Belcea Quartet

I have been meaning for some time to write recommending the Belcea Quartet‘s Schubert recordings. There’s one double disk of the G major, Death and the Maiden, and the Quintet, and another disk of the Rosamunde Quartet, the E flat, and the Quartettsatz. Both seem to me (and not just to me!) to be quite stunning — surely comparable with the Lindsay’s great recordings (and indeed, I suppose not dissimilar in their whole approach).

But I got to see the quartet playing live for the first time tonight in the very intimate setting of the Peterhouse Theatre here in Cambridge (part of a series of concerts which includes the  remarkable prospect of Viktoria Mullova playing in this tiny space which seats less than 200 people). In their new line up — with a new second-violin — they played the first of the late Haydn Op. 77 quartets, the Grosse Fuge(!), and then after the interval  the first Rasumovsky. All jaw-droppingly good (though I confess I do prefer hearing the Grosse Fuge played as the culmination of Op. 130; coming at it without the preparation of the journey there, it can seem too extreme, too outlandish).

The Belcea’s Rasumovsky in particular was as good as I have ever heard, live or on disc — everything that that recent feeble performance by the Endellion wasn’t. Passionate, by turns driven and etherial, utterly engaged (and stunningly together given the very recent change in line-up, with an intense rapport).

Music doesn’t get better than a great quartet in full flow; and quartet playing doesn’t get better than tonight’s.

1 thought on “Belcea Quartet”

  1. Peter,
    The Budapest String Quartet’s complete Beethoven String Quartets on Columbia have finally been reissued and are available at your local internet record shop. In the US the eight disc set is about $33US. As I mentioned before the Budapest recordings may be at the top of my Beethoven list.

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