I have the Quartetto Italiano collect of the late quartets and, whilst in the process of researching a recording of his earlier quartets, I came across this incredibly in-depth blog taking a sort of BBC Radio 3 'Building A Library' approach comparing various recordings of each of Beethoven's quartets: http://rolf-musicblog.blogspot.fr/2012/03
I was struck by his comments on the excessive use of vibrato on many modern day recordings. Once you notice it - or have it pointed it out to you - it becomes impossible to ignore. I ended up buying the Quatuor Mosaïque's recording of Op.18 No 1 and 4 (Beethoven: String Quartets, Op 18, Nos 1 & 4 /Quatuor Mosaïques) for its minimal vibrato usages, gorgeous deep bass sound, impeccable recording and wonderful balance between the four instruments. I'll certainly be investing in more of their work.
Does anyone know if Quatuor Mosïques plan to record mid or late Beethoven quartets? There is a recording of op.131 on YouTube taken from BBC Radio 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hii2szPQ4
Do you have any other recommendations for minimal vibrato Beethoven quartets? I believe that the Endellion and the Hagen Quartet both embrace this style of playing, too. Do you have their Beethoven recordings? If so, how do you find them?
I'd be interested to hear your views.