Album: Bartok / Ligeti / Kurtag, Metamorphosis (Harmonia Mundi)

Cuarteto Casals hold their big-boned, heart-on-sleeve sound in reserve for much of this disc, unleashing it only in the brutal blur of the second movement of Métamorphoses nocturnes.

The twisted waltz of Ligeti's sixth movement is the only reference to Hungarian café culture in a programme that otherwise looks to the moon or the mountains. In the chill arc of Bartok's Fourth String Quartet, the opening of the central movement is a pin-drop pianissimo. The aphorisms of Kurtag's Microludes slide into silence sweetly and coolly.