Ehnes Quartet – Beethoven: String Quartets Nos. 12 & 14 (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24bit/96kHz | Time – 01:13:55 minutes | 1,33 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front Cover | © PM Classics Ltd.
The second instalment in the Ehnes Quartet’s survey of the late Beethoven Quartets recorded in the US with their producer overseeing the sessions from London as the pandemic saw the UK travel plans and sessions cancelled. They bring to these masterworks many years of experience: ‘the four CDs we recorded during this intense two-week period will always be treasured reminders for us of a brief, bucolic window of artistic fulfilment during a terribly challenging period for the world’ said James Ehnes.
This is one of a set of Beethoven quartet recordings by the Ehnes Quartet. All have been strong, but this one is a standout, even among all the recordings of Beethoven’s quartets on the market. The quartet is led by violinist James Ehnes, but there is nothing of the star musician-plays-chamber music here; the ensemble is superb. Ehnes provides, and draws from his other players, a rich sound that may remind older listeners of the Guarneri Quartet’s Beethoven recordings of the LP era. The first movement of the String Quartet No. 12 in E flat major, Op. 127, has symphonic grandeur in its blank-chord second theme. The opening fugue of the String Quartet No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 131 is highly expressive, in contrast to many contemporary recordings that treat this extraordinary movement in a formal way. This points to another coherent feature of the Ehnes Quartet’s reading. Beethoven said about one of his late piano sonatas that he was writing music for the distant future, and the same is true of these quartets. The fugue in the C sharp minor quartet takes off from that in the Piano Sonata No. 31 in A flat major, Op. 110; it is not aimed at formality but at Romantic transcendence, and the Ehnes Quartet catches this. Moreover, the group clearly brings out the thematic connections between the first and last movements of Op. 131, something that would have seemed a good deal more striking to audiences of the 1820s than it does today. There’s no word on how the Onyx label came to record at a college auditorium in the small Georgia city of Macon, but the sound is clear, and its dimensions are appropriate. A major Beethoven quartet release.
1. String Quartet No. 12 in E-Flat Major, Op. 127: I. Maestoso – Allegro (06:24)
2. String Quartet No. 12 in E-Flat Major, Op. 127: II. Adagio ma non troppo e molto cantabile (14:03)
3. String Quartet No. 12 in E-Flat Major, Op. 127: III. Scherzo (08:25)
4. String Quartet No. 12 in E-Flat Major, Op. 127: IV. Allegro (06:41)
5. String Quartet No. 14 in C Sharp Minor, Op. 131: I.Adagio ma non troppo e molto espresivo (07:26)
6. String Quartet No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131: II. Allegro molto vivace (03:02)
7. String Quartet No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131: III. Allegro moderato (00:42)
8. String Quartet No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131: IV. Andante ma non troppo e molto cantabile (13:08)
9. String Quartet No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131: V. Presto (05:13)
10. String Quartet No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131: VI.Adagio quasi un poco andante (01:56)
11. String Quartet No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131: VII. Allegro (06:55)