Bartok and Brahms (2018)

Brahms, Bartók

Amsterdam Sinfonietta


These two musical giants, Brahms and Bartok, are among my personal favourites, bound by their love of folk music, from which they both drew creative inspiration. For this CD recording we have once again coupled together a string orchestral work and an arrangement of a chamber music piece, similar to the concept used for our Brahms – Schoenberg, Mahler – Beethoven CDs. Bartok’s Divertimento for string orchestra is an exceptionally original work and it has been on our ‘bucket list’ to record for quite a long time, but choosing the moment when something is ‘in one’s blood’, so to speak, is not an easy decision because every time we have rehearsed and performed it we have discovered new things – it is such a mellifluously rich work! With pieces like this it is never the same journey twice. I am extremely happy we have finally put it onto a CD.
Brahms’s opus 111 is a string quintet hugely loved by us all. It is not often performed by a full string orchestra and is already overpowering in its original quintet form. I fell in love with this music many years ago and spent two weeks deciphering every corner of it in a masterclass with Isaac Stern. It is a very ambitious piece to record with a large group of string players – all the intricacies of the solo voices have to be found and polished, but in my view it lends itself to becoming – dare I say it – a ‘symphony for strings’ when one approaches it with so many more players. Some of the textures seem even more glorious. However, I leave it to you ‘the listener’ to decide for yourself!    Candida Thompson

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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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Bartok and Brahms (2018)

Brahms, Bartók

Amsterdam Sinfonietta

    Luister 10 -

quote voor Luister van 37518 " beste opname van de laatste tijd (en misschien wel ooit)." Luister 10/10 (de recensie hebben we niet gevonden, maar dus wel een quote op de website van Sinfonietta)

    NRC 4 stars

(…) Een goede keuze om deze twee werken tegenover en naast elkaar te zetten: eenzelfde Europa verklankt in zwierige luister door Brahms, in donkere ontluistering door Bartók, en in de gloeidende noten van Sinfonietta Amsterdam.

Joost Galema


(...) The performance is indisputably strong, as one might expect from this ensemble. Despite the greater sonic weight there’s no danger of the musical argument being muddied. Form and emotion are scrupulously balanced throughout and counterpoint is pristine in its clarity. (...) The disc’s raison d’être (...) is the Bartók Divertimento, which gets a terrific performance here. The playing blends muscularity with detail, rhythms are trenchant and incisive, and the shifting dynamic contrasts between the concertante soloists is beautifully and precisely observed.

Tim Ashley

    Nederlands Dagblad

Het Amsterdamse orkest vertolkt deze muziek met zwier. (…) de ‘kleine’ muziek van Brahms klinkt ‘groot’ bij het orkest (…) mooie tegenstelling tussen Brahms en Bartók

Die Streicher der Amsterdam Sinfonietta sind wahrlich keine unbekannten in den Konzertsälen der Welt. Ihre stilistische Vielseitigkeit kennt anscheinend keine Grenzen – oder doch? (…)

    Het Parool

Sinfonietta kerft in de ziel (...)

Erik Voermans

    Pizzicato LU -

With Sinfonietta Amsterdam, Bartok’s Divertimento is the musical translation of the composer’s deeply worrying state of mind at the moment when he wrote the piece. The Brahms Quintet played in a full string orchestra version is not easy going either. Candida Thompson's team sharpens the contrasts between cheerful and dark thoughts, between melancholy and irony. Technically, the playing is first rate.

    MusicWeb International

The performances are superbly prepared and colourful and lively, oozing that aura of live playing that comes from frequent stage experience with both works. With expert and impressively vibrant performances such as these you can’t go wrong.

    Opus Klassiek

(…) Het Amsterdam Sinfonietta heeft opnieuw een formidabele loot aan die toch al rijke cd-stam toegevoegd, met Bartóks speelse Divertimento en Brahms' Tweede strijkkwintet in G, hier omgezet naar het volbloedige strijkorkest. (…) Dankzij Jared Sacks staat het er bovendien allemaal magnifiek op. Wel moet u nog even geduld hebben: het album ligt pas vanaf 20 juni a.s. in de winkel.

Aart van der Wal

Bartok and Brahms (2018)

Brahms, Bartók

Amsterdam Sinfonietta

Cables: van den Hul
Digital Converters: Grimm A/D
Editing Software: Pyramix
Mastering Engineer: Jared Sacks
Mastering Room: Grimm LS1
Microphones: Bruel & Kyaer
Mixing Board: Rens Heijnis custom made

The recording was originally digitized using the Grimm AD1, which operates at DSD64. The original session tracks were edited and rebalanced (which meant going through the mixer)  in the only available format for that purpose; the Pyramix 352.8KHz/24bit PCM (DXD). Prior to the advent of direct digital delivery, the next step in the production process from 352.8KHz/24bit PCM would be the DSD64 edited master for SACD production. What we have done now is also make a direct conversion to DSD128 and DSD256 from that original DXD edited master, without going through any interim processing steps.

Those DXD to DSD conversions are not up-samplings, as they would be going from one PCM sampling rate to another, for they are different encoding systems. PCM is a digital value sample based system, and DSD is a digital bit density modulated system. Conversion from any PCM sample rate to any DSD bit rate system is a remodulation, not an up-sampling.

We feel there is an audio advantage to this process in using the original files so we give you the choice and you can decide.


Jared Sacks

Producer: Willem de Bordes
Recording Engineer: Jared Sacks
Recording location: Stadsgehoorzaal, Leiden, The Netherlands
Recording Software: Merging
Recording Type & Bit Rate: 64fs

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37518: Bartok and Brahms
00:54:37   Select quality & channels above
Divertimento for String Orchestra - Allegro non troppo
00:08:28   N/A
Divertimento for String Orchestra - Molto adagio
00:08:17   N/A
Divertimento for String Orchestra - Allegro assai
00:07:06   N/A
String Quintet no. 2 - Allegro non troppo ma con brio
00:12:52   N/A
String Quintet no. 2 - Adagio
00:06:25   N/A
String Quintet no. 2 - Un poco allegretto
00:05:31   N/A
String Quintet no. 2 - Vivace ma non troppo presto
00:05:07   N/A
bonus track
00:00:51   N/A

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