The Strad Issue: January 2010
Musicians: Acies Quartet, David Geringas (cello)
Composer: Schubert

It would be easy to overlook yet another performance of the great C major Quintet, but it would be a mistake to do so. The young Acies Quartet from Austria, eight years old at the time of recording – and with its present line-up only since 2006 – goes to somewhere near the top of the class.

One cannot point to anything in this marvellous interpretation that is misguided. It unfolds with a pleasingly natural progression: the opening movement, with exposition repeat, is nicely paced, generating terrific power in the development. The Adagio is not too slow, its central section not too fast.

The scherzo, vigorous but well articulated, has a deeply felt trio. The finale has quite a Viennese lilt and a flexible attitude to tempo allows the players to dwell on its profounder passages. The distinguished guest cellist makes positive contributions throughout but is just one of the ensemble.

Like the Verdi Quartet (Hänssler Classic), the Acies chooses the early C minor Overture as a make-weight; but this is the quintet version, with Geringas playing the second viola part on the cello. The recordings are not quite on the level of the performances – there is some violin stridency – but balance is true.