Just a few months before they disbanded last summer, the members of the Cypress String Quartet made one last recording, of the Brahms Sextets. They invited their friends, violist Barry Shiffman and cellist Zuill Bailey, and a small audience to join them at the Scoring Stage at Skywalker Ranch, and gave a live performance that was captured on their new CD. Cellist Jennifer Kloetzel says recording it live helped capture the spirit they were going for.
The ensemble had played together for 20 seasons, including recording and playing complete Beethoven cycles, but as Jennifer Kloetzel explains, they wanted to fit more in: “We sat down to talk about the different passion projects that we wanted to make sure we completed before we finished. So, ‘we want to record this, this, this, this, and this…’ We couldn’t do all of them, but the Brahms sextets were really important for us to do. Partly because we had been playing them for a number of seasons with these collaborators, with the amazing Zuill Bailey and Barry Shiffman, and it felt right.” The decision to play with friends for the final CD led them to decide to invite an audience to join them. “We were going to make this project very intimate, so we’d invited good friends in to play with us for the sextets, we invited friends and fans to sit there with us and make the recording.” And while intimate, they were also playing ‘without a net’: “If you’re recording for ten hours a day, you might be repeating a section dozens of times… You’re always seeking the best take, the perfect take. There was the extra stress of wanting the perfect take, but having to do it in front of a live audience, and in that one go. So, it was very exciting.”