Fauré: Piano Quintets

Designated by the 2012 Gramophone Classical Music Guide: "Gramophone award-winner and recording of legendary status," "Simply the best: An unrivalled version, a cornerstone of the catalogue. A real gem!",  and one of the 2011 Gramophone Classical Music Guide's top 100 recordings. "Ideally balanced and recorded, Cristina Ortiz and the Fine Arts Quartet offer performances that are warmly affectionate, fluent and musicianly to the core. Surpassing Domus's fine Hyperion disc, these are outstanding readings and Oritz is memorably sensitive to Faure's subtle and intricate piano-writing." (2011 Gramophone Classical Music Guide)

***** "Released in 2009, this recording has already received recognition as a classic....The Fine Arts Quartet playes this music with feeling and romanticism. The Brazilian pianist Cristina Ortiz plays with both delicacy, especially in the arpeggio passages which open both quintets, and power." (Robin Friedman, Amazon.com, July 19, 2011)  Full Review

"Red-blooded, passionate performances show these neglected works for the masterpieces they truly are."

(Sean James, Amazon.com, 22 March 2010)  Full Review

"Cristina Ortiz and the Fine Arts Quartet nail Fauré’s particular combination of classic form and Romantic passion with perfection. They’re more expansive in the outer movements of the First Quintet, allowing for more detail and subtlety while their Adagio is tighter, more focused than their rival’s version. Ortiz’s crisply articulated piano under the busy strings in the second movement is a particular joy here, as is the way the ensemble fully captures the grave beauty of the Andante third movement by taking a flowing, more liquid approach to tempo, rhythm and melody that reflects their awareness of the style we hear in old recordings of French chamber groups of the 1920s and ’30s...Naxos’ Brazilian pianist and American string quartet are more idiomatically Gallic. The result is a disc to treasure."

(Dan Davis, La Folia Online Music Review, February 2010)  Full review

Named one of "The Best Classical Recordings of 2009"...One of top 3 in the chamber category. 

(ArkivMusic, January 2010)  

MusicWeb International critic's choice: Recording Of The Year 2009

(Ian Lace, MusicWeb International, December 2009)   Full review

"I cannot imagine better performances. Cristina Ortiz is one of the most musical pianists around, and her ability to integrate her sound so fully into the very fabric of these works makes for a very special recording. The Fine Arts Quartet plays with all the subtlety and refinement one could ask for - beautiful, balanced, and blended strings are exactly what is called for in these works. The recorded sound and perceptive notes complete a package, that, like much of what I see and hear from Naxos these days, would be a strong competitor at full price. At under $9 it simply can't be beat."  (James Harrington, American Record Guide, November/December 2009)

"This new [disc] with the Fine Arts Quartet and pianist Cristina Ortiz is definitely a keeper...The Fine Arts Quartet and Ortiz manage to scent this music with a bouquet I can only describe as quintessentially French. In their hands, Fauré’s music vibrates with a sentient tenderness almost too sad and too personal to be expressed. Beyond recommended, this is a mandatory purchase."

(Jerry Dubins, Fanfare, Nov/Dec 2009)  Full review

"The quintets are played with great devotion, showing fine balance and rich in delicate nuance. The ensemble is perfect, which is as expected from such an experienced group as the Fine Arts...The recording quality is first class, both clean and atmospheric. Another fine disc from Naxos.  (Oleg Ledeniov, Musicweb International, November 2009)  Full Review

"In Fauré there is no substitute for experience, and these five veterans show all their modern rivals the way home...The playing has an irresistible pulse...They produce the essence of Romantic playing...lovely tone and lovely phrasing...These are delectable performances." 

(Tully Potter, The Strad, October 2009)

"From the outset, Cristina Ortiz and the Fine Arts Quartet find just the right elegiac atmosphere...the Second Piano Quintet marks the pinnacle of Fauré’s chamber output and is performed here with great affection. The opening movement is radiantly played...a notable addition to the catalogue." (Mark Pullinger, International Record Review, October 2009)

"ELEGANT CHAMBER MUSIC. These two major works of chamber music are nothing short of masterpieces. Cristina Ortiz and the Fine Arts Quartet...give us performances that are marked by understated virtuosity, subtle shadings of color and finely honed ensemble playing. The strings perform with a shimmering uniformity of tone and the balance between the keyboard and strings is never off...This ensemble plays with such refined finesse that the only thing that comes across is beauty. These are performances in which a listener can simply luxuriate, thoroughly enjoying the wash of sound that comes out of the speakers. Let’s hope that these artists come together again soon. Perhaps some Brahms and Schumann? Shostakovich maybe? The possibilities are exciting just too think about!"

(Kevin Sutton, Musicweb International, October 2009)  Full Review and  (The Tenor Diaries, Sept 30, 2009)  Full Review

"RECORDING OF THE MONTH. What entrancing music this is: elusive and enigmatic. It demonstrates how unjust is the relative neglect of Fauré’s chamber works...Two magical, enchanting chamber works in alluring performances by the Fine Arts Quartet and Cristina Ortiz."  (Ian Lace, Musicweb International, September, 2009) Full Review

"Ideally balanced and recorded, Cristina Ortiz and the Fine Arts Quartet offer performances that are warmly affectionate, fluent and musicianly to the core. Surpassing Domus's fine Hyperion disc, these are outstanding readings." 

(Bryce Morrison, The Gramophone, August 2009)  

"The wonderful Brazilian pianist Cristina Ortiz and the Fine Arts Quartet...sound great playing together as they cultivate the close string blend that Fauré's writing requires, and they show a definite feeling for his glowing harmonies...In sum, I like everything about these performances by Cristina Ortiz and the Fine Arts Quartet. They are the epitome of refinement, warmth and economy." 

(Phil's Classical Reviews, August 2009)  

"At his best, Faure is among the most sophisticated and refined of all composers. And those qualities are enshrined in his two wonderful Piano Quintets, which receive bright and loving performances here from pianist Christina Ortiz and the Fine Arts Quartet. The rippling arpeggio opening to the first quintet cascades around the murmuring theme that unfolds its limbs luxuriously, while the music of the finale epitomises the subtlety of Faure’s supreme craftsmanship. Great performances, streaming with finesse and élan."  

(Michael Tumelty, The Herald Scotland, 24 August 2009)  Full Review

"These are excellent performances recorded in New York in 2007, and an important release." 

(Peter Spaull, Liverpool Daily Post, August 7, 2009) 

****"Performance: Four stars; Sound: Four stars...The Fine Arts Quartet has a notably ‘golden age’ approach, drawing on the aesthetic of an era not far from Fauré’s own and bringing both quintets fully to life in every bar. The sweet-toned first violin Ralph Evans produces portamenti worthy of Fauré’s friend Jacques Thibaud; Ortiz’s playing blends in sensitively, dousing the texture with showers of pianistic glitter; and the ensemble’s vibrant emotionalism - though suitably modified for Fauré’s purposes - emphasises the passion and questing exploration within the composer’s elusive language."  (Jessica Duchen, BBC Music Magazine, July 2009)

BBC Music Magazine

"Faure, Piano Quintets (Naxos 8.570938) Gabriel Faure, more known for his Requiem, created some piano quintets moments of pure beauty and melodic inspiration; wonderfully expressed by the The Fine Arts Quartet". 

(Gavin Engelbrecht, Northern Echo, July 20, 2009)  

"***** Glorious, Subtle Playing of these Glorious, Subtle Works...Both works are given subtle and musical performances here by the Fine Arts Quartet and pianist Cristina Ortiz...Previously my benchmark recordings for the Fauré Piano Quintets had been those of Domus...but this Fine Arts/Ortiz set is easily its equal, and it's at budget price. If you are in the market for the Fauré piano quintets, snap it up.  (J Scott Morrison, Amazon.com, July 8, 2009)  Full Review

"There are many outstanding recordings of Fauré's two piano quintets available, and this 2009 Naxos disc by the Fine Arts Quartet with pianist Cristina Ortiz can take its place among the finest. The American chamber group plays with complete unanimity; though each musician is clearly an individual, in their more than 50 years together, the members of the Fine Arts Quartet have refined their ensemble to the point where their individuality has become truly collective. Joined here by Brazilian virtuoso Ortiz, they produce a comely sound and offer lively performances of the two quintets. In fast movements, particularly the second quintet's Allegro vivo, they hold together tightly. In slow movements, especially the first quintet's Adagio, they sing together beautifully, bringing out the deep longing and affecting expressivity at the music's heart. Captured in lean, clean, yet atmospheric sound, this recording is another feather in the cap of the performers, and adds another outstanding recording of these chamber music masterpieces to the catalogue." 

(James Leonard, AllMusic.com, July 2009)  Full review

 "The two piano quintets are quintessential Fauré: a refined, translucent flow of interwoven melody. But the very subtlety of his chamber music has restricted its wider dissemination. If you don't already know the quintets, here is your introduction. The performances are nuanced. At bargain price, it's a snip." (Andrew Clark, Financial Times, June 27, 2009)

"Brazilian pianist Cristina Ortiz joins up with the American Fine Arts Quartet for this disc of Fauré’s two piano quintets. The first...opens magically, with tinkling piano arpeggios beautifully played by Ortiz, before plunging into vigorous string figures...The great merit of this disc is the perfect integration of the piano into the quartet"  (Geoffrey Norris, Telegraph.co.uk,  22nd June 2009) Full review

The Telegraph

****"Their approach is warmly expressive, their phrasing generous and intense, so that the music's French pedigree is never in doubt...at budget price this is a real snip." (Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 19th June 2009)  Full Review

The Guardian

"Their account of both [quintets] is outgoing and often highly charged...and Ortiz brings a wealth of delicate playing." 

(David Denton, David's Review Corner, June 2009)  Full review