The contents of the EMI box are too numerous to list but all the sonatas, variations, and most short pieces are here: absent is the London Sketchbook, which is trite juvenalia.
Fans of the string quartets by Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, and Mendelssohn should by all means try this disc of string quartets by George Onslow. British-born and Bohemian-trained composer spent most of his career in France, and aside from their tonal language and their four-movement structure, his quartets have little in common with his German contemporaries. In fact, they have little in common with the music of his French contemporaries, who concentrated mostly on stage works. But in these overwhelming persuasive performances by the Quatuor Diotima, Onslow's quartets come across as fully formed, wholly confident, and enormously expressive works. There is tremendous power in the fast movements: the rip-roaring Scherzo, from his D minor Quartet, Op. 55; immense pathos in the slow movements: the heartbreaking Andante con variazioni from the E flat Quartet, Op. 54; and awesome intensity in the opening movements: the monumental Allegro maestoso ed espressivo from the C minor Quartet, Op. 56.
Recordings that include strings quartets by Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern are common, but an album that includes music for quartet and voice by each of them is a rarity. Schoenberg's Second String Quartet, with a part for soprano in its third and fourth movements, is standard repertoire, but the version of Berg's Lyric Suite with a vocal part in the final movement is highly unusual, and Webern's bagatelle with voice, an unpublished movement apparently once intended to be part of the Six Bagatelles, Op. 9, receives what is probably its first recording. Novelty aside, the high standards of these performances make this a formidable release. Founded just before the turn of the millennium, Quatuor Diotima plays with the assurance and mutual understanding of a seasoned ensemble. The quartet has a lean, clean sound and the ensemble is immaculate, playing with exquisite expressiveness, an ideal combination for this repertoire.
For all the agony as to the status of classical music in the modern musical landscape, the three 20th century string quartets on this fine French release can be said to have entered the repertory, with a reach that extends far beyond the U.S. They go quite well together, which is the first point in favor of France's Quatuor Diotima here; both Steve Reich's Different Trains, for string quartet and tape, and George Crumb's Black Angels for electric quartet feature an artificially enhanced string quartet, and even Samuel Barber elected to "enhance" his String Quartet in B minor, Op. 11, by orchestrating its central movement and making it into the famous Adagio for strings. Highly recommended.
In only a few years the Quatuor Voce has received numerous prizes in international competitions and also works regularly with many outstanding artists such as Yuri Bashmet, Gary Hoffman, Nobuko Imai, Bertrand Chamayou… Following a nomination from the Cité de la Musique in Paris, the European Chamber Hall Organisation (ECHO) has named the quartet as Rising Stars for the 2013-2014 season.