Quartetto Italiano

Haydn: String Quartets, Op. 76; Beethoven: String Quartet, Op. 18 No. 5

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PentaTone's remastered reissues of recordings by Quartetto Italiano are even warmer than the original Philips LP releases. The ensemble was known for its lush lines, sumptuous sonorities, and expressive interpretations, and Philips preserved its performances in clear, deep, and true stereo. As good as the LPs were, the CDs are better -- clearer, deeper, and, if not exactly more true, then certainly more vivid. The performances here of two quartets by Haydn, Op. 76/ 3 and 4, and one by Beethoven, Op. 18/5, are strongly flavored by the Italiano's style. For some listeners, the players' full-bodied account of the "Emperor's Hymn" in Op. 73/3 and the Andante cantabile from Op. 18/5 may be a tad too rich. But others may find that the Italiano's style is fully supported by its impeccable ensemble and singing lyricism, and for them, this disc will be obligatory listening, particularly with the preternaturally immediate sound.

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