Recent Recordings
Marco Borggreve
Beethoven: The 'Late' Quartets, opp. 127, 130, 131, 132, 133 & 135
Label: Harmonia Mundi
Released: October 12, 2010
Catalog Num: HMU SACD 807481

The Tokyo's recording of Beethoven's 'Late' Quartets, released October 12, 2010, rounds out their acclaimed Beethoven cycle with the composer's most transcendent string quartets.

Awarded 'Diapason d'Or' by French critics for the most outstanding classical recording in November.

Awarded International Record Review's "OUTSTANDING" in November's issue.


"The stylistic versatility of the Tokyo Quartet's performances brings out the humanity and humour as much as the starkness of these seminal works...the range of colour (including a Grosse Fuge that balances fire with equanimity) makes this a fine release, which I endorse wholeheartedly."

- David Milsom, The Strad


Virtuosity serving profundity? An unlikely concept perhaps but it happens here....It's the shared experience that tells - the devetailing of the parts, of knowing when to blend or separate, when to assert or comply, all coming together in that tough test, the Grosse Fuge....In sum, a lofty set establishing its own seal...”

- Nalen Anthoni, Gramophone


“This new recording by the Tokyo Quartet... is one of the greatest achievements of the ensemble since it was founded in 1969. The homogeneous tone of the four Stradivari instruments, the excellent fidelity of the sound recording and the perfection of the playing...give this a deserved place among the great recordings of these works, notably those of the Italiano, Alban Berg and Busch quartets.”

- Georges Nicholson, L'Actualite (Canada)


You can’t go wrong with this set. The ‘Late’ String Quartets is a superbly engineered recording of the greatest string quartets ever written, played by one of the world’s finest ensembles...The sound magnificent, vast yet intimate, missing any extraneous noise, with nary a grunt or even a breath from the musicians. What about the playing? There’s never a hint of a strained or wrong note throughout. It’s all exquisite interpretation, the likes of which I haven’t heard since the recordings of the Emerson String Quartet (1998), the live recordings of the Alban Berg Quartet studio (1987) and live (1993), or even the Julliard String Quartet in their Grammy-winning set (1985).

- Peter Bates, Audiophile Audition

(Read more in the Audiophile Audition link below)


"This is not the first time the Tokyo String Quartet have committed Beethoven's late works to disc, but it is the first time with the current line-up and, more significantly, is the first time on SACD. The results are both precise and passionate, with each quartet given a impassioned and intense reading. It is absorbing stuff, drawing the ear into the bizarre microcosm of each work, but the performers don't labour the strangeness of the music, opting instead for an approach driven by melody. This allows them to create impressive coherence within and between movements, even with tempos that are often on the slow side...The sheer integrity of the interpretation makes comparisons with other recordings seem almost redundant."

- Gavin Dixon,


Finest classical” of 2010

The latest incarnation of the Tokyo ensemble marks the completion of its new cycle of the complete Beethoven quartets with performances that adhere to the lofty standards set by the two previous installments in the series. Sensitivity and passion, verve and inwardness coexist happily in these probing accounts, which are captured in crystalline, well-balanced sound.

This release follows albums of Beethoven's early and middle quartets, issued by the group between 2005 and 2009, and while the Tokyo's personnel differs from past lineups, the group has maintained great consistency of tone, superb technique, and refined expression since its founding in 1969. The same warmth of feeling and burnished sonorities that are characteristic of the earlier Beethoven recordings are still found here, and the added benefit of multichannel DSD recording gives the ensemble a heightened sense of separation and clarity, so anyone who is unable to find the older box set will be amply rewarded with these polished renditions.

- Blair Sanderson,

"Top Classical Picks for 2010"

(Read more in the link below)


“These late quartets—said to summarize all Beethoven’s musical explorations—have been recorded by the esteemed Tokyo Quartet in amazing color…..this music is almost beyond belief. It may be that the Tokyo Quartet has an ability to speak to those who also listen to popular music—as well as, of course, to the hardened classical fan.”

- Simon Jay Harper,


"All the works, especially the slow movements, benefit from the Tokyo's lyrical engagement. These players also emphasize the counterpoint found everywhere; the two violinists, violist and cellist are often perfectly balanced so that we can hear every line with equal clarity."

- Lawson Taitte, The Dallas Morning News


3.5 (out of 4) STARS. "...still one of the great string quartets in the world... these performances of Beethoven's greatest masterpieces in the form are worthy to stand with any among their contemporaries."

Jeff Simon, Buffalo News

Related Links
Updated: Dec-20-2010
Back to List
Back to Top