ALBUM REVIEWS

This is Schubert played with heart-stopping freshness, the composer as romantic rather than classicist. You realise that this is actually a young man's music: Schubert, though near death, was barely 30. The players plunge to the extremes of Schubert's precise dynamic markings and contrasts: the profound quintet has a huge outburst at the end of the first movement, a sublime but flowing adagio, only the scherzo's trio seems too slow, and the finale has real weight. In the two quartets the Belceas make the most of the G major's dramatic flourishes and the D minor's tragic intensity. Superb.

 

Awarded Chamber Music Ensemble of the Year by Germany's Echo Klassik Awards, nominated for the 2008 Gramophone Awards, winner of CD of the Year on Viertakt, Radio 4 (Netherlands)

There is a maturity and authority to these performances which some quartets never achieve at all. Technically the playing is impeccable, with superb intonation, something particularly evident in the passages in unison and octaves, where many another group has been found wanting. The tone is always clear and focused, with a touch of warmth to relieve the music even when it is at its most bleak. It is the sheer musical conviction of these readings that is astounding. Everything has sense and purpose; every detail, clear in itself, is part of the greater whole. We can see the trees, and see the wood as well. This set must surely be a benchmark...

 

The Belcea Quartet performs the Dissonance, the last of those dedicated to the senior colleague (Haydn), with rare intensity. The slow intro burns the air, Ms Belcea’s steely first violin prominent, the ensemble urgent without rushing. They play the Hoffmeister, named after its publisher, with hungry appreciation for the rich texture of its chromatic adagio and a precipitous finale that is as thrilling as it is blemishless. A belter from the Belcea.
Rick Jones, The Times, 11 February 2006

This unconventional pairing shows different facets of...

 

 

The Belceas revel throughout in Britten’s inventive quartet sonorities and give a deeply felt account of the valedictory No.3, Britten’s last completed work, with its references to his opera, Death in Venice. The vivid recorded sound sets...

 

 

If there is a finer recording of Brahms’s C minor String Quartet than that of the Belcea, I haven’t found it yet. The playing is as strong and intelligent as you’d expect from the Belceas.
Stephen Johnson, BBC Music Magazine, April 2004

Their spontaneity may sometimes be a clever illusion: in the quartet’s third movement the triplet passages where violin and viola play in octaves are performed with a very natural-sounding rubato that yet stays in impeccable...

 

 

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