96kHz/24-bit, FLAC; Aparté AP177 (supplied by www.highresaudio.com)

The centenary year for Charles Gounod (best remembered for his Faust ballet score) brings this first recording of all five of his known string quartets to be played on gut-stringed instruments from 1839-81 – which inevitably brings a certain thinness of tone. (In fact, the catalogue offers only one alternative: the A-minor with the Silzer Quartet, from 1968.) I say ‘known’ as the chronology of Gounod’s compositions in that medium and their history of performance is still a tangle – only one was published, and that as ‘No 3’. The Golden Galerie of the Banque de France was the venue for these 2017 productions, where there’s not much image depth. If the cello placing sounds odd it’s because he sits next to the leader, then (l-r) viola and second violin. These are all absorbing works, though heard blind I doubt if you’d guess the composer, or even the nationality. CB

Sound Quality: 80%

Hi-Fi News Lab Report

This 96kHz file clearly illustrates the bandwidth of violin, viola and cello, their harmonics reaching out to around 25kHz-30kHz, albeit 80dB below the level of the fundamentals. Dynamic range is excellent and there’s only some slight aliasing. PM