quartet CD II
“The Berlin Piano Quartet offer an unusual line-up of composers, including the only complete movement of Mahler’s teenage Piano Quartet. They are particularly successful here, conveying the fervency of its opening idea without over-emoting”
“… the Berlin’s pianist, Kim Barbier, is very sensitive to Mozart’s sound world, whether accompanying the strings or taking the lead, and the balance between the players speaks of close rapport.“…they bring to the bucolic finale a delightful mix of delicacy and playfulness.”
“…In the Andante I love the way the players astutely maintain a strong sense of intimacy, with a splendid internal balance. Exceptional is the degree of elegance and buoyancy given to the Rondo: Finale.”
“…The Berlin players give an exhilarating performance, full of determination and youthful zest. The Andante with its romantic main theme is simply a love-song. The players take turns to sing and embellish the sweet, heartfelt melody. At the centre of the movement they withdraw into a calmly warm and intimate passage of Beethovenian nobility and pathos…”
“…Admirable is the way the players underscore the surging mass of passionate writing that rages through the work, climbing so impressively before falling back to a sense of calm relief. The impact is very powerful and achieves an impressive orchestral tone at times.”
“Founded in 2014, the Berlin Piano Quartet is already considered one of the most valuable chamber ensembles.
“…we discover an extraordinary sense of balance and architectural structures that are close to perfection…. Pianist Kim Barbier stands out with her brilliant technique, that subtly upholds the melody of the string instruments, gaining personality and a unique touch while performing the solo parts. The pianist also begins the second part, Andante, with a splendidly adorned melody, which is then complemented by the violin.
“…I could say that Schumann’s work is the crown jewel of this album, containing music that emphasizes the expressiveness and the lyricism of the Berliner ensemble… the themes could be energetically displayed. Here, the synchronization of the Berlin Piano Quartet members is close to perfection, in both agogic elements, and dynamic ones.
“… interpreted with great rhythmic and intonation precision by the four musicians. In contrast, the following slow movement, Andante, is performed with great sensitivity and with very delicate phrasing, emphasizing the warm and romantic sound of the cello. The ending, Vivace, displays an impressive and energetic counterpoint technique, accurately controlled by the Berlin Piano Quartet ensemble.
Radio România Muzical
quartet CD I
“Founded in 2014, the Berlin Piano Quartet brings together three leading string players from the Berlin Philharmonic and French pianist Kim Barbier.
Is it surprising their performances borrow some of the glow of the orchestra’s sound?
On this disc they present three disparate sides of what they can do.
Fauré’s evergreen Piano Quartet No.1 blends German warmth with Gallic refinement. The brief, single-movement Piano Quartet by Schnittke explodes the quartet form into pieces.
Brahms’s Piano Quartet No.1 then restores classical dignity with playing of easy, unexaggerated mastery.” (4 stars)
The Financial Times, Richard Fairman, 24.03.2016
“Pianist Kim Barbier and her string playing colleagues, each of the three drawn from the Berlin Philharmonic, are phenomenally good. There’s never any trace of one-upmanship; these players do collaboration very nicely. The music soars – sample violist Micha Afkham’s glorious handling of the first movement’s lyrical second subject, ringing out over a bubbling piano line. Or the movement’s stormy central section, the accents weighty enough without being overbearing. This has to be one of the most viscerally exciting of Brahms’s large scale works, and this performance doesn’t sell it short. The third movement’s march interlude is wittily handled, and the “Rondo alla Zingerese” is a marvel. The quirks are just as apparent in its quartet arrangement – the irregular phrase lengths and extraordinary cadenza sound bolder than ever, before one of the most exhilarating minor key closes in all music.
Fauré’s Piano Quartet No. 1 is musically as satisfying, if less showy. There’s a lovely veiled quality to the Berliners’ account of the melancholy slow movement, the mood apparently a response to a broken engagement. Barbier excels in the hyperactive Finale, the closing flourish immaculate….”
The Art Desk, Graham Rickson, 16.04.2016
“In this CD of short pieces, the French pianist Kim Barbier demonstrates technical skill, individuality and humility as she plays an eclectic selection of musical vignettes. Taught and mentored by Maria Curcio, a tendency to covey the innermost essence of a work can be felt in each recording.(…)
Debussy’s soft, creamy, overflowing collage in Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum is played with bubbling enthusiasm. Spiced with Spanish rhythms and textures, La Puerta del Vino is not played ‘with blatant contrasts of extreme force and passionate tenderness’ (as Debussy wished), but with acute sensitivity and a more moderate feeling. Barbier’s measured contemplative approach adds an interesting sense of introspection; however, taking this angle loses some of the exciting colour and distinction. On the whole, exposing the music in the spaces between the notes, Barbier’s style is gratifyingly insightful. Furthermore, as Debussy observed: ‘much has to be explored and discarded before reaching the naked flesh of feeling.’
(…)Barbier gives Evocacion a simultaneously reminiscent and new feel by alluding to the Southern Spanish fandango and Northern Spanish jota song styles but all through a contemporary perspective. Barbier’s performance of El Corpus Christi en Sevilla is played to perfection: melancholy and fervour interchange with the sound of guitars and church bells as the pianist tactfully extracts a vast gamut of sounds and textures.
(…)Barbier’s recording of Schumann’s masterful ‘thirty little comical things’ or Kinderszenen, Op. 15 emphasises the work’s jovial simplicity and altercating thoughts. Her interpretation of Hasche-Mannabounds in jollity and vitality, but above all a graceful and alluring elegance is retained. Fast zu ernscaptures a solitary, sorrowful moment and along with Kind im Einschlummerm is captivatingly pure and honest. Barbier’s integrity is conveyed through her exquisite sense of intimacy and untrammelled directness, clarity and focus. Throughout this CD, each note is played with conscious intent; all superfluity and excess is trimmed away to leave an ebullient core.”
Music-web-international, Lucy Jeffery
“Barbier’s ‘Doctor Gradus’ is crisply paced and holds much intimacy and charm, while her ‘La puerta del Vino’ from Book 2 of Debussy’s Préludes is confidently characterized and delightfully reminiscent of the Spanish City of Alhambra. Both these, and indeed the three Albéniz pieces are well captured and idiomatic (…)” “In Albéniz’s swaggering ‘Triana’ Barbier displays some poised and accomplished playing, as indeed she does with the title track for the disc, ‘Evocación’, which makes its presence felt in a suitable ambient, aromatic manner. Her ‘El Corpus en Sevilla’ is quite magical and is a highlight of the recording.” “Barbier executes the pieces [Schumann] with much personality and insight.” “These performances have much to commend them, and Barbier possesses an especial feeling for the more languorous music as well as a fluid technique to carry off the more intricate corners of this poetic repertoire.(.. ) I heartily recommend the disc for its unerring sincerity and subtlety.”
International Record Review, Mark Tanner, 05-2014
“Kim Barbier, born in Paris of French and Vietnamese parents, reveals a remarkable sound and a presence all her own in her album, “Evocation.” The title is taken from the first piece in Book I of Espana, Spanish composer Isaac Albeniz’ luminous collection of music celebrating the soul of Spain, but it might serve as well for all of the piano pieces Barbier has selected for what appears to be her first solo recital on record. All of them transcend the merely colorful or pictorial in evoking the essence of their subjects, a matter calling for the deepest insight from both composer and performing artist.
More than in other types of keyboard music, these evocative pieces by Albeniz, Debussy and Schumann require the temperament to perform with brilliance and insight, taking it to the top when the music requires, and the delicacy and precision to bring out the finer details when that is called for. Mlle Barbier has the requisite insight plus technique to do it all in a manner that doesn’t
call attention to itself. That is a rare enough quality in so young a pianist.(…)”
Phil´ s classical Review, 04.2014
“These performance have much to commend them, and Barbier possesses an especial feeling for the more languorous music as well as a fluid technique to carry off the more intricate corners of this poetic repertoire…I heartily recommend the disc for its unerring sincerity and subtlety.”
International Record Review, May 2014