Examiner.com: Late Beethoven from the Cypress String Quartet

Source: Examiner.com
March 14, 2012
by Stephen Smoliar

The latest recording from the Cypress String Quartet (violinists Cecily Ward and Tom Stone, violist Ethan Filner, and cellist Jennifer Kloetzel) takes on an ambitious project. It is a three-CD box set of the six string quartet compositions from the “Late Period” of Ludwig van Beethoven, written between 1822 and 1826. All of the recordings were produced by Ward for the ensemble’s own label (Cypress Performing Arts Association); and the box includes a booklet with an essay by Joseph Kerman (author of The Beethoven Quartets), which provides an excellent guide to some of Beethoven’s most daringly adventurous work.

There are many ways in which Beethoven pushed the envelope with these compositions. My own tastes have always been drawn to his ability to master longer and longer durations for single movements. The most impressive example comes in the Opus 132 quartet in A minor Molto Adagio to which Beethoven gave the title “Solemn Song of Thanks of a Convalescent to the Godhood, in the Lydian mode.” This is music very much on the same scale as the Adagio sostenuto movement of Beethoven’s Opus 106 sonata in B-flat major (“Hammerklavier”), which, when performed properly, makes one think that Beethoven was trying the slow the ticking of the clock, if not force time to stand still. The later meditation on “the Godhood” similarly succeeds in transcending the mortal coil of time itself, this time through the tritone-laden ambiguities of the Lydian mode.

Continue reading the full review on Examiner.com: "Late Beethoven from the Cypress String Quartet" - National Classical Music | Examiner.com