Related Reviews
Limelight Magazine
5 Stars
'To love Bruckner is to love this CD.'
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American Record Guide
'[The Intermezzo] is an interesting, charming movement that stands well on its own.'
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The Bruckner Journal
'...a performance that sounds absolutely wonderful...The deeply felt lyrical passages with which this music abounds, in this performance should melt the stoniest of hearts...'
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BBC Music Magazine
5 Stars
'Tender warmth radiates from page after page, dialogue between the voices emerges with keen, intimate intensity. The great Adagio is as exalted and touching as it should be. All round a fascinating, rewarding disc.'
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Fanfare Magazine
'The playing articulates with great subtlety the Romantic abundance of Bruckner's slow movements-the Adagio to the quintet is especially gorgeous-while not shying away from the bizarre and kinky writing in the scherzos and finales and in the Intermezzo. Linn's recording and the acoustic of the recording venue are ideal.'
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'The lucid performances by the Fitzwilliam String Quartetmake the music immediately intelligible and appealing. Joined by violist James Boyd in the Quintet, the ensemble produces a warm and radiant sound that dispels any worries of Brucknerian complexity, and even in the pensive Quartet, the playing is ingratiating and quite evocative of Schubert, a key influence in early Bruckner.'
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Herald Scotland
'What's intriguing in these outstanding performances by the Fitzwilliam Quartet with guest violist James Boyd are the myriad seedbed elements to be heard in the early String Quartet, and just how effectively the colossal Bruckner sound translates into a chamber music idiom in the Quintet.'
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4 Stars
« Deux beaux témoignages de musique pure jaillie de l'imagination d'un artiste, dont les imperfections formelles - étonnant paradoxe - confinent presque toujours à la beauté. »
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MusicWeb International
Recording of the Month: '...their hushed close to the Adagio of the Quintet is exquisite.'
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Fitzwilliam String Quartet - Bruckner: Quintet & Quartet - Gramophone

01 December 2015
Peter Quantrill

This first 'period' recording of Bruckner's String Quintet may overturn some preconceptions. When writing it in 1879, the composer was still working through the contrapuntal mania to which he had given voice in the Fifth Symphony (completed immediately before beginning work on the Quintet), and there are modulating sequences in the first movement's recapitulation that anticipate the Ninth's finale, tied up in harmonic knots but jerked forward by the composer's dotted rhythm of fate. The Fitzwilliams and James Boyd loosen the straitjacket and give these episodes the space they need. The relaxed swing they bring to the Scherzo and Trio recalls the Fifth like no previous recording: both movements sit back and watch the fun like a doctor of philology in the corner of a beer garden. The quality of patience prized by Robert Simpson in Bruckner is honoured by the Fitzwilliams, at least until the codas of the outer movements, where they push on to skirt the trappings of symphonic grandiloquence to which the piece is just occasionally prone. 

In a long and useful booklet-note, Alan George, the quartet's founding viola player, lays out their performing principles, which (guess what?) in practice come back round to share the pitch and spacious confidence of the Amadeus Quartet, with important differences: more vocally inflected portamento (revealing the 'surprisingly modern operatic dimension' of the work: John Williamson in the CUP Bruckner Companion) and less vibrato, though there is enough of it in Lucy Russell's first violin to let the glorious main theme of the Adagio take wing.

The Intermezzo (an unused replacement for the quintet's Scherzo) and early quartet (effortfully imitated Schubert and Mendelssohn) are no less stylishly done, but the Quintet should find new friends for Bruckner and for what Russell shrewdly values as the 'sense of unravelling time and space' to be treasured in his music.

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