Beautifully played, very well recorded, and remarkably good value. Rather than buy yet another re-recording of the Ravel or Debussy quartets, try this. At times you will be reminded of precisely those quartets ; this is often lyrical, even lush music. At other times it feels closer to Bartok, at least as far as the rhythm goes. Precise and dynamic playing of material which deserves to be performed more often ; perhaps the recent high-profile recording of one of the violin concertos by Nicola Benedetti will lead more listeners to the quartets. Congratulations to Naxos for promoting music which hasn't already been recorded 23 times.
Firstly i'd certainly agree with BBC magazine that Szymanowski's Quartets "certainly bear comparison with many classics of the 20th-century repertoire and deserve to be heard far more frequently". i bought this cd 4 or so years back as was starting to explore Szymanowski's music + also wanted a cd of some of Stravinsky's music for string quarts also - having heard the Three Pieces performed live in London at that time + loved them.
The bottom line is that for less than £5/$6 to your door - any serious classical or music lover cannot really afford not to have this cd - Szymanowski's Quartets whilst slightly overwrought + densely written in places, do indeed bridge both Ravel + Bartok's sound world in a equally searching + forthright musical language whilst retaining historical importance in the early 20th Century canon as important works that bridge the world of late romanticism with modernism. not for me - as essential as Webern,Bartok or Shostakovich, but they have much to recommend them, particularly for people exploring beyond late Beethoven + Ravel's Quartets, but have yet to be brave enbough for the astringent but masterful quartets of Bartok.
The Stravinsky pieces of minatures (the Three Pieces,Concertino + Canon) are actually the prime selling point i feel on this cd as the strongest + perhaps historically most important compositions. they are also very well played by the Goldner with plenty of attack as well as subtle nuances + in themselves are absolutely essential as post-Webernesque works of marvellous condensed modernist quartet composition. im always disappointed they're not more widely played as part of the standard repertoire. they certainly deserve to be.