Fanfare Magazine’s Jerry Dubins offers the first review for the Alexander String Quartet and Joyce Yang’s July 27th release, Mozart: The Piano Quartets, Apotheosis, Vol. 2!
“Some time has passed since last hearing from the Alexander String Quartet, but the wait has been well worth it. I will state categorically at the outset of this review that these are by far, hands down and feet up, the most amazing performances of Mozart’s two piano quartets that have ever graced these ears. Superlatives to describe the playing of three members of the Alexander String Quartet—violinist Zakarias Grafilo, violist Paul Yarbrough, and cellist Sandy Wilson, joined by pianist Joyce Yang—escape me…Never have I heard such keen awareness of this dimension of the score as I hear it in this performance. To say that the ensemble plays with a unanimity of attack, articulate phrasing, and penetrating tone is almost beside the point. Today, those aspects of execution are expected from the world’s topflight chamber music players. But what really sets these readings apart for me is the ways in which these musicians connect the dots, so to speak, and find just the right moments and just the right ways in which to reveal to us Mozart’s underlying grand plan.… This is truly phenomenal both in terms of the playing and the recording. … That said, the only word to describe the Alexander Quartet members and Joyce Yang’s playing of [The Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, K 493] is exquisite. …Long-time [favorite recordings] of mine in these two works…[are] all excellent, but none of them holds a candle to these new performances by the Alexander Quartet minus one, plus Joyce Yang. The difference is so stark that I would compare it to having lived an existence of privation, but never having known anything better, you thought you were blessed. But then this comes along, and you suddenly realize that what you thought was plenitude was actually poverty. If that’s not an urgent recommendation, I’m not sure what is.” —Jerry Dubins, Fanfare Magazine