Frei Aber Einsam (Free But Lonely)

Cuarteto Quiroga

(20 press reviews)

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Original Recording Format: DSD 64
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This is not only a recording, but also the story of a fascinating journey. The solitary journey of a man who was able to preserve his identity and his artistic freedom bringing string quartet as genre, one may behold the heritage of Beethoven, Mozart, and Haydn -“whose manuscripts of the Opus 20 string quartets belonged to Brahms’ private library-“, the background of the German folk music tradition and envisage the extraordinary (r)evolution of the second Viennese school.

As Helena Poggio, Cuarteto Quiroga’s cellist, points out in the album’s booklet, “Frei Aber Einsam” (Free But Lonely) – was the motto Brahms shared with his good friend Joseph Joachim and it forms letter of each German word represents a musical note (F-A-E). The inherent melancholic character of this motto can often be found virtually alone in defense of his work, his aesthetic conception, and his chamber music.

To the end, he remained true to himself refusing any path marked by fads and trends that might have impinged upon his freedom and independence. Never once did he regret his position despite the suffering that it caused him. In his own words: “For me F.A.E. (Frei aber Einsam) has remained a symbol and in spite of everything, I may very well bless it.”

Cuarteto Quiroga
Aitor Hevia, Violin
Cibram Sierra, Violin
Josep Puchades, Viola
Helena Poggio, Violoncello


Please note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
String quartet op.51 nr1 - Allegro
String quartet op.51 nr1 - Poco Adagio
String quartet op.51 nr1 - Allegretto molto moderato e comodo
String quartet op.51 nr1 - Allegro
String quartet op.51 nr2 - Allegro
String quartet op.51 nr2 - Andante moderato
String quartet op.51 nr2 - Quasi Minuetto, moderato
String quartet op51 nr2 - Allegro non assai
In stiller Nacht

Total time: 01:12:59

Additional information





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For this album we chose to record in Binaural as well. This is a perfect solution for headphone users. The recordings are made with the dummy head of Neuman, the KU-100. On a headphone this gives a surprisingly realistic image and it gives you the feeling of being at the session. This idea to develop an extra Binaural catalogue in DSD is initiated and supported by Rivasono in The Netherlands.

Digital Converters

dCS dsd AD

Mastering Engineer

Tom Peeters

Mastering Equipment

KEF Reference series 107


B&K 4003, modified by Rens Heijnis

Mixing Board

Rens Heijnis custom made


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Original Recording Format


Tom Peeters

Recording Engineer

Tom Peeters

Recording location

Westvest 90 Church Schiedam

Recording Software

merging, pyramix

Recording Type & Bit Rate


Release DateJune 8, 2015

Press reviews

Positive Feedback

Not to be played by the faint of heart! These quartets by Brahms are some of the most emotionally complex, and musically complex, quartets in the literature… The greatness of Brahms lies in the honesty and depth of his music. To successfully perform Brahms, artists must shed their own ego and meet Brahms on his terms. To do otherwise creates an artificial outcome, one which too many performing quartets fall victim.

The Cuarteto Quiroga are not caught out in this failure—they approach Brahms with an openness, an honesty, a degree of humility, and undeniable passion that does them and the music great credit. They are not only technically proficient, they do not only play with breathtaking beauty and rapport, but they truly dig into the meaning of the music. They are attuned to, and they convey, all of the emotional depth, anguish, joy, consternation, wonder, anxiety, conflict, remorse, reconciliation, that the composer may be striving to communicate. Never do they simply skate across the surface. And this is all so incredibly important when performing the dense complexities of Brahms’ creations.

HVT, jan 2016

Wow, wat een opname! Met de titel ‘Frei aber Einsam’ kon geen treffender karakterisering gegeven worden voor deze muziek. Ik word er stil van…

MusicWeb International

“I don’t think you’ll hear better Brahms string quartet playing than this – or for that matter better string quartet recording.”
“Integrity and tension are superbly maintained throughout; internal rhythms astutely observed, accents beautifully weighted, and all couched in full, warm and generous tone.”

Pizzicato Music Magazine, jan 2016 4 out of 5

Fine, sensitive and thoughtful performances by a Quartet which communicates conviction and belief in the music. The playing is first class and very transparent.

Ritmo Online, dec 2015

This CD belongs among the top recordings of 2015.

Codalario Magazine, dec 2015

Among the best CD’s of 2015.
The Quartets op. 51 of Brahms recorded by the Quartet Quiroga Cobra Records , a fresh approach and a fundamental quality repertoire and very difficult to interpret significant good level of our chamber ensembles.

The Strad, dec 2015

Throughout both works, the Spanish-based ensemble produces a beautiful tone combined with an unblemished technique…… The sound quality and balance between instruments is admirable.

Klassieke Zaken, nov 2015

Cuarteto Quiroga gives the quartets of Brahms gods wings. With a golden harmony, a carefully balanced voice-leading, soulful phrasing and majestic arches tension Cuarteto Quiroga brings both highlights of the chamber works of Brahms to life.

Luister, sept 2015

“It is immediately clear Cuarteto Quiroga is a young quartet that can compete with the best from now and also the masters of previous generations (…) No wish is unfulfilled, it is really a joy to listen to this (…) A great recording.”

ABC Cultural

One is astonished by the admirable technical quality achieved by the Quiroga quartet, as well as the power and beauty of their sound (sometimes rough, full of despair, sometimes sweet and meaty).

But what it is even more astonishing is the maturity of the interpretation, the profound understanding of music so hard to grasp intellectually.

Música Clássica, sept 2015


El Arte de la Fuga, sept 2015

“Cuarteto Quiroga have shown us what they’ve grown and how they have improved technically and stylistically. The sound is now, it seems, more robust, fuller, more rugged too; the balance is always full and well distributed. You can hear the four voices, phenomenally included in the recording, made by recording engineer Tom Peeters”

Scherzo, sept 2015 5 out of 5

Awarded in the category “Excepcional”

Melomano, sept 2015

Awarded with a golden “Melomano” by this spanish magazine.

Ritmo, sept 2015 5 out of 5

“Starting with the First Quartet is like suddenly open the soul of the musician”…..
“The sound reaches a color of great beauty, supported by a recording of exceptional quality and naturalness.”

El Arte de la Fuga, june 29, 2015

The best of the best!! Lo mejor de lo mejor!
The version of Quiroga is a brilliant reference and deserves to be continued in other titles in the Brahms chamber music.
La versión de los Quiroga es una brillante referencia y merece ser continuada en otros títulos de la camarística brahmsiana. Está hecha desde la sensibilidad latina, a partir de la dorada timbración de las cuerdas, que echan sobre las complejidades de las obras un resplandor que convierte la miniatura en sólida construcción de bolsillo. El canto, infaliblemente, brota hasta en los instantes de pasajes. Los ritmos están marcados con una suerte de coreografía ideal. Las melancolías son voluptuosas y la sensualidad, melancólica. Es que Brahms fue así, como es en estas ejecuciones quiroguianas y lo será para siempre.

La Nueva España, june 25, 2015

“One of the most relevant recordings of the year, presenting the most demanding repertoire (…) A combination of talent, energy and astonishing technical preparation. A rigorous work (…), a defense of Brahms’ legacy made with top intellectual stature, boldness, and a highly poetic elan. A true luxury.”


“Uno de los discos más relevantes del año en uno de los repertorios más exigentes (…) Una mezcla de talento, energía y preparación técnica que asombra. Un trabajo riguroso (…) una defensa del legado brahmsiano de altura intelectual, audacia y alto vuelo poético. Un lujazo.”

Javier Hidalgo Romero, june 20, 2015

The Quiroga Quartet, which I heard a few months ago live in Cuenca in a for me unforgettable concert, is already among my favorite because each of them are excellent musicians and together they are superior.
It is not easy to approach this music. It requires a thorough study of scores and a comprehensive planning of every move with different sound levels, contrapuntal and rhythmic innovations and above all an interpretation of an exquisite balance.
Well, all I have found in this wonderful album of the Cuarteto Quiroga, who, along with the reading of the Book of Cibrán Sierra Vasquez, on String Quartet, I have made the best music learning in recent days.
The release of the album is a model (the Dutch label Cobra): design, booklet notes Helena, cellist, recording, and even the wink of the inclusion of a short piece on a traditional German song arranged for quartet by this composer which serves as the culmination to the disc, as cool down, and in which a single instrument is heard when the four rings, which is the best compliment you can make to a quartet.

Beckmesser, june 13th, 2015

“Enough already with that idea that only outside of Spain we find good string quartets (…) These interpretations are musically magnificent, stylistically impeccable, and above all incredibly well grounded in their technical approach (…) Indescribably sublime”

“Se acabó eso de que fuera de España se hace buena música para cuarteto de cuerda y dentro no (…) Estas son interpretaciones musicalmente magníficas, estilísticamente impecables, pero sobre todo increíblemente bien plantadas en sus aspectos técnicos. (…) Sublime hasta lo indecible.”

Computer Audiophile

The latest release by Cuarteto Quiroga of Brahms’ String Quartet op.51 is worth a nod. Fantastic playing from one of the more thoughtful and underrated string quartets. And of course, top notch sonics as well.


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