Quarterly Critic’s Choice

The best and most interesting new releases of the previous three months are awarded a place on the Quarterly Critic’s Choice. Evaluation criteria are artistic quality, repertoire value, presentation, and sound quality.

From 2014 onward, the Long Lists are stored directly with each Quarterly Critic’s Choice.

Quarterly Critic’s Choice

Chamber Music

Mieczysław Weinberg: String Quartets Vol. 1

No. 2 op.3/145; No. 5 op. 27; No. 8 op. 66. Arcadia Quartet. Chandos CHAN 20158 (Note 1)

This first chapter of a new complete recording of all seventeen string quartets that Mieczysław Weinberg composed between 1937 and 1986 is more than promising – the first created while still at home in Poland, the main works in his exile in Moscow, some in competition with his friend and mentor Shostakovich. Early recordings of this corpus, which has gradually reached its legitimate position in the repertoire, are often marked by the furor of discovery. The Arcadia Quartet creates just enough distance to let the urgent intensity unfold in quiet moments while showcasing the many beauties of this unique quartet world. For the jury: Benjamin Herzog

Chamber Music

Johannes Brahms: Sonatas for Viola and Piano op. 120

Wiegenlied op.49 No.4; Zwei Gesänge op.91; Nachtigall op.97 No.1. Antoine Tamestit, Cédric Tiberghien, Matthias Goerne. harmonia mundi HMM 902652

Tamestit and Tiberghien dress the late romantic sonatas by Brahms in cozy velvet. Her interpretation avoids pathos: it is powered solely by the beguiling variety of colors and a subtly toned sound, which is not least thanks to the historic Bechstein grand piano from 1899, whose twilight tone makes the Stradivarius viola glow extraordinarily tenderly. It is the same in the »encores« of the program: the song arrangements and Goerne’s baritone performance of the chants originally composed for alto op.91. His voice, filled with warm darkness, is deeper than that of the viola – a change of role that helps to hear how beautifully Tamestit’s instrument can sing. For the jury: Thilo Braun

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