Brandis Quartet

Schubert: The Great String Quartets

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Recorded by the Brandis Quartet in 1995, the four late string quartets by Franz Schubert are handsomely presented in this reissue from Brilliant Classics; anyone who missed the original release on Nimbus has a second chance to snap up this fine set. If the performances may be characterized simply, they are on the tender side, perhaps more sensitive and nuanced than tense or brusque. In essence, this Schubert is heartbroken and yearning, and not feverish or neurotic. The Brandis Quartet may be a little too gentle for some tastes in the String Quartet in D minor "Death and the Maiden," D. 810, or the "Quartettsatz," D. 703, but these poignant renditions are no less valid than edgier versions by other quartets. In some ways, this ensemble's generally mild approach makes its occasional outbursts even more unnerving, and its steady maintenance of the tension between ecstasy and agony is worth consideration. For expressive playing that really touches the core, the Andante from the String Quartet in A minor, "Rosamunde," D. 804, is the group's finest effort, though the slow movement from D. 810 comes close in its truly passionate outpourings. The sound quality is exceptional, with a rather wide dynamic range.

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