Bartok and Brahms

Amsterdam Sinfonietta

(9 press reviews)
Original Recording Format: DSD 64
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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


Please note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Divertimento for String Orchestra - Allegro non troppo
Divertimento for String Orchestra - Molto adagio
Divertimento for String Orchestra - Allegro assai
String Quintet no. 2 - Allegro non troppo ma con brio
String Quintet no. 2 - Adagio
String Quintet no. 2 - Un poco allegretto
String Quintet no. 2 - Vivace ma non troppo presto
bonus track

Total time: 00:54:37

Additional information





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van den Hul

Digital Converters

Grimm A/D

Editing Software


Mastering Engineer

Jared Sacks

Mastering Room

Grimm LS1


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


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Original Recording Format


Willem de Bordes

Recording Engineer

Jared Sacks

Recording location

Stadsgehoorzaal, Leiden, The Netherlands

Recording Software


Recording Type & Bit Rate


Release DateJune 1, 2018

Press reviews

Luister 10 5 out of 5

quote voor Luister van 37518
“…de 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.


(…) 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.

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 (…)

Pizzicato LU 5 out of 5

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.


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