96kHz/24-bit, FLAC; ECM 4812385 (supplied by www.highresaudio.com)

This is a programme for the adventurous listener: three works for string quartet all written when the composers were young (respectively 23, 20 and 21). Adès’s seven-movement Arcadiana has a lot of sliding up the notes with simultaneous pizzicati and bowing. This independence of the string parts it has in common with the 10 Preludes by the Danish composer Nørgård. He is of an earlier generation (born 1932) and in fact Hans Abrahamsen was a pupil of his. Nørgård’s short two-movement work sits in the ‘night music’ territory of Bartók and shouldn’t frighten anyone. But far more aggressive and wholly unwelcoming, I’d say (eg, Prelude No 7 with its motoric high registers), the Abrahamsen is nonetheless the most interesting music here. It’s all securely managed by the players and ECM’s May 2015 recording is exemplary. CB

Sound Quality: 85%

Hi-Fi News Lab Report

Abrahamsen’s 10 Preludes find the Quartet’s strings at their most vivid and this is reflected in the rich spray of harmonics that scatter out to 30kHz and beyond. The ~45kHz bandwidth of this 96kHz file captures all the colour! PM