Berg¥Schoenberg¥Webern

COMPOSERS: Berg,Schoenberg,Webern
LABELS: Zig Zag
ALBUM TITLE: Berg,Schoenberg,Webern
WORKS: Lyric SuiteString Quartet No. 4
PERFORMER: Psophos Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: ZZT 070502
The Second Viennese School used to be thought only for the bravest, most experienced quartets, but like so many young ensembles these days the all-female Psophos Quartet take this music in their stride. Their technique is impressive, their tempos spot-on, their identification with the music never in doubt. These are passionate, committed and above all competitive readings of all three works in a judiciously-selected programme that runs the gamut from Webern’s early Langsamer Satz, through the Berg Lyric Suite, to Schoenberg’s Fourth Quartet. The Psophos acknowledge the teaching of Walter Levin of the LaSalle Quartet in the lucidity and textural clarity of their accounts.

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Excellent though these performances are, there remain yet finer examples in what is becoming a crowded field. The LaSalle themselves on DG, the Juilliard on Sony, the Leipzig Quartet on MDG bring more experience, or a sharper edge of passion, or wider range of Affekt to the Schoenberg – and the remarkable Aron Quartet bring all three. But these are all in sets of the complete Schoenberg Quartets, just as the Alban Berg Quartet’s classic account of the Lyric Suite is in a complete Berg quartet music. The Psophos’s canny coupling amounts to almost an ideal taster of the Second Viennese trinity – another good reason to consider it. Calum MacDonald