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Cecilia String Quartet - Mendelssohn, op. 44 / Gramophone review

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The Cecilia Quartet came to international attention when they won the 2010 Banff Quartet Competition. These days they combine an international touring schedule with a position as ensemble-in-residence at the University of Toronto. For their first Mendelssohn recording they refreshingly choose two of the lesser-played middle quartets. Lesser-played but in no way lesser masterpieces, and from the opening upwards-sweeping arpeggio of Op 44 No 1, the Cecilia prove to be compelling advocates. They find a fine balance between the composer's skittish qualities and his tenderer side, resulting in notably open-hearted readings. Their tremolos – such a favourite device of Mendelssohn – seem to come in 57 varieties, while even at fortissimotextures remain open and airy, thanks to their minutely considered voicings, conveyed via a sympathetic recording.