With Perpetuum, Dutch pianist Edwin Berg and his band mates enter an increasingly crowded field: to wit, piano trios that seem, consciously or otherwise, to worship at the shrine of Brad Mehldau. Any number of new-ish pianists on the scene have released records ranging in quality from good to excellent—Aaron Goldberg's Worlds (Sunnyside, 2006); Florian Weber's Minsarah (Justin Time, 2006); Florian Ross's Big Fish & Small Pond (Intuition, 2007); John Chin's Blackout Conception (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2008)—in this Mehldauvian vein.
Beethoven's influence over the string quartet was profound; in his hands, the genre acquired a new significance, becoming a powerful vehicle for the expression and exploration og an inner world. Featured in this box set is the Alban Berg Quartett's acclaimed recordings of the complete cycle, a showcase of the group's accomplished artistry and seamless ensemble playing.
Alban Berg wrote twice for string quartet, and both results stand tall in his output. On this Naive disc, a reissue of an earlier Montaigne release, the Arditti Quartet perform these pieces. The lineup of the Ardittis at this time was Irvine Arditti and David Alberman (violin), Levine Andrade (viola) and Rohan de Saram (cello).
These are studio recordings, dating from 1985 and completing a series begun in the late 70s with the C-major quintet and pursued in the early 80s with the 15th quartet and the "Trout" quintet. The "Death and the Maiden" here is not to be confused with the later, live recording made by the ABQ and released in 1998 - which I haven't heard, but which received warm reviews.
If you don't already have any recordings of Beethoven's late string quartets, by all means get this one by the Alban Berg Quartet. There hasn't been a set to equal it since it was originally released in a different configuration in the early '90s - the Emerson's overly enthusiastic but not especially insightful set? oh, come on! - and there hadn't been many to equal it before the '90s, only the Quartetto Italiano's wonderfully balanced and incredibly lovely set, the Quatuor Végh's supremely intense and transcendentally sublime set, and the Berg's own earlier, extremely concentrated and austerely passionate studio set.