Title - 'Beethoven: The Late String Quartets'
Artist - Cypress String Quartet
For those not in the know, The Cypress String Quartet is a professional classical chamber music ensemble formed in 1996. The ensemble was founded and currently resides in San Francisco, California. The quartet's current members are: Cecily Ward, violin,
Tom Stone, violin,
Ethan Filner, viola, and
Jennifer Kloetzel, cello.
The quartet travels approximately 100 days each year, performing throughout much of the United States, as well as in Mexico, Canada, England, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, and Japan. Indeed, the Cypress was Quartet-in-Residence at San Jose State University from 2003 to 2009.
Here on their latest release, the phenomenal 3CD Beethoven: The Late String Quartets, The Cypress String Quartet completes their cycle of the genre's greatest oeuvre with a two-album set of Beethoven's six ground-breaking quartets, Op. 18, alongside a reissue of their previously self-released recording of the late quartets.
For the past several seasons, the Cypresses have immersed themselves in performing Beethoven on tours throughout the U.S. and Europe as well as recording all 16 works plus the Grande Fugue. The completion of their Beethoven cycle is a fitting celebration of the Bay Area-based ensemble's 20th anniversary, as well as their valedictory season: their final performance will take place in June 2016, preceded by a month-long Beethoven celebration performing all of the quartets throughout San Francisco.
String Quartet in E-Flat Major, Opus 127
String Quartet in A Minor, Opus 132
String Quartet in B-Flat Major, Opus 130
Große Fuge, Opus 133
and Alternate Finale
String Quartet in C-Sharp Minor, Opus 131
String Quartet in F Major, Opus 135
The final disc completed for this set includes Beethoven's String Quartet in E-flat Major, Opus. 127 and his String Quartet in A Minor, Opus 132. These performances were recorded at Skywalker Sound by engineer Mark Willsher and produced by Cypress first violinist, Cecily Ward.
The ensemble playing is wonderful, the music these players produce on clearly superb instruments is lovely, the clarity of each instrumental part is exceptional, and the recorded sound is something really special. These recordings of the Late String Quartets sound like actual chamber music-with the Cypress Quartet playing in my living room; it's just that good.
As before, the Cypress Quartet is a remarkable music-making ensemble. Their playing is the utmost in clarity and refinement, yet they always maintain a vigorous and dynamic attack, rendering everything they play both authoritative and pleasurable. They are simply fun to listen to and this incredible 3CD set is just the perfect end to a complete series of masterful works.
Included in the box set are program notes written by Joseph Kerman, the author of The Beethoven Quartets (W. W. Norton & Company).