Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
String Quartets: Nos. 8 and 9,
PENTATONE 5186 176 (Hybrid multichannel SACD: 70:27)
PentaTone has a history of cherry-picking items from old quad Philips cycles without reissuing every
recording in the original series (possibly, in some cases, because the whole series was not recorded quadraphonically). So it’s heartening to see that the label has at least brought out the Italiano Quartet’s full traversal of Beethoven’s “Razumovsky” quartets. An earlier disc, which I reviewed in
32:5, coupled op. 59/1 with the last of Beethoven’s op. 18 works. What I wrote about that release holds true for this one: “The readings are poised and flowing, sensitive to a variety of articulation, attacks, and details of dynamics, but not as hyperdramatic as many more recent efforts. Without underplaying the scores, Quartetto Italiano provides interpretations that should be very appealing to listeners who find even the finest contemporary efforts (Emerson, Prazák) to be excessively intense and nervous.” With flexible phrasing, lucid voicings (listen to the clarity of the lines in the finale of op. 59/2), and unfailing warmth (hear the full tone and weight of that Quartet’s Allegretto, offset by crisp attacks), these polished, incisive performances remain attractive more than 35 years after they were recorded. This four-channel reissue presents the musicians on a wide stage from close perspective. Dare we hope that PentaTone will at least complete the Italiano’s middle-quartet series, even if not committing to the entire cycle?
FANFARE: James Reel
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