Beethoven: String Quartet in G, Op. 18/2; String Quartet in F

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Warner
ALBUM TITLE: Beethoven – String Quartets
WORKS: String Quartet in G, Op. 18/2; String Quartet in F
PERFORMER: Endellion Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: 2564 62161-2
With so many excellent recordings

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of Beethoven’s quartet cycle already

available, any newcomer needs

something beyond fine playing to

attract attention. Here particular

emphasis is placed on achieving

absolute fidelity to Beethoven’s

final intentions and incorporating a

number of significant amendments

and revisions not heard elsewhere. In

addition the Endellions plan to make

their cycle totally comprehensive,

including works which have not been

recorded by other quartets.

On this disc, the big news is the

brief Allegretto in B minor, composed

in 1817 but only unearthed in 1999.

Truth to tell, however, the music is so

slight and protracted in length that it

Farewell from Lindsays

misha donat enjoys their insightful Haydn playing

hardly amounts to a major discovery.

As for the three complete quartets,

the Endellions offer technically

immaculate performances but

nowhere near the interpretative

insight that one gets from some of

the front-runners in this repertory.

That said, there is much to admire in

their elegant and energetic handling

of Op. 18 No. 2, the development

section of the first movement in

particular evoking a wealth of colours

and textural gradations.

After this, Op. 95, although

delivered with considerable power,

falls somewhat short of providing

a real sense of forward drive and

passion; and dynamic contrasts,

perhaps undermined by the dry

acoustic of Cambridge’s West Road

Concert Hall, are not quite as finely

tuned as in some other recordings,

for example the Quartetto Italiano

on Philips. Op. 135, on the other

hand, is more involving with a

particularly exciting and exuberant

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Finale. Erik Levi