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Klassiek - Verschenen op 23 oktober 2012 | Zig-Zag Territoires

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen Hi-Res Audio
The Belcea Quartet is a group far removed from the rather sober general tradition of British music-making. This box set, covering eight of Beethoven's 16 string quartets, might be called extreme Beethoven, and the beauty of extreme playing is that if the group has the technical chops to hold it together, it can be very exciting indeed. Beethoven in the eyes of the Belcea players is a contemporary individual: brash and punkish in the early quartets, tortured but not necessarily tragic in the middle ones, lofty but not necessarily spiritual in the late ones. The quartet mixes quartets from all three periods here as a nice change from stolid early-middle-late boxes. It pushes tempos to perilous levels but keeps the music on track and organized into larger structures. In this set, sample the first-movement of the most violent quartet of all, the String Quartet No. 11 in F minor, Op. 95, for an idea of what the Belcea is up to. It blazes through the opening F minor theme at top speed but then manages to ratchet down the tension level sharply for the major second theme so that it sounds like a real lyrical interlude, even at high speed. This is difficult to pull off, and other quartets that emphasize the violence of this movement often generate a perfunctory second theme. Throughout, there are small, well-considered, exhaustively rehearsed details. The early Op. 18 quartets have an obstreperous quality, especially in the scherzos and minuets, that seems to fit very well with what is known of the young Beethoven's personality. In the Quartet No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 131, the Belcea sets aside any exotica for a deeply transcendent reading that progresses inexorably through the seven movements from a solemn opening fugue to the ethereal decorations of the end. This is a wonderful half of a Beethoven set, recorded very well in live performance, and if it stirs up controversy in an often moribund repertory, that's all to the good. © TiVo
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Kwartetten - Verschenen op 26 maart 2013 | Zig-Zag Territoires

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Record of the Month - Hi-Res Audio
Because the Belcea Quartet has divided the string quartets of Ludwig van Beethoven between two box sets, and arranged them so that early, middle, and late works appear in each volume, newcomers to this music may find the program a bit arbitrary and slightly complicated. Undoubtedly, the Belcea wants listeners to approach these landmark works with new ears, and to prevent the expectations that come with time-honored groupings. Hearing the three "Razumovsky" quartets played together, for example, or the Grosse Fuge with its original parent work, Op. 130, listeners might lose that most essential feature in Beethoven, the element of surprise. And the Belcea is quite good at surprises. The group takes pains to articulate the quartets in unpredictable ways, giving each part a strong character, accentuating passages that are often smoothed over, and providing an edginess that maintains suspense. Tempos are on the brisk side, and the string tone is sometimes brusque and even rough, with a kind of grit that is almost harsh. The tension is at its most pronounced in the Grosse Fuge, which is played with a manic frenzy that tangles the counterpoint to the point of incomprehensibility and makes the work unnecessarily grotesque. However, this is an extreme case, and the remaining works are played with less aggressiveness and more humanity. By far the loveliest playing is in the slow movements, particularly in the tender Cavatina of Op. 130, and the sublime Lento assai of Op. 135. Still, taken as a whole, the Belcea's interpretations are bracing and vigorous by most standards, and listeners should sample this set extensively before purchasing. © TiVo
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Klassiek - Verschenen op 14 februari 2014 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet
Alpha is reissuing the complete Beethoven quartets by the Belcea Quartet : 'Beethoven's music has been at the center of our life as a quartet from our very first rehearsal together back in 1994. However, it is more recently that we immersed ourselves totally in Beethoven in preparation for, and during the course of the immense project of performing and recording all of his string quartets in the season 2011/12. It is during this past year that Beethoven's music became an all-consuming passion for each of us. These sixteen quartets written some two hundred years ago form one the most complete and powerful musical statements ever made. The completeness lies in their unprecedented intensity and in the astonishing development that can be traced between the early and the late works - a thirty-year long revolution which altered forever the way we experience music.' © Alpha Classics
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Klassiek - Verschenen op 11 februari 2014 | Zig-Zag Territoires

Hi-Res Booklet
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Klassiek - Verschenen op 14 februari 2014 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet
Alpha is reissuing the complete Beethoven quartets by the Belcea Quartet : 'Beethoven's music has been at the center of our life as a quartet from our very first rehearsal together back in 1994. However, it is more recently that we immersed ourselves totally in Beethoven in preparation for, and during the course of the immense project of performing and recording all of his string quartets in the season 2011/12. It is during this past year that Beethoven's music became an all-consuming passion for each of us. These sixteen quartets written some two hundred years ago form one the most complete and powerful musical statements ever made. The completeness lies in their unprecedented intensity and in the astonishing development that can be traced between the early and the late works - a thirty-year long revolution which altered forever the way we experience music.' © Alpha Classics