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Benjamin Britten: String Quartets Nos. 1-3 ()

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Benjamin Britten's string quartets, although stylistically of a piece with his other music, are rather thorny works, lacking the extramusical references that are generally central to his musical language. They seem inward, mysterious. The last two of the three official quartets (there were also some youthful works) end with sizable contrapuntal movements that it's hard to get an emotional fix on; the last work, written in 1975 a year before Britten's death, is a sort of valediction for his career. What this music needs is not "interpretation," but straightforward and expert playing, and that's just what it gets here from the Takács Quartet, which played these quartets in an enthusiastically received recital in London and then soon afterward recorded them, with the Wyastone Estate concert hall so beloved of Hyperion's engineers providing an ideal sonic backdrop. Hear the opening of the first quartet, composed in the U.S. in 1941, for an example of both the recording's interpretive virtues and its sonic... Hide synopsis

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