Beethoven: String Quartets Op 59, String Quintet Op 29; Kuijken Quartet – review

(Challenge Classics)

This is a family affair: two generations of Kuijkens – Veronica, Sigiswald, Sara and Wieland – play Beethoven's three middle-period Opus 59 Quartets, the "Rasumovskys". The set may not replace existing favourites in a heavily populated field. There's none of the radiance and persuasion of the Emersons or the intimacy of the Takács. Instead, their unadorned verve and clarity reflect a background in period performance, which has its own appeal. They use "modern" instruments but the bowing is light and the vibrato discreet, which exposes some slips in passagework. Sigiswald's wife, viola player Marleen Thiers, joins them for the less familiar Quintet Op 29, worth checking out for its beguiling and expressive adagio.


Fiona Maddocks

The GuardianTramp

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