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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - 'Beethoven: The Early 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 stunning 2CD Beethoven: The Early String Quartets, The Cypress String Quartet completes their cycle of the genre's greatest oeuvre with a double 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. This double album culled from 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.

Disc 1:
String Quartet Op.18 No.1
String Quartet Op.18 No.5
String Quartet Op.18 No.6

Disc 2:
String Quartet Op.18 No.2
String Quartet Op.18 No.3
String Quartet Op.18 No.4

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 2CD set is just the perfect way to experience what are, truly, one of the worlds greatest quartets.

Included in this new 2-CD set - released internationally on May 6, 2016 on Avie Records - are original, extensive and insightful program notes written by Jan Swafford, author of "Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph."