Kreisler/ Zimbalist/ Ysaye: String Quartets (Naxos: 8.572559)
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The legendary Fritz Kreisler and his friend Efrem Zimbalist were both ranked among the greatest violinists of their time, becoming household names in America in the 1920s. Their generation, however, regarded Eugene Ysaye as 'the master of us all'. These works all transcend mere virtuoso showmanship. Kreisler's Quartet is filled with emotion and unpredictable harmonic shifts, while the tender, sometimes hauntingly beautiful melodies in Zimbalist's Quartet hark back to the composer's Russian origins. Ysaye's Harmonies du soir emerges as a sensual chromatic journey towards a glorious musical sunrise. The reputation of the Fine Arts Quartet sets the seal of quality on this unusual but superbly engineered and potently expressive program. Many of their recordings for us have been given Grammy?« Awards listings, and this is the equal of any to date. Fritz Kreisler's String Quartet in A minor has appeared elsewhere, but the two stunning works by Efrem Zimbalist and Eugene Ysaye are unknown, and the remarkable Harmonies du soir is sure to create something of a stir. The Fine Arts Quartet is one of the most distinguished ensembles in chamber music today, with an illustrious history of performing success and an extensive recording legacy. Founded in Chicago in 1946, and based at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee since 1963, the Quartet is one of the elite few to have recorded and toured internationally for over half a century. Three of the Quartet's current artists (Evans, Boico, Laufer), have been performing together for nearly thirty years.