Magazine article Gramophone

Schubert: String Quartet No 15, D887

Magazine article Gramophone

Schubert: String Quartet No 15, D887

Article excerpt

Schubert

String Quartet No 15, D887

Artea Quartet

Champs Hill (F) CHRCD137 (54' * DDD)

The Artea Quartet have been playing together for 15 years so it's a neat choice to record Schubert's 15th Quartet. The irony is that each of its members is so in demand that quartet-playing has taken something of a back seat, which makes the decision to record this of all works either brave or foolhardy, depending on whether the results appeal.

The vast plains of Schubert's opening movement unfold at an unhurried pace, which is not a problem if the reading is sufficiently gripping. But there were times when I hankered after more forward impetus (for instance, from 5'21" in the first movement), while the tremolo passage that leads back into the exposition repeat sounded relatively pain-free, compared to the edge-of-madness conjured by some ensembles.

In the Andante, too, I felt the reading was just too slow. How much more natural the recent Doric performance sounds by comparison. But it's not merely down to the pacing: the Artea are more conventionally warm in the opening theme, the Doric altogether more intriguing in their spectral colouring. …

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