For the casual listener, Vaughan Williams is the composer of the Fantasia on Greensleeves and The Lark Ascending. For the more serious classical listener, he's the composer of the "London" Symphony and Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. But only to his hardcore fans is Vaughan Williams known as the composer of two string quartets and a string quintet. Though anyone who enjoys The Lark Ascending or the Tallis Fantasia would likely enjoy the chamber music, there are few recordings of the works by which to make their acquaintance. For many listeners, this Alto re-release of the English String Quartet's 1988 recordings of Vaughan Williams' quartets and quintet will be a revelation. Played with a warm tone, an agile technique, a lively sense of rhythm, and a deep affection for the music, the works receive performances wholly worthy of them. The First Quartet and the Phantasy Quintet are relatively early works in the composer's oeuvre, and the English String Quartet's performances are filled to the brim with energy and enthusiasm. The late String Quartet in A minor is a more reflective piece and the performers' approach is appropriately more inward. Beautifully recorded and faithfully remastered, this disc deserves to be heard by anyone who enjoys Vaughan Williams' music.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Phantasy Quintet for 2 violins, 2 violas & cello|
|String Quartet No. 2 in A minor ("For Jean on Her Birthday")|
|String Quartet No. 1 in G minor|