Very good Schubert
This is a very good double CD – and very good value. These are among Schubert's finest chamber works and they are all very well played by the excellent Belcea Quartet.
The music itself scarcely needs endorsement from me. Death And The Maiden and the great last G major quartet are among the greatest of all string quartets and the quintet, of course is a pinnacle of the chamber repertoire. They are all full of beauty, passion and sometimes turbulent confusion, all of which is very well expressed by the Belceas, who are established now as one of the world's leading quartets.
The players' technique is impeccable, with faultless intonation and superb precision which also shows a real empathy between them. They adopt quite a brisk, almost robust approach much of the time which works very well, especially in the more darkly emotional passages. I think that in the famous Adagio of the Quintet that they perhaps lose a little of that trembling, aetherial beauty which makes it such an extraordinary piece of music, but that's a matter of personal taste and others plainly love it. Certainly their darkly passionate approach to the opening of Death And The Maiden is perfectly suited and quite spine-tingling at times.
There are a lot of great recordings of these works and this won't supersede them in my affections, but it's a set which will sit proudly among them and which I shall play often. The recorded sound is excellent, and I can recommend this warmly.