The Elias Quartet (named after the prophet Elijah) was formed in 1998 and consists of two Frenchwomen, a Scot and a Swede. This is their first CD. It was recorded live at a concert at London’s Wigmore Hall and is put out under the Hall’s own label. Anyone wanting this particular selection of quartets can be safely guided to this disc although it is not an unqualified success.
The members of the quartet state that they were somewhat daunted at being recorded live and this is noticeable in the Mozart Quartet. Here, the leader is too reticent and often fails to project the music or to take the lead. (The cellist is much better in this respect.)
There are certainly better recordings of this work, notably by the Budapest Quartet. The players seem to recover their confidence in the Mendelssohn Quartet, a work about which they claim to have very positive feelings. Their performance of this beautiful work is excellent and they make a particularly ravishing sound in the lovely andante movement. Their performance is justly rewarded with vociferous applause from the audience and the players then oblige with an encore in the shape of the slow movement from Mendelssohn’s Quartet Op. 44 No. 1.
The Schubert Quartettsatz is also given a very acceptable performance. A disc therefore recommended with reservations. In recent years appreciation of and performances of Mendelssohn’s Quartets have increased and this CD is a welcome addition to the recorded Mendelssohn recorded repertoire.