Monday, November 18, 2013

The Alberni String Quartet
"Britten: String Quartets nos. 2 & 3" (Vinyl)

Certainly not the best recording I have.  In fact, the recording techniques that were used for this poor quartet rival a Pfizer promotional recording of a Beethoven string trio that I reviewed here a couple years ago.

The microphone favors the first violin heavily and the other three instrumentalists sound like they're sitting across the room.
This is certainly NOT how the quartet performed.   I've never heard or dealt with this record label (CRD) before.  This particular album was imported from the UK.

Regarding the performance itself, I enjoy listening to these old quartet recordings when editing was not possible like it is today.  I think it gives us a much greater sense of the natural capability of the ensemble.  In contrast to this, today's recordings (particularly chamber music) are pulled a part with tweezers until ever piece is in the 'perfect' place.  While this makes for pristine sounding recordings, the performances can feel sterile and unnatural due to the superhuman cleanliness.

The Alberni Quartet isn't perfect on this recording, and whether or not they're happy about that, it's a useful reminder to have around.

EDIT: Britten himself coached the Alberni Quartet on his quartets.  Perhaps their interpretation could be considered somewhat authoritative.  Additionally, the Alberni Quartet gave the British premiere of Shostakovich's ninth and tenth string quartets.

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