Like American comedian W.C. Fields, American composer Elliott Carter never believed in giving the listener an even break. In the three string quartets recorded here, Carter used all the tools at his command a virtuoso technique, an adroit intellect, and an unsurpassed ability to write ruthlessly independent counterpoint to challenge and confound the unsuspecting listener.
Chances are if you have heard of Austrian composer Egon Wellesz at all, it has been through his association with Arnold Schoenberg. Wellesz, the same age as Alban Berg, was one of Schoenberg's earliest students and wrote the first book-length biography of the composer in 1921, a study that both posterity and its subject regarded as something of a classic.
The name of Eduard van Beinum may too often be overlooked among the music directors of Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, in between the longer and more internationally renowned tenures of Willem Mengelberg and Bernard Haitink, but this is a wrong that Eloquence has put right with the reissue of the greater portion of Van Beinum’s recorded work with the orchestra on both Decca and Philips. The conductor has been revealed anew as an interpreter of lucidly phrased fidelity to the score and uncommon sensitivity. The present issue brings repertoire especially close to Van Beinum’s heart. He was a master Schubertian, who needed to be taught no lessons by the nascent period-instrument movement on nurturing a hop, skip and jump in the composer’s effervescent orchestral textures or coaxing a sweetly flowing lyricism from their sunny complexions.