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This section is not intended to be a review of existing CDs. Good critics have done this already, and are experts on the subject. I wish just to draw your attention to particular works and interpretations.
Title Beethoven: The Forgotten Works for String Quartet

This extraordinary CD presents 23 works of which 20 have never been recorded.

The featured work is Beethoven's "Brilliant" String Quartet in A major, Biamonti 382.

It also includes 13 Counterpoint Studies written by Beethoven for his teacher Albrechtsberger and the rare String Quartet version of the world famous "Andante Favori," WoO 57 and a dozen other remarkable rare, never before heard, works.

All of these special pieces are performed by the Covington String Quartet who has been receiving extraordinary praise for thier recent performances in the US.

This is a delightful, refreshing CD from begining to end.

The Forgotten Works for String Quartet

Convington String Quartet
Monument Records

Title Rare pieces for string quartet and string quintets

The Quartet Ysaÿe delivers to us a CD of very great quality, a new sonority and melody. This marvel gathers together the two works of Beethoven for string quintet, but also some unusual pieces for string quartet:


  • Quintet for strings, opus 29;
  • Fugue for string quintet, opus 137.


  • Piece in B minor (not catalogued);
  • Minuet, Hess 33;
  • Prelude and Fugue, Hess 30;
  • Arrangement of the Fugue of the Overture of Solomon of Handel, Hess 36;
  • Arrangement of the sonata for piano opus 14 no. 1, Hess 34.
A very complete booklet, by Bernard Fournier, completes this little gem.

Ysaÿe Quartet
Quatuor Ysaÿe
and Shuli Waterman (viola)
Ysaÿe Records - 2004

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Title Quartets on Ludwig van Beethoven's own instruments

Schuppanzigh Quartet

String quartet opus 18 n°4 and opus 59 n°3, by the Schuppanzigh quartet, playing on Beethoven's string instruments.
Published by Ars Musici in cooperation with Deutschland Radio, 1999.

Some years ago a conference was held at Bonn with the subject of setting up a quartet of violin, viola, cello and double bass on Beethoven's own instruments (those given by Prince Lichnowsky).

Here are the references on the CD which has been edited by the quartet and which is now on sale at the BeethovenHaus at Bonn: string quartet opus 18 n°4 and opus 59 n°3, by the Schuppanzigh quartet, playing on Beethoven's string instruments.

The quality of the instruments is much less than had been hoped for: they are not from the schools of Guarneri or Stradivarius, but Austrian-made instruments (only the cello is Italian) from the XVIIIe century...

Sylvie Laurent

The "Schuppanzig Quartet"s playing of the two great quartets Op.18 no.4 and Op.59 no.3 is impeccable. Their tempi is overall rather fast, considerably faster than my reference recordings by The Amadeus Quartet. The 4th movement of the Op.59 no.3 is played in breakneck speed. In the 4th movement of Op.18 no.4 we get a little extra bonus: a cadenza by the 1st violin after the fermata in measure 116. I have not heard anything like that in other recordings.

The Schuppanzigs play just as the performance practice in Beethoven's days by all probability was: Very little vibrato (for example the Introduzione to the 1st movement of Op.59 no.3, the sustained notes there are practically vibrato-free), the animation of longer notes by means of crescendo and decrescendo giving the tone a "swell", and liberal use of open strings.

It is a pleasure to listen to the four instrments' different "character". We have rich opportunity to do so in the 2nd movement of Op.59 no.3, which in my view is that quartet's climax. The viola's sound is particularly beautiful, just listen to the measures 25 and onwards where it takes over the main theme. The viola is the best preserved of the four (by the way, that instrument has a highly original form, with convoluted edges and f-holes). Unfortunately, the scholars are not 100% certain as to whether all four instruments in fact ever were in Beethoven's possession.

Finn Løvfold

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Title The complete string quartets

The Talich quartet offers us music which is moving, sensitive and warm. The quartets of Beethoven in all their majesty…

The box of seven CDs is hailed by all music critics, and justly so!

A booklet briefly presents each work: history, influence and composition.

Here is a collection not to miss…

Beethoven cds

Recorded between 1978 and 1981
Calliope 2001
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Title The string quartets arranged from the piano sanatas Opus 2

Beethoven on cd

Bamberger Streichquartett
3 string quartets arranged from the piano sonatas Opus 2
Cavalli Records - 1992

In 1828, three string quartets 'composed by Beethoven' were published in Paris. In fact, they were arrangements of the three piano sonatas Opus 2.

It might seem curious, and a real non sense, to create string quartets from piano sonatas.

But Beethoven had done this with his piano sonata Opus 14 around 1801-1802.

However, the arranger of these works is not known...

Title String quartet after the sonata for piano opus 14-1/Hess 34

Beethoven frequently lost his temper with composers and music editors who encouraged the arrangement of works for "instruments which are opposing in every respect".

He deemed that only the composer of a sonata for piano may transcribe it for string quartet.

This is the case of the sonata opus 14-1. The version for quartet is referenced Hess 34...

The CD also includes the quartet opus 59-1.

Beethoven Cd
Leipziger Streichquartett
MDG 1996
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Title The 6 string quartets opus 18 and 6 creations inspired by these works
The 6 string quartets opus 18 and 6 creations inspired by these works
3 cds
Vanguard Classics

The Brodsky Quartet perform together the 6 string quartets. Each of these works has inspired an original creation also for string quartet:

  • Opus 18, no 1 : Metro Navitas by Javier Alvarez;
  • Opus 18, no 2 : Quartet no 2 by Tunde Jegede;
  • Opus 18, no 3 : At the Grave of Beethoven by Karen Tanaka;
  • Opus 18, no 4 : Opus California by Sally Beamish;
  • Opus 18, no 5 : Quartet no 6 opus 106 by Dimitri Smirnov;
  • Opus 18, no 6 : Quartet no 10 opus 84 "La Malinconia" by Elenairsova.

A very interesting experience and one which merits more than an inattentive listening, and which displays well the brilliant composer Beethoven was.

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Title The complete string quartets and opus 14-1, adapted for quartet

The Gewandhaus Quartet offers us this superb box set of high quality (14x25.5 cm) for this complete set of string quartets. Their sound is luminous and the pleasure is there for the taking.

The box also includes the sonata 14 no. 1 adapted for string quartet, as well as a conversation with Martin Hoffmeister.

The booklet, of which 36 pages are in French, presents the history of the Gewandhaus Quartet and each of the 16 string quartets of Beethoven. Besides this, the lay out of the pages is clear with a descriptive text where necessary.
The ear, the eye and the spirit each find pleasure with this set.

A great success.

The complete string quartets and opus 14-1, adapted for quartet

Gewandhaus Quartett
NCA - 2003 - 10 cds
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Title The Serioso quartet, opus 95, arranged by Mahler for string orchestra
Beethoven Cd
Arts - 1998

Gustav Mahler made many arrangements of the works of Ludwig van Beethoven, notably the quartet in F minor opus 95, the “Serioso”. He justified the arrangement for string orchestra by claiming that it makes quartets (and particularly those of Beethoven) more accessible to the general public as they appreciate orchestral works more than chamber works.

I myself love these arrangements: the additional instruments do not in any way impede the greatness of these works. A strongly recommended CD.

Also on the CD, the string quartet of Franz Schubert “Der Tod und das Mädchen”.
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Title The opus 127 quartet for string orchestra

Murray Perahia conducts the strings of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields for a full and strong performance of this quartet of Beethoven.

It is at one and the same time the same work, and also different, more rich but less personal, which the listener discovers. The quartet not having sudden arrangement, every note is carefully presented, the sound is serene and transports us towards new summits.

Also on the CD, the pianist performs the Sonata for piano opus 101, in a new critical edition in his hand.

CD Beethoven - Perahia
Sony - 2004

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Title The three quartets for piano, WoO 36

In 1785, Beethoven composed three quartets for piano, violin, viola and cello. Published after his death, but still 1827, the three works are of a composer who was still only 15 years of age are very pleasant. One finds the influence of Mozart and Clementi, for example.

Works to (re)discover.
CD Piano Quartets
Warner Fonit - 2003
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TitleThe six string quartets opus 18 on period instruments

Beethoven on Cd
Deutsche Harmonia Mundi
2 CD - 1989

The Smithson String Quartet performs the six first string quartets of Beethoven on instruments of the 17th and 18th centuries.

The result is neither exceptional, nor of bad quality.  The sound is agreeable.  Perhaps it is missing some more marked attack and a more enhanced joy, more impassioned?

Look for it in second hand sales.

Jaap Schröder, violin (Cappa 1684), Marylin McDonald, violin (Stainer 1665), Judson Griffin, viola (Alban 1710), Kenneth Slowik, cello (Grosset 1748).

Many thanks to Melanie PIDDOCKE and Hannah SALTER
for their translations of this page from French into English
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