Beethoven: The Late Quartets

Centaur CRC 3212/3213/3214

Our latest release of Beethoven's most personal and spiritual quartets. Buy CD (3 disc set), iTunes, mp3

Jeremy Eichler, The Boston Globe: These distinguished readings are full of subtlety, tonal refinement, and a sense of accumulated musical wisdom.The group's choices in phrasing and articulation, as in the Quartet Op. 135, can on occasion make familiar passages seem freshly reconsidered. That said, there's also no chasing after effect. Even in the most violent stretches of the "Grosse Fuge," the Lydian steers clear of tonal extremes, the kind of expressionism avant la lettre that some ensembles read back into this music. In Op. 127, the music's links to tradition come across as palpably as its revolutionary qualities. The famed Op. 132 is dominated by a prayerful reading of its sublime slow movement. This set, in short, is the work of veteran chamber musicians who have not lost their capacity for wonder at what Stepner describes as "Beethoven's burning need to communicate an exalted, complex, life-affirming vision of musical possibility."

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