What remains so good about the Artis’s playing is not simply its resilience of rhythm and the sense of colours it evokes, but the energy it generates too. This is certainly the case in the A major quartet of 1896, a work that doesn’t sound very much like the ‘Zemlinsky’ that we may have come to know from his Expressionist writing. Indeed it’s as well to be reminded that Zemlinsky wasn’t a native Viennese, and in that he was hardly alone. His father was a Slovak who had gravitated to the imperial capital, and there remains in his son’s early music something of that ethos, one which will sound to most like a Bohemian-cum-Slavic strain. It’s exemplified in the intensity of the Allegretto’s B section, a characteristic example of his folkloric influence, but it’s there in the opening movement too. The urgency of this movement comes as a fine contrast, whilst the finale sounds highly engaging in the Artis’s hands.
Once again the Artis responds with full bodied Viennese tone, but also quick-witted rhythmic spring. Given that they are also well recorded, with finely annotated notes, the Artis still rank very high in this repertoire and are worthy of serious consideration.
Jonathan Woolf, Musicweb-international.com