Mit Schlag (a large dollop of whipped cream)...
The British Brodskys form a very animated ensemble which maintains an eclectic repertoire: in this respect they parallel the American Kronos Quartet.
On this 2001 issue the Brodskys visit turn-of-the-century Vienna with a splendid programme featuring Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) Quartets by Zemlinsky (1896), Schönberg (1897), and von Webern (1905).
The first two are Brahms-influenced--which is to say, Schubert-inflected (as Brahms himself had edited several of Schubert's manuscripts for publication and thereby incorporated certain Schubertian accents into his own style--especially with regards to the string quartet genre).
Indeed, Brahms thought so highly of Zemlinsky's A-major Quartet that he induced his own publisher Simrock to issue the work in print.
Even more astonishing is the anecdote testified by Hanns Eisler that in early-1897 Zemlinsky had shown Brahms a movement of Schönberg's D-major Quartet--(the movement which we now know as the Scherzo-Trio in F-major, which due to its length and gravitas was eventually substituted by the lighter and shorter grazioso Intermezzo as Movement II in the Quartet's final version)--and to everyone's surprize, Brahms was so impressed (and as he was dying of liver cancer was little concerned about money) that he spontaneously offered to pay all expenses for Schönberg to attend the Vienna Conservatoire!
(The epilogue is that Schönberg would not accept the money as a loan--perhaps it was unclear that it was a gift [?].)
Ultimately both Zemlinsky's A-major and Schönberg's D-major Quartets were performed in 1897 in concerts hosted by the Tonkünstlerverein (Society of Musicians)--the de facto `Brahms Society' of Vienna.
It is unnecessary to deconstruct these pieces here: suffice it to say they are charming, ingratiating, imaginative, and well-wrought works featuring original ideas which incorporate various aesthetic aspects of their immediate artistic forbears Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, and Bruckner.
Webern's Langsamer Satz (literally, `Slow Movement') is redolent of Schönberg's archetypical synthesis of Brahms and Wagner (cf. Verklärte Nacht Op. 4, Pelleas und Melisande Op. 5, First String Quartet Op. 7, First Chamber Symphony Op. 9, etc.), and on this recording is sandwiched in between the two earlier Quartets.
The Brodsky's realizations here are equitably poised with marginally expansive attitudes which parallel the younger-generation Leipziger Streichquartett and continue in acceleration via the Prazák and Artis Quartets towards the older LaSalle reading.
Prazák Schönberg D-major Quartet Quartet No. 0
Artis Schönberg D-major Quartet Quartet No. 0
Leipziger Schönberg D-major Quartet Quartet No. 0
LaSalle Schönberg D-major Quartet Quartet No. 0
LaSalle Zemlinsky A-major Quartet Quartet No. 1
Artis Zemlinsky A-major Quartet No. 1
Prazák Zemlinsky A-major Quartet No. 1
Emerson Webern Langsamer Satz Slow Quartet
Leipziger Webern Langsamer Satz Slow Quartet
Artis Webern Langsamer Satz Slow Quartet