Gewandhaus Quartet

Mendelssohn: Streichquartette Op. 44 Nr. 2; Schumann Op. 41 Nr. 2

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Traditionally made up of the principals and soloists of the Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Gewandhaus Quartet is the oldest and longest-running string quartets in the history of music. It has given premieres of many of the string quartets that are now considered to be at the core of the repertoire and have extensively worked with many of their composers. In keeping with its fine, storied history, the modern-day Gewandhaus Quartet continues to premiere works by new composers as well as celebrate many of the works the group's progenitors premiered. This NCA album features Mendelssohn's Quartet in E minor -- the first quartet he composed while leading the Gewandhaus Orchestra -- and Schumann's F major Quartet. The playing is as would be expected: exuberant, passionate, detailed, and highly refined. Particularly enjoyable is the crisp, tight articulation achieved in the Mendelssohn Scherzo, and the full-bodied cantabile colors produced in the Schumann Andante. While the quartet blends together well in so many ways, the individual sound qualities do not always seem to match. In particular, the cello's sound is quite fuzzy and diffuse, unappealingly contrasting with the more clear, defined upper strings. This unfortunately means that the cello's very active part is occasionally difficult to pick out. Still, fans of the ensemble and the incredible history it represents will find the other, high-quality aspects of the performance fulfilling.

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