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Although the Tokyo Quartet has been making beautiful music together since 1969, this particular incarnation of the group has only been together since 2002 when Martin Beaver became the fifth first violinist. But while every incarnation of the Tokyo Quartet has been noted for the warmth of tone and the balance of sonorities, this incarnation is perhaps the loveliest of all.Not since the Guarneri Quartet has a quartet turned in such wonderfully poised and consummately self-assured performances. Individually and collectively, the Tokyo Quartet really know how to swell a note, turn a phrase, weigh a sonority, and build a climax, shaping each of the six quartets into a ravishing sculpture. Listeners who prefer a more muscular, more challenging, or more intense performances of the Opus 18 quartets are advised to look elsewhere. But those who like their early Beethoven elegant, buoyant, and tonally lovely will be well satisfied by these performances, particularly as captured in Harmonia Mundi's pellucid digital sound. -All Music GuideJames...