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Monday, August 26, 2013

Ligeti String Quartets, Keller Quartett

Ligeti's String Quartets are capstone works of the '50s-'60s. They epitomise both the advances and the creative power of new music at the height of the high modern period. They are deep, advanced, yet able to communicate directly to the listener regardless of background or ear-experience.

The marvelous Keller Quartett from Budapest have newly recorded the two (ECM New Series B0018363-02) along with the original quartet version of Barber's "Adagio". The results are benchmark brilliance.

To bookend the two explosively supercharged Ligeti works with the compact warmth and lyricism of the Barber was a great idea. The touching qualities of the "Adagio" set off the more space encompassing, cosmic quartets in ways that move the listener from end point to end point with multiple feelings of closure.

The Ligeti works have never sounded better. In the Keller Quartett's hands the music gets maximum articulation, passion and precision, sonically spectacular realizations of alternating sotto voce mystery and expressive outbursts. The Barber too sounds just right.

I've heard no better renditions of either three works. The Keller Quartett do the music full justice, no easy task, and the spacious soundstaging of the stereo audio does much to capture the finely focused nuances of the quartet in high definition sound.

Very much recommended. You should have this one.

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