Louis Spohr's inventive streak is evident in his creation of the double quartet, a novel form that opened the string octet to new textural, antiphonal, and contrapuntal possibilities. However, like many of Spohr's other chamber experiments, his strategies occasionally led him into unintended compositional difficulties, and his results were most successful when he put aesthetic considerations over cleverness. Spohr's showy writing for the first violin, flamboyant and widespread in the "Double Quartet No. 1," caused unevenness in the ensemble's balance and exposed the bareness of the other parts. Aware of this problem, Spohr opted to minimize the violin's role in his next effort, and his "Double Quartet No. 2" works well without inordinate displays of virtuosity. In his "Double Quartet No. 3," Spohr attempted once more to make a spectacular violin part work, and it does, but only because the other instruments share fully in the repartee. The "Double Quartet No. 4" is the most balanced of the series and in terms of development and expression, marks a point of arrival for Spohr's unique form. The strings of the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Chamber Ensemble give exceptional performances of these adventurous works, and Hyperion's recorded sound is of the highest quality throughout.