“Sometimes troubling events cause an artist to withdraw from a performance at the last minute” wrote The New York Times. “But last week the superb violinist Christian Tetzlaff pulled out of an important concert at Carnegie Hall for a “very happy reason,” as the pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, the violinist’s good friend and frequent collaborator, put it on his website. Mr. Tetzlaff went home to Germany because the child he and his partner were expecting was poised for an early arrival. He had been preparing to join Mr. Andsnes, the violist Tabea Zimmermann and the cellist Clemens Hagen for a marathon program offering Brahms’s three piano quartets at Carnegie Hall on Saturday night. James Ehnes stepped in on short notice and the concert was a triumph.”

“Performing just one of Brahms’ mighty piano quartets demands four players with sterling technique, musical depth and physical stamina” wrote the Chicago Classical Review. “Sunday afternoon at Symphony Center, pianist Leif Ove Andsnes and colleagues provided the full Johannes, performing all three of Brahms piano quartets in a program spanning nearly three hours with one intermission … Throughout the afternoon, the artists betrayed not a hint of fatigue–especially striking considering they had performed the same challenging program just the previous night in New York. Far from it–their performances were polished to a fine sheen, with close ensemble cohesion, distinctive individual playing and a degree of expressive insight that at times proved revelatory … an extraordinary afternoon of music, which proved a highlight of this season.”

The Chicago Tribune agreed: “You would guess that any summit meeting of international string virtuosos headed up by the sterling pianist Leif Ove Andsnes would bring out the best in all participants and the music, and you would be right … How closely these musicians listened to each other, and how spontaneously Brahms’ melodic outpourings appeared to pass from one to the other. For this listener, the A major Quartet was the highlight of the afternoon, the string tone sensitively blended and balanced against Andsnes’ rippling pianism, particularly in the raptly beautiful nocturne that is the beating heart of this music. Ehnes’ fine-grained sound and commanding leadership came to the fore in the Opus 26 quartet, while, in the leaner, troubled Opus 60, Hagen’s mellow-toned eloquence of phrasing was echoed by the admirable Zimmermann and their colleagues. A packed hall erupted in extended ovations.”

And the New York Times’ coda … “Mr. Tetzlaff (whose new daughter was born Wednesday) will rejoin the other three players next month for the European tour of this program.”

 

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