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11
4.3 out of 5 stars
Beethoven: Complete String Quartets
Format: Audio CDChange
Price:£30.51+Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 13 October 2014
I really enjoy this interpretation, and listen to it most days. There are minor problems, however. The reverb is annoying as it obscures the part writing, particularly in the fast and/or quiet passages. The dynamic contrasts are really violent at times: barely audible, then deafening - a problem made much worse by that ruddy reverb. Is there any reason why these works cannot be presented in their proper, i.e., chronological sequence? It's really annoying to have to search through the CD's to hear, say, the first two opus 18. Lastly, the sleeve note is a waste of paper. Read JWN Sullivan to find out why. All that said... Bloody well done chaps!
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
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 .
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There is no doubting the sheer quality of the Belcea's playing - and all live at that.
If you feel a but coming .......you are right.......BUT - I'm am reminded strongly of a quote
from the artist Henri Matisse .... " EXACTITUDE IS NOT TRUTH ".
Thereby hangs my only problem with this set.
All too often I feel the concerns over the exactitude of playing get in the way of the truth behind and within the music.
For that, turn to the Vegh quartet.
The extremes in dynamics - and I mean extremes - sound very self conscious and thus detach from the music.
I'm very glad to own this set - along with many others - as these mountain top works can hold many differing
views within their compass.
But THE set ? no,
One to enjoy for what it offers ? - [ which, don't get me wrong, is much -
many times I thought "I've never heard that part[s] of the writing before" etc....you'll learn a lot ] ....Definitely Yes.
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on 23 September 2014
A wonderful set! These are sensitive performances beautifully captured on recordings which are closely miked but nonetheless offer a 'walk through' perspective and lovely tonal balance. Musically, I find them remarkable. The ensemble is wonderful, the intonation perfect but above all the quartet's comprehension of Beethoven's complex musical personality appears entirely instinctive. With music such as this this each listener will have a view as to how the music should be played and recorded. All I can say is that,for me, the rewards that this set offers are profound.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 25 April 2014
Approach with caution! This set has attracted much hyp(erbole) in reviews from certain quarters; a case of the Emperor's new clothes, I fear. Of course, there are many perceptive ideas, much felicitous playing and a decent (if unflattering) recording quality - but this much and more can be said of seven or eight sets at least.

Two stars a bit harsh? Well, this is Amazon's 'I don't like it' rating, and this is why in brief. One gets the uncomfortable feeling of some point being 'proved' in a hectoring way, rather than 'revealed' having been drawn in. In this, of all music, that is just not good enough. Too much of the playing here seems forced instead of forceful and shrill/ragged (1st violin) instead of impassioned, while tempi often leave too little space left for exciting rhythmic articulation in faster music (try op.74/iii). I find a pervasive lack of humour which only increases the one-dimensional (i.e. severe) aspect of most of these performances.

Judging by this group's blurb quoted in the booklet, they do not lack confidence. Bizarrely, one may only quote what they say about this cycle in full, or risk legal action! Again, too much to prove. Maybe if they waited ten years or so we'd hear something more convincing, more Beethoven and less Belcea Quartet. I'd certainly give that a go.
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on 27 March 2015
Perfect
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 2 May 2014
Which ever set of these works you own, you have to have this one. Wonderful insites to these works you may never have noticed before. Well worth investing in.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 August 2014
Wonderful performances.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 10 May 2014
Sublime playing, great price and superb sound quality. Peerless. Recommended without hesitation to anyone interested in a geniuses finest works.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 December 2014
Only listened to some of it so far but really stimulating...thoroughly glad I purchased it...and look forward to repeated listenings.
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