The String Quartet No. 1 in D major, Opus 11, was Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's first completed string quartet of three string quartets, published during his lifetime. (An earlier attempt had been abandoned after the first movement had been completed.) Composed in February 1871, it was premiered in Moscow on 16/28 March 1871 by four members of the Russian Musical Society: Ferdinand Laub and Ludvig Minkus, violins; Pryanishnikov, viola; and Wilhelm Fitzenhagen, cello.
The Orford String Quartet was a Canadian string quartet active from 1965 through 1991. They came to be the leading string quartet in Canada, and one of the finest in the world. For 26 years, the Orford String Quartet was the best of its breed in Canada.
This is a very complete set indeed. It includes all the quartets in the latest edition prepared by Jonathan Del Mar which restores many important markings by Beethoven and which has been done in collaboration with the Endellion Quartet. Both versions of the first quartet or included as well as Beethoven's quartet arrangement of the piano sonata Op. 14 no. 1. the Gross Fuge, both string quintets plus other works for string quartet including the two prelude and fugues.
I first heard the late string quartets of Beethoven in my teens, on a budget price LP on the French Musidisc label. I don’t remember much about the performances; one movement that sticks in my mind is the slow movement of Op. 127, which was played at an expansive tempo, and took around twenty minutes. However I do remember the liner-notes, which were obviously translated by someone for whom English was not their first language.
The Cypress String Quartet, based out of San Francisco, CA, has been working on a series of recordings of the complete string quartets of Beethoven, with the quartet's first violinist, Cecily Ward, listed as producer of the recordings. This set of the op. 18 quartets fills out their recorded survey. Interestingly, the quartet essentially went in "reverse order" with respect to issuing their recordings, in that the op. 18 quartets are, of course, the earliest of the Beethoven quartets, but this 2-CD set is the last of the Cypress Quartet's recordings of the cycle to be issued.
The Julliard String Quartet does a magnificent job of presenting Beethoven's material in a technically perfect performance. To a student, this would be the place to start. Classical music walks a tightrope between precision and passion. This recording by the Julliard String Quartet is the best combination of skill, sound, and material.
Never have I heard the extraordinary and even 'strange' or 'otherworldly' character of the late Beethoven string quartets better than in the performance of the Julliard Quartet. They perfectly caption what could not be better described then as the revolution in the writing of string quartets that these late quartets represent. One could even say that some passages lay a bomb under the expectations of contemporary listereners and even now could almost shock you. So powerful and profound is this music while only using the modest means of four string instruments. Away with civilised chitchat, away with certainty! Here comes Beethoven!