A relaxed, expansive mood . . . [there's] no lack of beautiful tone in this collection . . . [the Mahler] provides the perfect introduction to the warmly expressive world of the Schumann and Brahms works that follow . . . very accomplished, very well-mannered chamber-music playing.
. . . [the Mahler fragment is] quite beautiful and the playing is exceptionally sympathetic, with Wu Han's piano seeming to hold it together and Daniel Hope's violin cadenza a brief, showy moment . . . [Brahms 1]: a lovely piece, beautifully played . . . Daniel Hope's violin can turn sharp-edged at the top of its range at "forte", but it adds excitement . . . David Finckel's cello playing has great warmth. The sound is ideally balanced . . .
. . . [mercifully, this performance] tackles the Mahler with impressive ardour and marked sensibility . . . [Schumann / Piano Quartet op. 47]: the four participants move instinctively with the music and with one another, the piano (Schumann's own instrument) blending in rather than dominating. The fugal flurries of the finale are articulated with terrific panache and togetherness. The affinity with style that shines through the Schumann is equally evident in Brahms's G minor Piano Quintet of 1861, given here with strong but discerning ideas about musical character and crowned with the true spirit of the finale's gipsy fervour.
. . . unbuttoned live performances, trading off the energy from an attentive Lincoln Center audience . . . Where the four players scale back in the slow movements, it's still with the sense of a conversation overheard by thousands hanging on every sweet nothing . . . only dull old sticks will not concur with the cheers that erupt once Brahms's gypsy rondo has teased, whirled and finally stamped to a defiant close.
Bold, lush, and exquisite piano quartets by Mahler, Schumann, and Brahms . . . The quartet of David Finckel, Wu Han, Daniel Hope and Paul Neubauer is beautifully melodic and rhythmically vigorous with an especially brilliant third movement andante cantabile and fourth movement finale vivace . . . this recording is crisp and full, with the piano occupying the center and provided with just a touch of reverb in order to add a pleasing warmth of tone . . . DG's engineers have created a nice theatrical presentation for instrumental sound that adds to the intrinsic drama of the three works.
. . . unbuttoned live performances . . . Neubauer's solo in the scherzo of the Schumann wears a muted, Brahmsian frown; and Finckel opens the Andante cantabile with an impossibly yearning phrase . . . Wu Han is impressively considerate of her colleagues, at least until Brahms practically begs her to let rip in the G minor Quartet . . . Playing of such relentless attack and keen intent wasn't made for everyday listening -- why should it be? -- but only dull old sticks will not concur with the cheers that erupt once Brahms's gypsy rondo has teased, whirled and finally stamped to a defiant close.
. . . the quality of these four players as chamber musicians is in no doubt . . . [the slow movement of the Schumann] is one of the best things here, full-toned where needs be -- as in the glorious theme itself . . . There is much to admire in the Brahms, above all perhaps in the Intermezzo, with its fined-down string shadings, and the voluptuous warmth of the outer sections of the "Andante".
. . . superb . . . [the Schumann Piano Quartet] gets an attentive performance, particularly its glorious, sorrowing Andante Cantabile movement. The famous concluding Brahms G Minor Piano Quartet has a lot of fire, particularly the Gypsy last movement . . . Live recordings really do have that certain something, and so does this music, which never loses its excitement.
The playing is fearsomely good, with the Schumann scherzo a special delight.
All three performances are beautifully thought out and passionately realized.
. . . [Mahler's Piano Quartet Movement in A minor], especially as it's played here, is ravishingly beautiful . . . There are few words that can describe the performances on this disc; sublime, spellbinding, stunning, and ravishing come to mind. The players' engagement with the music is so complete that we are drawn into their world and held in its thrall, submitting willingly to the magic it works upon us . . . among the recordings of these works I have, none surpasses this one for sheer excellence of execution, musical merit, and recorded sound; and none has the advantage of also offering Mahler's rapturously Romantic piano quartet movement . . . rarely have I heard such clarity of voicing, coordination, and consensus of interpretive vision. The audience, which is quiet throughout, must have agreed, for the ovation that breaks out at the end of the Brahms is a veritable explosion of bravos and cheers. Urgently recommended.
Daniel Hope and his colleagues turn in well-paced readings of all three scores -- their expressive intensity heightened by the almost gypsy-style vibrato favoured by Hope himself: highly appropriate to the riotous Hungarian finale of the Brahms and imparting an almost Klezmer-like feeling to the violin flourish near the end of the Mahler . . . The inventive richness of the works and the sweep of the performances come over . . .