Founded in London in 1994, the Belcea Quartet is now seen as one of the world’s most renowned string quartets. Taking its name from Corina Belcea, the Romanian violinist who founded it together with Polish violist Krzysztof Chorzelski in their days at the Royal College of Music, the quartet also features Axel Schacher on violin and cellist Antoine Lederlin. The quartet’s broadly based repertoire ranges from the works of the Viennese Classical era to premieres of contemporary compositions.
Here the Belcea Quartet devotes itself to the three string quartets by Johannes Brahms, which enjoyed at best a critical success at their premiere. Brahms himself spoke of a “forceps birth”, of the quartets being dragged out of him, until he finally decided to give the works their first public performance. It is these two string quartets of op. 51 and the later op. 67 string quartet that are particularly dear to the Belcea Quartet: “The three quartets are of great beauty and refined sophistication, which never fails to inspire us”, says Corina Belcea. It is a beauty and refinement that radiates from the brilliant and nuanced interpretation to be heard on this studio recording.