This CD features live performances of four string quartets: György Ligeti's String Quartet No.2 (1968), Matthias Pintscher's Study IV for Treatise on the Veil (2009), John Cage's String Quartet in Four Parts (1950) and Iannis Xenakis's Tetras (1983).
For me, while all performances are very very good, the standout performances are the Cage and the Xenakis. The Cage can sometimes be a bit tedious or lacking in impetus but here a balance is achieved between precision and propulsive force. The Xenakis is invested with exactly the controlled explosiveness it requires. The Pintscher quartet is very quiet, the Xenakis ferocious and loud, Cage's quartet sounds medieval and the Ligeti is a strange mix of agitation, calm and clockwork winding down.
I was at the concert in July 2011 and the energy of the performances is well-captured on this disc.
This is a quartet that is seriously committed to new music, as their recent follow-up concert (Ives' 2nd Quartet, Glass's 5th Quartet and Gòrecki's 2nd Quartet) amply demonstrated.