Vienna has long been recognized as one of the elite musical Meccas in Europe and indeed the world. Centuries of musical tradition took place and changed hands in the Austrian city, and countless composers were introduced to one another and their music as a result of their time in Vienna. This SWR album is dedicated to this city and a small example of the musical progression it engendered. Performed by the Szymanowski Quartet, the disc's program begins with Beethoven's Op. 18/2, written at the height of Viennese Classicism before moving on to the tumultuous "Quartettsatz" of Franz Schubert. A big jump is made to the sometimes overlooked late Romantic work of Anton Webern and his Slow Movement for string quartet. The latest and most progressive work on the program is Szymanowski's First String Quartet, which cleverly revisits styles of the past before thrusting the listener forward. Perhaps the most satisfying aspect of this disc is the way the members of the Szymanowski Quartet change colors, approach, and style right along with the scores. From the austerity of early Beethoven to the stringency of Szymanowski, a pleasing amount of variety is offered in their playing. Coupled with a polished technique, beautiful intonation, and a clearly unified musical concept, the Szymanowski Quartet makes this tour of Vienna most pleasing indeed.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|String Quartet in G, Op. 18 No. 2|
|String Quartet in C, Op. 37|