Compelling performances and glorious sonority from two ensembles

Gringolts Quartet, Meta4: Mendelssohn, Enescu

Gringolts Quartet, Meta4: Mendelssohn, Enescu

The Strad Issue: May 2020
Description: Compelling performances and glorious sonority from two ensembles

Musicians: Gringolts Quartet, Meta4

Works: Mendelssohn: Octet in E flat major op.20. Enescu: Octet in C major op.7

Catalogue Number: BIS-2447 (CD/SACD hybrid)

At a purely technical level there are few recordings of the Mendelssohn Octet that come anywhere near the supreme expertise of the combined Gringolts Quartet and Meta4. Intonation is fabulously secure in a work that has a tendency to ‘swim’ a little, internal give-and-take between voices is captivatingly observed, there is a thrilling sense of the music being lived through as an emotional imperative, and the ensemble creates a simply glorious corporate sonority, captured in smooth yet detailed sound that opens out to ear-tweaking effect when the SACD track is activated.

Minna Pensola (on a seductively sweet-toned 1732 Carlo Bergonzi) gently decorates the top line in the opening movement, the Andante has rarely sounded so expressively intense and semantically unsettling, and (shades of Hausmusik’s classic account for Virgin/Warner) the finale positively explodes out of the blocks.

Such is the depth of sound created by these expert players that there are times in the Enescu they sound like a string orchestra in full flow. Far from adopting a Hindemith-like expressive and structural cool (as is often the case), they hurl themselves into the fray with a sensitivity to semantic context that is deeply immersive and compelling. An outstanding coupling.