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CD Review

Ludwig van Beethoven

Late String Quartets

  • Quartet for Strings In E Flat Major, Op. 127
  • Quartet for Strings in C minor, Op. 131
  • Quartet for Strings in B Flat Major, Op. 130
  • Grosse Fugue in B Flat Major, Op. 133
  • Quartet for Strings in A minor, Op. 132
  • Quartet for Strings in F Major, Op. 135
Quartet Wihan
Nimbus NI6100 3CDs 192m DDD
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These sublime works have always had a fine following on disc and this set made during live recordings in Prague is certainly no exception. Playing with passion and alacrity from the word go, the Quartet Wihan show that they are model Beethoven players in every department.

It would be nitpicking to go into details of playing technique and nuance but I urge enthusiasts to sample the opening movement of, Op. 131 or the sublime Grosse Fugue to grab a taste of what's on offer here., Op. 132 and, Op. 130 are also fine examples of the Wihan's superb sense of ensemble which recalls previous greats such as the Weller Quartet, the Amadeus and the Alban Berg whose set on EMI remains a performance benchmark for these works.

Recordings are excellent and there is no particular spotlight on any instrument which would make proceedings slightly cloudy. A detailed essay by Misha Donat also makes for essential reading to learn more on the background of these quartets. One certainly hopes for more excellent recordings from this source on what appears to be a new Nimbus Alliance label.

Copyright © 2009, Gerald Fenech