Quartetto di Cremona

Beethoven Complete String Quartets, Vol V1


WITH two great performances in their established pattern of coupling one early and one late quartet, the Quartetto di Cremona’s magnificent survey of Beethoven’s complete String Quartets moves securely and unquestionably into mastery.

The lightness and deftness (always with power in its drive) of their fantastic interpretation of the fifth of the opus 18 quartets represents yet another call for the stature of these ‘early’ quartets by Beethoven to be reconsidered. Not only did the young composer have technical command at his fingertips, his powers of musical characterisation, as revealed by the Cremona Quartet, are astoundingly inventive, from the acute dynamic contrasts deftly handled throughout, to the riotous cartoon capers and near-Tom and Jerry tail-chasing antics in the finale. Who said that Beethoven had no sense of humour! There was wicked mischief within that gigantic brain. The great B flat Quartet opus 130, with its rollickingly-benign alternative finale, is pure aural and intellectual magic with the flawlessly-judged pacing adopted by the group: the finale is wonderfully cathartic following the gently-aching humanity of the Cavatina: such warm playing; such perfection on a silver disc; what a glory this is.

Michael Tumelty