- String Quartet No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 131
- String Quartet No. 12 in E flat major, Op. 127
Opening the final "Late" period of Beethoven's string quartets, the "Quartet in E flat major, Op. 127," finds Beethoven moving away from the assertive, vigorous nature of the Middle period quartets into a new phase of intimacy and sophistication, and a further breaking away from the quartet composition conventions of the past. Two quartets later, the "Quartet in C sharp minor, Op. 131," Beethoven abandons the four-movement format in favor of seven contrasting movements ranging from tragic to touching to poignant. The Brentano String Quartet brings a special level of refinement and attention to detail in its 2011 Aeon recording. Among its many strengths is an ability to deliver on the chamber music ideals of equal partnership and intellectual dialogue. The group produces a sound that gives the impression of a single, unified instrument that is beautifully balanced and sensitive to the changing importance of individual lines. The differentiation in tone color runs the gamut between the tenderness of the "Op. 127 Adagio" and the forcefulness of the "Op. 131 Allegro finale." Tempo choices throughout the disc generally yield a nice contrast from movement to movement with the exception of the "Op. 131 Presto," which is alarmingly slow and unduly methodical. Aeon's sound is warm and resonant, capturing all the detail Brentano offers.