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Late String Quartets Import, Box set

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Tokyo String Quartet

Martin Beaver, violin

Kikuei Ikeda, violin

Kazuhide Isomura, viola

Clive Greensmith, cello

After 43 seasons, the Tokyo String Quartet has announced that 2012-2013 will be their last. Regarded as one of the supreme chamber ensembles of the world, the Tokyo Quartet—Martin Beaver and Kikuei Ikeda (violins), Kazuhide Isomura (viola) and ... Read more in Amazon's Tokyo String Quartet Store

Visit Amazon's Tokyo String Quartet Store
for 29 albums, photos, discussions, and more.

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Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

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

Disc 1:

Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Quartet, Op. 127 in E-Flat: Musettes; Allegro 6:36£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Quartet, Op. 127 in E-Flat: Adagio ma non troppo e molto cantabile15:57Album Only
Listen  3. Scherzando vivace; Presto 8:27£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Quartet, Op. 127 in E-Flat: Finale; Allegro con moto 6:53£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Quartet In C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131: Adagio ma non troppo e molto espressivo 5:55£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Quartet In C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131: Allegro molto vivace 2:56£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Quartet In C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131: Allegro moderato0:47£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Quartet In C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131: Andante ma non troppo e molto cantabile14:32Album Only
Listen  9. Presto 4:58£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen10. Quartet In C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131: Adagio quasi un poco andante 2:00£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen11. Allegro 6:30£0.99  Buy MP3 

Disc 2:

Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Adagio ma non troppo; Allegro13:29Album Only
Listen  2. String Quartet, No. 13 in B-Flat, Op. 130: Presto 2:02£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. String Quartet, No. 13 in B-Flat, Op. 130: Andante con moto ma non troppo 6:58£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. String Quartet, No. 13 in B-Flat, Op. 130: Alla danza tedesca; Allegro assai 3:21£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. String Quartet, No. 13 in B-Flat, Op. 130: Cavatina: Adagio molto espressivo 7:11£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. String Quartet, No. 13 In B-Flat, Op. 130: Große Fuge, Op. 13316:05Album Only
Listen  7. Finale (Rondo): Allegro 9:45£0.99  Buy MP3 

Disc 3:

Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Quartet, Op. 132 in A Minor: Assai sostenuto; Allegro 9:41£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Allegro ma non tanto 9:23£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Quartet, Op. 132 in A Minor: Heiliger Dankgesang eines Genesenen an die Gottheit in der lydischen Tonart: Molto adagio; Neue Kraft fühlend: Andante17:16Album Only
Listen  4. Alla marcia, assai vivace 2:25£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Quartet, Op. 132 in A Minor: Allegro appassionato 6:50£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Quartet, Op. 135 in F: Allegretto 6:52£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Quartet, Op. 135 in F: Vivace 3:25£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Quartet, Op. 135 in F: Lento assai, cantante e tranquillo 7:44£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. Quartet, Op. 135 in F: Der schwer gefaßte Entschluß: Grave, ma non troppo tratto 1:20£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen10. Quartet, Op. 135 in F: Allegro 6:13£0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Description

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Simply perfect. 16 Nov 2005
By Paco Yáñez - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The Tokyo String Quartet is one of my favourites quartets of all time, together with the Alban Berg Quartett and the Arditti Quartet for the modern music. All this three quartets have something in common, a very perfect technical playing, together with a deep and well understood musicality.

From all the Tokyo String Quartet's CDs this is one of my favourites and a jewel in this repertoire, so much that I think this are the better recordings available for Beethoven's late quartets, and I think it will be very, very, very difficult to play them better. Of course you can chose another way of performing this music, like the Mosaiques has shown, with `original instruments', or the Quartetto Italiano in a more classical style, but if we talk about perfection it's quite impossible to make it better. I've analysed this recording with the scores and I can really say it was an outstanding vision of clearness in Tokyo playing, amazing.

Of course, all the quartets are very well done. You can ask for different tempi or more charm in some passages (Melos Qt. Shows a very different possibility in this sense), but those moments based on the most highly technical demand are perfect done, like that jewel of the quartet literature, the "Grosse Fuge" Op.133, that is a lesson of fingering and union in this ensemble. The dynamics are very fine, like the pauses and the different entrances of the instruments, very important in this piece, as it could be a chaos if it's not very well done.

I have listened some other versions (Quartetto Italiano, Melos Quartett, LaSalle Quartett & Alban Berg Quartett I) but when you are used to listen this level of perfection quite all seem to be not enough, even when every quartet can give a view, and that's very important in this abstract and complex music written by Beethoven in his very last years.

The recording is AMAZING and one of the better technically registered that I know for chamber music (if you know another Tokyo String Quartet recordings, or those by the Ensemble Modern for RCA you know what am I talking about). Everything is so clear that you can imagine you have the own players at home if you have a good Hi-Fi system. You can even listen them breathes and the movement of the fingers, the clothes, the chairs, outstanding. This is a key, too, for the great success of this recordings, as perfection become much more real when you listen it in this conditions. Anyway, it's truth all that we listen. I've seen them some years ago playing in A Coruña (Spain) and I had the possibility of talking to them after the concert; we had a grateful chat about this recordings which they think are among them best.

It's a shame that Tokyo String Quartet CDs are really hard to find nowadays, even if they are RCA, DG or Sony recordings. I have all them recordings, but I would like all the people could listen this great musicians playing some of the better chamber music.

A jewel for not to be missed.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The religious approach 7 Feb 2005
By Musicus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The Tokyo Quartet plays Beethoven with both reverence and a floating ease and very much sense of the architecture of the music. Yes, it is perfection, but it is something religious about it, like kids playing under stars on the first virgin snow of winter. Listen to their Beethoven gives me a strange feeling of luxury, like enjoying a glass of a well-aged red Bordeaux from one of the better chateaux. Was this Beethoven's intention? I don't know. When you get used to the perfection of the Tokyo Quartet, the imperfection of other quartets becomes unbearable. Quartetto Italiano is more sensual and dramatic, but I cannot get used to the slow feeling of their tempos. A more icy, daring approach is the one of the Takacs. I got the Talich quartet too, and Alban Berg Quartet, but when it comes to late Beethoven, Tokyo is and remains my first choice. (I think the Emerson quartet sounds wonderful, the atmosphere of that quartet's sheer sound - but their high speed ruins my listening.)
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
The Tokyo Quartet is a Machine . . . 11 Mar 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
. . . but WHAT a machine! Some listeners may find this set less emotionally engaging than others. Personally, my favorite set is the Quartetto Italiano's on Philips, which keeps me from giving this set five stars: the QI plays with more sympathy and feeling, I think, than Tokyo. And any number of comparisons are possible. But if perfection is what you are looking for (and some days, we want polish more than we want elusive emotional qualities) this is perhaps the recording of the late quartets you will want. Tokyo's precision is sometimes breathtaking, and nowhere more so than in the opening of the Grosse Fuge (here played in its original position, as the final movement of the Quartett Op 130; don't worry, the later ending is there also).
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
One of the best 26 Sep 2006
By David A. Beamer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
There are so many recordings of the Late Beethoven quartet set that picking a favorite, I believe, just comes down to personal preferences. For years my favorite had been the Quartetto Italiano, with its warmth and control. Then just recently, I heard the Tokyo Quartet version.

What a difference! More fire and vigor (when required), on the whole, than QI. (Or LaSalle, the other late Beethoven set I have) And there's reverence when required -- a good example of this is the first movement of the Op 132 (A minor), which is frequently played with plenty of Sturm und Drang. The Tokyo version rises above forte in only a few places (like the last few bars), and the rest is *played* relatively calmly, in contrast to the underlying tension of the movement. And the slow movement of the Op 131 (c# minor) is a lovely, long, tranquil afternoon in the park.

But getting back to the fiery part, there is plenty to mention. I'll limit myself to two of the highlights. One is the first section of the massive Grosse Fuge movement. Once they get past the intro, and get to the fugue subject, they turn the intensity to HIGH and leave it there for a full five minutes. You can almost hear the resin flying off of the bows as they dig into each note of the subject. And once all the fugue voices have entered, they maintain that intensity all the way to the contrasting calm F-sharp section. Think of trying to pound on a large nail, with a large hammer, for a full five minutes. Plenty of strength, both physical and mental, is required, and the Tokyo group pulls it off.

I also want to comment on one movement in the rendition of Op 131 that is extremely special, namely the Presto (it's the fifth section, and takes the place of a Scherzo). It is played at a VERY fast tempo, and alternates between an almost-out-of-control fortissimo, and a pianissimo with immense underlying energy.

Right near the end of the movement they achieve a tone I have never heard on ANY recording of any chamber music. I have not seen the score of the quartets, so I do not know whether Beethoven asked for a "sur ponticello" (playing with the bow near the bridge) in the pianissimo passage just before the end of the section. Some quartets merely play the passage pianissimo, some venture their bowings down toward the bridge to give a little bit of an edge. The Tokyo Quartet, however, REALLY pushes the envelope! They play that passage so close to the bridge that it takes on an ethereal, other-wordly air. For that short passage, the instruments simply do not sound like a string quartet. It is impossible to adequately describe in words -- you have to hear it. If you don't get goosebumps, pinch yourself -- you're not really listening. I would buy (actually, have already bought) this box set just for that 15 seconds of unbelievable transcendence.

On the whole, the slow movements are played with a calm, understaded reverence -- and frequently, very little vibrato (e.g. Op. 132). The faster movements are played with a controlled fire, settling down at times to achieve the requisite tension that builds up to the next forte section; at other times bursting into flames.

One last note: I think the "star" of the group (or at least this recording), is Harada, the cellist. He plays with a big, open tone, providing a little more support to the group than the average cellist. But he also knows when to back off and become a perfectly matched equal to the other three.

Highly recommended.
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Go with the Guarneri's '68/'69 recording 20 Feb 2006
By Jonathan Boyce - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The Tokyo have had many incarnations over their nearly 35 year life and they were never better than this lineup. (Oundjian now only conducts, Ikeda and Isomura are still with the band, and Harada--a brilliant cellist--his wereabouts are unknown to me.)

They are techinically brilliant on these recordings, masterfull, and beautifully harmonious. That said, it's simply not enough. The two knocks on the Tokyo are (1) that they've always been techinically brilliant, but lacked a measure of "emotional truth" (to use Rostropovich's phrase) or musical sensitivity; the second knock is that they've been wildly uneven over the past four or five years (which I can attest to, having heard them live 35-40 times). That's thankfully not the case here; they're rolling along hard and fast like a Nolan Ryan fastball and seamless as an ocean wave.

The problem with their Beethoven cycle from this period (they're now re-recording the middle quartets) is that the pieces don't breath: they're tight, highly wound, and--like some modern architecture--great in conception, but lacking a real human element. It's almost as if a machine were playing.

The Guarneri's cycle from '68/'69 (still available on RCA Victor, but not via Amazon) is the best available rendition still in print. The pieces are played more slowly, they breath, they soar, they reveal the depth and passion of the works. The Guarneri's were also at their peak when these were recorded, and their techinque is nothing short of miraculous. If six stars were an option on this site, I'd give them all six.

One more note: stay away from the Emerson's cycle. Really atrocious.
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