Listen to this album via these Streaming links or get it as High Res Download from NativeDSD.

SKU: COBRA0048 Category:



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 CD 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.”


String quartet op.51 nr1 - Allegro
String quartet op.51 nr1 - Poco Adagio
String quartet op.51 nr1 - Allegretto molto moderato e comodo
String quartet op.51 nr1 - Allegro
String quartet op.51 nr2 - Allegro
String quartet op.51 nr2 - Andante moderato
String quartet op.51 nr2 - Quasi Minuetto, moderato
String quartet op51 nr2 - Allegro non assai
In stiller Nacht

Additional information


, ,

Recording Software

merging, pyramix

Mastering Engineer

Tom Peeters


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


Tom Peeters

Mastering Equipment

KEF Reference series 107

Mixing Board

Rens Heijnis custom made

Recording Engineer

Tom Peeters


B&K 4003, modified by Rens Heijnis

Recording location

Westvest 90 Church Schiedam

Recording Type & Bit Rate



, , , ,





, ,

Press reviews

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.”

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.

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.

MusicWeb International

All it took was 15 seconds of the Madrid­ based Cuarteto Quiroga’s Op. 51 No. 1 to change my mind about these quartets, forever I think. In that first 15 seconds several things registered: superb dynamics, faultless balance and intonation, visceral energy and – passion!…In short, I don’t think you’ll hear better Brahms string quartet playing than this – or for that matter better string quartet recording…What the Cuarteto Quiroga bring to their performances is a level of musical communication that takes you to the heart of the composition, and the composer. – Des Hutchinson

Pizzicato 6.25 out of 5

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


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

Pizzicato Music Magazine 6.25 out of 5

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

The Strad

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.

Codalario Magazine

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.

Ritmo Online

This CD belongs among the top recordings of 2015.

The Strad

The Quiroga’s A minor Quartet is very different, the bold and dark mood of the opening contrasting with a gently lyrical approach to the central section of the first movement. Rubato is used to shape the long phrases in the second movement, and the scherzo’s perfectly judged ‘wispy’ moments bring a charm that spills over into the finale. Pushing the pulse forwards, this highly desirable performance closes with a pleasing vivacity.
Throughout both works, the Spanish-based ensemble produces a beautiful tone combined with an unblemished technique, the short Volkslied ‘In stiller Nacht’ coming as an encore. The sound quality and balance between instruments is admirable. – David Denton

Klassieke Zaken

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.

ABC Cultural

“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.”

Scherzo 5 out of 5

Awarded in the category “Excepcional”

Ritmo 5 out of 5

“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.”


Awarded with a golden “Melomano” by this spanish magazine.

El Arte de la Fuga

“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”


“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.”

Música Clássica


La Nueva España

“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.”

El Arte de la Fuga

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.


“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.”


There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “FREI ABER EINSAM”

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like…