- String Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 51/1
- String Quartet in A minor, Op. 31
What a great idea! Instead of coupling Brahms' string quartets together as nearly every previous recording of the works has done, the Mandelring Quartet has coupled them with quartets by Brahms' contemporaries. Thus, on this disc, the Mandelring has coupled Brahms' "C minor Quartet, Op. 51/1," with Friedrich Gernsheim's "A minor Quartet, Op. 31." And a brilliant coupling it is: Brahms' stormily passionate C minor is well matched by Gernsheim's violently ardent A minor: both works are profoundly conservative yet quintessentially Romantic, formally brilliant yet deeply expressive, wonderfully lyrical yet intensely dramatic. One wishes one could say better things about the execution. But while the Mandelring 's performance of Gernsheim's quartet is completely compelling in every detail, its performance of Brahms' quartet is not nearly so convincing. This is not merely because Brahms' quartet has had dozens if not hundreds of previous recordings for competition while Gernsheim's quartet here receives its premiere recording. This is because the Mandelring's performance of Brahms' quartet seems discursive and garrulous, while its performance of Gernsheim's quartet seems intense and concentrated. Nevertheless, anyone who loves central European string quartets of the nineteenth century and already knows Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Dvorák, and Brahms, will love the "A minor String Quartet" of Gernsheim. One can only hope that the Mandelring records his other four quartets someday. Audite's sound is warm, rich, and deep.