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Album: Britten, String Quartets 2 & 3/ESQ (Sonimage)

Written in the wake of Peter Grimes, Britten’s Second String Quartet opened worlds of sound unrealised in the Three Divertimenti of 1936.

The Elias String Quartet highlight the germs of greatness in this apparently decorative music – the eerie harmonics and brute malice – linking it to the bleak bird-calls of the Second Quartet’s Chacony and the perfumed decay of the Third Quartet’s Passacaglia. Sophisticated phrasing, subtle colouring and impeccable tuning reveal a young ensemble in the mould of the Belcea Quartet.