on August 8, 2003
This may very well be the best recording of the late quartets I've ever heard. The highlight, of course, is the massive Grosse Fuge, which is the most far-sighted piece of music ever written. In it, Beethoven predicted trends of early 20th century music. Stravinsky said that it sounded modern to his ears. This performance is exceptional in that it brings out the revolutionary quality of the music without ever sounding like an exercise in 20th century performance. Instead, the dissonances and syncopation are emphasized in a manner that elicits the most emotional and technically perfect performance imaginable. And of course, the other quartets aren't just fillers. No way. The playing on these masterpieces is just as incredible as it is in the Fuge. The incredible detail and perfection demanded by Beethoven is difficult to meet, but the Quarteto Italiano manage to step up to the challenge and surpass anybody's expectations. This is a recording to grab and hold onto forever. It's just exceptional!