Juilliard String Quartet - The Beethoven Quartets

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Catalog: 19075992332
Format: COMPACT DISC

Juilliard String Quartet

It was in 1964 – a few years after an early foray into Beethoven with four of the works for RCA Victor’s Red Seal label – that the Juilliard String Quartet embarked on this complete set. They started out with the three “Razumovsky” and “Harp” quartets, which Columbia released the next year on its subsidiary Epic label. The six “Early Quartets”, op. 18, followed in 1968–69; the “Late Quartets” in 1969–70, along with op. 95 to complete the set of “Middle Quartets”. By now all the Juilliard recordings were appearing on Columbia Masterworks, including their Beethoven in three separate volumes. In celebration of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, Sony Classical is pleased to present the Juilliard’s complete cycle for the first time on CD in a single box, newly remastered on nine discs.In a 1970 survey of available recordings of the “Middle Quartets”, High Fidelity, the leading US record journal, pinpointed the ensemble’s special qualities: “The Juilliard plays with a sense of precision and rhythmic thrust unmatched by any other quartet currently active … I find their playing highly expressive, but this expressivity is the result of clear articulation of formal structure rather than mere surface nuance.”The same magazine, reviewing the “Late Quartets” in 1974, called the Juilliard’s “a fine achievement. This group has managed to maintain over the years (and over recent personnel changes) the vibrancy and precision that has always been its characteristic, and it has more recently added a dimension of depth and interpretive subtlety that places it at the very top of the field … The incisiveness and force of its playing is generally acknowledged, but what also emerges here is the wonderful fluidity of its performances … One of the principal difficulties in performing the late Beethoven quartets is the problem of integrating the different tempos and characters of juxtaposed, contrasting sections into a larger unit, so that the music doesn’t become overly fragmented. The Juilliard does this exceptionally well and thereby provides a well-focused view of the larger continuity. Individual lines are also carefully differentiated, and the intonation is impeccable.”The leading UK record journal, Gramophone, was similarly generous in its praise of the Juilliard Quartet’s Beethoven. Reviewing the “Early Quartets” in 1976, it wrote: “This is surely one of the great ensembles of our time. The sweet beauty of their tone is emphasized by the superb quality of the recording … Furthermore the balance is unusually good. For once both viola and cello have as much immediacy as the first violin and the stereo placing is unusually clear. The players have superb control over their bows in quick movements some of which are taken incredibly fast! The way the first movement of the B flat goes off like a rocket is irresistible. This is real opera buffa stuff … To a greater extent than any other modern ensemble I can think of the Juilliard Quartet draw attention to structural points and changes of key with touches of rubato.”And writing in 1979 about a limited LP release of their complete Beethoven cycle, Gramophone observed: “There is impeccable intonation, everywhere, and a standard of ensemble playing which is second to none and shows why the Juilliard enjoys a reputation as one of the world’s most renowned quartets.” Now this famous set is more accessible than ever to move and inspire new generations of music lovers.SET CONTENTSDISC 1:Beethoven: String Quartet in F Major, Op. 18 No. 1 (Remastered)Beethoven: String Quartet in G Major, Op. 18 No. 2 (Remastered)DISC 2:Beethoven: String Quartet in D Major, Op. 18 No. 3 (Remastered)Beethoven: String Quartet in C Minor, Op. 18 No. 4 (Remastered)DISC 3:Beethoven: String Quartet in A Major, Op. 18 No. 5 (Remastered)Beethoven: String Quartet in B-Flat Major, Op. 18 No. 6 (Remastered)DISC 4:Beethoven: String Quartet in E-Flat Major, Op. 127 No. 12 (Remastered)Beethoven: String Quartet in B-Flat Major, Op. 130 No. 13 (Remastered)DISC 5:Beethoven: Grosse Fugue in B-Flat Major, Op. 133 (Remastered)Beethove