[ Harmonia Mundi / 3 CD ]
Release Date: Wednesday 1 August 2018
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Launching its complete cycle of Beethoven's string quartets, the Cuarteto Casals presents this first installment featuring initial examples of the genre from each of the three key periods in the composer's career: his formative years, the so-called 'heroic' middle period, and that of his artistic maturity. The ingenious juxtaposition reveals how his superhuman struggle for perfection informed a musical language of breathtaking originality in tandem with a depth of expression without precedent in this genre, of which Beethoven is the uncontested master.
"Strong, muscular but sensitive playing with forward-moving rhythmic impetus keeps the ear alert. A great journey begins." Observer
"The immediately striking thing about these performances is the sound. Cuarteto Casals play on modern instruments but they've assimilated the lessons of historically informed performances…and incorporated them into performances of fleet-footed conviction…The ensemble tone is silvery and transparent, with ringing, resonant tuttis…and textures of real clarity in contrapuntal passages. There's isn't a massive sonority in the whole set; in fact, if I had to choose one word to describe there interpretations, it would be 'classical'." Gramophone
"Cuarteto Casals, rotating first and second violins, give deeply considered, ripe-toned readings, shaping the vast, experimental expanses of Op 59, No 1, into a satisfying whole and attaining gloriously moving depths in the slow movements of two late works." Sunday Times
"Detail is hugely important to this ensemble. Even in the impulsive, vital first movement of Op 18/1, every line and accent can be heard. The Cuarteto Casals is also able to move inside the soundworld of each period: the Adagio of Op 18/1 is remarkably still, but impeccable early Beethoven. Perhaps there could be a touch more humour in places. Interesting to include the string quartet version of Piano Sonata Op 14/1 alongside a dramatic, grand-vista reading of Razumovsky No 1. The Op 127 is magnificently multi-layered and the finest performance here; Op 135 occasionally tends towards the narcissistic." Classical Music
String Quartet No. 1 in F major, Op. 18 No. 1
String Quartet No. 3 in D major, Op. 18 No. 3
String Quartet No. 4 in C minor, Op. 18 No. 4
String Quartet No. 7 in F major, Op. 59 No. 1 'Rasumovsky No. 1'
String Quartet no. 12 op. 127
String Quartet no. 16 op. 135
Piano Sonata arrangement Op. 14 No. 1 Hess 34