Founded in 2006, by 2008 the Apollon Musagète Quartett burst onto the international chamber music scene following a series of wins at the ARD Music Competition in Munich. Their debut album on the Oehms Classics label features, as do many premiere CDs, a broad range of repertoire presumably seeking to display the scope of their talents and interpretive abilities. The group opens with a crisp, exacting performance of Haydn's Op. 71/2 Quartet in D major. From the first phrase, listeners will notice the precise technical playing, polished intonation, and careful, crisp articulation. Following the Haydn comes Brahms' Op. 51/2 Quartet in A minor. The first three movements of this piece are surprisingly reserved, particularly in the almost dreary tempo chosen for the first movement. Apollon Musagète chooses a more classical approach to sound, which is an interesting choice, but may leave some listeners looking for a more meaty, Brahmsian sound. By the fourth movement, that is precisely what they are given with a powerful, aggressive finale. Third on the program is Szymanowski's String Quartet No. 1 where again the quartet's lean, penetrating sound is ideal. Perhaps the most interesting work on the program is saved for last. Rodion Shchedrin's Lyric Scenes for string quartet was the required piece at the aforementioned ARD Competition. It tests not only the technical prowess of the quartet, but also its ability to transform the technical demands into meaningful musical statements. In nine short minutes, listeners will discover just why this young quartet has already won so many accolades.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|String Quartet in D major, Hob. 3:70, Op. 71/2|
|String Quartet in A minor, Op. 51, No. 2|
|String Quartet No. 1 in C major, Op. 37|