Kreisler and Zimbalist Quartets; Ysaÿe Harmonies du soir

"Naxos has released a winner...The Fine Arts Quartet, perhaps the only performing ensemble that has been together longer than the Beach Boys, gives charming, idiomatic performances."  

(John Marks, Stereophile, Apr 9, 2013) Full Review

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"Son Quatuor en la mineur (1919)...comme chez Korngold, s’instille aussi une inimitable douceur viennoise, dont on ne sait trop si, en ces années d’après-guerre, elle est surannée ou nostalgique, même si l’humour et l’ironie ne perdent pas leurs droits. Voilà une époque et un style convenant on ne peut mieux au Quatuor Fine Arts, qui a gravé une intégrale Dohnányi il y a dix ans chez Aulos MusiKado, voilà une partition qui mériterait une audience plus large." 

(Simon Corley,, November 2012) Full Review

 "Worthwhile, Serious Chamber Music …The Fine Arts Quartet does a beautiful job, and the engineering by Naxos is solid. Recommended" (Henry S., ArkivMusic, Aug.5, 2012). Full review

"This program has been put together intelligently, and the performances are excellent." (Raymond Tuttle, Fanfare, July 2012)

"This disc is a skilful collation of three little known works by three of the great violinist/composers of the early 20th century...In many ways the Fine Arts Quartet could be seen as ideal interpreters of this period of music. The original ensemble was founded over sixty years ago and they embody many of the values and virtues of the illustrious players whose music they play here. Although virtuosity of itself is not the sole purpose of these works it is a key element so again it is pleasing to report that the quartet both as individuals as well as a group are fully up to the considerable task. Take as just one example the brutally hard toccata/perpetual mobile finale of the Zimbalist Quartet [track 8]. This is written with no consideration or quarter given for the players. The Fine Arts Quartet toss it off with exactly the kind of easy virtuosity required...In the Kreisler Quartet in particular the Fine Arts embrace the 'old-school' use of portamenti with an enthusiasm and ubiquity which I do not think I have ever heard to this degree in a modern recording. I have to stress that in an era obsessed with 'authenticity' this is thoroughly authentic. Add to that a super-sweet use of vibrato and a collective approach to articulation that squeezes into chords and you will realise that you are entering a very particular sound-world...A disc of real interest for those aficionados of unusual chamber repertoire played to a very high standard by the fine Fine Arts Quartet." (Nick Barnard, MusicWeb International, June 2012)  Full review

"Two of the works on this disc—Zimbalist’s String Quartet and Ysaÿe’s Harmonies du soir—are premiere recordings...Both scores find themselves in excellent hands with the Fine Arts Quartet...The performances on the current Naxos CD are top-notch, as is the recording. The three works are appealing enough and certainly of sufficient interest to warrant recommendation, especially given a release so affordably priced."  (Jerry Dubins, Fanfare, May 2012) 

*****  "Excellent disque d'enrichissement du répertoire...Le tout est interprété par l'excellent Fine Arts quartet qui parvient à faire ressortir tout le charme de cette musique sans jamais tomber dans le "sucré". Pour couronner le tout, la prise de son hollandaise est remarquable. Enrichissement du répertoire, interprétation de référence, je mets donc cinq étoiles." 

(Guillaud Rollin,, 10 mai 2012)  

**** "La colaboración del Fine Arts con Naxos nos ha dejado excelentes discos, como sus Franck y Fauré con Cristina Ortiz o unos Quintetos de cuerda de Beethoven con Gil Sharon. Su último disco es todo un descubrimiento, con tres cuartetos de cuerda de tres violinistas de otra época, maestros que hicieron sus interesantes aportaciones a la composición, en algunos casos, como Ysaÿe, muy reconocidas. El Cuarteto en La menor de Fritz Kreisler (1919) rebosa opulencia sonora y delicadas fragancias románticas en extinción, como los glissandi del Romanze, de una efervescencia muy glamurosa. El Cuarteto en Mi menor de Efrem Zimbalist (1931, rev. 1959), bañado de una melancolía constante, es una isla dentro de la vanguardia de la música de cámara que se producía en la vieja Europa. Delicado y con una sonoridad cuidadísima, el Fine Arts ofrece esta reliquia de manera exquisita (Con brio, de una inventiva rítmica muy sugerente, o el hondo Andante). Harmonies du soir de Ysaÿe (1924), una mezcla de viejos recuerdos de una época ya pasada, sensualmente muy cromático, es una obra “imposible” (Martinu introdujo de mejor manera al cuarteto dentro de una orquesta), más un capricho que un convencimiento, una despedida con cierto aroma a las Metamorfosis de Strauss."  

(Gonzalo Pérez Chamorro, Ritmo, May 2012) 

"Le Fine Arts Quartet en livre une version des plus inspirées, riche d'une palettes de timbres et d'une précision métrique qui rappellent le Quatuor de Hollywood - référence en le matière. Et quel charme! La vitalité dynamique et la sensualité des vibratos comme des glissades illustrent fidèlement l' "hommage à Vienne" que Kreisler entendait y rendre...Un couplage aussi intelligent qu'original servi par des interprètes de grande classe."  (Jean-Michel Molkhou, Diapason, mai 2012)  Full review

"Harmonies du Soir is...beautifully written music that is beautifully played. I imagine that this piece will be popping up on concert programs everywhere (once people get their hands and ears on this recording) and perhaps it will inspire orchestras to program more of Ysaÿe’s neglected orchestral music." (Elaine Fine, American Record Guide, May 2012)

"What an intriguing programme: three of the greatest violinists not just of their age, but of all time, appearing as composers...The Fine Arts Quartet have a massive and superb discography, including ten previous discs for Naxos...Many of their recordings win awards; certainly they are nearly all singled out for their exceptional merit, on display again in this latest recording, where their technical prowess and expressive power are tested time and again by three composers that knew more than anyone what string instruments were capable of...This CD pays an emphatic tribute to...the Fine Arts Quartet's splendid musicianship."  

(Byzantion, MusicWeb International, April, 2012)  Full review

"Kaum bekannt und doch unwahrscheinlich intensiv: Die beiden Streichquartette von Fritz Kreisler und Efrem Zimbalist sind wirkliche Perlen. Beide haben eine sehr individuelle Sprache, wobei Kreisler sicherlich der Virtuosere, Zimbalist der Ausgefeiltere ist, vielleicht auch, weil wir hier die revidierte Version von 1959 des 28 Jahre früher entstandenen Werkes hören. Nichtsdestoweniger besitzen bei Quartette ihren Reiz und dürfen als wichtige Vertreter dieser Gattung für das frühe 20. Jahrhundert angesehen werden. Eugène Ysaÿes ‘Harmonies du soir’ für Streichquartett und Orchester ist ein mehr als interessanter Bonus. Das ‘Fine Arts Quartet’ interpretiert die drei Werke mit viel Engagement und einem sehr klaren, feinen Klang. Kreislers Virtuosität wird etwas relativiert, stattdessen suchen und finden die Musiker in diesem Stück eine ganz besondere Tiefe und Intensität. Auch Zimbalists Quartett wird mit viel Feingefühl und Sinn für Atem und Architektur gespielt. Bei Ysaÿe fügt sich das Quartett nahtlos in das ‘Philharmonic Orchestra of Europe’ ein, das von Otis Klöber dirigiert wird. Dieses homogene Miteinander lässt uns hier ein sicherlich verkanntes Werk entdecken. Zu erwähnen bleibt noch, dass ‘Harmonies du soir’ wie auch die revidierte Fassung von Zimbalists Quartett hier als Weltersteinspielungen zu hören sind." (Alain Steffen, Pizzicato, April 2012)

"A skilfully crafted and beautiful four-movement score [Kreisler’s Quartet] brought vividly to life by the Fine Arts Quartet, which, through its liberal use of vibrato, enhances the warmth on which the music thrives…The playing of the quartet is technically admirable throughout the disc, and the abundance of inner detail is greatly enhanced by an ideally balanced recording, which offers a most likeable quality of sound. The disc is a real discovery that I can recommend without reservation." (David Denton, The Strad, March 2012) 

****  "It was an inspired idea to programme music by three of the finest violinists of the last century...The Fine Arts Quartet rises with aplomb to its many interpretative and technical challenges, sustaining a glorious richness of tone, coupled with a portamento-inflected cantabile espressivo that sits hand in glove with the romantic opulence. Fine, bold engineering too." 

(Julian Haylock, BBC Music Magazine, February 2012)

BBC Music Magazine

"Two world premiere recordings of music by the trio of great violinists who became household names in America during the first quarter of the 20th century...The Fine Arts Quartet are in excellent form throughout, and the sound quality is exemplary. A real discovery disc." (David Denton, David's Review Corner, February 2012)  Full review

**** "This release by the Fine Arts Quartet can certainly claim to have revived obscure repertory...Perhaps the biggest surprise is the Ysaÿe piece...It's an unique work. Hats off to the Fine Arts Quartet for a daring program that delivers some real finds." 

(James Manheim, Allmusic Guide, February 2012)  Full review

"Founded in 1946 the Fine Arts Quartet (FAQ) has gained a reputation as one of America's finest chamber ensembles, and their carefully judged interpretations of these quartets certainly show why. Many will find their more pragmatic approach to the Kreisler preferable to the other maudlin versions currently out there. As for the Ysaÿe, the FAQ and Philharmonic Orchestra of Europe strings under conductor Otis Klöber deliver a stirring account of this arcane score."

(Bob McQuiston, Crock's Newsletter/ Classical Lost and Found, February 28, 2012)  Full review

****  "The Fine Arts Quartet (estab. 1946) bring us two world premier recordings by Zimbalist and Ysaye, respectively, along with Fritz Kreisler’s lovely A Minor Quartet." (Gary Lemco, Audiophile Audition, February 14, 2012) 

"Audiophilia Recommended New Releases 2012...The Quartets presented here were written in 1919 and 1931 respectively and are both well crafted and effective works with strong, meaty string sounds as you would expect from such players. The Fine Arts Quartet is on excellent form relishing the challenge and producing very polished performances."  

(James Norris,  Audiophilia, January 30, 2012)  

"The Fine Arts Quartet plays the Kreisler and Zimbalist quartets with admirable dedication to authentic performance." 

(Stephen Pritchard, The Guardian/The Observer, 28 January 2012) Full review

The Guardian
The Observer

"The Fine Arts Quartet gives the full treatment to this rich saccharine music, and also includes Ysaye’s Harmonies de Soir for string quartet and orchestra, all real rarities." (Peter Spaull, Liverpool Daily Post, 06-Jan-2012)