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.
Named one of the greatest string quartets of the last 100 years by BBC Music Magazine, the Grammy-nominated Dover Quartet’s critically acclaimed epic traversal of Beethoven’s Complete String Quartets, including Vol. 1: The Opus 18 Quartets (2020), Vol. 2: The Middle Quartets (2021), and Vol. 3: The Late Quartets (2022), is now available as a specially priced 8-disc boxed set (price of 3 CDs).
For the month of Thanksgiving, 50 pieces whose lyrics (actual or implied) give thanks to or praise God. Especially featured is mid-20th century Chicago composer Leo Sowerby’s 1946 Pulitzer Prize-winning hymn of praise, The Canticle of the Sun, whose movements are interspersed through the playlist.
On this episode of Classical Chicago, Cedille President Jim Ginsburg talks with Chicago a cappella Artistic Director John William Trotter about his experience recording Cedille’s latest release, Miracle of Miracles — Music for Hanukkah. The album features a collection of songs from more than 25 years of Chicago a cappella performances, arranged into a single program that replays the story of Hanukkah.