The string quartet is the highest achievement of classical music. How to describe what a great string quartet is/does? Four voices that sing, simultaneously dependently and independently. Or, as someone else once said, "a conversation among four very intelligent and witty persons." After almost 200 years, Beethoven's 16 quartets still stand as the acme of the form, notwithstanding brilliant contributions from just about every important composer since. There are many wonderful performances of the Beethoven quartets available on CD, but none are more distinguished than these performances by the Talich Quartet. More than any other ensemble in my experience, the Talich's performances proclaim that intimacy is the true experience of quartet playing (and listening). Every phrase is projected with exquisite attention to the constantly shifting balance of light and shadow that is the hallmark of the greatest quartet playing. Tempos are vigorous without being rushed, rubato is applied in the subtlest way imaginable, and dynamics seem to explore impossible distinctions between pp and ppp. In short, every performance in this set invites you to carefully listen to Beethoven's musical argument as you've never listened before.T. Beers – Amazon
Czech quarter: two classics, a rarity and a treasure as dear to Nicolas Derny as to Georges Zeisel: the terrible Quartet "From my life" by young Vlach, LP Electrola unpublished on CD.
KOMITAS QUARTET Established in 1924 at the Moscow State Tchaykovsky Conservatory by four talented Armenian students, Komitas State Quartet celebrates its 80th Anniversary in 2004. The oldest quartet of Viennese school among existing in the world has recently applied to Guinness World Records for official recognition of that fact and the request has been approved as unique. All musicians of the quartet play Guarnerius instruments, Andrea and Pietro, of 17 and 18 centuries and their skill is so brilliant that it has always created overwhelming response in all countries of the world they toured, over 70 in total. True ambassadors of Armenian culture, Komitas State Quartet produce a unique sound distinct, vivid and original.