Blue mooms award (1st prize)
Be prepared. This recording of Schubert's most famous quartets is like a giant slap in the face, a rude awakening to anybody who thought they knew what those compositions sound like. Hence these reads will be a love or hate proposition. I can't see any possible middle ground for these radically non-classical yet most stimulating interpretations. The sound of gut strings is very unique. It gives this quartet of instruments an inimitable timbre and grain (meant here in a very favorable way) that allows the musicians to completely expose the colors of Schubert's music on a palette of nuances not typically heard with the more rotund sound of modern instruments and metal strings.
It's as though Schubert's music instantly lost its Viennese sugar coating, shed unnecessary weight and we finally accessed its previously hidden lean muscles and bones - disturbing at first but fully revelatory. Add the range of subtle nuances and articulation the modern bows allowed to reveal the tight connection between these string quartets and Schubert's most lyrical lieder. One ends up with a performance not completely 'historical' in its very supple hues but neither modern since timbres are clearly of the 'period' persuasion.
The Quatuor Terpsycordes born from the collision of an Italian, one Bulgarian and two Swiss was unknown to me before this disc but their youth and purposeful, clever and inventive rediscovery of Schubert's most traveled compositions won me over. Like a bucket of cold water, it opened my ears to what I had been missing in his music.