Beethoven: Forgotten Works for String Quartets
The newest release from Monument Records is a gem, and it has quickly risen to be one of my favorite CDs of all time. The "Brilliant" string quartet is convincingly realized, and it has both a playfulness and determination that are Beethoven hallmarks. The "Pencarrow" Quartet is brief, but an interesting example of Beethoven working in a very short form. The latter part of the disc includes counterpoint exercises and fugues by Beethoven from his studies with Albrechtsberger, but they're well worth listening to since even in the tightly-controlled genre of the fugue Beethoven both exhibits creativity and is able to milk out significant emotion.
The recording is exemplary, with a presence among the instruments that makes it feel as if you're right there with the Covington String Quartet. The Quartet plays with solid emotion, but doesn't go overboard, making the listening highly enjoyable from beginning to end. Even though these aren't among Beethoven's best-known works, they're certainly worthy of repeated examination. Highly recommended.