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Saint-Saens string quartets Opp. 112 & 153

Fine Arts Quartet

Naxos 8.572454

Saint-Saens' two string quartets will surprise those most of us who have never heard them, “serious, intellectual, brilliantly crafted yet delightful works which will change minds in a hurry” [Ralph Evans).

Mature works, written when he was in his sixties and eighties respectively, championed by a venerable American quartet which has been active touring and recording for over half a century, three of its members with them for nearly thirty years.

The two are quite different, the first more academic, the second evincing "melancholy nostalgia associated with old age".

Reliable interpretations, recorded in the Netherlands 2009, which sounded a little edgy on one of our machines, but fine on the best one; recording quality is not always easy to assess.

Definitely well worth hearing, and for quartets wanting to extend their repertoires to consider taking up.

Peter Grahame Woolf