String quartets (both the genre and the medium) are an obsession of mine, yet I never fail to be surprised and struck by the power of a really good performance of a really good quartet, given the right piece at the right time. So it was this morning when, in the normal course of my work day as I play discs mostly on a whim, I listened to the Juilliar Quartet's recording of the two Quartets of Leoš Janáček and the Lyric Suite of Alban Berg. The raw intimacy of all of three of these works is given full-throated expression by the Juilliards, with their often edgy sound especially appropriate in Janáček's sometimes rusticated soundworld.

Other listening:

Lee Hyla: Trans, Bass Clarinet Concerto, Violin Concerto. Tim Smith, bass clarinet; Laura Frautschi, violin; Boston Modern Orchestra Project/Gil Rose.

Bohuslav Martinů: Symphonies 2 and 4; Ukraine National Symphony Orchestra/Arthur Fagen.

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