For this 2013 ECM New Series release, the Zehetmair Quartett performs four works that vary in styles and methods, yet reflects the development of European string quartet writing. Ludwig van Beethoven's String Quartet in F major, Op. 135, is one of the seminal late quartets, which gave rise to the modern concept of the quartet as an intellectual essay, an important statement of a composer's thoughts and interior vision, as opposed to its former Classical function as a social diversion for string players. All major quartets after Beethoven are weighed against his, and while seriousness of purpose is evident in Karl Amadeus Hartmann's poignantly expressive String Quartet No. 2, and Heinz Holliger's dense and angular String Quartet No. 2, even Anton Bruckner's rather conventional String Quartet in C minor partakes of the tradition. The Zehetmair Quartett -- featuring violinists Thomas Zehetmair and Kuba Jakowicz, violist Ruth Killius, and cellist Ursula Smith -- plays with urgency and commitment, displaying a dedication to the art of quartet playing that is commensurate with the earnestness of the music. While it is not incumbent on the musicians to draw explicit connections between these works -- indeed, such linkages would necessarily be speculative -- the grouping of these four quartets invites curious listeners to explore the continuum of which they are a part.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
Track Listing - Disc 1
|Streichquartett F-Dur, Op. 135|
|Streichquartett c-Moll, WAB 111|
Track Listing - Disc 2
|Streichquartett Nr. 2|