The young Austrian Minetti Quartett follow up their first two hänssler CLASSIC releases of works by Haydn and Mendelssohn with works from the pen of the Grand Master of the String Quartet: Ludwig van Beethoven. Two early works from Opus 18, the 4th in the tragic key of C minor and the 2nd in a serene G major, frame the stormy “Quartetto serioso” op 95 in F minor. The unprejudiced naturalness and the multifaceted articulation of these four musicians is presented to fullest advantage in these expressive works, once again showcasing the outstanding musicianship of this young quartet.
Following close on the heels of the mighty F major Quartet (featured in the first volume of this series along with Op. 59, No. 3), Beethoven’s Quartet in E minor, Op. 59 No. 2 could not be more different. Where the F major Quartet pursues its course with a leisurely breadth, the cries of the opening chords of the E minor and the whispers that follow confront a void. The real release comes only in the slow movement, which was clearly a significant piece for the composer, judging by his instruction ‘this piece is to be played with great feeling’. The battle of E minor and E major continues in the scherzo: its fractured waltz comes out into the light of the trio with one of the Russian themes Beethoven promised Count Rasumovsky he would insert into each of the quartets.
Few chamber music groups have as proud a history as the Smetana Quartet, or a history that evokes as much nationalistic passion. Founded during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, the group's very existence was an anomaly during an era when any manifestation of Czech nationalism was outlawed. They survived into the post-Nazi era, and went on to an acclaimed international performing career, making some of the finest chamber music recordings of the 1950s and 1960s…
The performance is certainly first rate, but (unlike the previous reviewer) I found the camera work coming between me and the music much of the time. Many camera changes and self-conscious panning and zooming do not add to the music. The ideal recording, for me at least, would involve a minimum of close ups, include all four performers in frame almost all the time, and little montage or heavy-handed editing. This recording calls attention to the camera placement and movement, whereas the best editing should generally go unnoticed, without artiness, without calling attention to itself. By Salsonero
Kuijken was born in Dilbeek, near Brussels. He was a member of the Alarius Ensemble of Brussels between 1964 and 1972 and formed La Petite Bande in 1972. Since 1971 he has taught Baroque violin at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague and the Koninklijk Muziekconservatorium in Brussels. He is noted for using the older technique of resting the violin on the shoulder without a shoulder rest, rather than held under the chin. He is a member of the Kuijken String Quartet, which he formed in 1986. In recent years, he has also performed as conductor of symphonies of the Romantic era.
The Zurich-based Valentin Berlinsky Quartet, named in honour of the legendary founding cellist of the Borodin Quartet, debuts on Avie with the first in a series of recordings pairing the works of Beethoven and Shostakovich.