The late quartets are among the last works that Beethoven completed, and are considered by many as the pinnacle of his achievements as a composer, and among the greatest compositions of all time. The Russian prince Nikolai Galitzin wrote to Beethoven in November 1822, requesting ‘one, two or three new quartets, for which labor I will be glad to pay you what you think proper’. This commission resulted in the Quartets, Opp. 127, 132, and 130, after which he went on to write Quartets, Opp. 131 and 135,and then the substitute final movement for Op. 130, which replaced the Große Fugue that originally had ended that piece –and which Stravinsky described as ‘an absolutely contemporary piece of music that will be contemporary forever’. InRead more this recording the Brodsky Quartet has chosen to include (emulating several other quartets) the Quartet,Op.95. Although this piece significantly pre-dates the others, in terms of innovation and compositional style it points strongly towards the later works. Since their formation in 1972, the Brodsky Quartet has earned –and maintained –a worldwide reputation for excellence and innovation. Exclusive Chandos recording artists, the Brodsky Quartet has won numerous awards and accolades, and remains committed to an extensive programme of educational work in addition to their hectic performing and recording schedules.
The Brodsky Quartet certainly have their own distinctive virtues, and the highlights reach very high indeed. Technically, these performances are immaculate, so it all comes down to a question of personal taste. To me, the account of the A minor Quartet Op. 132 is the outstanding interpretation here with its serene Adagio, the Heiliger Dankgesang, taken as slowly as anyone could dare, and the intensity of its finale ratcheted up with perfect sureness. As in any cycle of these inexhaustible works, everyone has to pick and choose what they admire, but there is no doubting that these performances of some of the greatest music ever written are to be taken seriously.
Quartet for Strings no 13 in B flat major, Op. 130by Ludwig van Beethoven Orchestra/Ensemble:
Brodsky String Quartet
Period: Classical Written: 1825-1826; Vienna, Austria Date of Recording: 4/2019 Venue: Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk Length: 42 Minutes 36 Secs.
Quartet for Strings no 12 in E flat major, Op. 127by Ludwig van Beethoven Orchestra/Ensemble:
Brodsky String Quartet
Period: Classical Written: 1823-1825; Vienna, Austria Date of Recording: 4/2019 Venue: Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk Length: 39 Minutes 36 Secs.
Quartet for Strings no 15 in A minor, Op. 132by Ludwig van Beethoven Orchestra/Ensemble:
Brodsky String Quartet
Period: Classical Written: 1825; Vienna, Austria Date of Recording: 5/2018 Venue: Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk Length: 46 Minutes 58 Secs. Notes: (Cavatina mvmt. recorded 4/2019.)
Transparent, pure and crystallineFebruary 26, 2020By Dean Frey See All My Reviews""Slowly, slowly, the melody unfolded itself. The archaic Lydian harmonies hung on the air. It was an unimpassioned music, transparent, pure and crystalline, like a tropical sea, an Alpine lake. Water on water, calm sliding over calm; the according of level horizons and waveless expanses, a counterpoint of serenities. And everything clear and bright; no mists, no vague twilights. It was the calm of still and rapturous contemplation, not of drowsiness or sleep. It was the serenity of a convalescent who wakes from fever and finds himself born again into a realm of beauty. But the fever was 'the fever called living' and the rebirth was not into this world; the beauty was unearthly, convalescent serenity was the peace of God. The interweaving of Lydian melodies was heaven." - Aldous Huxley, on the third movement of Beethoven's String Quartet op. 132, in his novel Point Counter Point 2020, the Beethoven Year commemorating the 250th anniversary of his birth, begins at the very apex of the composer's music, his late string quartets, played by the very fine Brodsky Quartet. This is a group that has often put together innovative programs on disc and in live performance, but here we have just the works themselves, albeit with a most substantial bonus, the 11th String Quartet, op. 95, from Beethoven's middle period. In a 1989 Gramophone review of Beethoven Quartet cycles, Robert Layton once talked about the late quartets as "the Alpine heights of the repertory which few traverse unscathed." He felt that technical finesse and superficial beauty that had pushed recordings of earlier Beethoven works forward might prove as impediments in the interpretation of these great works crafted within the composer's total deafness. Layton quotes Basil Lam, who said "in the last quartets Beethoven is as indifferent to communication as he is to self-expression." In space, no one can hear you scream. These performances tread a middle ground between the more mystical interpretations of the Lindsay or Végh Quartets and the solid (but by no means stolid) German tradition of the Amadeus Quartet, whose early 1960s LPs were my first exposure (along with Huxley's novel) to this music. Though Beethoven had long left behind the musical tropes and attitudes of the 18th century Enlightenment, there is a residual classical feeling in much of this music, which the Brodsky performance often underlines. As Huxley says, "no mists, no vague twilights." There are no radical differences between the music on these three discs and a hypothetical average of the spectacular run of great recordings of late Beethoven quartets, from the early Busch and Hollywood sets to the Quartetto Italiano, the Cleveland and Melos Quartets. Paradoxically, this approach points most decidedly to the absolutely radical nature of Beethoven's music itself. In the rarefied air of Beethoven's music of the mid-1820s, everything has changed."Report Abuse