The Nash Ensemble
A new addition to the critically acclaimed Nash series on ONYX “Britain’s premier chamber ensemble” (The Times)
The String Quintets are two of Brahms’ greatest chamber works. The op88 was a favourite of the composer, and he wrote to his publisher that ‘you’ll never receive anything more beautiful from me’. Strangely it has been slow to find affection with the public, which is shame as it contains some of the composers most exploratory and personal music - the second movement especially so. The late op111 quintet was written when Brahms had all but retired. He’d attempted a 5th and a 6th symphony, but felt he had little more to say, and it was all more difficult to put on paper. When he delivered the work to the publisher he wrote ‘ with this note you can take leave of my music, because it is high time to stop’.
The Nash Ensemble, having recently celebrated their 40th Anniversary, are having something of a golden period, and their previous ONYX discs of Turnage world premieres (ONYX4005) and Mendelssohn Piano Trios (ONYX4011) receiving rave reviews.
“These Nash accounts are exalted and exalting, alive with subtlety.”
Sunday Times, 9th August 2009 ****
“...it's the viola playing that is the highlight of these performances by the Nash Ensemble's regulars; Laurence Power and Philip Dukes provide a wonderfully rich and expressive core to the group's sound which gives it the perfect blend of power and flexibility, as well supplying the perfect pivot around which all the music's harmonic shifts can rotate.”
The Guardian, 7th August 2009 ****
“[The G Major Quintet]is played like a miniature string symphony in this recording from the Nash Ensemble. There's a wonderful physicality to their sound: the violins intensely sweet, the violas pungent, the single cello limber and long-legged. The Schubertian F-major Quintet is a technical tour de force, again beautifully played.” The Independent on Sunday, 2nd August 2009
“One of the glories of their performances of both quintets is the fullness and richness of sound, something Brahms clearly strove to cultivate in his scoring. Paul Watkins's heroic, thrusting statement of the cello theme at the outset of the Op. 111 quintet reminds us that this opening started as a sketch for a symphony... The subtle, elegiac melancholia of the middle movements is superbly realised, with a wonderful earthy vigour to the finale. ...a marvellous version, in superbly natural sound.”
BBC Music Magazine, November 2009 ****
“The Nash Ensemble are nothing less than the London regiment of chamber music's crack troops and they yield nothing in interpretative power and consistency of concentration to the Hagen Quartet and Gérard Caussé, the comparison favoured in the Gramophone Classical Music Guide. Both discs present this joyful, compelling music in its best light; the Nash are recorded with a touch more immediacy.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2009