Critic’s Choice for 1998
This is rather special. Perhaps the greatest pleasure of this disc is Finnissy’s re-evaluation in each piece of the modes of interaction between the four musicians of this time-honoured medium: the title of the disc, note, is not “String Quartets” but “Works for String Quartet”. That questioning attitude stretches to the composer’s wide range of stylistic references. If variety is the spice of life, then this disc is hot. And so are the Kreutzer Quartet, whose commitment and spirit make this demanding music sound clear, fluent and gritty. A must for anyone interested in new music, or in the evolution of the string quartet as a genre. and from the 1998 “Critics’ Choice” awards:

Surveying the past year’s crop I note how many recordings I have reviewed in the Brief Reviews section. Most of this selection is drawn from smaller labels, a sure testament to the efforts of those who go on making records in the face of the gloom-mongering currently swamping the industry. … But to end here and now I recommend the Kreutzer Quartet’s dauntless advocacy of Michael Finnissy’s music, a sure sign that the younger generation of performers lacks none of the commitment or the talent of their elders; and that contemporary British music is very much alive and, yes, kicking.

—Fabrice Fitch