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String Quartets By

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Audio CD, July 28, 2009
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 28, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: E1 (Generic)
  • ASIN: B0022NGA4I
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #489,907 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
Chamber music lovers over here may feel isolated from new groups in Europe. Two string quartets, both formed in the Nineties, both outfitted with excellent musicians, became part of BBC 3's prestigious Young Generation program. The Manchester-trained Elias Quartet is one, the other being the Signum Quartet of Germany. The elias took their name from Mendelssohn's "Elijah" oratorio, called Elias" in German. This live concert from Wigmore Hall in London (complete with applause) is my first encounter with them. The group's favorite composer is Mendelssohn, whose music is featured at the end.

As is typical with contemporary quartets, it seems, the playing is excitable, bright, highly detailed, and precise. Those are not qualities I highly admire, unfortunately, since for older listeners the string quartet is synonymous with seasoned musicianship and deep interpretations. If you already like the clean, fairly aggressive style of the old Juilliard Qt. and original Takacs Qt., the angular playing of the Elias may suit you without equivocation.

We being with Schubert's isolated quartet movement, the Quartettensatz D. 703, given an assertive treatment in the agitated opening and not much sweetness in the lyrical second theme. I can't argue against this clean, clear-eyed reading, but it resembles half a dozen others. Next comes Mozart's "Dissonance" Quartet K. 465, one of the most popular form the great series dedicated to Haydn. The Elias loosen up here, displaying a nice sense of shape and poised expression. Each line is played in exemplary fashion, but if you refer to older accounts by the Alban Berg and Amadeus Qt., for example, there's a loss of charm.
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