Brahms by Arrangement, Volume One

Catalogue No: TOCC0066
EAN/UPC: 5060113440662
Release Date: 2012-06-25
Composer: Johannes Brahms
Artists: Anssi Karttunen, Ernst Kovacic, James Boyd, Krysia Osostowicz, Steven Dann, Zebra String Trio

Brahms first wrote his Op. 34 as a string quintet before recasting it for two pianos and then as the version for piano quintet known today. In this imaginative reconstruction as a string quintet by the Finnish cellist Anssi Karttunen, the Zebra Trio is joined by some of Britain’s most outstanding string-players, allowing modern listeners to hear a version of the work in textures closer to Brahms’ original thoughts. It is coupled in this recording by Brahms’ own rarely heard version of the Clarinet Quintet, Op. 115, as a string quintet, with a viola replacing the clarinet.

Zebra String Trio, string trio
Anssi Karttunen, cello
Ernst Kovacic, violin
Steven Dann, viola
Krysia Osostowicz, violin
James Boyd, viola
Richard Lester, cello

6 reviews for Brahms by Arrangement, Volume One

  1. :

    ‘Another triumph for a small independent label. Brilliant thought provoking re-evaluations of ‘standard’ works by Brahms. The double viola version of the clarinet quintet in Brahms’ own arrangement is especially rewarding featuring some of the most beautiful viola playing I have ever heard from Steven Dann. Life-enhancing stuff.’

    —Nick Barnard, MusicWeb International

  2. :

    ‘This is the kind of disc that makes the most jaded listener sit up straight and pay attention: marvellous music, compellingly performed and beautifully produced. Record companies must spend ever-increasing effort trying to unearth repertoire that is both rare and important. The musical treasure-hunters at Toccata can give themselves a pat on the back: they have hit musical gold with this disc. …’

    —Nick Barnard, MusicWeb International

  3. :

    ‘I like this [the Anssi Karttunen transcription of the Piano Quintet] a lot, especially from such a strong line-up of chamber musicians: The Zebra String Trio plus Krysia Osostowicz, James Boyd and Richard Lester. […] I absolutely agree with Malcolm MacDonald’s notes that the viola [in Op. 115] might not stand out in high relief as the clarinet does, but all-string texture brings a lovely sense of deep intimacy and tenderness. Fine performances.’

    —Andrew McGregor, Record Review, BBC Radio 3 18 August 2012

  4. :

    ‘…the playing is exceptionally good all the way around. The sound is excellent, and program notes are by the noted Brahms authority Malcolm McDonald. This ends up being a far more compelling exercise than it might appear at first blush. Recommended to dedicated Brahmsians.’

    —Richard A. Kaplan, Fanfare Magazine March/April 2013

  5. :

    ‘The Zebra String Trio, with Krysia Osostowicz and James Boyd, are spacious, expressive and eloquent advocates of this late masterpiece, making an impressive case for an arrangement that I find extremely persuasive in their sympathetic hands. Nothing is ever forced here: the first movement unfolds in the most natural way and the rest of the performance is similarly natural. […] I’d certainly encourage any Brahmsian with a sense of curiosity to explore the new realization. It’s very intelligently done, and played superbly by the Zebra String Trio, Osostowicz and Richard Lester. Whatever Brahms original may have sounded like (Joachim criticized its passages of ‘great roughness’), Karttunen’s version is convincing as a string quintet. The power, attack and depth of piano and strings (or two pianos) is missing, of course, but the texture has a consistency and coherence that is persuasive – so much so that I found myself forgetting the more familiar authentic versions and enjoying this speculative but fascinating alternative. With fine sound, intimate but with space around the instruments, and with absorbing and detailed notes by Malcolm MacDonald, the presentation of this release enhances the excellent performances.’

    —Andrew McGregor, International Record Review

  6. :

    ‘Cellist Anssi Karttunen of the Zebra String Trio has done a heroic job in attempting to recreate the work in its original guise, certain passages such as the intensely chromatic introduction to the finale work marvellously but elsewhere, particularly in the congested textures of the first movement and scherzo, the performers have to grapple with the sheer density of sound. No such problems arise in the composer’s viola transcription of the Clarinet Quintet. Arguably, the viola actually brings even darker emotional resonances to a work suffused with melancholy and world-weariness. […] these vivid and clearly recorded performances offer fascinating perspectives on some very familiar music.’

    —Eric Levi, BBC Music

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