauntiness in the second theme’s nagging conga rhythms. Among many felicitous details, how magically the Tetzlaff time and colour the unearthly opening of the recapitulation, then warm their tone without rising above pianissimo in response to the momentary lyrical softening. © 2017 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Ralph Moore
MusicWeb International, April 2017

Is there, I wonder, a greater string quartet than Schubert’s D.887, Beethoven’s notwithstanding? Certainly it is one of the most profound, moving and indeed disturbing works in that genre, …The finale must emerge as a Dance of Death, a startlingly brutal musical depiction of dissolution almost two hundred years before Stravinsky utilised that trope in “The Rite of Spring”, a brave and desperate defiance of the inevitable masked by enforced jollity—and the Tetzlaff Quartet really nail the mood.

Their playing is swift and invariably tightly focused, never “prettified”, sometimes raw, with sparing use of vibrato, and technically flawless execution of the frequent tremolos.

The first movement is chilling and gripping, its grotesqueries fully realised. The Andante contains some of the most beautiful and unsettling music ever written, exhibiting wonderful control of pianissimi and concluding in almost serene and consolatory mode. The Scherzo is featherlight and delicate in the Mendelssohnian manner, the waltz-time Trio ideally elegant. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2017

Alongside their successful individual careers, the four members of the ensemble came together in 1995, the quartet taking its name from the leader, Christian Tetzlaff. Here they continue their award-winning recordings for Ondine, the booklet notes commenting that while the last of Schubert’s quartets is epic in texture and length, it does share a similar feeling of rage the lies within the third of Haydn’s opus 20. The Tetzlaff’s approach to Schubert’s score is established in the opening bars, the tempi urgent, and dynamics taken to the outer limits. The balance between instruments is finely honed as the thematic material passes around instruments. Their second movement is craggy; the outer sections of the following feathery-light scherzo lightens the sense of foreboding that has gone before, while this mood of high-spiritedness passes over into the finale. Maybe some will find the performance too smooth and refined, the two traits that I greatly enjoy in the Haydn that follows. By comparison, it is short—half the length of the Schubert—but in its various unexpected twists and turns it is a gorgeous score, the Tetzlaff obviously much enjoying it. Throughout both works the intonation has been spotlessly clean, the recorded balance making sure the cello does not overpower, as I have heard in some recorded versions of the Schubert. If you fancy the coupling its recommended. © 2017 David’s Review Corner

Rob Cowan
Classical Ear, March 2017

The scary flypast chord that opens the Allegro molto moderato on a huge crescendo sets the tone with unsettling resolve, the tremolandos that underpin the first theme sounding like a ghostly rumour. © 2017 Classical Ear Read complete review

Hank Zauderer
My Classical Notes, March 2017

There is no better way to experience intimacy in music than through the magic of string quartets.

In this new recording the prestigious Tetzlaff Quartett (Christian Tetzlaff, Elisabeth Kufferath, Hanna Weinmeister and Tanja Tetzlaff) present a program of String Quartets by Franz Schubert and Joseph Haydn in exemplary performances. © 2017 My Classical Notes Read complete review

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