Miró Quartet

Beethoven: String Quartets, Op. 18

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Vital and vigorous, the Miró Quartet's performances of Beethoven's Op. 18 String Quartets form an impressive solo recording debut for the young American quartet (they already appeared on a disc with cellist Matt Haimovitz and as half of a volume of the George Crumb edition). Their tempos are quick, but their ensemble is clean. Their tone is lush, but their intonation is clear. Their interpretations are passionate, but their hearts are pure. Their insights -- judicious tempo rubato in slow movements, slightly pushing the pulse after fermatas in fast movements -- are not perhaps wholly original, but their intentions are honorable. And, best of all, the Miró Quartet is not performing Beethoven's Op. 18 just to grandstand; its performances carry conviction and the interpretations have dedication. The Miró means its interpretations and, beyond everything else, that makes this an even more impressive debut. While there are certainly other recordings one should hear of Beethoven's early quartets -- the Quartetto Italiano's above all -- the Miró's performance repays close listening. Vanguard's sound is powerful and immediate.

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