Most helpful positive review
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
astonishingly accurate playing
on 3 April 2014
There are many fine performaces of the Beethoven string quartets these days. My favourites include the Lindsays, the Berg, the Italian and the Takacs. Some of this music is arguably the finest ever written. It plumbs the very depths of humanity itself. So it would be banal and foolish to claim a best performance for any one traversal of all Beethoven's quartets. But if someone wants to get the works played superbly, with every note audible and the balance between the 4 instruments well nigh perfect, then this box is the one to buy. And since this box costs only £24 for music that will satisfy for a lifetime I can only heartily recommend it. The instruments are recorded rather close - but the players make few if any extraneous noises (unlike Peter Cropper's sniffs on the excellent performances by the Lindsays). The sound is opulent and not tiringly close like that sometimes on the equally excellent Berg performances. Apart from the astonishing unanimity and balance of these performances the thing that struck me most about them was the extreme of dynamic range that was explored. If you know the works well, buy this box: it will help you explore the works more deeply. If you have never heard them - buy this box - no other will reveal the music to you so clearly for so little outlay. Even if you have the wonderful Takacs recordings which I thought would never be surpassed it is worth buying these for the different view obtained. Musically this box is sensationally good. However it should be pointed out that the labels on the individual cds are written totally in Japanese so it is not possible (for those of us without the ability to read Japanese) to see what is the music on each disc. Moreover, the works do not appear on the cds chronologically so it is not possible to guess what, for example is likely to be on disc 4. Fortunately the numbers on the labels are clear; and the works are listed in the accompanying booklet so it is possible to see what is on each cd. The discs are also housed in very flimsy envelopes which rather strangely are stuck down and have to be unsealed. And the booklet is not very informative about the music. I suppose that is one way in which the price is kept so low. The Takacs performances are only available on 3 sets which will cost about £60. The Lindsays cost about £50 at the moment, the Italians are about £30, and the very good Tokyo perfomances are a bargain at only £14 - but I find these performances just a touch too smooth and undemanding for my taste - and biggest bargain of all are the Berg performances selling at the moment for only £12.66. I personally would put out the extra for the Belcea - indeed I have done so without regrets despite already having all the performances listed in this review and some others. Yes, these performances for the moment go to the top of the pile .