When you invest in a new album of classics, you’ll want a musical calibre surpassing previous releases of the same works and a sense of originality across the collection and voices within. That’s exactly what you’ll find in Tinalley String Quartet’s new Mendelssohn release, featuring Australia’s star soprano Greta Bradman.

The Adagio non troppo of Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No 1 feels stretched and leisurely, but still retains its delicate nature – much like the tracks to come. The Canzonetta contains equal doses of rigidity and charm. By work’s end, I realised I was so swept into the music that I hadn’t felt the need to observe the players – their performance is remarkably unobtrusive: the near-perfection of Tinalley’s recording allows appreciation of the work. There is no distracting personal statement from any one player.

Calvin Bowman’s lieder transcriptions are the drawcard for this album. Bradman here provides an organic continuation of the Quartet’s musical expression. Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No 2 follows with striking consistency and a fearless finish. Cleverly, Tinalley includes in its notes a quote from the composer, which should preface your listening experience: “Nobody can forbid me to enjoy the inheritance left by the great masters… but then it must be continuous creation according to one’s ability, and not a lifeless repetition of what is already there.”

Composer: Mendelssohn
Composition: String Quartets Nos 1 & 2 et al
Performer: Tinalley String Quartet, Greta Bradman s
Catalogue Number: ABC Classics 4817969

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