Beethoven: String Quartets Opp. 127, 130-32 & 135; Grosse Fuge, Op. 133

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Vanguard
WORKS: String Quartets Opp. 127, 130-32 & 135; Grosse Fuge, Op. 133
PERFORMER: Yale String Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: SVC-72/74 AAD 1967-71
Despite playing that is undeniably adroit, these performances lack the gravitas, introspection and other-worldliness encountered in defining accounts of these unique works, particularly those by the Busch, Budapest and Alban Berg Quartets. Yet there’s plenty to admire here, and slow movements (like the wondrous ‘Heiliger Dankgesang’ of Op. 132) are often hauntingly beautiful, while not quite offsetting mixed fortunes elsewhere. Though not destined for greatness, this set should appeal to collectors on a budget. Michael Jameson

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