New Zealand Quartet, BERG: String Quartet / Lyric Suite / WOLF: Italian Serenade

Gavin Borchert

By Gavin Borchert

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Has any quartet matched the weirdness of Berg’s skittering, insectlike “Allegro misterioso” since?

Very few works written in the intervening 81 years sound as downright weird as the skittering, insectlike "Allegro misterioso" movement of Berg's Lyric Suite, a work of dazzling instrumental imagination. The Suite's trembling emotionalism and passages of fragrant, decadent opulence contain hidden numerological codes that refer to its secret dedicatee, a woman with whom Berg was having a passionate (yet probably unconsummated) affair. Also on this disc, the New Zealand Quartet offers his taut, moody String Quartet, and as dessert, a brightly genial performance of Hugo Wolf's Italian Serenade — musical gelato if ever there was.