Frei Aber Einsam (Free But Lonely) (2015)


Cuarteto Quiroga

This is not only a recording, it is the story of a fascinating journey. The solitary journey of a man who was able to preserve his identity and his artistic freedom bringing string quartet as genre, one may behold the heritage of Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn -"whose manuscripts of the Opus 20 string quartets belonged to Brahms’ private library-" , the background of the german folk music tradition and also envisage the extraordinary (r)evolution of the second viennese school.

As Helena Poggio, Cuarteto Quiroga’s cellist, points out in the album's booklet, “Frei Aber Einsam" (Free But Lonely) - was the motto Brahms shared with his good friend Joseph Joachim and it forms letter of each German word represents a musical note (F-A-E). The inherent melancholic character of this motto can often be found virtually alone in defence of his work, his aesthetic conception and his chamber music.

To the end, he remained true to himself refusing any path marked by fads and trends that might have impinged upon his freedom and independence. Never once did he regret his position despite the suffering that it caused him. In his own words: “For me F.A.E. (Frei aber Einsam) has remained a symbol and in spite of everything, I may very well bless it.”

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Cuarteto Quiroga

Aitor Hevia violin
Cibrán Sierra violin
Josep Puchades viola
Helena Poggio violoncello

The Cuarteto Quiroga has established itself as one of the most dynamic and unique  quartets of its generation. The quartet has won international acclaim from critics and  audiences alike for its distinctive personality as well as its bold and original approach to the string quartet repertoire. 

The group takes its name from the Galician violinist Manuel Quiroga, one of the most outstanding string players in Spanish music history together with Pau Casals and Pablo Sarasate. 

Since its foundation, the Cuarteto Quiroga has studied with Professor Rainer Schmidt at  the Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía in Madrid and the ProQuartet-CEMC, Prof. 

Walter Levin at the Musikakademie der Stadt Basel, and Prof. Hatto Beyerle at the  European Chamber Music Academy. The quartet has also been influenced by András Keller, Johannes Meissl, Eberhard Feltz, György Kurtág and Ferenc Rados. 

Prizewinners of several major international string quartet competitions (Bordeaux, Paolo Borciani, Geneva, Fnapec-Paris, Palau Barcelona), the ensemble regularly appears at main halls and festivals in Europe and South America (Frick Collection New York, Wigmore HallLondon, Philarmonie Berlin, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, De Doelen Rotterdam, Les Invalides Paris, Auditorio Nacional Madrid, Heidelberger Frühling, Davos Festival, Auditori de Barcelona, Washington DC’s National Gallery, Stockholm’s Nybrokajen, Teatro Solís Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Bogotá, among others). The quartet has been recorded and broadcast by RNE, SWR2, SwedishRadio, FranceMusique, WDR, MEZZO TV, etc. Since season 2011-2012, the quartet has been Ensemble-in-Residence at the Miguel Delibes Auditorium in Valladolid (Spain).

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Frei Aber Einsam (Free But Lonely) (2015)


Cuarteto Quiroga

    HVT, jan 2016

Wow, wat een opname! Met de titel ‘Frei aber Einsam’ kon geen treffender karakterisering gegeven worden voor deze muziek. Ik word er stil van...

Theo Wubbolts

    MusicWeb International

"I don’t think you’ll hear better Brahms string quartet playing than this – or for that matter better string quartet recording." "Integrity and tension are superbly maintained throughout; internal rhythms astutely observed, accents beautifully weighted, and all couched in full, warm and generous tone."

Des Hutchinson[read full review]

    Pizzicato Music Magazine, jan 2016 -

Fine, sensitive and thoughtful performances by a Quartet which communicates conviction and belief in the music. The playing is first class and very transparent.

Remy Franck[read full review]

    Ritmo Online, dec 2015

This CD belongs among the top recordings of 2015.

    Codalario Magazine, dec 2015

Among the best CD's of 2015. The Quartets op. 51 of Brahms recorded by the Quartet Quiroga Cobra Records , a fresh approach and a fundamental quality repertoire and very difficult to interpret significant good level of our chamber ensembles.

[read full review]

    The Strad, dec 2015

Throughout both works, the Spanish-based ensemble produces a beautiful tone combined with an unblemished technique...... The sound quality and balance between instruments is admirable.

David Denton[read full review]

    Klassieke Zaken, nov 2015

Cuarteto Quiroga gives the quartets of Brahms gods wings. With a golden harmony, a carefully balanced voice-leading, soulful phrasing and majestic arches tension Cuarteto Quiroga brings both highlights of the chamber works of Brahms to life.

Wenneke Savenije[read full review]

    Luister, sept 2015

"It is immediately clear Cuarteto Quiroga is a young quartet that can compete with the best from now and also the masters of previous generations (...) No wish is unfulfilled, it is really a joy to listen to this (...) A great recording."

Hans Quant

    ABC Cultural, okt 2015

"One is astonished by the admirable technical quality achieved by the Quiroga quartet, as well as the power and beauty of their sound (sometimes rough, full of despair, sometimes sweet and meaty). But what it is even more astonishing is the maturity of the interpretation, the profound understanding of a music so hard to grasp intellectually."

Á.Marías, ABC Cultural

    Música Clássica, sept 2015



    El Arte de la Fuga, sept 2015

"Cuarteto Quiroga have shown us what they've grown and how they have improved technically and stylistically. The sound is now, it seems, more robust, fuller, more rugged too; the balance is always full and well distributed. You can hear the four voices, phenomenally included in the recording, made by recording engineer Tom Peeters"

Arturo Reverter[read full review]

    Scherzo, sept 2015 -

Awarded in the category "Excepcional"

Luis Suñén[read full review]

    Melomano, sept 2015

Awarded with a golden "Melomano" by this spanish magazine.

Lucia Martin-Maestro Verbo

    Ritmo, sept 2015 -

"Starting with the First Quartet is like suddenly open the soul of the musician"..... "The sound reaches a color of great beauty, supported by a recording of exceptional quality and naturalness."

Gonzalo Perez Chamorro[read full review]

    El Arte de la Fuga, june 29, 2015

The best of the best!! Lo mejor de lo mejor! The version of Quiroga is a brilliant reference and deserves to be continued in other titles in the Brahms chamber music. _________________ La versión de los Quiroga es una brillante referencia y merece ser continuada en otros títulos de la camarística brahmsiana. Está hecha desde la sensibilidad latina, a partir de la dorada timbración de las cuerdas, que echan sobre las complejidades de las obras un resplandor que convierte la miniatura en sólida construcción de bolsillo. El canto, infaliblemente, brota hasta en los instantes de pasajes. Los ritmos están marcados con una suerte de coreografía ideal. Las melancolías son voluptuosas y la sensualidad, melancólica. Es que Brahms fue así, como es en estas ejecuciones quiroguianas y lo será para siempre.

Blas Matamoro[read full review]

    La Nueva España, june 25, 2015

“One of the most relevant recordings of the year, presenting the most demanding repertoire (…) A combination of talent, energy and astonishing technical preparation. A rigorous work (…), a defense of Brahms’ legacy made with top intellectual stature, boldness, and a highly poetic elan. A true luxury." ________________ "Uno de los discos más relevantes del año en uno de los repertorios más exigentes (…) Una mezcla de talento, energía y preparación técnica que asombra. Un trabajo riguroso (…) una defensa del legado brahmsiano de altura intelectual, audacia y alto vuelo poético. Un lujazo."

Cosme Marina

    Javier Hidalgo Romero, june 20, 2015

The Quiroga Quartet, which I heard a few months ago live in Cuenca in a for me unforgettable concert, is already among my favorite because each of them are excellent musicians and together they are superior. It is not easy to approach this music. It requires a thorough study of scores and a comprehensive planning of every move with different sound levels, contrapuntal and rhythmic innovations and above all an interpretation of an exquisite balance. Well, all I have found in this wonderful album of the Cuarteto Quiroga, who, along with the reading of the Book of Cibrán Sierra Vasquez, on String Quartet, I have made the best music learning in recent days. The release of the album is a model (the Dutch label Cobra): design, booklet notes Helena, cellist, recording, and even the wink of the inclusion of a short piece on a traditional German song arranged for quartet by this composer which serves as the culmination to the disc, as cool down, and in which a single instrument is heard when the four rings, which is the best compliment you can make to a quartet.

Javier Hidalgo Romero, june 20, 2015

    Beckmesser, june 13th, 2015

"Enough already with that idea that only outside of Spain we find good string quartets (...) These interpretations are musically magnificent, stylistically impeccable, and above all incredibly well grounded in their technical approach (...) Indescribably sublime" "Se acabó eso de que fuera de España se hace buena música para cuarteto de cuerda y dentro no (...) Estas son interpretaciones musicalmente magníficas, estilísticamente impecables, pero sobre todo increíblemente bien plantadas en sus aspectos técnicos. (...) Sublime hasta lo indecible."

[read full review]

    Computer Audiophile

The latest release by Cuarteto Quiroga of Brahms' String Quartet op.51 is worth a nod. Fantastic playing from one of the more thoughtful and underrated string quartets. And of course, top notch sonics as well.

Frei Aber Einsam (Free But Lonely) (2015)


Cuarteto Quiroga


For this album we chose to record in Binaural as well. This is a perfect solution for headphone users. The recordings are made with the dummy head of Neuman, the KU-100. On a headphone this gives a surprisingly realistic image and it gives you the feeling of being at the session. This idea to develop an extra Binaural catalogue in DSD is initiated and supported by Rivasono in The Netherlands.

Digital Converters: dCS dsd AD
Mastering Engineer: Tom Peeters
Mastering Equipment: KEF Reference series 107
Microphones: B&K 4003, modified by Rens Heijnis
Mixing Board: Rens Heijnis custom made
Producer: Tom Peeters
Recording Engineer: Tom Peeters
Recording location: Westvest 90 Church Schiedam
Recording Software: merging, pyramix
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD64

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Album Download duration price
COBRA0048: Frei Aber Einsam (Free But Lonely)
01:12:40   Select quality & channels above
String quartet op.51 nr1 - Allegro
00:11:28   N/A
String quartet op.51 nr1 - Poco Adagio
00:07:19   N/A
String quartet op.51 nr1 - Allegretto molto moderato e comodo
00:08:57   N/A
String quartet op.51 nr1 - Allegro
00:06:08   N/A
String quartet op.51 nr2 - Allegro
00:13:42   N/A
String quartet op.51 nr2 - Andante moderato
00:09:43   N/A
String quartet op.51 nr2 - Quasi Minuetto, moderato
00:05:35   N/A
String quartet op51 nr2 - Allegro non assai
00:07:13   N/A
In stiller Nacht
00:02:35   N/A

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