Franz Liszt, writing about Grieg's String Quartet No 1, declared: 'It is long time since I have encountered a new composition, especially a string quartet, which has intrigued me as greatly as this distinctive and admirable work by Grieg'. Grieg himself said that his quartet '… aims at breadth; to soar, and above all at a vigorous sound for the instruments for which it is written.' In 1891, Edvard Grieg started his second quartet, but sadly lacked inspiration and time to finish the last two movements. Levon Chilingirian of the Chilingirian Quartet has studied the original manuscripts of the first two movements (which have many clarifying instructions added by Julius Röntgen in preparation for their printing by C F Peters in 1908) and prepared the third and fourth movements especially for this recording. This is therefore a first recording of the completed String Quartet No 2.
The second of three volumes devoted to Andrés Isasi’s complete string quartets is again performed by the composer’s foremost champions, the Isasi Quartet, who premièred all the works on this recording. String Quartet No 4 in D major reveals his vibrant and imaginative use of textures and his affiliations with the music of Dvořák. Though unfinished, the 1921 String Quartet No 3 in E minor fuses melodic richness and serenity. Each of the three smaller pieces shows contrast and warmth, not least the beautifully eloquent Prelude in A major.
Of Philip Glass' conventionally scored chamber works, his String Quartet No. 5 is probably the best-known, in part because the Kronos Quartet and the Smith Quartet have given it first-rate recordings, but also because its more traditional approach and neo-romantic feeling hold a special attraction for a broad audience. This five-movement work has Glass' characteristic patterns and pulses, at least as they developed from his hard-edged, amplified minimalism of the 1970s to softer acoustic textures over the course of the 1980s, though the music is much more melodically contoured and expressive. This 2015 release by the Carducci String Quartet adds another title to the work's growing discography, and it is a wonderful performance by musicians who have a strong sympathy for Glass' idiom. It is programmed with the Suite from Dracula, a soundtrack Glass composed for the Tod Browning film, Dracula (1931), and Michael Riesman's arrangement of the Symphony No. 4, "Heroes," here presented as the String Sextet.
The highly anticipated new recording from the Gramophone Recording of the Year winners in 2011. Two years on from their award winning Dvorak album, the Pavel Haas Quartet turn their attention to Schubert’s two late masterpiece. The String Quartet in D minor has a sort of dark cipher encoded within. The title “Death and the Maiden” reflects the quotation from Schubert’s eponymous song in the second movement. The theme of death is also underlined by other quotations and the choice of the key of D minor, which according to the period definition is characterised by “heavy-hearted womanliness, spleen and foreboding”.