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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime Music of the Spheres, May 31, 2006
This review is from: Beethoven: String Quartets Op.74 & 95 (Audio CD)
Among recordings of Beethoven's string quartets there is an abundance of choice. Many of the finest string quartet groups have recorded the full cycle. Having heard these quartets performed by the Alban Berg Quartet ("ABQ"), the Juilliard Quartet ("JQ"), the Kodaly Quartet ("KQ"), and the Cleveland Quartet ("CQ"), I find each of these groups outstanding in its own way.

As Alan Lekan states in his 01/14/2005 review of the complete Beethoven cycle by the Quartetto Italiano, "competition is fierce and it really comes down to what stylistic nuances most appeal to you."

In terms of my own preferences, if the ABQ, JQ, and KQ all deserve five stars out of five for their performances, then the CQ deserves a sixth star. All four groups play together seamlessly and capture the energy and passion of Beethoven, but the CQ also has an extra touch of lyrical magic and smooth refinement coupled with passionate energy in the quality of their performance.

The CQ performs with an elegance as smooth as silk, while also capturing the liveliness of the quartets' allegro, scherzo, and presto movements, where there is a wonderful interaction between the violins and viola, playing the melody and the cello, providing a strong rhythm and anchoring the melody while at times playing in opposition to it and at other times in accompaniment; all the instruments are distinct and play both with and against each other in a perfect blend of harmony and, in the more rapid passages, a flawless tension that beautifully conveys the passion in the music.

The adagio and andante movements on this CD take us on a musical and mental journey deep into Beethoven's inner world, where all of the wonderful passion in the ebb and flow of his music are present together with an exquisite tenderness and lyricism. This CD fully conveys the CQ's love for these quartets as well as their technical brilliance, and makes listening to this music an absolute joy.

The sound quality of this digital recording is superbly rich, clear, and full, and evokes the impression of highly polished wood, like the wood of the instrument depicted on the cover of the CD insert and the wood of the superb instruments played by these incredibly talented musicians: William Preucil plays a Stradivarious violin from 1701; Peter Salaff, a J.B. Guadegnini violin from 1783; James Dunham, a Gaspar da Salo viola from 1585; and Paul Katz, an Andrea Guarneri cello from 1669.

The quality of the sound engineering is excellent, as with the vast majority of Telarc CDs. Everyone involved in making this outstanding recording, from the musicians to the sound engineers, has every reason to be proud of this accomplishment. Out of several hundred classical music CD's, I would select the Cleveland Quartet's recordings of all of the Beethoven Quartets, including this CD, as amongst my very best, "desert island" CDs. The CD essay is well-written, detailed, and informative. This CD has my highest recommendation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another fine Beethoven CD from Cleveland, December 5, 2012
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This review is from: Beethoven: String Quartets Op.74 & 95 (Audio CD)
I have listened to the Cleveland Quartet's CDs of Beethoven's quartets #6 through #15 repeatedly. These are very enjoyable and satisfying performances recorded in excellent sound. I doubt that it makes sense to say of any series that it is the very best, but I count this CD as among the best in a very competitive field. It's a more than worthy addition to any chamber music collection.
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Beethoven: String Quartets Op.74 & 95
Beethoven: String Quartets Op.74 & 95 by Ludwig van Beethoven (Audio CD - 2003)
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