This cd by the Britten quartet of Benjamin Britten's late quartets : his Second + valedictory final Third, are self recommending for both fans of the noted British Composer of searching angular + here :sparse 20th century string quartet muisc. the Britten Quartet play with utter concentration + conviction of this often overlooked elegaic music. fans of other 20th ~Cenury quartet master - Shostakovich should find much to admire here in the sombre,spare textures + ultimately very rewarding music. Britten's admiration for Shostakovich + much earlier Composer - Purcell is reflected in parts of his earlier student string music (c.1930) + as a trace here as the extended "Chaconne" in his Second Quartet , but finds his own unique voice in the mature Quartet works here.
Along with other highly recommended later renditions by the all female UK Sorrel Quartet (who i had the pleasure of seeing perform twice several years ago) + the Endellion Quartet's fine double cd overview of Brittens string music on EMI)- the Britten Quartet can be confidently recommended also, and had been awarded top star rating in the Penguin Guide also over the last decade for this release. Sound quality is natural + well balanced also.
NB : newcomers to Britten's string music might be better served initially though via his First String quartet + the Phantasy (Op.2)- both more melodic + appealing but still sharing the later works sombre ethereal soundscapes before progressing onto the the Second + Third Quartets. The bargain release by the Maggini Quartet (on Naxos) wd be a good cheap introduction to this marvellous music.
all in all : profound ,austere + heartfelt music for those with a more refined aural palette.