Notes and Editorial Reviews
The time when the Prokofiev quartets were rarities on record seems to have passed, though the Second always maintained a peripheral hold on the catalogue. Now, perhaps prompted by the welcome revival of interest in the wake of the centenary celebrations The Classical Catalogue lists no fewer than six versions. Among the newer issues are three British contenders, the Chilingirian on Chandos, the Britten Quartet on Collins and this newcomer from the Coull Quartet. To be perfectly frank there is not a great deal to choose between the two newest versions; the Coull has the advantage of a fill-up, the Overture on Hebrew Themes, while the Britten offers availability on cassette. As readers will recall I thought the Britten gave a "sturdy,
full-blooded account of the more familiar Second or 'Kabardinian' Quartet"—its nickname derives from Kabarda whose musical folklore Prokofiev had encountered when he was evacuated to the Caucasus during the war--though I found them just a fraction too measured in the first movement. The Coull Quartet on Hyperion are no less scrupulous than their colleagues in observing Prokofiev's dynamic and expressive markings, and I derived a good deal of pleasure from both accounts, and for that matter the Overture on Hebrew Themes. The Coull produce a clean, well-blended sonority even if they may not possess the refinement on tonal beauty that some international ensembles such as the Borodin or Hagen command. In both works the American Quartet on Olympia have an ardour and eloquence which is very persuasive and which I would prefer (it also has the additional merit of economy). All the same this newcomer is perfectly recommendable.
-- Gramophone [9/1992]
reviewing the original release of this title, Hyperion 66573
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