On the heels of a highly successful tour of Europe and North America (including concerts in twelve U.S. cities) dedicated exclusively to the music of Beethoven, the Artemis Quartet is heard this month on two new all-Beethoven releases (details follow). For two successive seasons the group is performing and recording Beethoven on two continents, as part of a Beethoven marathon that will conclude in Spring 2011 with additional live performances and the release of a boxed set of the composer’s complete string quartets on the Virgin Classics label.
In 2005, the quartet’s debut release for the label comprised Beethoven’s Op. 59, No. 1 and Op. 95. A second release in 2008 brought together Op. 59, No. 2 and Op. 18, No. 4, and introduced the ensemble’s newest members, Gregor Sigl (violin) and Friedemann Weigle (viola). The new release features four additional Beethoven quartets: Op.131; Op.18, No. 2; Op.132; and Op. 59, No. 3. Originally released as two separate CDs on the Ars Musici label, these will now appear on a single two-CD set from Virgin Classics.
"The Artemis String Quartet makes chamber music spectacular: the quartet's playing is polished and precise but at the same time spontaneous, fresh and explosive as though the music is being improvised on the spot. Even the physical motions involved with the bowing are beautifully choreographed to reflect the mood of the music." - The Enquirer
Beethoven: String Quartets Op. 131; Op. 18, No. 2; Op. 132; and Op. 59, No. 3
Two-CD set and downloads available May 4, 2010 from Virgin Classics
This fourth installment of the Artemis Quartet’s traversal of Beethoven’s complete string quartets features the sixth and final quartet from his Op. 18 set, as well as the Op. 130 quartet and “Grosse Fuge,” Op. 133. The enormous, knotty and enigmatic “Grosse Fuge” was Beethoven’s original finale for the Op. 130 quartet, but because of its extraordinary technical demands and supposedly inscrutable character, his publisher convinced him to write an alternative finale. The “Grosse Fuge” was later published separately as Beethoven’s Op. 133, and appears on Artemis’s recording as the finale of Op. 130.
Beethoven: String Quartets Op. 18, No. 6; Op. 130; and Op. 133 (“Grosse Fuge”)
CD and downloads available May 4, 2010 from Virgin Classics