K421 + op. 13
Chiaroscuro is a period instrument quartet that is not frightened of its pianissimos. So many ensembles pay little attention to the full range of dynamics that are available on their instruments. These players, however, all emanating from the Royal College of Music in London but now in a residency in France, are able to immediately captivate the attention of the listener. Through their use of wide-ranging dynamics, the discreet use of rubato and impeccable intonation and attention to detail, they are able to convey the dramatic intensity of the fine D minor work’s first movement, as well as the skittishness of the minuet’s trio section and the last movement’s variations. The booklet notes relate ideas and compositional principles in Mendels-sohn’s second string quartet of 1827 to material from Beethoven’s late string quartets, but I would need a more careful study of the scores to see any but a general relationship. For those that, like me, only enjoy classical quartets on gut strings and with only the most sympathetic use of vibrato, this is an impressive CD, and I look forward to hearing more from these players.