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Beethoven: String Quartets Opp. 18/5, 18/3, 135/9

Artemis Quartet , Ludwig Van Beethoven Audio CD

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. String Quartet No.5 in A Major Op.18 No.5: I. Allegro10:20Album Only
Listen  2. String Quartet No.5 in A Major Op.18 No.5: II. Menuetto & Trio 4:45£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. String Quartet No.5 in A Major Op.18 No.5: III. Andante cantabile 9:33£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. String Quartet No.5 in A Major Op.18 No.5: IV. Allegro 6:06£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. String Quartet No.3 in D Major Op.18 No.3: I. Allegro 7:20£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. String Quartet No.3 in D Major Op.18 No.3: II. Andante con moto 7:46£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. String Quartet No.3 in D Major Op.18 No.3: III. Allegro 2:47£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. String Quartet No.3 in D Major Op.18 No.3: IV. Presto 6:00£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. String Quartet No.16 in F major 'Muss es sein? es muss sein!' Op.135: I. Allegretto 6:23£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen10. String Quartet No.16 in F major 'Muss es sein? es muss sein!' Op.135: II. Vivace 3:18£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen11. String Quartet No.16 in F major 'Muss es sein? es muss sein!' Op.135: III. Lento assai e cantante tranquillo 6:29£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen12. String Quartet No.16 in F major 'Muss es sein? es muss sein!' Op.135: IV. Grave ma non troppo tratto - Allegro 7:03£0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Description

BBC Review

This is the end of two journeys: Beethoven’s last complete string quartet Op. 135, 28 years after he picked up the genre from Mozart and Haydn, and took it places neither of them would have imagined. It’s also the final volume of the Artemis Quartet’s impressive Beethoven series, and the Berlin-based ensemble has planned it so that they’re doing exactly what Beethoven himself seems to be doing with Op. 135: looking back to the classical simplicity with which he began his first set of Op. 18 quartets, but now filtered through all the wisdom, knowledge and experience acquired en route.

Don’t be fooled by the numbering of the Op. 18 quartets; No. 3 in D seems to have been the first Beethoven composed, so we have first and last together on the CD. The impetuous Presto finale of the first quartet ends with Haydn-esque wit and delicacy, and after a long pause, the viola opens the window onto another world, as Beethoven near the end of his life seems to say to us: "See what I can do with it now!" The Artemis Quartet plays the opening of Op. 135 with rich warmth, classical poise, and just the right kind of reverence. They don’t hurl themselves at the second movement, instead allowing Beethoven’s ingeniously worked rhythms to propel the piece from the inside. The slow movement’s melody seems to sigh with nostalgia, before the dramatic opening of the finale, setting the words Muss es sein? ("must it be?"), which Beethoven wrote under the opening chords, before answering "the hard-made decision" as he called it himself with the cheery Allegro that follows: Es muss sein! ("it must be!"). The Artemis Quartet tussles with both mottos as they come and go, and at the end leave little doubt that in Beethoven’s life at least, joy and anguish were never far apart.

The two Op. 18 Quartets here, numbers 3 and 5, are delivered with apparently effortless grace and effervescent athleticism, and the recording frames everything to perfection. It’s a deeply satisfying final chapter to a story I’m already impatient to begin again…

--Andrew McGregor

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Product Description

CD .. & 135 // Artemis Quartett

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Artemis end their cycle well, even if Op. 135 slides by 11 Aug 2011
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on
Format:Audio CD
As they bring their long-in-the-making Beethoven cycle to an end, having bridged a change of viola and second violin in 2004, the Artemis Quartet stands apart for several reasons. They are skilled in all the departments of quartet ensemble, including blend, unanimity, intonation, and precision. These qualities have attracted high-level collaborators like Thomas Ades and Leif Ove Andsnes. Their style is forward-looking, in that they have taken the Emerson Qt. sleekness and modern tone and allied it to a more European sense of tradition. I think of their Beethoven as being 'updated' the way younger conductors now lead the symphonies, with the emphasis on momentum and agility rather than revolutionary passion and romantic intensity.

I won't claim to be a fan of this change, but we can't live by the Busch Quartet alone. This final installment is impeccable so far as the two early Op. 18 quartets are concerned. Everything is light, bright, and sparkling, if a bit antiseptic. I wonder why so many contemporary groups, in tossing out romanticism, left out classical wit, too? Haydn and Mozart had it, and they seem to be the model of modern Beethoven quartet style. I know I'm swimming against the current, but does anyone seriously accept that Beethoven wanted squeaky-clean performances of his music? In the current landscape, the Artemis offer Op. 18 with control but not tightness, relaxing their disciplined playing enough to let in air and sunlight. They deserve praise, too, for exploring color effects that old-school quartets, pursuing a uniform "symphonic" sound, barely touched upon. I was never bored.

My reaction to the Artemis in the late quartets has been much less enthusiastic. Their highly organized, proficient readings fall short of Beethoven's enigmatic intentions - Op. 135 doesn't sit there waiting to be played. It awaits a solution. The Artemis proceed as if nothing is really mysterious, and therefore their reading doesn't seem to mean very much. Modern groups have dropped idolatry of Beethoven, no longer seeing him as a profound spirit with great human depth. I don't expect the Artemis to reverse that trend. At the same time, I don't respond to cool, straight-ahead interpretations of the kind found here.

So it's a good ending that delivers a high level of musicality, with caveats if you are a listener who wants to be deeply moved by these quartets.

P.S. 2012 - I missed a stitch. The Artemis' Beethoven cycle on individual CDs is absent the Op. 74 "Harp"Quartet. To get it, you have to buy the complete cycle in a new box set released by Virgin - rather a petty ploy on their part.
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