Franck: String Quartet and Piano Quintet

"Ortiz and her colleagues realise all of Franck's pent-up feeling in a performance of a special musical refinement and commitment...The Fine Arts Quartet are entirely at home in the very different scope of the String Quartet, relishing both the music's contrapuntal intricacy and its full-blown romanticism." (2012 Gramophone Classical Music Guide)

***** "Excellent Disque...Le Fine Arts quartet est un quatuor qui existe depuis fort longtemps mais qui renouvelle ses membres; leur formation actuelle est faite de musiciens expérimentés et celà s'entend; ils ont de toute évidence un son qui caractérise les meilleures formations du genre. En outre, leur son assez clair, riche en nuances me semble très bien convenir à la musique française...La prise de son étant fort satisfaisante, je mets sans hésiter 5 étoiles."                 (Guillaud Rollin, Amazon.fr, September 20, 2012)  Full review

"Cristina Ortiz and the Fine Arts Quartet couple two major chamber works and give very fine accounts of both masterpieces. They have ardour and finesse in equal measure."                 (Penguin Guide to the 1000 Finest Classical Recordings, 2011 edition) 

Penguin Guide

"Delightful...Really enjoyable pieces which repay repeated listening, beautifully played as usual by the Fine Arts Quartet ably supported by Ortiz"                                                                              (Philip Chadwick, Amazon.co.uk, 23 April 2011)  Full Review

***** "Stunning quartet, dramatic quintet.  The performance is everything I could wish for."          (C.D. Wexler, Amazon.com, January 2, 2011)  Full Review

***** "Romantische Raritäten...Das Fine Arts Quartet ist eine Koryphäe auf dem Gebiet der Kammermusik, nur leider viel zu unbekannt. Wieder einmal vollbringen die vier Streicher eine herausragende Leistung. Zusammen mit der Pianistin Cristina Ortiz bieten sie das Klavierquintett derart transparent dar, wie ich es noch nie gehört habe. Ortiz' Anschlag ist fein und lyrisch. Zusammen mit dem Quartet erzeugt sie ein Maximum an Klangfarben und Emotion, dass der Hörer unweigerlich mitgerissen und bewegt wird. Auch das Streichquartett ist phänomenal dargeboten. Das Stück wirkt häufig verklärt und wie von ferne. Das erfassen die Mitglieder des Fine Arts Quartets brillant. Ihr Spiel ist kräftig, aber edel, stets sehr differenziert und scharf akzentuiert. Auch die Aufnahmequalität ist herausragend. Fazit: Kammermusikalische Raritäten in einer glänzenden Darbietung! Tadellos!"                                                                                       (Andre Arnold "Lateingott", Amazon.de, 18. Oktober 2010)  Full Review

"Cristina Ortiz and the Fine Arts Quartet map out the structural flow lucidly while generating sounds of great refinement…the Fine Arts Quartet makes it blossom like never before."          (Philip Clark, Classic FM Magazine, May, 2010)   Full Review

"**** César Francks Streichquartett und sein Klavierquintett zählen zu den großen Werken der Kammermusik im 19. Jahrhundert. Sie sind auf dieser CD in einen recht leidenschaftlichen und kraftvollen, in den Tempi aber (abgesehen vom langsamen Satz des Quintetts) dennoch eher gemäßigten Interpretation zu hören. Der Klang ist gut ausbalanciert, die Farben sind leuchtend, und so kann man diese CD nur empfehlen."  (Norbert Tischer, Pizzicato, 04/2010)  Full Review

"La agrupación Fine Arst Quartet fue fundada en Chicago en 1946, habiendo realizado un buen número de grabaciones y de giras por todo el mundo. El grupo se muestra sólido, resuelto y con una elegante plasticidad."  (Joaquim Zueras Navarro, OpusMusica, Nº 44 - Abril 2010)  Full Review

"Unter den Händen des Fine Arts Quartet und der Pianistin Cristina Ortiz erfahren die beiden am größten besetzten Kammermusikwerke César Francks, das Streichquartett und das Klavierquintett, eine überzeugende Darstellung...Das Ensemble gestaltet diesen Beginn in überaus einheitlicher, choralartig phrasierter Tongebung; die Fugato-Passagen des darauf folgenden Sonatenhauptsatzes gelingen mit nahezu idealer Durchsichtigkeit und Eleganz. Auch das rasante Tremolo in dem geheimnisvollen Scherzo besticht durch große Präzision...Das Fine Arts Quartet...gewährt der Musik die elegische Breite, nach welcher sie verlangt, während die Pianistin Ortiz virtuos und niemals vordergründig zur Seite steht. Im atemberaubenden 'Lento‘ wird der Tonfall der Einleitung wieder aufgenommen; ausgezeichnet gelingen den Musikern die immer wieder von Neuem überraschenden Harmoniewendungen über chromatisch absteigendem Bass. Das Finale...mit fesselndem Pathos dargestellt, leitet zu einem furiosen Schluss und fasst das gesamte motivische Material noch einmal zusammen – eine über weite Strecken überzeugende und die spezifischen Eigenheiten der Musik treffend vermittelnde Darbietung." (Wendelin Bitzan, Klavier.de, 14.03.2010)  Full Review

"Naxos has added another milestone recording to its already prestigious catalogue of great classical works. The CD that presents the string quartet in D major and the piano quintet in F minor by Cesar Franck and that has been published by Naxos constitutes a recording of exceptional quality, technically and artistically...There are several recordings of the same pieces by Cesar Franck, yet this new one clearly stands out. With it, and chiefly thanks to the superlative interpretation of the Fine Arts Quartet and Cristina Ortiz, Naxos has succeeded one more time in producing another reference classical CD. The interpretation of the Fine Arts Quartet and Cristina Ortiz is immaculate...The clarity of the musicians’ performance greatly helps the listener to overcome the inherent difficulty of Francks’s music and therefore to fully appreciate its beauty. The music is difficult to play as much as it is difficult to listen to, but the result is a rewarding, uplifting experience. There is intense emotional range in the sound, perfectly channelled by the musicians."  (Jean-Claude Elias, The Jordan Times, March 7, 2010)  Full Review

"The Fine Arts Quartet goes back 64 years since its birth in Chicago. Since 1985 it has recorded more than 65 works. Three of its members have been with the group for over a quarter of a century and this rapport clearly shows in their performances...Highlight: charismatic Brazilian pianist adds a charge to the Quintet."                                                                                             (Geoff Adams, Otago Daily Times, March 6, 2010)  Full Review

"I must mention the Fine Arts Quartet CD featuring the Cesar Franck (1822-1890) String Quartet and the Piano Quintet, with pianist Cristina Ortiz. Naxos seems to be using the Fine Arts Quartet to go over some repertory staples. This is very good news. (I was deeply impressed by their performances of the complete Schumann string quartets and the Bruckner quintet released earlier.) With the Franck works, we enter deeply into the emotionally turbulent world of Romanticism....Ortiz and the Fine Arts Quartet infuse these works with the passion they require. Fasten your seatbelts."  (Robert R. Reilly, InsideCatholic.com, March 01, 2010)  Full Review

**** "Das amerikanische Fine Arts Quartet, ein seit Jahrzehnten eingespieltes Ensemble, präsentiert das Streichquartett in D-Dur sowie, mit Unterstützung durch die Pianistin Cristina Ortiz, das Klavierquartett f-Moll von 1879...Das Ensemble gestaltet diesen Beginn in überaus einheitlicher, choralartig phrasierter Tongebung; die Fugato-Passagen des darauf folgenden Sonatenhauptsatzes gelingen mit nahezu idealer Durchsichtigkeit und Eleganz. Auch das rasante Tremolo in dem geheimnisvollen Scherzo besticht durch große Präzision. Das ‚Larghetto‘ und seine leidenschaftlichen Kantilenen wissen in zweierlei Hinsicht zu überzeugen: der Bratscher Yuri Gandelsman prägt den Satz wesentlich durch seine expressive Bogenführung, der Primgeiger Ralph Evans reagiert mit schmelzenden, das Stilmittel Portamento durchaus mit Erfolg einsetzenden Kommentaren...Das Fine Arts Quartet nimmt diese Herausforderung an und gewährt der Musik die elegische Breite, nach welcher sie verlangt, während die Pianistin Ortiz virtuos und niemals vordergründig zur Seite steht. Im atemberaubenden ‚Lento‘ wird der Tonfall der Einleitung wieder aufgenommen; ausgezeichnet gelingen den Musikern die immer wieder von Neuem überraschenden Harmoniewendungen über chromatisch absteigendem Bass. Das Finale, in intonatorischen Belangen nicht immer ganz untadelig, aber mit fesselndem Pathos dargestellt, leitet zu einem furiosen Schluss und fasst das gesamte motivische Material noch einmal zusammen—eine über weite Strecken überzeugende und die spezifischen Eigenheiten der Musik treffend vermittelnde Darbietung."                                                                          (Wendelin Bitzan,klassik.com, March 2010)  Full Review

G

 Gramophone Magazine "EDITOR'S CHOICE February 2010.  Cristina Ortiz and the Fine Arts Quartet pinpoint the work's volatility, with Ortiz throwing herself into the work's demands. The quartet is excellent, too. Altogether a fine recording of works that are still done less than they should be."  (James Invernes, Gramophone Magazine, February 2010) 

editor's choice gramophone

"Naxos scores again with Ortiz and the Fine Arts’ performances of Franck’s major chamber pieces... Franck requires a bigger, bolder approach than Fauré’s equally complex but more subdued style and Ortiz and her colleagues are fully up to it, their leaner textures in the Fauré works here morphing into a riper, blooming sound appropriate to the required emotional fireworks."   (Dan Davis, La Folia Online Music Review, February 2010)  Full review

"Cristina Oritz is a pianist who always sparkles in concert, and she does on record joining the Fine Arts Quartet for a highly recommendable reading of the Piano Quintet of Cesar Franck, coupled with the D major quartet." (Peter Spaull, Liverpool Daily Post, February 19, 2010)

"FRANCK'S RICHLY ROMANTIC CHAMBER MUSIC IN DISTINGUISHED FINE ARTS QUARTET PERFORMANCES. This outstanding disc of two of Franck's late masterpieces features the Fine Arts Quartet with Cristina Ortiz in the Piano Quintet...Ortiz and her colleagues realise all of Franck's pent-up feeling in a performance of a special musical refinement and commitment...The Fine Arts Quartet, too, are entirely at home in the very different scope of the String Quartet, relishing both the music's contrapuntal intricacy and its full-blown romanticism...I shall look forward to more exceptional music-making from this team."                                                         (Bryce Morrison, Gramophone Magazine, February 2010)

"Töne wie lonen.  Einen solch kräftigen und feinsinnigen Bogenstrich - das hört man nicht alle Tage. Von der ersten note an ist man geradezu berauscht von dem Spiel des Fine Arts Quartets, das seit nunmehr einem halben Jahrhundert existiert. Ralph Evans und Efim Boico an den Violinen verfügen über eine solch ausdrucksstarke Intonation, dass der Kopfsatz mit seinen wie zwischen Gewitterwolken gehaltenen Klangfiguren regelrecht zerbirst. Francks Kammermusik erinnert ja - um eine Metapher aus der Chemie zu gebrauchen - an atomare Teilchen, die es nur schwer in ihrer Bahn hält und die immer wieder aus dem Normalzustand gleichwertiger Ladung herausstreten wollen.  Töne wie lonen loszuschlagen und "unnatürliche" Spannungen zu erzeugen - das ist eine Kunst, auf die sich das Fine Arts Quartet glänzend versteht."                      (R. Sala, Ensemble Magazin fur Kammermusik, Februar 2010)

"Registros cálidos, envolventes e intensos são obras-primas Composições de Gabriel Fauré e César Franck recebem magnífica interpretação da pianista ao lado do Fine Arts Quartet...A leitura do Fine Arts Quartet e Cristina Ortiz é envolvente. Cálida e ao mesmo tempo emocionalmente intensa...No quarteto, é excepcional a integração entre os músicos do Fine Arts; e no quinteto, o piano paira com uma enorme liberdade sobre o discurso mais rígido das cordas. Antológico o movimento lento, con molto sentimento. No conjunto, um registro difícil de ser superado."         (João Marcos Coelho, Estadao.com.br, 09 de Fevereiro de 2010)  Full Review

***** "GRANDLY ROMANTIC READINGS OF FRANCK'S QUINTET AND QUARTET.  Both the Quintet and the Quartet receive impassioned performances on this new Naxos CD with the Fine Arts Quartet and pianist Christina Ortiz...this CD has a sweeping unabashedly passionate character that sets it apart. This is romantic music played with conviction, emotion, and contrast in long searing vibrato-filled phrases. The music drew me in at the outset and never let go...The quartet and Ortiz play with unrestrained feeling...This reading by the Fine Arts Quartet and Ortiz compels the listener to hear the passion without the potential distraction of the form...With this beautiful recording, the Fine Arts Quartet and Ortiz show intimate music-making at its best."  (Robin Friedman, Amazon.com, January 27, 2010)  Full Review

"In the Quartet, the Fine Arts players strike a near-ideal balance between Romantic espressivo and Classical restraint. The bustling scherzo's post-'Rasumovsky' gesturing is dispatched with a feather-light touch, while the finale's thematic déjà vu is integrated into the music's overall structure with compelling inevitability. Franck's chromatic harmonic profiles have caused intonational havoc with some ensembles in the past, but the Fine Arts musicians sustain a remarkable degree of corporate tonal accuracy in both works. In the Quintet they are joined by the gifted Brazilian virtuoso Cristina Ortiz to stunning effect. In a work notorious for being overburdened with strenuous passion, this team works wonders in clarifying Franck’s occasionally overheated textures, enhanced by engineering of exemplary lucidity and presence."                 (Julian Haylock, The Strad, January, 2010)

"De båda kammarmusikverken på denna cd, som Fine Arts Quartet med pianisten Cristina Ortiz spelar med utsökt, mogen elegans eller med passionerat engagemang, alltefter vad situationen kräver i dessa myllrande stycken."                                                                                           (Carlhåkan Larsén, Sydsvenskan.se, 13 januari 2010 ) Full Review

***** "Recorded in Switzerland, the engineering is excellent, with silky string tone.                     (John Sunier, Audiophile Audition, January 12, 2010)  Full Review

"This Naxos disc...revisits a combination of experienced and beloved artists that served Naxos well on a previous outing in chamber works of Gabriel Fauré, Brazilian pianist Cristina Ortiz, and the Fine Arts Quartet. This outing makes a very effective case for both works...they concentrate on keeping the level of quality of musicianship very high...These are seminally important late romantic works, and the performance they get from these dedicated and skilled players commends itself."   (Uncle Dave Lewis, All Music Guide, January 2010)  Full Review

"The Fine Arts Quartet  makes an excellent job…A thoroughly coherent piece of ensemble playing…Ortiz shares some exquisite moments among her companions…the recording…preserves a sense of spontaneity while capturing the piano’s bass and upper treble notes superbly."        (Mark Tanner, International Record Review, January, 2010)

''The Fine Arts Quartet brings a warm tone to the work, and there are some wonderfully idiomatic portamento sighs. They are at their very best in the slow movements, with Christina Ortiz matching their ebb and flow perfectly in the Quintet...This is a strong performance.''       (Christopher Dingle, BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2009) 

BBC Music Magazine

"These works make the perfect Cesar Franck coupling, the darkly dramatic qualities of the Quintet complementing the intense nature of the Quartet...[which] receives a robust account from the Fine Arts Quartet...They are joined by the charismatic Brazilian pianist, Cristina Ortiz in the Quintet, her presence making this a very highly charged reading. Always outgoing in her musicianship, she never draws back from a dominating role, and has certainly inspired the quartet who give the finest recorded performance I have heard from them. If the big ending to the opening movement is thrilling, there are also moments of wistful tenderness, while choice of tempos are mostly slanted towards urgency. The finale - the work’s shortest movement - is as potent and life enhancing as any performance you will encounter...Such inspired playing, and the string sound is admirable." (David Denton, David's Review Corner, November 2009)

"***** Heady stuff...top rating"  (P.C. Boswell, Amazon.com, 27 Nov 2009)

" A dynamic account of Franck’s String Quartet; regarded as the summit of his achievement." (Gavin Engelbrecht, The Northern Echo, November 19, 2009)  Full review

"César Franck's two most substantial chamber works...are impressive and perhaps the most significant ­contributions to French chamber ­music before Fauré, Debussy and Ravel...the pairing is a generous, ­useful one."  (Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 6 November 2009)

The Guardian

"Cesar Franck's Piano Quintet receives here the best recorded account I have known, superbly balanced and with a rare "rightness" of feeling. Here's a reminder that "youth" isn't everything and that maturity has a lot to offer. The venerable Fine Arts Quartet (three of them have played together for twenty-five years) bring the fruits of experience and Cristina Ortiz is their ideal collaborator; hear them together also in Fauré’s Piano Quintets [8.570938]. Played second (recommended) the three-quarter hour string quartet is given a great performance here; paced with discretion, maintaining pulse and flow without short-term point making, it emerges as one of the great string quartets and a vindication of Franck's cyclical composing method...At Naxos price, don't let it slip by." (Peter Grahame Woolf, Musicalpointers, October 2009)  Full Review

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