Beethoven: String Quartets – No 3 in D major, Op 18 No 3; No 11 in F minor, Op 95; No 13 in B flat major, Op 130

Reviewed on Fri 17 Mar, 2017

Throughout is a vivid sense of Beethoven’s signature seriousness of intent, the project’s long gestation in live performances clearly paying a dividend.

I regret coming late to the Elias String Quartet’s Beethoven survey on the strength of the fine and finessed performances on offer here. There’s plenty of dash in the sure-footed shaping of each of the three featured works. Elegance, too, in liquid, loose-limbed playing that gives nimble and nuanced voice to the recherche intricacies of the Op 95 Serioso, is perfectly poised in the stylistically Janus-faced Third Quartet in D major and adroitly encapsulates the muscular bravura of Op 130. Throughout is a vivid sense of Beethoven’s signature seriousness of intent, the project’s long gestation in live performances clearly paying a dividend. There’s a huge distance between the earliest and latest works, but the Elias foursome (violin and cello siblings Sara and Marie Bitlloch, violinist Donald Grant and Martin Saving on viola) traverse it with a searching intelligence and innate musical sensibility. Excellent sound and characteristically exemplary notes courtesy of Barry Cooper.
–Michael Quinn