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Cat. No. CHAN 10304 Price: £8 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10304 - Beethoven: String Quartets, Volume 5, Op. 132/ String Quartet, Op. 135
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Available From: 11 April 2005
"It was characteristic of Beethoven in his last years to begin a work without mapping out its entire course, but the turn taken by the Quartet in A minor, Op. 132 is unique. He had composed the first two movements of this second quartet for Prince Golitsin – traditionally the middle of in a set of three was destined to be in the minor, though there is nothing traditional about Op. 132, as it finally became – when in April 1825 he was taken gravely ill with an intestinal inflammation. The ‘sacred song of thanks from a convalescent to the Godhead’ which beats slowly then rapturously at the quartet’s heart was his testament of recovery.

Beethoven’s love of captioning has led the finale of the Quartet in F major, Op. 135 to overshadow the rest of the work in the critical eye. ‘Der schwer gefasste Entschluss’ (The Difficult Decision) allegedly came originally in answer to an amateur who wanted to know if fifty florins had to be (‘Muss es sein?’) the price for a home performance of Op. 130. To which came the retort, set to a musical canon, ‘It must be! Yes yes yes yes! Out with your wallet’. The deeper significance of the three-note question and its inverted answer, shorn of the jest in the finale, have been much debated, but the intensity of ‘Muss es sein?’ suggests the deepest existential seriousness, and the answer declares all is right with the world. Such peace and reconciliation are unexpected and, for the Borodins, enigmatic in the face of Beethoven’s final illness, and the attempted suicide of his 19-year-old nephew. Maybe, Valentin Berlinsky speculates, the F major Quartet represents: ‘a sudden relief in the face of forthcoming death: after all those sophisticated and difficult quartets, the form is more classical: but the feeling within is very different, and you can feel the disease in the process’.

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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 on CHAN 10191, Volume 2"

This is volume 5 in what is proving to be a distinguished if occasionally unorthodox cycle of these 16 glorious scores,the second such cycle this group will have recorded when the current traversal is completed. This release boasts many virtues, like its predecessors in this series. For one thingm the sound is exceptionally fine: close in perspective but never excessively so, free of harshness and of muscians’ intrusive breathing, it offers a welcome illusion of reality.
International Record Review

These works of Beethoven’s final years attain such a rarefied atmosphere of harmonic daring and structural density that most composers that followed him were at a loss to know what to make of them. It is their modernity and symphonic structure that the Borodin Quartet so memorably captures here. Other ensembles may be more intensely claustrophobic, but the Borodin’s boldness never fails to command the attention.
Classic FM Magazine

This fifth volume in the Borodin’s Beethoven series is one of the best. It shows all the virtues of the previous instalments – beautiful, clear, expressive tone, confident technique and a natural, flexible sensitive presentation of the musical argument.
Gramophone

These Borodin accounts are distinguished by their feeling of spontaneity; the continual small rubati and emphases may be worked out in advance but sound like spur-of-the-moment inflections as each player lives the music. Another striking overall impression is of tonal beauty, with a near perfect blend of sounds.
"Gramophone on CHAN 10178, Volume 1"

The playing is certainly very fine, theres a rare unanimity of tone and style, and the group excels in the lyrical music. The cantabile episodes in Op. 95 are freely expressive but never indulgent, an effect enhanced by the warmth and clarity of the recording.
"Gramophone on CHAN 10268, Volume 3"

 

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