10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Yes, you do need another recording of the Debussy and Ravel Qts,
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This review is from: Debussy, Fauré & Ravel: String Quartets (Audio CD)
You might not think you need yet another recording of the Debussy and Ravel quartets, but this is played with such feeling, energy and precision that you do, honest... I have never heard the second movement of the Debussy played with such drive, swing and snappy pizzicato ; makes the Melos Quartet version sound staid and over-polite by comparison. The unusually fine recording quality here helps a great deal, too. The recording venue, a converted granary, is clearly a magnificent setting ; there is a natural warmth and bloom to the sound which favours the viola in particular, but the overall feel and sound is indeed exceptional.
The Belcea Qt recorded the Ravel and Debussy (alongside Dutilleux, Ainsi la nuit) a few years ago now, but these Ebène versions are more cohesive, and have more drive and just as much lyricism to them. However, (having heard them live last year) I am certain that the Belceas would now be at least as good. Putting the Ravel and Debussy alongside the Dutilleux was a natural move, and it worked very well. Here, though, it's the Fauré quartet, an equally natural choice, more similar to the Ravel and Debussy in tone and in harmonic language, and presented with flawless musicianship, again with perfect natural sound. The Fauré is less well-known and less immediate in its appeal than the other two, but give it five minutes with quality headphones, and you will be drawn in. A gem.
Footnote and PS added after another week of listening, and after returning to the Belcea versions ; no, in fact the Belcea versions are every bit as good, I just hadn't played them loudly enough. I was over-dazzled initially by the glorious sound of the Ebene recordings. Neither one is full-price, so you could even go for both.