The Belcea Quartet is one of the world's leading chamber music ensembles, having won many international accolades since its establishment in 1994. Now, with the three string quartets by Benjamin Britten, the musicians have rediscovered a gem of twentieth-century chamber music.
The String Quartets nos. 1, 2 and 3 were written over a period of 34 years; the third was Britten's last major work, composed in 1975, just one year before his death. The long period of gestation clearly illustrates the development and maturing process in Britten's oeuvre. "Here is a composer moving gently and magically from the Romantic and Classical canon towards aural visions of lightness, of sublimated pain and brooding escapism. Shame on those who do not know these pieces." (Süddeutsche Zeitung) Airy effervescence accompanies a transcendent aura of transfiguration to give these works a special place within the genre of string quartets.
The Belcea Quartet succeeds in an outstanding manner in holding the balance between the youthful exuberance of the first two quartets and the lyrical solemnity and sweet morbidity of the third. Recorded before an audience in the legendary Davout studio in Paris, these musicians display huge sensitivity for Britten's many nuances and perfect tonal balance, evident in this form these days from only a few string quartets.