These quintets are far more rarely performed than the string quartets. Nevertheless they remain an enjoyable experience and are well worth collecting. This disc completes the box set of the quartets and continues the very high standards of those quartet performances. This disc is available separately as here.
The opus 4 quintet is really an arrangement of Beethoven's wind octet. That octet, although and early work, is listed as opus 103 and it in the octet version that most purchasers will recognise the work. This quintet version is thoroughly enjoyable in its own right and I would suggest that owning each is both interesting and satisfying. The opus 29 quintet is not an arrangement and is sometimes available on disc but without the opus 4. The fragments are really fragments and are interesting only for the sake of completeness.
The performances here have all the same qualities of the quartet discs. Speeds are generally lively without being extreme. Accents are fully observed and this underlines the energy of the performances. There is a pervading sense of enthusiasm and the intonation is spot-on.
The recording quality is faithful and well-balanced.
I would suggest that this excellent disc should be on the short-list of anyone interested in the program. Even better, I would suggest that the whole box set of the complete quartets and quintets is an even tastier proposition.
There are five surviving string quintets by Beethoven: Op.4, Op.29, Op.104, Op.137 and the unpublished Prelude and Fugue, H.40. No one has recorded all five; the Endellion Quartet +1 come closest with four. You will need to buy an additional CD if you want them all.
Missing is Opus 104, published in 1817, an arrangement of Beethoven's Piano Trio Op.1, No.3 Herr Kaufmann (first name unknown) arranged it as a quintet, then showed this work to Beethoven, who made further changes of his own. Beethoven presented the Quintet, Op.104 to the publisher Artaria as his own work, and accepted payment for it, which qualifies it as a genuine Beethoven String Quintet. The chain of possession was Beethoven - Kaufmann - Beethoven.