There are other very fine performances of Brahms' wonderful String Sextets, but none, I feel, as totally satisfying as these by the Raphael Ensemble. They combine a sense of rich, enveloping warmth with dynamic, detailed expression. There is nothing rushed or superficial here. The music often flows with a sense of ease and flexibility, all the while conveying some of the most poignant songfulness and beautifully shaded colors and tones. There also is playing of considerable nobility, which occasionally brings tears to my eyes. So good are these readings that bothering to single out more specific instances for praise becomes an unnecessary chore. If any of you anticipate going after this disc, I suggest you look for Hyperion's remastered version, which is packaged in a black bordered cover (see representation above), surrounding what was the same pastoral scene used on the original issue. This more recent, remastered copy provides a more centered, tonally balanced sound than the original pressing. Nonetheless, again, these are marvelously rewarding accounts. They epitomize Brahms at his best. I can't think or hear of any reason at all why they would disappoint. In fact, you might find them cathartic.