Notes and Editorial Reviews
There are numerous fine renderings of the complete Beethoven Quartets in the catalogue, ranging from the treasured old Budapest Quartet recordings still awaiting reissue from Sony (if that company ever recovers from its delusion that we're all waiting for more crossover dreck), the sleek Alban Berg on EMI, the dramatic Emersons on Deutsche Grammophon, the warm probings of the Italiano on Philips, and the ripely humane Vegh on Valois. Is there room for another? You bet, if it's as profound and as well-played and recorded as this one from the Talich Quartet. That goes double if, as Calliope has done, those top-drawer performances are issued at the bargain price of seven CDs for the price of three.
The Talich traversal of the Beethovens originally came out in the dying days of analogue. I loved them then and I love them even more in their CD incarnation, which adds transparency and bite to sound that always was clear and impactful. The Talich's virtues are many: they're as technically adept as any of their rivals; they subordinate flashy virtuosity to the music's meaning; they have a beautifully blended tone, with sonorities built up from the bottom; inner lines are always carefully delineated so the balances are never tilted toward the first violin; rhythms are flowing; and attacks are firm without being aggressive. Their concentration is outstanding too, so even at a slow pace the middle section of the Grosse Fugue never lapses into torpor, while the intensity of Op. 59 No. 1 never flags. The ensemble's use of color for expressive effect heightens the eloquence of the late quartets, which are the highlights of the set thanks to the Talich's searching interpretations and stylistic integrity.
If there's a weakness here it's in the slightly laid-back approach that misses the wit of the Op. 18 quartets and occasionally--only occasionally--induces a feeling that a bit more muscle would be welcome. But such flaws, if that's what they are, are inconsequential given the Talich's overall achievement.
--Dan Davis, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Quartet for Strings no 15 in A minor, Op. 132 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Talich String Quartet
Written: 1825; Vienna, Austria
Date of Recording: 1979
Venue: Paris, France
Length: 43 Minutes 40 Secs.
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