Tokyo String Quartet

Beethoven: The 'Late' String Quartets

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The Tokyo String Quartet is one of the world's leading interpreters of Beethoven, and although its 1993 RCA release of the complete string quartets is one of the most admired of modern digital sets, the ensemble offers a refreshed presentation of the late string quartets on this 2010 triple SACD package from Harmonia Mundi. This release follows albums of Beethoven's early and middle quartets, issued by the group between 2005 and 2009, and while the Tokyo's personnel differs from past lineups, the group has maintained great consistency of tone, superb technique, and refined expression since its founding in 1969. The same warmth of feeling and burnished sonorities that are characteristic of the earlier Beethoven recordings are still found here, and the added benefit of multichannel DSD recording gives the ensemble a heightened sense of separation and clarity, so anyone who is unable to find the older box set will be amply rewarded with these polished renditions. As is always the case with performances of these revered works, connoisseurs will have their preferences for one or another ensemble's recordings, but because the Tokyo String Quartet ranks so highly in most experts' estimation, any comparisons that can be made are merely in degrees of excellence. Highly recommended.

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