The Takács Quartet began their exclusive association with Decca in 1988 and the first release was the CD of Haydn String Quartets, op.76 nos.1-3; this was followed by the other three quartets that make up the set: op.76 nos. 4-6. This set of quartets was Haydn's last and was published in 1797 (his projected set of 6 quartets op.77 produced just two works and his op.103 remained a fragment). The second of these discs, containing nos.4-6 of op.76 was particularly warmly received by Gramophone in January 1990.
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Anyone who loves twentieth century music, who loves English music, or who just plain loves music will love this collection of the music of Michael Tippett. Culled from previously issued but long out-of-print Philips, London, Argo, and l'Oiseau-Lyre LPs, most of these recordings were world premieres made in close consultation with the composer and in the hands of conductors Colin Davis, Georg Solti, Neville Marriner, pianist Paul Crossley, and the Lindsay String Quartet, they receive what can fairly be described as definitive performances. From the ecstatic lyricism of the Suite for Double String Orchestra of 1939 through the luminous vitality of the First Symphony of 1945, the radiant sensuality of the Ritual Dances of 1955, the blues-based modernism of the Third Symphony of 1972, to the glistening transcendentalism of the Fourth Symphony of 1977, Tippett's unique fusion of line, drive, color, and form is performed throughout with passionate dedication and absolute faith in the music's greatness.
GRAMOPHONE Magazine Editor's Choice - October 2015.The Artemis Quartet pairs Brahms’ intense first quartet with his lighter-spirited third quartet, both works that the Artemis’ cellist, Eckart Runge, describes as “remarkable and multi-faceted”. He says that “Brahms marries a Romantic spirit with the structure and forms of Classicism. There is an almost symphonic approach in the writing, but at the same time the quartets are imbued with a sense of warmth, immediacy, friendship and love that is interwoven with a more spiritual, timeless beauty”.
The string quartets of Danish music's eccentric outsider Rued Langgaard (1893-1952) are passionate works of the composer's youth, representing both his nostalgically romantic side and his profoundly visionary modernity. For the first time on CD, this recording series presents all 9 quartets in the award-winning young Nightingale String Quartet's distinctly dramatic interpretation based on the revised Rued Langgaard Edition.
Haydn’s six Op. 20 string quartets are milestones in the history of the genre. He wrote them in 1772 for performance by his colleagues at the Esterházy court and, unusually, not specifically for publication. Each one is a unique masterpiece and the set introduces compositional techniques that radically transformed the genre and shaped it for centuries to come. Haydn overturns conventional instrumental roles, crafts remarkably original colours and textures, and unlocks new expressive possibilities in these works which were crucial in establishing the reputation of purely instrumental music. The range within the quartets is kaleidoscopic. From the introspective, chorale-like slow movement of No. 1 via the terse and radical quartet No. 3 in G minor to the comic spirit of the fourth in D major, each of the quartets inhabits a distinct musical world. For many, this is some of the greatest music Haydn ever wrote. Playing these seminal works is one of the world’s finest young ensembles, the Doric String Quartet.
Grechaninov was born in Moscow a year before Sibelius and also died in New York a year before Sibelius. He was taught by Rimsky-Korsakov. His music did not migrate far from his roots and continued to write in that style well after the 1917 revolution had led to exile first in France and then in the USA. A prolific composer in all the usual genres, his reputation seems to rest mainly on choral music and to be rather tainted by suggestions of lack of originality. Certainly, by comparison with his near contemporary Sibelius, his style did not develop much, meaning it is rather hard to believe the fourth quartet was written as late as 1929. But, listening to this disc, I sometimes found the music hard to place and was not continually reminded of other composers, surely one sign of an original voice. There are four Grechaninov string quartets and this offering completes the Utrecht Quartet’s cycle. The previous disc was well-received by Michael Cookson three years ago (see review). Both works are in four movements with the slow movement placed second. They are fairly conventional but well-crafted and pleasant listening.
These first complete recordings of the string quartets of Schoenberg, Berg, Webern and Zemlinsky have won numerous international awards and been hailed as landmarks in the discography of 20th-century music. Impeccable ensemble, superbly blended timbre and pure intonation ….This set [Schoenberg, Berg, Webern] is indeed a wonderful achievement (MusicWeb International). Febrile intensity and faultless proportioning of each formal structure [Zemlinsky] (Guardian).