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Artist Spotlight | Camden Shaw
In celebration of Cedille’s upcoming album release, Beethoven Complete String Quartets: Volume 3 — The Late Quartets we are proud to feature cellist Camden Shaw of the Dover Quartet in our Artist Spotlight series, where Chicago’s classical artists discuss the music important to them.
From the very outset of this immense project, we knew that we wanted the last recording session to be Opus 131; Beethoven’s favorite amongst his entire catalogue, and a piece perhaps fundamentally exploring the pain of things ending. After three full years of recording, it honestly did feel like the recording project itself had a life that was coming to a close – and although this was a relief in some sense, the thought of something so emotionally impactful coming to an end was also truly tragic.
We decided to end the entire project with the last movement of 131; the movement really is about the final fight against time, a fight that cannot be won, but also by its very futility draws out every effort because there is nothing which can follow it. If there were a musical embodiment of Dylan Thomas’s “Rage, rage against the dying of the light”, this is it – and so we raged, and I can say with absolute certainty that recording that movement felt like the world was ending. I’ll never listen to that movement without thinking of how emotional it was to end this truly incredible experience.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Heiliger Dankesang in Opus 132. Something our culture talks more and more about, and rightfully so, is practicing gratitude. Although Beethoven is known more for his temper, his towering intellect, and his stubbornness, one of his most beautiful contributions to the repertoire is an immense movement dedicated to the idea of gratitude: the Heiliger Dankesang in Opus 132 is truly one of the most sublime movements ever composed, and I remember feeling that the process of recording it was as beautiful confluence of elements: the hall in which we recorded was especially suited to this movement; each of our instruments sounded particularly good that day; all of us were in a good mood. The result was a truly immersive, calm, zen feeling of gratitude that matched the music effortlessly, and if there’s something I want to walk away from the project remembering, it is the immense gratitude we have for being part of such a meaningful endeavor.
Beethoven Complete String Quartets: Volume 3 — The Late Quartets is now available for pre-order. To learn more about the project and purchase, click below.
Anthony McGill, New York Philharmonic principal clarinet and 2020 Avery Fisher Prize winner, and the multiple Grammy Award-winning Pacifica Quartet present an album illuminating experiences that have shaped America through works by Richard Danielpour, James Lee III, Ben Shirley (all three world-premiere recordings), and Valerie Coleman. McGill describes it as a project driven by the desire to “expand the capacity for art and music to change the world.”
Our final featured playlist for 2022 spotlights the albums shown on Cedille’s Holiday Gift Recommendations page, including holiday-themed CDs, recent releases, perennial favorites, Grammy winners, and other great choices. Albums are presented in the order in which they appear on the webpage.