Gewandhaus Quartet

Beethoven: The String Quartets

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The Gewandhaus Quartett's outstanding cycle of Beethoven's complete string quartets recalls the strengths of the great cycles of the past. One hears echoes of the emotional warmth of the Budapest Quartet's, the intellectual strength of the Alban Berg Quartet's first version, the sumptuous tone of the Quartetto Italiano, and the deep spirituality of the Végh Quartet. The Leipzig players' performances are not just a patchwork of earlier approaches, but uniquely their own. They have a refined but relaxed ensemble, and polished but expressive tone, as well as a powerful but not overdriven sense of rhythm. These attributes create a unique group sound that is informed by tradition but not restrained by it. Like its famous predecessors, the Gewandhaus Quartett's cycle has strong and weak points. The early quartets (including here the composer's quartet transcription of his Piano Sonata, Opus 14/1), are bright, shiny, and insightful, and the middle quartets broad, powerful, and soulful. The late quartets, though, while sufficiently spiritualized in the slow movements, lack muscle in the fast movements and cohesion in the fugal movements, particularly in the Grosse Fuge. Nevertheless, in these days of glossy but superficial Beethoven quartet cycles, the Gewandhaus Quartett's version deserves to be heard by anyone who relishes these canonical works. New Classical Adventure's digital sound is remarkably natural.

Track Listing - Disc 10

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
String Quartet No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 131
1
4:05
2
3:58
3
1:37
String Quartet No. 10 in E flat major ("Harp"), Op. 74
4
2:29
5
4:21
String Quartet No. 12 in E flat major, Op. 127
6
3:35
7
3:20
String Quartet No. 10 in E flat major ("Harp"), Op. 74
8
2:12
9
4:05
String Quartet No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 131
10
8:03
11
3:58
String Quartet in F major (arrangement of Piano Sonata No. 9 in E major, Op. 14/1), Hess 34
12
6:21
13
3:39
14
3:45
blue highlight denotes track pick