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Beethoven Quartet Cycle

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Read my review published today on the Washington Post Web site:

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Elliott Carter, String Quartets 2-4, Pacifica Quartet

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Quartets 1/5
Charles T. Downey, Pacifica leads off Candelight Beethoven cycle
Washington Post, January 25, 2010
On Saturday night the Candlelight Concert Society began a complete cycle of Beethoven’s string quartets at Howard Community College’s Smith Theater in Columbia, Maryland. In this series each concert will feature a different ensemble, and the talented Pacifica Quartet, which has already presented a complete Beethoven cycle by itself elsewhere, set a high standard for the foursomes that follow.

With playing that favored subtlety over raw power, the Pacifica’s sound rarely felt forced in, for instance, the playful handling of op. 18, no. 6, from Beethoven’s early period. The air of restraint, especially the narrow, elegant ribbon of first violinist Simin Ganatra’s tone, was broken only in the gutsy off-beat accents of the scherzo and the emotional polarities of the alternately gloomy and restless last movement, “La Malinconia.” Some tempo choices seemed over-ambitious, like the fast movements of op. 74, from the composer’s middle period, in which short notes in running passages were occasionally blurred or dropped. [Continue reading]
Beethoven, String Quartet Cycle I
Pacifica Quartet
Candlelight Concert Society

Quartet in B-flat Major (op. 18, no. 6, “La Malinconia”)
Quartet in E-flat Major (op. 74, “Harp”)
Quartet in F Major (op. 135)

Freer Gallery of Art in 2005, Kreeger Museum in 2008, recordings of Carter quartets

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