The Press on . . .  The Alexander String Quartet


“Also hailing from San Francisco are the Alexander String Quartet, whose recent Bartók and Shostakovich cycles on the Foghorn Classics label wouldn’t disappoint anyone. They’re joined by violist Toby Appel and cellist David Requiro on a new set of Brahms’s String Quintets and Sextets. There’s no dryness, no heaviness, in readings which exude common sense, warmth and sanity. Impeccably judged tempi, immaculate dynamic control – these are performances to live with, and remind one that Brahms’s music needn’t sound grumpy.”
GRAHAM RICKSON, THE ARTS DESK, “BEST OF 2014”
(Brahms String Quintets and Sextets — 2 CDs, FCL2012)

“The talented Alexanders and brilliant Joyce Yang take on two towers of 19th century chamber music, the Brahms Piano Quintet in f Op 34 and the Schumann Piano Quintet in Eb op 44. Frankly any recording that elicits a positive comment about Brahms from me is worth noting. No stodgy, elegant (read dull and technical) readings here, these are gutsy, lively, exciting and maybe even a bit edgy performances. Excellent production, including concise yet informative notes.”
DON CLARK, PICTURES ON SILENCE, “BAKER'S DOZEN BEST OF 2014”
(Brahms & Schumann: The Piano Quintets, FCL2014)

“This is an essential recording, maybe the best ever of these important works....they capture every memorable moment of these eight quartets with an authority and finesse virtually unmatched.”
STEVEN RITTER, AUDIOPHILE AUDITION
(Bartók & Kodály: Complete String Quartets — 3 CDs, FCL2009)

“The CD comes together with an excellent translation of Brahms’ quintet, in which the wind instrument achieves such an integration with the strings that it truly resembles a symphony. The members of the Alexander offer that atmosphere, and a truly delightful sound.”
EL PAIS
(In Friendship: Cano & Brahms Clarinet Quintets; Joan Enric Lluna, Clarinet, FCL2007)

“…Despite the light quality of the scoring, however, the Alexander Quartet plays them — as they did the Gershwin — with exceptional taste and feeling.”
FANFARE

“An unusual, interesting disc … worth hearing for the high craft they bring to bear to these pieces — plus, the Porgy and Bess transcriptions are simply wonderful.”
LYNN RENE BAYLEY, FANFARE
(Gershwin & Kern, with “Porgy and Bess” arrangement by Carl Davis; Joan Enric Lluna, Clarinet, FCL2008)

“Bridging the two song cycles was Debussy’s String Quartet in G Minor, in a lithe, agile performance by the Alexander String Quartet. The quartet, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, sounded especially lovely in the third movement (marked “Andantino doucement expressif”), with the strings producing richly colored, shimmering sound.”
GEORGIA ROWE, SAN FRANCISCO CLASSICAL VOICE

“Then the Alexanders came onstage to perform Debussy’s String Quartet in G minor…they managed to uncover new tones within the familiar territory and delivered an impressively thoughtful performance. Cellist Sandy Wilson brought the morose tone of the first movement to the forefront and it colored everything in its wake. Violist Paul Yarbrough picked up the thread from Wilson in the second movement, adding a quizzical element, and the violins of Zakarias Grafilo and Frederick Lifsitz performed the pizzicato ending with exceptional finesse…every movement was performed with its own distinct emotional current, with the players cognizant of the themes occurring in each, yet treating each one as a unique entity.”
JOHN MARCHER, A BEAST IN A JUNGLE

“An unusually fine group-musically, technically, in just about any way one wants to view it.”
THE NEW YORK TIMES

“This is a group deep in its element, firm in its stride.”
LOS ANGELES TIMES

“The Alexander String Quartet combines the spark of youth with a singleness of purpose usually reserved for more seasoned ensembles. The musicians' controlled exuberance was unflagging and consequently produced superlative accounts of Beethoven, Bartók and Mendelssohn.”
THE WASHINGTON POST

“Dream-come-true performances from the excellent Alexander String Quartet. As they did during the Haydn Quartet that opened the concert, the players impressed with their sure ensemble, lyricism, accurate pitch, handsome sound and technical fluidity.”
THE BOSTON GLOBE

"They were, to put it simply, terrific of tone, virtuosity and balance. The general quality level, as well as all the particulars of communicative virtuosity, place the Alexander Quartet right up there with the best on today's international scene.”
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

“The Alexander String Quartet is one of those estimable groups who treat both composers and audiences with uncommon respect. What commanded attention was the Alexander's complete absorption in the piece at hand. You never got the feeling that these were mere score readings, but part of the organization's living repertoire. Then, too, the Alexanders command an extraordinarily chameleonic sound. It can be buttery smooth and even viscous, in the old world European manner, or, it can turn spiky and urgent in the American style when a score demands that kind of attack.”
SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER

“I have rarely heard a quartet create such orchestral sonorities, and with such little forcing of tone. The Alexander brought passion in spades to this reading of Schubert's 'Death and the Maiden' quartet. This was a splendid 'Maiden,' in which vigor did not subdue finer points.”
ST. LOUIS POST DISPATCH

“The gem of the evening was Janacek's Quartet No. 1. The Alexander players reveled in the heightened expressive qualities of Janacek's intense score. Riding its many technical challenges with seeming ease, the ensemble made much of the supercharged harmonies and speech-like motifs. With Ravel's exquisite Quartet in F major, the Alexander Quartet has great affinity. This was a caring, colorful interpretation, in which not a measure went by without definition and character.”
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE

“It was a performance that made one live through the music and rejoice with the performers in risks successfully taken. The Alexander Quartet is destined for greatness.”
THE GUARDIAN (U.K.)

“They have much more of a European approach, in the sense that ensemble balance and a natural flow of ideas appears to matter more to them than overt virtuosity. In Mendelssohn's F minor quartet, Op. 80, they managed to convey the emotional intensity without resorting to any of the hardness of tone or forced tempi so often employed by young ensembles to peddle passion.”
THE TORONTO STAR

“The ensemble's strength resides in its discipline and polished precision-in neatly articulated rhythms, unfussy phrasing and bright but smoothly blended sound.”
VANCOUVER SUN

“Spontaneity, Pleasure and Courage with the Alexander String Quartet With unusual enthusiasm and refined musicality, the members of this sympathetic quartet try together to recreate the essence of the music. They make music with a remarkable joy in playing. They attempt to really say something with every note.”
NRC HANDELSBLAD (The Netherlands)

“From the start of the Haydn it was apparent that we were dealing with four experts of equal calibre. In the rich Adagio, for example, one found oneself forgetting that there were four individuals and listened to them as one would a four-part organ work. Throughout the Beethoven they proved that there is more to string quartets than harmonic subtleties, for the work simply overflowed with emotion. In this, the Haydn and the Ravel they had proven their ability to breathe life into three quite different pieces of music.”
IRISH TIMES

“The Debussy quartet comes off with sensuousness and spirit right from the start. One could hardly ask for a more tastefully rich treatment of the slow movement, and the finale emerges with both brio and elegance. The more obviously brilliant Ravel quartet gets a super-polished opening movement and a precisely defined scherzo. The muted lyricism of the slow movement is flawlessly conveyed, and in the finale the musicians cast off restraint and go for a dynamic conclusion. If an intimate approach to these works Is to your taste, these performances fit the bill perfectly.”
STEREO REVIEW

“Crisp, polished, flexible and vital in the fullest sense of the word. More than impressive in every virtuosic aspect, this youthful foursome brings an Infectious 'personality' to bear on distinctive readings of these seemingly inseparable Gallic twins, Ravel and Debussy. The complex weave of rhythms and colors proves a singing, surging tone painting of soul and psyche. And the ensemble's personal blend of fire and discipline permeates Ravel's high-powered finale, which seems to explode from the instruments-yet never at the cost of that laser-like ensemble.” (Recording of Distinction)
OVATION

“Quartet Makes the Music Matter What sets great chamber music ensembles apart from all the rest is a sense of unity. The Alexander String Quartet displayed just such togetherness throughout its performance. The quartet's members play with passion and precision and, most importantly, as a group. What mattered was the music, not individual showmanship. It was a remarkably egoless performance and was quite wonderful to listen to. It seemed as if the quartet was creating the music for the first time.”
THE TULSA TRIBUNE

“The Alexander made an immediately favorable impression. The group showed fine ensemble, splendid linear clarity, and a good tonal scheme. One must applaud the precision-crisp attacks, uniform treatment of the motifs, careful tonal gradations. The Alexander String Quartet is a cohesive ensemble from which we can hope to hear much fine chamber music in years to come.”
NEW HAVEN REGISTER

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