Fresh, vibrant, informed; these are adjectives that continue to apply to the Beethoven string quartet cycle performed by the Artemis Quartett on the Virgin Classics label. Having studied with some of the world's finest ensembles -- including the LaSalle, Alban Berg, Emerson, and Juilliard quartets -- Artemis exceeds the sum of its education by not simply mimicking its predecessors, but improving upon them. Even listeners who are well acquainted with the Beethoven cycle and the numerous magnificent recordings available will find something new and intriguing with Artemis. The combination of both aggressive and sublimely gentle sound qualities, the nearly electric urgency in fast movements, the ability to make time stand still in slow movements, and the thorough understanding of the progression from early to late Beethoven quartets combine to make performances that grip listeners' attention and keep it. This volume features quartets from opposite ends of Beethoven's output, demonstrating not only how far Beethoven took the genre during his lifetime, but the varied techniques and colors Artemis brings to accentuate these differences. Op. 18/1 began Beethoven's early quartet period, and Op. 127 launched the final, profound set of late quartets. Both are recorded in Virgin's wonderfully clear, rich, and detailed sound quality making for an album worthy of any collection.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|String quartet No. 1 in F major, Op. 18/1|
|String quartet No. 12 in E flat major, Op. 127|