Fine Arts Quartet – Beethoven: Works for String Quartet (2020) [FLAC 24bit/96kHz]

Fine Arts Quartet – Beethoven: Works for String Quartet (2020)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:10:10 minutes | 1,32 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front Cover | © Naxos

The string quartets of Beethoven are among the greatest works of their kind, but he composed other works for quartet which have been neglected. This album is dedicated to these intriguing rarities. Alongside the wild and monumental Grosse Fuge, in many ways the culmination of Beethoven’s achievements in the string quartet genre, this recording further displays his mastery of counterpoint by bringing to light brilliant yet forgotten original versions of his quartets Op. 18, No. 1 and Op. 131, plus six virtually unknown miniatures, including his Preludes and Fugues.

Set up by string musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra all the way back in 1940, the Fine Arts Quartet has brought together more than twenty musicians since then, or rather since its official foundation in 1946. Although this prestigious quartet has only had two first violins since its foundation, it has seen four second violinists, four cellists and… eleven viola players, rare commodities as they are.

From 1947 to 2020, the Fine Arts Quartet has racked up an enormous discography. Naturally, it covers all thee quartets of the great classical Viennese period (Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert) and the Romantic period, with a few sallies into the 20th Century, such as Debussy and Ravel, all of Bartók’s quartets and half a dozen quartets by Shostakovitch.

Recorded in Berlin for the Naxos label in 2018, this new album, a contribution to the Year of Beethoven, is dedicated to the original version of Quartet n° 1 from Opus 18 a few fine isolated pieces taken from the Adagio espressivo of Quatuor n° 14 and, naturally, the Grande Fugue Op. 133, the first, monumental finale from Quartet n° 13, which Beethoven separated out at his editor’s insistence. This wide-ranging programme is rounded off with a selection of preludes and fugues. – François Hudry

01. String Quartet in F Major, Hess 32: I. Allegro con brio (10:23)
02. String Quartet in F Major, Hess 32: II. Adagio molto (9:35)
03. String Quartet in F Major, Hess 32: III. Scherzo. Allegro (3:46)
04. String Quartet in F Major, Hess 32: IV. Allegretto (6:48)
05. String Quartet No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131: I. Adagio ma non troppo e molto espressivo (6:07)
06. Prelude & Fugue in F Major, Hess 30 (6:31)
07. Allegretto in B Minor, WoO 210 (0:37)
08. Prelude & Fugue in C Major, Hess 31 (4:47)
09. Fugue in D Minor, Hess 245 (Fragment) (0:42)
10. Fugue for String Quartet, Hess 36 (After Handel’s HWV 67) (2:12)
11. Minuet for String Quartet in A-Flat Major, WoO 209, Hess 33 (2:07)
12. Große Fuge in B-Flat Major, Op. 133 (16:40)