Endellion String Quartet

Britten: String Quartets Nos 1, 2, 3; 3 Divertimenti

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Over the course of the Endellion String Quartet's long career, the string quartets of Benjamin Britten have been a mainstay of its repertoire and significant enough to warrant two recordings. For the first, the group recorded Britten's complete music for string quartet for EMI in 1986, and these recordings were released as a vinyl box set and on three CDs. This second recording, presented as a double-disc package on Warner Classics, marks the Endellion's 35th anniversary and documents the quartet's 2013 tour celebrating Britten's 100th anniversary; the three string quartets and the three divertimenti were recorded at Wyastone Concert Hall (the home of Nimbus' recording studio) in July of that year. The performances in this resonant space have a luminous glow, and the ensemble's balanced sound radiates warmth and presence without revealing too much scratchy bowing. All of this benefits Britten's music, which can at times be a little cerebral and dry, though the Endellion's committed and conversant playing gives the quartets a bold profile and deep expressiveness. The increased popularity of Britten's quartets has yielded several fine recordings, and the Endellion's set faces some healthy competition, though the experience of playing them for more than three decades stands them in good stead.

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