Artemis Quartett

Beethoven : String Quartets Op. 59/3, Op. 132, Op. 18/2 & Op. 131

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The Artemis Quartet, formed in 1989 by a group of students at the Musikhochscule in Lübeck, received its tutelage in the German string quartet tradition from the LaSalle and Alban Berg quartets. Its playing is a clear reflection of the members' education, following in line with the finer qualities of both LaSalle and Berg. Characterized by technically commanding, precise execution; intensely passionate, almost forceful interpretations; and a brilliantly blended sound, the members of the Artemis Quartet excel at much of the standard repertoire. Their recordings of the Beethoven quartets in particular have gained them special notice. This Virgin Classics album, a reissue of recordings originally made in 1998 and 2002, features four of Beethoven's quartets taken from across his lifetime, including Op. 18/2, Op. 59/3, Op. 131, and Op. 132. Despite the vastly different content in the early, middle, and late-period quartets, the Artemis Quartet does an admirable job of presenting them as a unified whole. The early Op. 18/2 Quartet is vivacious, filled with edgy articulation, wide dynamics, and a seemingly endless supply of energy and forward momentum. By the time listeners reach the more solemn, emotionally complex Opp. 131 & 132 quartets, Artemis has also changed gears to offer a sense of profundity, depth, and careful attention to detail, all the while being exceptionally true to the score. For listeners who appreciate a clean, edgy, and unfettered approach to the Beethoven cycle, this two-disc set is well worth checking out.

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