Vermeer Quartet

Britten & Bliss

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Britten & Bliss Review

by Mike D. Brownell

This album of works by English composers Britten and Bliss really has everything going for it. This starts before the disc is even removed from the case; the packaging is attractive and simple. The liner notes are detailed, extremely well written, and provide a wealth of information on the composers, the works featured on the album, their relationship to one another, and their place in the larger historical context. Truly first-rate work before listening even begins.

The recorded sound quality of the disc is exceptional. It gives the impression of being in the best seat in the best concert hall, only better. The stereo imaging is magnificent, and the spaciousness and separation of the instruments are better than what is sometimes achieved on SACD. There is never a moment where each and every note from every instrument cannot be clearly heard. As for the actual performance, the Vermeer Quartet lives up to its reputation as one of the great string quartets. Every aspect of the execution is well conceived and thoughtful -- rhythms, articulations, dynamics, tone color, and balance are all masterful. Oboist Alex Klein delivers one of the warmest, most pleasing oboe sounds in memory. He blends beautifully with the strings and matches their musical concept masterfully. This album is a genuine must-have addition to any collection.

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