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Cat. No. CHAN 10191 Price: £8 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10191 - Beethoven: String Quartets, Volume 2
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Available From: 05 April 2004
Following close on the heels of the mighty F major Quartet (featured in the first volume of this series along with Op. 59, No. 3), Beethoven’s Quartet in E minor, Op. 59 No. 2 could not be more different. Where the F major Quartet pursues its course with a leisurely breadth, the cries of the opening chords of the E minor and the whispers that follow confront a void. The real release comes only in the slow movement, which was clearly a significant piece for the composer, judging by his instruction ‘this piece is to be played with great feeling’. The battle of E minor and E major continues in the scherzo: its fractured waltz comes out into the light of the trio with one of the Russian themes Beethoven promised Count Rasumovsky he would insert into each of the quartets.

Beethoven dedicated his Quartet in E flat major,Op. 74 to Prince Lobkowitz – none other than the nobleman who had commissioned his first set of six quartets, Op. 18. The circumstances leading up to the composition of the quartet were far from happy. Vienna had just endured one occupation by the French when Beethoven set about his Rasumovsky Quartets under relatively settled circumstances in 1806; the early summer of 1809 was far worse. This time, Napoleon’s bombardment and occupation brought, in the words of Beethoven, ‘misery in a most concentrated form’. The equivocal mood of the period is surely hinted at in this demanding work which affirms the questing spirit of the three Rasumovsky quartets that preceded it.
Reviews

This redoubtable Russian group plays with all the powerful, focused tone youd expect and brings out the entire wealth of Beethovens colour in these fiery performances.
Classic FM Magazine

'This redoubtable Russian group plays with all the powerful, focused tone you'd expect and brings out the entire wealth of Beethoven's colour in these fiery performances.'
Classic FM Magazine

'Its [The Razumovsky] first movement unfolds with exceptional breadth and the decision to include both of its repeats may well make it the longest account on disc. But timings are often misleading. From the two opening chords - forceful and slashing - it is clear that this is to be a reading of tremendous power and conviction.'
International Record Review

'But though I'd quarrel with some aspects of these interpretations, there's no doubt as to the quality of the sound, or the strong character and committment of the performances.'
Gramophone

its [The Razumovsky] first movement unfolds with exceptional breadth and the decision to include both of its repeats may well make it the longest account on disc. But timings are often misleading. From the two opening chords - forceful and slashing - it is clear that this is to be a reading of tremendous power and conviction.
International Record Review

 

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