Dover Quartet Completes Ambitious Beethoven Cycle of String Quartets
The celebrated Dover Quartet, the Grammy-nominated ensemble brimming with prestigious awards and residencies, has undertaken the immense task of putting their stamp on all 16 of Beethoven’s celebrated string quartets in a three-volume set. The first two installments, released in 2020 and 2021 respectively, comprised Beethoven’s early and middle quartets and were greeted with ecstatic reviews:
“Beethoven would find it hard to believe that his quartets could be played with such perfection of execution, such beauty of tone, such nuance of expression, and such keen understanding of his music’s meaning and intent.” (Fanfare)
“Their Beethoven is, simply, perfection.” (Classical CD Review).
The third and final volume, released in October, features the composer’s five monumental, revolutionary Late Quartets and imposing Grosse Fuge. The triple-CD release comprises Beethoven’s very last compositions — remarkable and often daunting works that upended the concept of the string quartet. Many modern critics and scholars consider them the ultimate expression of Beethoven’s artistry. Critics of his time were not as universally laudatory. From the album liner notes:
“From the time of Beethoven’s middle-period quartets, in the early 1800s, there were dissenting voices — listeners who did not unequivocally endorse Beethoven’s quartets because of their difficulty… some listeners extolled Beethoven as a great innovator, others considered his work that of a deaf madman.”
Experiencing a composer’s oeuvre on recording allows listeners to immerse themselves in the music in a way that concert performances may not fully allow. In an interview on Cedille’s Classical Chicago podcast, violinist Joel Link noted:
“It’s very difficult to put multiples of (Beethoven string quartets) on a program. Each one of those experiences is so full and rich and self-reflective and explorational that it can be a lot to have multiple of them (on a concert program)… To get to play the Beethoven cycle, is both a daunting and extremely fulfilling experience. When you play his music, you get to explore the gamut of human emotion.”
When asked what he wants listeners to take away from their experience of the Dover’s cycle, Link said:
“Be very open to the experience, feel what you feel, share what you feel, and tell people that classical music can be really deeply moving and say something very intimate and special.”
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.