Franz Schubert, Maja Ratkje, Benjamin Britten, Joseph Haydn

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Rather than focus on a single composer's oeuvre for a whole album, the Engegård Quartet typically presents key works by representative composers from different periods, a practice they have followed on several previous releases. This produces an interesting mix of styles and contrasting approaches, and the group's already vigorous playing seems energized by the constant change of material, as if the unexpected keeps them on their toes. For this super audio release on 2L, a Blu-ray disc plus hybrid SACD combo, the ensemble has chosen the String Quartet No. 13 in A minor, "Rosamunde," of Franz Schubert; Maja Ratkje's first string quartet, Tale of Lead and Light; the String Quartet No. 2 in C major of Benjamin Britten; and only on the Blu-ray Disc, the String Quartet in C major, "Emperor," of Franz Joseph Haydn. Touching on the Classical, Romantic, modern, and contemporary periods invites comparisons and suggests influences, but perhaps more importantly, it challenges the listener to explore the thinking behind the selections. However, because the Haydn quartet is only playable on Blu-ray equipment, its significance to the program will be lost on anyone using a CD or SACD player. While this package is no doubt a great way to showcase competing audiophile formats, the space limitations of the SACD leave it incomplete and perhaps disappointing to the unsuspecting buyer.

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