Schubert's magnum opus in the chamber field has never been short of great interpreters and this new recording featuring the Artemis Quartet and Truls Mørk is up there with the very best. The disc begins with the unfinished D. 703 which is a wonderful work in its own right and which is superbly played by the Artemis especially the aggressive Allegro assai.
In the Quintet, the Artemis are up against formidable competition, especially the legendary Quartet and Cecil Aronowitz (DG). In the Quartettsatz, the competition is the superb Quartetto Italiano (Philips), not to mention a host of other historical recordings such as the Griller Quartet (Dutton). At times, I did feel that the Artemis were slightly too cool for comfort especially in the heartfelt Adagio which is such a seminal part of the work. However things do pick up substantially in the Allegretto where the fast tempo adopted is certainly a lovely conclusion to the work.
As expected, Virgin's recording is absolutely first class, with just the right balance achieved between string instruments and the careful blending of the second cello in the Quintet. Not a clear first choice then, but a fine version which won't make you feel short changed if you acquire it alongside other classics listed above.
Copyright © 2008, Gerald Fenech