Dallas News: Classical CD Reviews – Late Beethoven, etc.

Source: Dallas News
May 7, 2012
by Scott Cantrell

The Late String Quartets
Cypress String Quartet (Cypress, three CDs)

Founded in San Francisco in 1996, the Cypress String Quartet hasn’t yet achieved the highest profile. Judging by this self-issued set of the late Beethoven quartets, though, it’s a superb foursome. Indeed, this is as fine a survey of these brilliant but challenging works as you’ll find anywhere.

The Cypress has perfect pitch for the music’s mix of drama and whimsy, compositional virtuosity and out-of-body sublimity. They even almost resist temptations to overplay in the overwrought Grosse Fuge , the original finale of Op. 130. (It’s here along with the Allegro that Beethoven supplied as an alternate finale.)

This is playing of fastidious polish, taut in ensemble but aptly pliant in expression. Add vivid recorded sound, and the music sounds freshly scrubbed and immediate in impact. Program notes by the eminent musicologist Joseph Kerman, though, are surprisingly superficial.

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