New Release: So Long Sextets

Mar 27, 2017

New release from Avie Records
Credit cypressquartet.com

The latest from the Cypress String Quartet is a recording of Johannes Brahms, his String Sextets. Despite their breakup in June 2016, the group recorded their final release in front of an audience at Skywalker Studios. WBAA’s Music Director John Clare spoke with cellist Jennifer Kloetzel about their final recording on Avie.

Learn more about the release here. Listen for this new release and more on WBAA  Classical on 101.3FM and WBAA.org. The Second Sextet is on the April 30, 2017 program of the Tippecanoe Chamber Music Society.

2016 heralded both the Cypress String Quartet’s 20th anniversary and the group’s valedictory season. With this final album, the CSQ completes its legacy in a flourish, recording the two Brahms Sextets in both high-resolution digital and analogue formats, live with long-time friends and collaborators Barry Shiffman, viola and Zuill Bailey, cello.

Brahms wasn’t the first to write a string sextet. There are earlier works by Luigi Boccherini, but following Brahms' great examples, many composers, including Antonín Dvořák, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Joachim Raff, Max Reger, Arnold Schoenberg, and Erich Wolfgang Korngold, all wrote string sextets.

Composed in 1860, Brahms First String Sextet is scored for two violins, two violas, and two cellos. It was used as soundtrack by French director Louis Malle in the movie "The Lovers" and the gorgeous set of variations in the slow movement was used in one of my favorite episodes of Star Trek The Next Generation “Sarek.”

"I have played the scoundrel toward Agathe," Johannes Brahms wrote. The Sextet No. 2 was cathartic for him. Referring to it he said, "I have emancipated myself from my last love". Work on the sextet probably started some four years before his involvement with Agathe von Siebold, and was completed five years after their break-up.

It has been called ‘the most ethereal of Brahms’s larger works’ by Donald Tovey.