Commercially Available CDs

Ludwig van Beethoven: The Six Quartets of Op. 18

The Smithson String Quartet (Jaap Schröder & Marilyn McDonald, violins; Judson Griffin, viola; Kenneth Slowik, cello)

(originally issued 1989; rereleased 2010)

Winner of the 10 de Répertoire prize (Paris)

When the twenty-two-year-old Beethoven arrived in Vienna, he had already written quite a few compositions, and his talent was undeniable. But the judgment of a self-styled connoisseur who reprovingly told Beethoven, “My dear young man, you mustn’t complain, for you are neither a Goethe nor a Händel, nor will you ever be one, for such spirits are no longer born,” was certainly that of more people than the composer might have imagined. However, his own assessment of his worth, and the course of action he consequently pursued, were the correct ones to force people to change, however grudgingly, their opinions of his abilities. It is nevertheless remarkable, given the absolute mania for string quartets that apparently infected Viennese composers in the final quarter of the 18th century, that Beethoven waited until 1801 to release his first set of such works. But when they did appear, the Op. 18 quartets were immediately recognized as the highly challenging utterances of a brilliantly original composer.

—from Kenneth Slowik’s liner notes

Listen to the Scherzo from the Quartet in F Major, Op. 18, No. 1

You are missing some Flash content that should appear here! Perhaps your browser cannot display it, or maybe it did not initialize correctly.

One has the impression on hearing the Smithson String Quartet that it simply couldn’t be done any other way. I know that there have been other, more famous, ensembles that have recorded these works: the Berg, Juilliard, Melos, Vegh, Talich, and other quartets. None of them gave me as much pleasure in hearing the Op. 18 set as this recording did. To be placed in the top rank!

—Répertoire (Paris)
On this album: 

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

CD 1:
[1]-[4] Quartet in F Major, Op. 18, No. 1
[5]–[8] Quartet in D Major, Op. 18, No. 3
[9]–[12] Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 18, No. 6

CD 2:
[1]-[4] Quartet in G Major, Op. 18, No. 2
[5]–[8] Quartet in C Minor, Op. 18, No. 4
[9]–[12] Quartet in A Major, Op. 18, No. 5