Britten's string quartets remind me of Shostakovich's late chamber music - string quartet no.13-15, violin sonata and viola sonata - for the intensely personal and inward-looking musical idiom, Britten's musical language is more subtle and ambiguous though. They are amazingly original and comlex, each time you listen to them you discover something new.
Belcea Quartet is an outstanding ensemble. Their performances are technically impeccable, deeply expressive and thoughtful, which reflect their deep understanding of Britten's music and genuine emotional involvement. They create amazing contrast between the evocative atmosphere of the slow movements and the dizzyingly complex fast movements.
I hate the word "difficult" when applied to music and this is often the word applied to Britten in general and the quartets in particular. Having said that anyone buying this disc more or less has fallen in love with Britten anyway and the quartets are probably best left until one is reasonably familiar with his style. Beautifully played and spiky with an extra helping of acid Get this and then get the Maggini set - I can't decide, though I do have a soft spot for the Maggini having listened to it whilst recovering in hospital, this set is somehow more focused. Get both, put them on and let them soak in!
Ben's quartets receive exemplary performances here,all at a budget price.The Belcea's are a great quartet in this music,and seem likely to be one of our top performing quartets in the years to come.Great here,in Beethoven,very good in Bartok,excellent in Schubert,their repertoire is wide ranging,but for an affordable example,look no further.Here is some "great Britten",from some great British!