Amati Quartet

Martin, Szymanowski: String Quartets

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Though the title of this Amati Quartet album refers only to the quartets of Martin and Szymanowski (Second Quartet), it also includes quartets of Hermann Haller (Second) and Wladimir Vogel (Colori e Movimenti). Taken in sequence, this progression of quartets represents a chronological journey of their composers' births, as well as a survey of compositional techniques at play in the 20th century. While each of the composers was hard at work developing their own concept of tonality, harmony, and melodic language, all four works on this disc are entirely accessible to listeners, giving a decidedly colorful, intense view of a string quartet's capabilities. Performing these little-known compositions is the Amati Quartet, an ensemble based in Zurich. Despite the high technical demands made on the group, the Amati produces a strikingly clean, polished, authoritative reading of the program. It plays with tremendous intensity and focus, and produce a pleasingly unified, well-blended, and balanced sound quality. The only thing working against the group, perhaps, is Divox's recorded sound quality. Instead of favoring a sound that matches the sharp edges and clean articulations of both score and performers, Divox chooses a somewhat fuzzy, overly reverberant, and distant sound that cuts down on the appreciation of the Amati's precision playing.

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