Beethoven, String Quartets, Belcea Quartet (Zig Zag, 2014)
Schubert, "Rosamunde" Quartet (inter alia), Belcea Quartet (EMI, 2009)
They began with one of Mozart's "Prussian" quartets (F major, K. 590), which opened with such careful attacks, emerging from nothing, setting a tone of contained and balanced sound. (For some reason, the group did not observe the repeat of the exposition's first movement in any of the pieces on the program.) All players did not quite agree on the tempo, especially in the first and third movements, but the approach was characterized by remarkable simplicity and finesse, except some overplayed parts of the third movement. The fourth movement was perhaps just too fast, with some of the runs feeling somewhat glossed over, but if it was wild it was also thrilling. The Belcea Quartet has just released a box set of the complete Beethoven quartets, and their performance of the third quartet here (D major, op. 18/3) showed an easy familiarity. This quartet's slow movement, taken at a tempo just the right degree not too slow, suited their intensely quiet style, as they allowed the music to unreel from the spool without any fussiness. The short third movement was playfully delicate, and the fourth movement, although ultra-fast, was quite graceful.
Tim Smith, Looking back on weekend's Choral Arts, Pro Musica, Shriver Hall concerts (Baltimore Sun, October 29)
Zachary Lewis, Belcea Quartet treats Chamber Music Society crowd to impassioned Brahms, Berg and Mozart (Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 22)
The next event on the Shriver Hall season will feature the Calidore String Quartet (November 8, 3 pm), in a free concert at the Carver Center for Arts and Technology.