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Beethoven's String Quartets

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  Hello All, I have recently started reading up on Beethoven's chamber music which I am completely unfamiliar with.  Most of what I read praises the string quartets and especially the late string quartets. So I have 2 questions:

  1) Are the earlier string quartets worth knowing? Or should I just concentrate on the late quartets?

  2) What recordings complete or otherwise would you recommend?  I prefer modern recordings with excellent sound.  I have seen so many recordings on the market retailing at various prices I am getting confused...figured I'd ask for help.

   I would appreciate any advice....


Marvin, you should've titled this thread 'Opening a can of worms'! ;D

Expect a bewildering array of recommendations. ;)

All of Beethoven's quartets are worth knowing.  My two favorite complete cycles are the Budapest's mono set on United Archives and the Vegh's stereo cycle on Naive.  Since you want modern sound, the Takacs are superb in the early and middle quartets, and still technically superb in the late quartets.  (I'm not so keen on the interpretations, though.)  The Cleveland Quartet is also excellent.

The early quartets - Op 18 etc - contain some of Beethoven's most delightful music and as a beginner I stringly suggest that you actually start with the quartets from that Opus.



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