Trained in the art of quartet playing by Walter Levin of the LaSalle Quartet and the Alban Berg Quartet, the Artemis Quartett of Lübeck had been playing together for half a decade when it made this recording coupling two quartets by Beethoven, the Opus 59 No. 3 in C major and the Opus 132 in A minor, in 1999. With the Artemis' lean tone and solid ensemble, plus plenty of expressive fire in its interpretations, both are fine performances, but the C major is slightly finer. In the C major, the Artemis effortlessly strikes the right balance between recklessness and courage and its impulsive, impetuous performances capture the work's fusion of strength and sensitivity. But in the A minor, the Artemis stresses strength above sensitivity and the performance weighs too heavily in favor of emotional expressivity at the expense of spiritual intensity. Still, for the quality of a C major quartet, this recording is well worth hearing by those who follow German string quartet recordings, especially since the Artemis' performances are captured in Ars Musici's clean and vivid sound.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|String Quartet No. 9 in C major ("Rasumovsky 3"), Op. 59/3|
|String Quartet No. 15 in A minor ("Heiliger Dankgesang"), Op. 132|