The New York Times reviews the complete Brhams Piano Quartets at Carnegie Hall

“Sometimes troubling events cause an artist to withdraw from a performance at the last minute. 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.

The elegant, youthful Mr. Ehnes brings different qualities to his artistry than Mr. Tetzlaff, who combines probing insight with a penchant for wildness. Mr. Ehnes’s velvety sound and sensitivity fit well with the vibrant playing of his colleagues on this night.

Brahms’s piano quartets are cornerstones of the repertory. Still, it’s rare to hear these three long (some 130 minutes combined), complex pieces played in a single program … These players conveyed the symphonic sweep and turbulence of the first movement of the First Quartet, and excelled in its lilting Intermezzo. The high point was the finale, a Gypsy rondo, played with pulsing exuberance. The Second Quartet, probably the least often played, came across in this lucid, majestic account as the most ingenious and intricate of the three. More true to form, Brahms struggled over the Quartet No. 3 in C minor (Op. 60), completing it in 1875. But in this eloquent performance the music sounded magnificent, especially the mysterious finale.

Mr. Tetzlaff (whose new daughter was born Wednesday) will rejoin the other three players next month for the European tour of this program.”



Source: The New York Times