The fourth volume in the Elias String Quartet's continuing series of the complete string quartets of Ludwig van Beethoven follows the pattern of the first three installments by offering one work from each of the three periods. This gives some perspective on the development of the quartets over Beethoven's career, and the mixed programming order prevents concentration on any one phase. The String Quartet No. 2 in G major, Op. 18/2, and the String Quartet No. 12 in E flat major, Op. 127 are placed side by side on the first disc, representing the early and late periods, while the second CD contains a middle period work, the String Quartet No. 7 in F major, Op. 59/1, "Razumovsky". The Elias Quartet's polished playing and sympathetic interpretations are all that any chamber music aficionado could wish, and the group pays special attention to Beethoven's evolution from a distinctly Classical style in No. 2 to the richer array of Romantic characteristics in Nos.7 and 12. The Elias Quartet's understanding of the music gives the performances a feeling of depth and strength, even when the music seems rather light and refined, though the chimerical moods of these works require the group to play spontaneously and with fluid expression in its repartee. Wigmore Hall Live provides marvelously clear and vibrant sound, and the venue's resonant acoustics aren't muffled by the presence of the audience.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
Track Listing - Disc 1
|String Quartet in G major Op. 18 No. 2|
|String Quartet in E flat major Op. 127|
Track Listing - Disc 2
|String Quartet in F major Op. 59 No. 1 'Razumovsky'|