Reviews

Boris TCHAIKOVSKY War Suite, Piano Quintet. Naxos.

The War Suite, for string quartet and clarinet, derives from the soundtrack to a 1964 film about love and loss during the second world war, and is essentially a big melancholy rondo, in which the repetitions of an initially banal waltz become increasingly poignant as the tone and harmonies of the interwoven episodes gradually darken. The performances, recorded in Moscow during the Vanbrugh Quartet’s 2012 visit, are exceptional’. Tim Ashley – The Guardian (2014)

Deirdre GRIBBIN ‘Island People’, various chamber music.

‘Impressive playing, passionate and sensitive by turns, from the RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet’ Richard Whitehouse, Gramophone (2013)

STANFORD String Quintet No 1 (Garth KNOX); Piano Quintet (Piers LANE)

Hyperion

EDITOR’S CHOICE – Gramophone

‘A considerable discovery, in sum, which Piers Lane and the Vanbrugh Quartet do absolutely proud … The booklet essay by Jeremy Dibble is, as ever, a model of scholarly research and enthusiasm. Flawless sound and balance, too, from the experienced Keener/Eadon production crew’ Gramophone (02/06)

‘There’s little doubt that Piers Lane and the RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet, recorded here with superb immediacy, recognise its evident strengths, delivering a performance of white-hot intensity that will surely help to make the work far better known … Altogether an outstanding release’ BBC Music Magazine (01/06)

 

STANFORD String Quartets Nos 1 & 2; Horn Fantasy (Stephen Stirling, horn)

Hyperion

“Charles Villiers Stanford’s reputation, insofar as it survives at all, does not depend on his chamber music. On this evidence, it should … (string quartet) no 1, op 44, shows a Mendelssohnian flair and fluency; no 2, op 45, at least until its finale, seems darker, denser, altogether more Brahmsian. This is fine music, beautifully played.” Stephen Pettitt, The Sunday Times (02/05)

 

“These exemplary first recordings make the best possible case for all this rare material; sound and balance are first-class, too.” Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone (05/05)

 

“These beautifully crafted and attractive string quartets, clearly indebted to Brahms and Mendelssohn, receive highly committed performances.” Erik Levi, BBC Music Magazine (05/05 *****)

 

“These two quartets are alive with melodic invention and supremely crafted. (In the Horn Fantasy) Stephen Stirling is a sweet-toned soloist alongside the consistently stylish playing of this fine quartet.” Jeremy Nicholas, Classic FM Magazine, (05/05 ****)

BOCCHERINI String Quintets (Vol II) in C, G3110; in C, G349; in B minor, G350; in D, G353 with Richard LESTER, cello, Hyperion CDA67383

“The tone of this charming and delectable music is beautifully captured here by the Vanbrugh Quartet” (Stanley Sadie – Gramophone 11/ 03) Critics’ Choice 2003 – Gramophone (12/03

BOCCHERINI String Quintets (Vol I) in E, G275, in F minor G348, in G minor G351 with Richard LESTER, cello

“The performances are highly polished, full of zest and finely recorded. An excellent release.” International Record Review, (05/02)

 

“This is spirited and vigorous chamber music, performed with gusto.” Classic FM magazine, (04/02)

Piers HELLAWELL   The Still Dancers

“The performances are brilliant and eloquent, the recordings exemplary.” International Record Review, (05/02)

Ian WILSON String Quartets Nos 1-3, Black Box BBM 1031

“Well-crafted, resourceful quartets given performances by the Vanbrugh Quartet to match, in fine recorded sound … Perceptive performances by the Vanbrughs and a well-nigh perfect quartet balance make this disc well worth the attention of open-minded quartets and listeners alike.”

Gramophone, (2/01)

Raymond DEANE Sea Changes, String Quartet Brown Studies, and other works, Black Box BBM1014

“The Vanbrugh String Quartet deliver a highly intense performance, playing with real poise.”

Audiostreet.co.uk, (11/00)

Aaron COPLAND Chamber Works, ASV CD DCA 1081 with MARTIN ROSCOE, piano, MICHAEL COLLINS, clarinet

“ … this is a valuable collection, well worth acquiring.” (Gramophone)

“ … a vibrant reading.” BBC Music Magazine (****)

John McCABE   String Quartets Nos.3-5, Hyperion CDA 67078

Nominated for 1999 Gramophone Awards

“Excellent performances of McCabe’s imaginitive and memorable quartets.” (Classic CD 4/99).

“The combination of first-class playing and excellent sound allows the individuality of McCabe’s music to be experienced with considerable immediacy.” BBC Music Magazine (6/99)

E J MOERAN   The Two String Quartets, the Fantasy Quartet for Oboe and Strings (with Nicholas Daniel, oboe), ASV CDA 1045

Shortlisted for 1999 Gramophone Awards

“Pure enjoyment from start to finish. The Vanbrugh Quartet makes both of Moeran’s early quartets sound like mini-masterpieces. The First in particular really leaps to inspirational life in the hands of this outstandingly sensitive group, whose ardent, mellifluous advocacy combines cogency with a subtle, intrepidly wide range of expression.” The Gramophone (2/99)

Frederick MAY String Quartet in C minor (1936), Aloys FLEISCHMANN Piano Quintet (1938) with Hugh Tinney, piano,   Marco Polo 8.223888 (Irish Composers Series)

Voted top classical CD of 1996 by the Irish Times

“A lovely disc – sure to appeal to all aficionados of late-Romantic/early twentieth-century chamber music.” Fanfare

Ernst von DOHNANYI   Piano Quintets Op 1 (1895) & Op 26 (1914) with Martin Roscoe, piano,

ASV DCA 915

“This is buoyant playing, gleefully alive to every detail.” The Times, London.

CEATHRAR A collection of contemporary Irish Quartets by John Kinsella, Ian Wilson, Walter Beckett and Brian Boydell, Chandos CHAN 9295

“ … certainly worth examining … and the Vanbrugh play them passionately – this is a quartet that is going places.” CD Review

Leos JANACEK Quartets No 1 (Kreutzer Sonata, 1923) and No 2 (Intimate Letters, 1928)

Anton DVORAK Quartet in E flat major Op 51 (1879), Collins 13812

“The Vanbrugh Quartet performs both quartets with astonishing intensity and a clear feeling for the emotional background: every bar has been thought through and the terrifying technical demands of Janacek’s string writing emerges less as virtuosity than as an integral part of a narrative. The Vanbrughs have no qualms about telling the story in performances which have an almost theatrical vividness.” BBC Music Magazine

Robert SIMPSON Quartets No 14 (1990) and No 15 (1991); Quintet for Clarinet, Bass Clarinet & String Trio (1983) with Joy Farrall, clarinet and Fiona Cross, bass clarinet, Hyperion CDA66626

“a richly rewarding experience … delivered with verve and intensity.” Gramophone

John TAVENER Quartet No.3 Diodia, works for soprano and string quartet: Akhmatova Songs, The World, Many Years, Hyperion CDA67217 with PATRICIA ROSARIO, soprano

“The Vanbrugh Quartet’s intense and committed performance is of the highest calibre. An indispensable and thoroughly recommendable disc” Gramophone

BEETHOVEN Complete String Quartets – Intim Musik IMCD 043-050 (eight CDs)

“fine enough to bear comparison with any set… The late quartets are quite marvelous” (Fanfare Magazine USA)

“The culmination of this well-established British quartet’s Beethoven cycle maintains the high standard set by the first four discs. The Vanbrughs combine poise, rhythmic precision and appropriate sturdiness with moments of inspiration. Their clear-sighted approach brings clarity to these complex late works … for sheer zest and unshowy commitment, these performances score highly.” The Observer

 

“Beethoven – The Late String Quartets (IMCD  047-050). These superb performances complete the Vanbrugh’s recorded cycle… It is difficult to know which to praise higher, the technique, finesse and fervour brought to Opp. 131, 132 and 135, the skilful delineation of moods in Op.127, the perceptive interpretation of the notoriously problematical Op.95 or the magnificent sustained artistry of Op.130… These are compelling performances, very well recorded”

From Michael Kennedy’s Records of the Year 1998. The Sunday Telegraph, London