Light, lively, and often quite lovely, the only thing this debut disc by the Formosa Quartet lacks is interpretive depth and maturity. With a bright tone, a brilliant technique, and an easy sense of ensemble, the young Taiwanese string quartet is at its best in this sweet and sassy performance of Wolf's Italian Serenade, which closes the disc. The refined performance of Mozart's G major Quartet that opens the disc, however, stays resolutely on top of the notes and doesn't dig into the music's deeper tones and darker modulations. Similarly, the exquisite performance of Debussy's quartet finds the right balance between expressivity and control but seems satisfied with beauty and doesn't articulate the music's tragic tone and penchant for despair. And while the performance of Schubert's Quartettsatz showcases the quartet's formidable technique, it lacks the demonic drive and unrelenting intensity the work needs to succeed. Still, the Formosa Quartet does have its own interpretive personality -- brash and impetuous with a poignant way of phrasing a long theme -- and this is, after all, only a debut disc. Who knows how the group may yet grow and deepen with time and experience? EMI's digital sound is warm and full, but a little too close for comfort.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|String Quartet No. 14 in G major ("Spring"), K. 387|
|String Quartet, L. 85 (Op. 10)|
|Italian Serenade, for string quartet in G major|