These four players first came together at London's Royal College of Music. Though the current Gramophone Classical Catalogue credits them only with quartets by Arriaga and Korngold on record their repertoire is in fact very wide, and no one who hears these discs will be surprised to learn that they have already toured all over the world. Among their assets are technical assurance and intellectual strength, and these are just the qualities required by Schubert's late G major Quartet, which receives an outstanding performance. The rather orchestral writing in the marvellous first movement sounds totally convincing (it doesn't always) and the admirable cellist ensures the success of the strange and disturbing slow one. Perhaps the tempo of the trio is too different from that of the Scherzo proper (Schubert asks for no change, though a change of some sort seems unavoidable), but the playing is rivetting both here and in the very difficult finale which is attacked with compelling fire and faultless ensemble.
The D minor, almost as good as music, receives almost as good a performance. Perhaps too the Chilingirian Quartet drives forward the first movement's second subject with a shade too much vigour but the long difficult finale is again managed with compelling fire.
The A minor, technically the easiest of the three works, is in some ways the hardest to bring off. The slow movement with the Rosamunde tune is taken at a rather fast tempo and the elusive Minuet is beautifully managed.
The balance is impeccable, and the bright sound emphasizes the alertness of the performances. There really is some very remarkable playing here, and I look forward to more examples.