Posts Tagged ‘early string quartets’

BLOGCRITICS: Music Review – Cypress SQ – Beethoven – The Early String Quartets

June 6, 2016
by Jon Sobel

The Cypress String Quartet‘s new two-CD set of Beethoven’s Op. 18, known as his Early String Quartets, completes the group’s 20-year project of studying and recording all the composer’s string quartets, a form he took from Haydn and sculpted into a body of work the likes of which the music world had never seen – nor has it seen since.

Beethoven said he based the slow movement of Quartet No. 1 on the death scene in Romeo and Juliet. On the Cypress’s recording, the driving figures that burst from the middle section of the slow movement lurch out of the speakers like stumbling ogres. It’s jarring at first. Then it asserts a devil-may-care passion that feels just right. The first violin even supplies a Heifetz-esque romantic flourish at the end.

By finding the shadows in No. 1’s jaunty finale, the musicians put a final accent on the assertion that the Op. 18 quartets already display, as Jan Swafford’s liner notes say, “the kind of singular expressiveness, the unity and dramatic unfolding that would mark all of Beethoven’s mature works.” read more »