Bernstein delivered a powerful and now legendary live performance of Beethovens String Quartet Op. 135 transcribed for String Orchestra and performed by the Vienna Philharmonic. For the first time ever this performance is now being released on DVD and Blu-ray. Another definitive Bernstein performance debuting now on both mediums is the enigmatic maestros reading of Haydns Missa in tempore belli, filmed live in concert at Ottobeuren in 1984, using to maximum effect the deeply impressive setting of the monasterys magnificent Baroque basilica.
Writing in 29:4 about the Hagen’s fine CD accounts of Beethoven Quartets Nos. 12 and 15, I noted two salient features of its approach: a sonority that in its freedom from lushness and excessive vibrato echoes (without duplicating) “period” sonority; and a style suggestive of how the music is far closer to the composer’s middle period than we often think. In a similar vein, this is a tough, aggressive No. 16, yet one tempered by delicacy where apt and projected with sensitivity to the music’s pointed humor—a performance style that one probably was not likely to encounter 50 years ago. And fine though the Beethoven is, the Mozart may be even better, as commanding and sensitive account of the work as I have ever heard. For one thing, Sabine Meyer is superb, a true virtuoso who is capable of rendering the music’s gentler moments with a tender delicacy that is as arresting as her rapidly articulated runs in which every note is given its clearly articulated due.
As a viola player and dedicated chamber musician, Sally Beamish has had ample opportunity to acquaint herself with the string quartet genre. The Beethoven C minor Quartet on this disc she first played when she was 14. Thirty years later, when commissioned by the Brodsky Quartet to write a work inspired by Beethoven's Op. 18, this is the one that caught her imagination. The result is String Quartet No.2, composed immediately after a visit to California in 2000. Inspired by two bridges – Golden Gate in San Francisco and a Californian rock formation called Natural Bridges – Beamish uses themes …….
At the heart of Beethoven’s life’s statement as a composer lies the cycle of sixteen string quartets, which, to this day, has retained a special status and reverence. Since 2012, the Elias String Quartet has been immersed in its Beethoven Project, performing all Beethoven’s string quartets at venues throughout the UK. In this live recording, the ensemble captures both the intimacy and grandeur of the works. With an ever-expanding recording catalogue that has been met with widespread critical acclaim, the quartet is delighted to release this disc, the first volume of its complete Beethoven cycle to be recorded live at Wigmore Hall over the coming Seasons.
The String Quartet No. 1 in D major, Opus 11, was Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's first completed string quartet of three string quartets, published during his lifetime. (An earlier attempt had been abandoned after the first movement had been completed.) Composed in February 1871, it was premiered in Moscow on 16/28 March 1871 by four members of the Russian Musical Society: Ferdinand Laub and Ludvig Minkus, violins; Pryanishnikov, viola; and Wilhelm Fitzenhagen, cello.
Following close on the heels of the mighty F major Quartet (featured in the first volume of this series along with Op. 59, No. 3), Beethoven’s Quartet in E minor, Op. 59 No. 2 could not be more different. Where the F major Quartet pursues its course with a leisurely breadth, the cries of the opening chords of the E minor and the whispers that follow confront a void. The real release comes only in the slow movement, which was clearly a significant piece for the composer, judging by his instruction ‘this piece is to be played with great feeling’. The battle of E minor and E major continues in the scherzo: its fractured waltz comes out into the light of the trio with one of the Russian themes Beethoven promised Count Rasumovsky he would insert into each of the quartets.