For its second album on the Avi label, the Asasello Quartett selected a program of highly contrasting works by two musical innovators and pioneers in the development of the string quartet: Schubert and Schnittke. Representing Schubert is his well-known, tumultuous Death and the Maiden Quartet, a stunning example of Schubert's ability to take excerpts of melody and motive from a song and incorporate them throughout the body of a quartet. Likewise, Schnittke's Third Quartet finds him busy incorporating nods to composers and styles of bygone eras. The two quartets were recorded in rather different venues, Schubert in a studio and Schnittke in a large hall. To compensate, the recording engineers placed the microphones rather close to the performers. Though this was done to even out the sound between the two performances, it actually produced two rather different sound aesthetics. The Schubert is quite dry and bright. While this gives a remarkable and unusual amount of clarity to the very active voices in the quartet, it doesn't give the Asasello's sound enough space to bloom and come together as a unified ensemble. The sound achieved in the Schnittke is surprisingly much warmer, well-rounded, and pleasantly blended, making it the star of the disc. This more developed sound also masks intonation difficulties. Asasello's playing in both instances is vibrant and energetic.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|String Quartet in D minor, D 810 "Death and the Maiden"|
|String Quartet No. 3|