stunning recording has much for the head, more for the heart,
and really kicks ass (my ass, that is!).
has the difference between the young Beethoven and the heroic
middle period Beethoven been made so clear by both physical
and artistic juxtaposition.
young Italian quartet propels the first movement of the 6th
quartet as if shot out of a gun: bouyant, unbuttoned, insouciant,
devil-may-care-young Beethoven to a tee. The slow movement
is sensitive but does not tolerate lingering. The scherzo
is giddy with offbeat accents and sudden fortissimos. The
"Malincolia" [Melancholy] finale in which the composer
or at least the music is subject to bouts of sadness loses
much of the afflatus of the three earlier movements but still
manages to be enjoyable. This performance is one of the greatest
I've ever heard.
seems different for Beethoven's Quartet #7 (Rasoumovsky #1).
First of all, this is the "Eroica" of Beethoven's
Quartets. Like its namesake, it at one leap enlarges the quartet
form by nearly a factor of two. It has a scherzo in sonata
form. It's first movement is vast both emotionally and musically.
The tone is completely different from early Beethoven; it
is objective and heroic. The Italian Quartet is sober and
expansive. But it is also something else in this recording
that I find unique: the cello and viola are given great prominence
which leads to a more tragic intensity and makes such violin-intensive
performances like the Alban Berg and the Emerson Quartets
sound rather salonish.
have never heard a Scherzo to equal this one. Frankly, the
Scherzo with all its developments can get tedious. Not here!
The slow movement is incredibly moving with the young (he
must be!) Paolo Borciani, the first violinist, playing with
great intensity and tenderness. The last movement can sound
anti-climatic, but here it is joyous and unbuttoned, almost
like early Beethoven, but subjected to developments beyond
reproduction is both mellow and lifelike in Quartet #7. There
is some harshness in #6, but who cares, since one has a front
seat on a first class rocket.