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On the occasion of its 40th anniversary (1974-2014), the Arditti Quartet, one of the most famous groups in contemporary music, has chosen to record, for the second time — and this is an occurrence sufficiently rare that it bears emphasizing —, the complete string quartets of Brian Ferneyhough. The pieces on these discs immediately weave an auditory spell and well illustrate this composer's brand of complexity, i.e., writing reputed to be unplayable for the instrumentalists but providing a definite pleasure for the listener, caught up in the headiness of a universe without limits or vanishing point.
This 3-CD set will not only be one of the indispensable releases of 2014 but also the best way to apprehend the music of a fundamental composer whose intense writing, emancipated heir of Schoenberg, remains radically expressive, chaotic in appearance but sublimated here by the freedom and excellence of the interpretation.