English composer Richard Arnell (1917-2009) was visiting New York as World War II erupted, and he found himself stranded in America for the duration of the conflict. It was during that time that he apparently wrote three of the five string quartets included on this disc. (To my understanding, he composed six in all.) They are all thoughtful and engaging works, though I will admit a preference for the first three. The First Quartet is a one-movement work of under ten minutes, while the Second and Third Quartets are three-movement affairs that run 12 and 18 minutes, respectively. To my untrained ear, the spirit of late Beethoven appears sometimes in this first trio of quartets, with occasional dashes of Ravel overlaid with a sense of 20th Century Britain. Meanwhile, the Fourth Quartet is another one-movement composition, while the Fifth Quartet has seven sections that collectively take up around a dozen minutes. Both of these later works maintain the idiom of the first three, but to my mind they are somewhat less vigorous and compelling than the others. Before latching onto this release I'd listened exclusively to Arnell's orchestral music -- he wrote several symphonies and in his time was hailed primarily as a composer of ballet music. I approached this disc cautiously because modern string quartets are sometimes a bit off putting to me, often monotonous and all sounding much the same. This disc and I hit it off quite well from the very start, however. If you're seeking modern chamber music that is textured and complex but which still actually goes somewhere, or if you're just into all those somewhat obscure British composers of the mid-20th Century, you ought to give this one a try.