Radiant, expansive, lyrical and utterly compelling, Brahms’s richly rewarding string quintets are exuberantly unleashed by the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne Chamber Players in this album. These technically demanding works contain everything one could wish for from the mature Brahms: searching melodies woven into glowing, luxuriant textures, lyrical introspection with subdued sonorities, to youthful abandon in breathless, rhythmic passages.
“You have never before had such a beautiful work from me”, Brahms told his publisher about his Quintet No.1 in F major, Op. 88. This was no idle boast. The amiable and leisurely first movement with its warmly inviting opening melody is followed by a haunting second movement based on a sarabande with exquisite interplay between the instruments. In a nod to Beethoven, the energetic final movement is a masterly combination of fugue and sonata form but the result is pure Brahms.
Brahms originally intended his Quintet No.2 in G major, Op. 111 to be his final work but it is anything but a swansong. From the shimmering grandeur of the opening with an ardent, soaring theme from the cello, this work is a tour de force, full of buoyant high spirits quite unlike any of his other chamber works.
The WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne was formed in 1947. It has recorded extensively and is renowned for its interpretation of 20th century and contemporary music in addition to the standard classical repertoire. Its chief conductor is Jukka-Pekka Saraste.
The WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne Chamber Players are all members of the orchestra as well as pursuing their own international careers: Ye Wu (violin, Leader), Andreea Florescu (violin), Tomek Neugebauer (viola), Mischa Pfeiffer (viola) and Susanne Eychmüller (cello).
The WDR Symphony Orchestra has, as part of the season, its own regular chamber music subscription series. The concerts take place in the WDR Radio Hall and all concerts are recorded and broadcast on the radio.