Emerson String Quartet

Beethoven: Middle String Quartets

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With the Emerson Quartet's performances of Beethoven's "middle" string quartets, it's almost always not quite. The ensemble is often not quite together. The intonation is often not quite cogent. The tone is often not quite cohesive. The tempos are often not quite strict. And the interpretations are almost always not quite compelling. There are moments, passages, and occasional movements that are brilliantly executed, but they are surrounded by moments, passages, and occasional movements that are scrappy and scruffy. The only exception to the rule of not quite is the Emerson's remarkable recording of the F minor quartet, Op. 95, which is tough, tight, taut, and furious from start to finish. But that is just one quartet in five and it cannot redeem an otherwise undistinguished set.

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