MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing




CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
String Quartet No. 15 in G major, D.887 (1826) [52:48]
Alban BERG (1885-1935)
String Quartet, Op. 3 (1909/11) [21:07]
Kuss Quartet (Jana Kuss (first violin); Oliver Wille (second violin); William Coleman (viola); Mikayel Hakhnazaryan (cello))
rec. 28-29 July, 31 July-1 August 2010, Siemens Villa, Berlin, Germany
ONYX 4066 [73:55]

Experience Classicsonline

This disc of Schubert and Berg marks the debut release on the Onyx label for the Berlin-based Kuss String Quartet. Founded in 1991 at the Hanns-Eisler Academy in Berlin the current line-up was formed in 2008 when cellist Mikayel Hakhnazaryan replaced Felix Nickel.

I appreciated the contrasting programme of two innovative string quartets separated by eighty-five years. Both Schubert and Berg were based in Vienna a city that was for many years the centre of European music-making.

Schubert’s final String Quartet No. 15 in G major, D.887 was composed in just ten days in 1826. Experiencing both financial concerns and relationship difficulties Schubert wrote this score during a challenging time. It quartet was eventually premièred in 1850 over twenty years after Schubert’s death with publication following in 1851.

Probably his least immediately appealing chamber score the G major Quartet is far less frequently recorded than its more celebrated close predecessor the Quartet in D minor Death and the Maiden’. Its massive scale represented a radical change for Schubert alongside the work’s unconventional tonality and unsettling almost aggressive character.

The Kuss are remarkable in the opening movement for their yearning almost pleading tones. This is genuine heart-on-sleeve playing; it feels most affecting. Here one senses an impressive accord between the players. Intense concentration is established in the moving Andante with the writing punctuated for a time with what seem like a series of screams. In the Mendelssohnian Scherzo the Kuss are vivacious and spring-healed. The Trio section with its Ländler melody is highly attractive. A rather obsessive Tarantella-like rhythm propels the music forward in the final movement. Schubert’s quicksilver modulations are rather unsettling conveying a curious mocking feel.

Berg’s String Quartet was written in 1909/11 as a graduation exercise and was the last of his scores composed with Schoenberg as his teacher. Premièred in 1911 the two movement quartet displays Berg’s unique personality experimenting with an atonality that strongly anticipates serial technique. Unfortunately and somewhat unjustly this work is overshadowed by the Lyric Suite. Berg composed the quartet in the midst of difficulties in his relationship with Helene Nahowski. Despite fierce opposition from her family Berg and Helene were married in 1911. It seems that he may have been inspired to compose the quartet as a musical depiction of Helene. Michael Stegemann explains in the notes that Berg’s score is based on the second violin’s principal theme.

In the first movement Langsam, right from the opening bars, the tone of Jana Kuss’s Giovanni Battista Guadagnini (1776) violin sounds exceptional. Out of cloudy tranquillity the players articulate a succession of short-tempered, anguished near-venomous outbursts. Marked Mäßige Viertel the final movement is forthright, spirited and angular. Creative and starkly contrasted like an abstract artwork the Kuss paint an impressive canvas in sound. The steely beauty of Berg’s writing becomes a chilling experience with the temperament punctuated by considerable torment.

The sound quality on this Onyx disc is clear and well balanced with an interesting essay in the booklet. I thoroughly enjoyed this captivating and splendidly played release.

The Kuss have recently been in the studio recording a mouth-watering selection of Russian music. Tchaikovsky’s String Quartet No.1 will be the feature work together with a fascinating variety of miniatures for string quartet including the collaborative Variations on a Russian Theme by Scriabin, Glazunov, Liadov, Rimsky-Korsakov et al; Stravinsky’s Concertino; Schnittke’s Canon in Memory of Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky’s Album for the Young (arranged by Rostislav Dubinsky).

Michael Cookson






Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.