"The classical musician's life can seem sublime, a matter of expressing beauty every day. As Blum presents the lives of cellist Yo-Yo Ma, conductor Jeffrey Tate, concertmaster Josef Gingold, pianist Richard Goode, and soprano Birgit Nilsson, they don't contradict that presumed sublimity. Blum's profiles of them, organized as a book just before his death, are like five lovely songs."Ray Olson, Booklist. January, 2000.
"Informative, intimate, and surprising. . ."Publishers Weekly, December 6, 1999
"As these highly accomplished performers reflect unpretentiously on their musical experiences, Blum weaves in commentary from colleagues and partners, cherishing the humanizing touch. . . Blum never obstructs our view as his sitters answer what must have been prescient questions with fluent candor. . . As good writers about art should, Blum sends the reader back to the works afreshseeking these five interpreters as mentors."Kirkus Reviews. December, 1999.
"Blum was one of the most articulate of all contemporary writers on music. These extended portraits of five musical luminaries . . . are all remarkable documents about remarkable people. . . Blum's own personality is unobtrusive, yet his keen musical intelligence runs like a thread throughout."Library Journal. February, 2000.
"The lives described here, dauntingly complex in many respects, should serve as cautionary models for those who aspire to performing careers. Blum never fawns over his subjects, and his deep musical acumen allows him to place Goode's Schubert and Ma's Bach in appropriate perspective. Would that the literature included similarly knowing, firsthand portraits of the great musicians of the 18th and 19th centuries; they would have helped alter the study of historical performance practice."Choice. May 2, 2000.
"This is quite simply a brilliant collection of interviews. . . . I dare say that most lovers of classical music, after reading Quintet, will discover wonderful new levels of meaning in the music they have been enjoying for years. And those among us who stretch our own boundaries of talent and understanding. Quintet is a thoroughly enriching book."Barbara Lloyd McMichael, The Bookmonger. February 27, 2000.
"These five profiles give the clearest evidence of the central value of David Blum's writings about music during his all-too-short lifetime. The extraordinary sensitivity that he makes so clear in his conversations with Yo-Yo Ma, Jeffrey Tate, Josef Gingold, Richard Goode, and Birgit Nilsson gives evidence to a passion for and a respect for beauty in music and the acknowledgment of the enormous discipline necessary to make a successful career. A career that is not only a few concerts in a period of time, but the dedication of a lifetime to a chosen commitment. I think music lovers and educators everywhere will be fascinated and truly informed by this book, as will anyone who wants to know how the quality of life in our time can be enriched."Isaac Stern
"These highly original explorations of the lives and evolution of five outstanding but very different artists constitute to my mind a unique documentation of what it means to be a musician in the twentieth century and remind us how often it is that success is won against the odds."David Blum writes with incomparable subtlety, knowledge, and intuition, a mode of intimate investigation which fascinatingly matches the gifts of the very musicians who are his topic. This indeed is an unforgettable performance in its own right which not only deepens our understanding of music but also of those who, at the highest level, bring music to life."Donald Mitchell