One of the most grown-up review sites around

52,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

Yes we are selling
Acte Prealable again!
£11 post-free

we also sell Skarbo

and Oboe Classics


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

WYASTONE releases

The Birth of Rhapsody in Blue
A superlative recreation

such a success

An outstanding performance

make acquaintance without delay

Violin Concerto
This is an impressive disc

Strong advocacy
for a British composer

Piano Music - Martin Jones
agreeably crafted

Piano Music 5CDs

Consistently fine

Rare and interesting repertoire

An excellent introduction

A Celebration on Record

An issue of importance

A splendid disc

both enlightening and rewarding
additional review


REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
String Quartet No. 13 in A minor, D. 804 “Rosamunde” [37:12]
String Quartet No. 10 in E flat, D. 87 [27:24]
Quartetto Italiano (Paolo Borciani (violin); Elisa Pegreffi (violin); Piero Farulli (viola); Franco Rossi (cello))
rec. January 1976, Musica Théâtre, La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland
DDD+DSD, remastered in Baarn, The Netherlands in February 2016
Booklet notes in English and German
Hybrid Stereo/Surround 4.0
Reviewed in surround
PENTATONE PTC5186232 SACD [64:40]

My interest in this Quartetto Italiano (QI) reissue was piqued more by sonic considerations, being from that golden era of quadraphonic recording when the technology was certainly working, but the marketing machinery failed. This largely condemned the compact disc, then under development, to a stereo-only existence. More, however, on that later – the music first.

Well, mostly music. Both Schubert works on this disc appeared together on the original Philips LP. The QI omit the exposition repeat in the first movement of the A minor quartet, which at the time enabled all thirty seven minutes of the work to occupy one side of the LP – possibly among the longest ever. Whether it was an artistic or a production decision, I can’t tell you. On the other hand, the QI take their time over the Andante second movement, which quotes the theme from the first interlude of the composer’s incidental music to Rosemunde. In their hands, though, it’s beautifully shaped and paced, with an impressive command of feeling. Indeed, the QI’s full bouquet is on display here; their unanimity and breadth of tone, and not forgetting their renowned insight and precision. The latter is nowhere better than in the Italians’ delightful bowing for the Allegro finale of the earlier E flat quartet, which is played with equal aplomb and affection as the Rosemunde. In their time, these performances were widely considered the best available, and arguably maintain that standing today. They did, and still do, offer an ideal introduction to Schubert’s music of this genre.

One of my queries about the quadraphonic version of this recording was whether, with four instruments involved, the producers had elected to place one in each channel, landing the listener in the musical crossfire. I know some find this engaging, and indeed such spatial effects do work well with various kinds of music, but for me a string quartet recording isn’t one of those. It was therefore with some relief when the QI appeared as a frontal image only, with indirect, ambient sound from the rear channels completing the surround effect.

I was also curious whether some hardness of tone that was a characteristic of QI recordings from that period would still be there. This only became evident when the recordings were first reissued on CD and the hardness mistakenly termed ‘digital edge’, when in truth it was an artefact of the analogue recording technology. (This misconception didn’t only affect QI recordings, of course, and the problem was exacerbated by the recording companies often digitising noisy, distorted, compressed nth generation copies of analogue mastertapes for initial CD release, which for many listeners unjustly gave CDs a bad name.) That these Pentatone transfers are multichannel suggests sources very close to the original mastertapes have been used. A trace of hardness is, however, still present. In surround sound, this tends to limit the image depth and the sense of ‘being there’. Notwithstanding all that, though, I don’t think you’ll ever hear these QI recordings, in surround or stereo, sounding as good as they do here.

Classic performances, 1970s state-of-the-art sonics, and a quadraphonic bonus for surround sound buffs.

Des Hutchinson



We are currently offering in excess of 52,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

a vibrant slice of life

stylistically assured

About Every Hill and Valley
Swedish Songs

Hallberg and Dente
interesting and most welcome

An inspired partnership
additional review

A valuable document

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger