Went over to Bollington last night to here the Albion Quartet in a Mozart, Shostakovich and Mendelssohn programme. They played the Mozart Dissonance Quartet, I think there were some problems of intonation in the first movement (after the slow introduction!) but they settled down and gave a good rendering. I was mainly there for the Shostakovich which, I thought, was a deeply felt pretty confident performance. It is a very dark work written during the composer's last years when he suffered from various illnesses. There's a good outline of the work here - I particularly liked the 'it is Webern to the Twelfth's Berg', a challenging work for the young ensemble which they faced well, lots of solo work for the viola player and the dark final duet towards the end for cello and viola came over well. I last heard this work live back in 1973(?) at a performance in the Cambridge Guildhall, can't remember who played it but it was a well known group and an early performance of the work. It was good to hear it again live! I think I've only heard two Shostakovich quartets in live performance, there was another at the Cambridge concert (I guess the 12th) so to have heard 13 twice is lucky as I guess it isn't often performed.
In the second half (it appears the original plan was to play the Shostakovich last - I don't think it would have worked, it's too short and ends in a very depressed state so I'm glad they were switched!) they played the Mendelssohn Quartet No 1 - unfortunately I got distracted by something I'd forgotten to do which was going to cause a crisis on my return home - so I heard very little of it - it was though a worthwhile evening out.
Note the Albion Quartet's website appears to be broken, I'm putting the link there just in case it gets repaired!