- String Quartet No. 1 ("Métamorphoses nocturnes") - György Ligeti - Artemis Quartet
- String Quartet No. 2 - György Ligeti - Artemis Quartet
Originally released in 2000 on Ars Musici, the sublime recordings by the Artemis Quartett of György Ligeti's "String Quartet No. 1, Métamorphoses nocturnes" (1953-1954), and his "String Quartet No. 2" (1968) fully merit this 2005 reissue by Virgin Classics, not only for the high quality of the music -- surely some of the most communicative and rewarding quartet music since Bartók or Shostakovich -- but also for the precision, depth, and resonance of the group's playing. As a rather specialized genre, modern string quartets are hard enough to grasp for their complexity, startling novelty, and ferocious virtuosity; and though Ligeti's music is usually clearer and easier to understand than most, it still takes considerable effort to follow the development of his ideas in the "String Quartet No. 1," and the connections between the flurries of short gestures in the "String Quartet No. 2." Thanks to the Artemis' distinctive individual tonal qualities, accuracy in execution, balance in repartee, unflagging energy, and fine ensemble blend, Ligeti's music sounds perfectly transparent, natural, and intelligible, and surprisingly ingratiating for the color and personality this youthful quartet brings to it. The audio reproduction is wonderfully clear and vibrant, and the musicians have clear separation and an almost palpable presence. Absolutely recommended, but especially so to followers of avant-garde string quartet music.