"The first 'Razumovsky' quartet is given a reading of total effectiveness...This one is strongly recommended to all lovers of quartets and quartet playing as an encouraging example of renewal and refreshment." Fanfare
With the release of these two quartets, the Cleveland Quartet embarks on a recording cycle of Beethoven's complete string quartets on Telarc. The Cleveland Quartet has been called "second to none" by the Boston Globe. The ensemble's commitment, virtuosity, and refinement of tone and style have been widely noted by critics and performers, and are hallmarks of each release in this series.
The Quartet in B-flat major, Op. 18, No. 6 (1800) shows signs of the great stylistic change to come in Beethoven's music, especially in the Eroica Symphony (1803). This symphony is considered to be the point of departure for a period characterized by extraordinary innovation in the use of the standard compositional forms of the time. The Quartet in F major, Op. 59, No. 1 (one of the three "Razumovsky" Quartets) features an astounding degree of thematic development in all movements, a trait that was to become even more pronounced as Beethoven's career progressed.
The Cleveland Quartet's interpretation of the quartets is marked and enhanced by a great freedom of expression. Their performances of the Beethoven string quartets have met with a great deal of critical acclaim. The Los Angeles Times remarked, "...Beethoven's first 'Rasumovsky' quartet [was] played with irresistible warmth, rhythmic agility and impecable ensemble balance."