Brahms, Schönberg (2011)

Brahms, Schonberg

Amsterdam Sinfonietta

When Arnold Schonberg was a youth, the controversy between the schools of Johannes Brahms and Richard Wagner was still in full swing. Wagner belonged to the so-called New German School, which sought to break with tradition and to experiment with instrumentation, form and harmonic style. Brahms, like Robert Schumann, was a member of the Academic School, whose innovations were organically related to the tradition of Beethoven. And as for Schonberg - he began his musical life as a convinced disciple of Brahms. However, after hearing Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde, he became equally devoted to Wagner. Indeed, both influences are manifest in Schonberg's Verklarte Nacht. While Wagner has gone down in history as the great innovator, Brahms is widely viewed as a conservative composer.

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Amsterdam Sinfonietta

Amsterdam Sinfonietta is an ensemble of 22 gifted musicians who perform under the direction of Candida Thompson, artistic director|lead violin since 2003. The ensemble’s defining feature is the strong involvement and artistic drive of each individual member. The group has gained a reputation for distinguished, performances and innovative programming, often featuring surprising combinations of works. It collaborates with renowned artists and performs in major venues around throughout the world.

Founded in 1988 Amsterdam Sinfonietta is a highly respected ensemble with strong roots in the Dutch cultural scene. Every season it presents a series of concerts in the major concert halls of the The Netherlands. The orchestra boasts a young and loyal audience. Amsterdam Sinfonietta performs ingenious programmes featuring well-known repertoire combined with commissions, new arrangements or rarely performed works. Recent commissions include world premières of compositions by Sofia Gubaidulina, HK Gruber, Michel van der Aa and P?teris Vasks. Over the past seasons Amsterdam Sinfonietta has initiated and recorded new arrangements of various chamber music works. These include works by Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Schulhoff, Haas, Shostakovich and Berg.

Amsterdam Sinfonietta enjoys intensive collaborations with pre-eminent musicians. Guest artists such as Janine Jansen, David Fray, Jean-Guihen Queyras, Barbara Hannigan, Maxim Vengerov, Thomas Hampson, Sergey Khachatryan, Christianne Stotijn, Håkan Hardenberger, Martin Fröst, Julian Rachlin, Sol Gabetta, James Gilchrist, Natalia Gutman and Isabelle van Keulen have made return appearances with the orchestra.

Recently the ensemble toured China performing concerts with cellist Pieter Wispelwey. The group also performed spectacular performances with solo cellist Sol Gabetta at the Barbican in London, the Philharmonie in Luxemburg, Bozar in Brussels, the Musikhalle in Hamburg and the Konserthuset in Stockholm. The latest tour through Germany and Belgium with the French pianist David Fray was a resouding success culminating in ecstatic reviews. Following concerts in Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt and Düsseldorf and the Frankfurter Rundschau wrote: ’For the chamber orchestra Amsterdam Sinfonietta, performing under the direction of Candida Thompson, the keyword is alertness. The 22 string players […] communicate with each other in a state of heightened awareness. Each player listens attentively to the others, to the counter lines and tonal colours. […] The result sounded fresh and modern – simply brilliant.’ The group has been a guest at many international festivals including the Adelaide Festival, Gergiev Festival, Schleswig Holstein Festival and La Roque d’Antheron and also appears regularly at the Holland Festival and in the Robeco Summer Series and Carte Blanche Series in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw.

Every year the ensemble shows its versatility with a New Year’s programme that transcends the bounds of a conventional concert. This New Year’s programme has become a tradition attracting new and diverse audiences in many national venues. Joining forces with artists such as Bobby McFerrin, Roby Lakatos, and Chick Corea has resulted in intriguing on-stage chemistry and compelling concerts. The orchestra also participates in multidisciplinary projects. Together with the Dutch-Italian choreographers Emio Greco & PC, the ensemble presented a theatrical production featuring a contemporary collage of Bach’s St Matthew Passion. Amsterdam Sinfonietta has also worked with the actor Jeroen Willems and stage director Pierre Audi in a programme centred on Alban Berg’s Lyric Suite. Upcoming projects include a Dessner-Greenwood double portrait featuring recent compositions by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead fame and Bryce and Aaron Dessner from the successful rock band The National. Other future projects include collaborations with the violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, baritone Thomas Hampson and clarinettist Martin Fröst and tours of Germany, Russia and China.

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Brahms, Schönberg (2011)

Brahms, Schonberg

Amsterdam Sinfonietta


Candida Thompson en de haren benaderen deze muziek met een soort aangeboren ervaring bij de vertolking van moderne werken zonder in radicalisme te vervallen. (...) Structuur en expressie krijgen een naadloos karakter hier, de stemvoering is mooi te volgen. De lyriek van de muziek komt nergens in de knel, de wisselende stemmingen worden mooi uitgediept en het werk eindigt in een stemming van mild sensuele nostalgie. Lof ook voor de technici die het zo duidelijk vastlegden.


This is the kind of richly expressive performance which has long-term staying power rather than gut-wrenching impact. (...) This is a nicely presented, beautifully produced and easily recommendable recording (...)


over het spel van het Amsterdam Sinfonietta niets dan de hoogste lof.(...)

    Opus Haute Définition

the Amsterdam Sinfonietta once again subjugates us by its most passionate approach, letting tones ripen with a breadth that is large, powerful and well-dosed. The remarkable equilibrium of the different instrumentalists can never be called heavy-handed, and it is from the ensemble’s clarity that poetry is born, never letting go of the listener until the end of this brilliant score. In exemplary sound, here is a major SACD of enduring artistic value.

    International Record Review

very pleasant, with relaxed tempos and dynamic contrasts that are unexaggerated (...) This is not a neurotic reading but it is one in which the listener is made very aware of the shivery moonlight (...) The incipient tonal lushness has been toned down and the resulting fragility works well (...) The warm atmospheric engineering gives a good sense of the performance space, and of the ensemble’s place within it.

    De Volkskrant

Sinfonietta geeft de twee composities allebei een uitvoering waar de vonken vanaf vliegen. (...) glans, coherentie en bovenal intense passie.

    The Times -

Fascinating to hear the Brahms String Quartet Op 51 No 1 simply transcribed for string orchestra, with a double-bass line added by Sinfonietta player Marijn van Prooijen. The Amsterdam ensemble revels in the first movement’s symphonic textures, but later movements prove less convincing (...) But wonders return in the closing pages, managed with exquisite delicacy.

    The Guardian***

when one gets used to the scale of the performance and its replacement of muscularity by weight in the texture, the performance works effectively in what is one of Brahms's most racked and intense minor-key works (...) Pairing it with an intensely neurotic account of Schoenberg's much more familiar string-orchestra version of Verklärte Nacht (originally a string sextet) certainly points up the connections between Brahms and the young Schoenberg.

In immensely rich and refulgent surround sound, another welcome issue in the Amsterdam Sinfonietta’s series of issues documenting sensitive arrangements for fuller orchestra of great chamber music works. (...)


n intense performance (...) phenomenally alert responses on the part of Amsterdam Sinfonietta and a recording of comparable range and depth

    American Record Guide

Paring these works makes sense (...) this arrangement by bassist Marijn Prooijen is a treat for the ear and the intellect. Partly it's the playing of the Amsterdam Sinfonietta, but the sheer beauty of sound and wealth of detail it illuminates are a revelation. (...) deeply satisfying, with good pacing and balances.

ein international hoch angesehenes Streicherensemble (...)Wo vier Einzelstimmen in der Quartettfassung zuweilen hart aneinander knirschen, wird das Klangbild durch die erweiterte Besetzung abgerundet, fülliger. (...)All das gibt dem c-Moll-Quartett eine ganz eigene Note. Aber eine, die zu hören sich lohnt. (...) Vor allem auch, weil die von der Konzertmeisterin Candida Thompson zu warmer Tongebung angeleitete Amsterdam Sinfonietta schlichtweg hervorragend spielt. (...) auch die Darstellung der 'Verklärten Nacht' ist hier ein vollauf gelungen.


the bass line is perfectly audible in the exceptionally fine recorded balance of this beautiful-to-hear SACD...the playing itself is superb. (…)


excellent coupling (...) these performances are admirable and for those unfamiliar with them, this disc would be a good starting place. Top quality sound on both SACD and CD level.

    Audophile Audition

The restless harmonies and rhythms, the spiky tremolos, turn soft-edged in the expanded arrangement, and Channel Classics warm bath of a surround-sound recording just emphasizes the effect. It’s all very lovely and inviting. (...)

Brahms, Schönberg (2011)

Brahms, Schonberg

Amsterdam Sinfonietta

Cables: van den Hul
Digital Converters: Grimm A/D DSD / Meitner DA
Mastering Engineer: Jared Sacks
Mastering Equipment: B&W 803 diamond series
Microphones: Bruel & Kjaer, Schoeps
Mixing Board: Rens Heijnis custom design
Producer: Willem Bordes
Recording Engineer: Jared Sacks
Recording location: Leiden Holland 2011
Recording Software: Pyramix bij Merging
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD64
Speakers: Audiolab, Holland

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30411: Brahms, Schönberg
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String Quartet opus 51 no. 1 in c minor - Allegro
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String Quartet opus 51 no. 1 in c minor - Romanze. Poco Adagio
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String Quartet opus 51 no. 1 in c minor - Allegretto molto moderato e comodo
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String Quartet opus 51 no. 1 in c minor - Allegro
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Verklärte Nacht Opus 4
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