- String Quartet No. 12 in E flat major, Op. 127
- String Quartet No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 131
- String Quartet No. 15 in A minor ("Heiliger Dankgesang"), Op. 132
- String Quartet No. 16 in F major, Op. 135
- String Quartet No. 11 in F minor ("Serioso"), Op. 95
- String Quartet No. 13 in B flat major, Op. 130
- Fugue for string quartet in B flat major ("Grosse Fuge"), Op. 133
The Tak�cs Quartet wrap up their highly praised Beethoven cycle with this collection of the final six string quartets, among the composer's most restlessly creative and personal works. It's a superb ending to their series, a fitting capstone on one of the finest complete Beethoven quartet sets in the catalogue. As in the previous two entries, the group's technical command, warm tone, and attention to detail are beyond reproach, and they also bring to the music a sense of naturalness and unaffected expression that make listening a joy. In the Presto of the C-sharp Minor Quartet, Op. 131, for instance, they avoid the exaggerated agitation of other versions by holding back on the tempo, allowing the music to speak for itself and saving their zeal for the sizzling finale. Similarly, in the B-flat Major Quartet, Op. 130, the serene mood of the Cavatina -- one of Beethoven's most tenderly lyrical creations -- is achieved without overstatement, but in the "Grosse Fuge" (which they present as the quartet's last movement, as Beethoven originally intended), they whip up a furious storm that shatters the previous movement's reverie. This set also includes the Op. 95 Quartet, "Serioso," which was written more than a decade before the other five works and is typically counted among the middle-period quartets; its forward-looking qualities come out all the more in the company of these visionary late scores. With clear, well-balanced sound, this set offers compelling evidence that even for the most oft-recorded repertoire, there's always a place for fresh, top-notch performances like these.