No greater contrast could exist than between these two quartets. The "Serioso" is a work of unsurpassable savagery, whereas the E-flat is one of Beethoven's most lyrical outpourings. In both instances, I think that many listeners will be divided in their opinons of the Lindsays' interpretations. In the E-flat, the Lindsays realize both the sweetness and hints of sadness and nostalgia in the first movement that most other players seem to neglect. The slow movement is spacious and heavenly without seeming to drag; indeed, in the hands of the Lindsays, this movement seems all too brief. The Scherzo is played with more rhythmic bite than usual, and at times with an almost disembodied tone that lends a certain eerieness to the music. As for the Finale, if one ever sought an aural equivalent for the adjective "glowing", this would be it. There is also an unusual intensity in this movement, especially in the Coda, which is very convincing, if unconventional.
The "Serioso" Quartet is played with all the stops out, with a fury that approaches sheer brutality. The slow movement, unlike in other renditions, does not sound consoling, but with their pale, disembodied tone, the Lindsays make this music sound absolutely spectral in its bleakness. Likewise, the Trio of the Third Movement again fails to console, with the players intoning a desperate, furtive mood to this music. Savagery again predominates in the Finale; the Coda, which sounds like a sudden repudiation of the bleak mood of the work, is played maniacally, like a sudden outburst of a bipolar disorder. This is a profoundly disturbing interpretation, one that will not please everyone, but one which this listener finds to be the unvarnished truth. As an emotional assault, this CD is in a class by itself.