Should you want a very good performance in superb modem sound, the Mandelring Quartet are an excellent choice on Audite 92526 (full price). The SACD disc will play on all CD players, and the couplings are Shostakovich’s String Quartets Nos. 1 & 4. A more vital, earthy, performance is given by the Borodin String Quartet on Virgin 5616302 (2 CDs at budget price). The recording, from 1990, is rather closer than the Manderling’s, but suits the dramatic reading. The couplings are Shostakovich’s Quartets Nos. 3, 7, 8 & 12.
The Takacs Quartet give a technically impeccable, perceptive, reading on Decca 470 847-2 (2 CDs). The couplings are the other Op.59 and the Op.74 Quartets, and the recording quality is superb. The discs are widely available at budget price, although some dealers still have them at full price. An excellent alternative is by the Artemis Quartet, who give fresh, dramatic performances of Quartets Nos.2, 9,14 & 15 on Virgin 6071020 (2 CDs at budget price).