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String Quintets

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Audio CD, June 29, 2010
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One of the best-kept secrets of chamber music, Beethoven' String Quintet in C major, Op. 29, was written between the well-known 'early' and 'middle' string quartets. This strangely neglected masterpiece of startling originality is coupled here with Be
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 29, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B003IP2Y5S
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #242,070 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 6, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Even with a composer of Beethoven's stature, some outstanding compositions do not get the attention they deserve. It is a delight to discover and to appreciate such rarities. Beethoven's String Quintet in C major, opus 29, is the leading example of an infrequently performed Beethoven masterwork. Scored for two violins, two violas, and cello, the Quintet is a radiant, lyrical work with soaring melodies for the first violin. The Quintet is relaxed and fun, looking back to Haydn and forward to Schubert. The Quintet dates from 1802, at about the time of the composition of the Second Symphony. It shares some of the character of this work, written during a particularly unhappy time in Beethoven's life.

In recent years, there has been a small revival of interest in Beethoven's String Quintet with new recordings, including a CD of Beethoven's complete music for String Quintet by the Zurich String Quintet. Beethoven: String Quintets (Box Set) This new recording of the String Quintet by the Fine Arts Quartet and violist Gil Sharon should encourage more listeners to get to know this work. They give a radiantly early romantic and gemuitlicheit reading to Beethoven's score. Founded in Chicago in 1946, the Fine Arts Quartet has served as quartet-in-residence at the University of Wisconsin -- Milwaukee for many years. I received my first exposure to string quartet music as an adolescent many years ago from live concerts by the Fine Arts Quartet and from their early LP cycle of the Beethoven Quartets.
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Format: Audio CD
Beethoven composed five works for string quintet, too much for one CD.
The Fine Arts Quartet + one recorded three of them: Op.29, Op.104 and the Fugue Op. 137,

Missing is Opus 4, and the Prelude and Fugue H.40 (an unpublished fragment from 1817).

Opus 4 is a string quintet arrangement by Beethoven of his wind octet Op.103 (misleading opus number).
It has been recorded several times.

The Prelude and Fugue H.40 is a late Beethoven rarity. It was included in the 85 CD Brilliant Classics box: Complete Beethoven Edition - or - Beethoven Edition: Complete Works (85CD Box Set), but was unaccountably omitted from Brilliant Classics 2 CD set of "complete" Beethoven Quintets: Beethoven: String Quintets: (Box Set) -or - Beethoven String Quintets (Complete)

The only other recording of H.40 is by the Endellion Quartet + one: Beethoven: Str Quintets

Endellion and Fine Arts duplicate Op.29 and Op.137
Endellion adds Op.4 and H.40
Fine Arts adds Op.104.

If you want all five Beethoven String Quintets, buying these two CDs is the easiest (and cheapest) way to get them.
At least for now.

It would be nice if Naxos would release Volume 2 of the Beethoven Quintets, but that hasn't happened yet.
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