The Strad Issue: January 2010
Musicians: St Lawrence Quartet
Composer: Haydn, Dvorák

Two magnificent late quartets in G major by two great composers raise the expectations; but sadly, a lot of water has flowed down the St Lawrence since the eponymous ensemble began its career, and I fear a certain amount of erosion has taken place.

To put it bluntly, the intonation on offer here is not good enough for me to give even a cautious recommendation. One factor that has remained constant is engineer Judith Sherman’s ability to produce lifelike recordings, and the intonational failings of the players – especially leader Geoff Nuttall – are ruthlessly exposed.

The interpretations have the right ingredients – the Haydn is vigorous, Dvo?ák heartfelt – and there are nice dovetailings and taperings of phrases, such as one gets only from an experienced group. But pleasure is not the word for what I felt when listening to this disc, which comes with rudimentary presentation.