It's almost laughable not to pick up this disc. The price alone makes the set worth it. Added to that the fact that many of these works are not available in other forms and this disc is a no-brainer for fans of the late 20th century string quartet. The sampling transcends styles, from the almost improvisatory sonic canvas of Earle Brown, to the surprisingly beautiful almost minimal quartet of Cage, the horrific depiction of war in Crumb's justly famous Black Angels, or the almost traditional sounding Schonbergisms of Stepan Wolpe, this is an eclectic collection and well worth the modest investment.
I won't review everything on the album, as there is just too much. Highlights for me include the Earle Brown quartet, which is one of Brown's strongest early works. Since Brown is poorly represented on CD, every release of his is worth having, but the Second Quartet is a masterwork of tonal subtlety. Cage's Quartet was written just before he moved into his more aleatoric phase. It is highly modal and almost a precusor to minimlism, a very pleasing work that should be more widely known. Christian Wolff is also a composer who is underrepresented on CD (though Mode is quickly redressing the imbalance.) Summer is also a protominimalist work, based on stark 5ths. The reading of Black Angels is good, though not anything to supplant the Kronos reading, which is still my favorite. Also interesting are Quartets by Wolpe and Leon Kirchner.
So if you have any interest in American string work of the late 20th century, you need this disc. It is indispensible and very beautifully played. And the Vox Box price is unbeatable.