25 Essential Beethoven Recordings: The Late Quartets

Saturday, November 17, 2012

When the Guarneri String Quartet went on its farewell tour four years ago, the musicians made the music of Beethoven the centerpiece of their programs. Beethoven was a constant companion for this quartet over its 44-year ride, starting in the 1960s when it recorded a complete cycle for RCA. Those performances were re-released some 25 years later, including a three-CD set of Beethoven’s five late quartets and the Grosse Fugue.

These have always been controversial interpretations, with some critics praising their unremitting beauty, warmth and interpretive suavity while others wishing for a more taut, unsentimental approach. Regardless, there’s much to enjoy in these performances, and the Guarneri does introspective very well. Two examples: the opening of Op. 127 has a particularly enigmatic quality while the slow movement of Op. 135 registers with all the requisite gravity.

What's your favorite version? Please weigh in on our choices in the comments box below.

Guarneri Quartet
Late Beethoven String Quartets
Available at Arkivmusic.com


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Comments [1]

rubenjimenezsanchez from bolivia-cochabamba

los 16 cuartetos son obras nusicales extraordinarias son el resumen del universo musical.

Dec. 05 2012 08:45 PM

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About Beethoven Awareness Month

No composer impacted the course of Western music like Ludwig van Beethoven. The events of his life are the stuff of Romantic legend, his works permeate concert halls and he remains a cultural icon outside of classical music, turning up in movies, TV soundtracks, commercials and pop songs. Throughout November, WQXR celebrates Beethoven's work through concert broadcasts, multimedia projects, marathons and other features.