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Penguin Guide, January 2009

BEETHOVEN: String Quartets Op. 59, No. 1, ‘Rasumovsky’ and Op. 95, ‘Serioso’ 8.554181
BEETHOVEN: String Quartets Op. 59, No. 2, ‘Rasumovsky’ and Op. 74, ‘Harp’ 8.550562
BEETHOVEN: String Quartets Op. 59, No. 3, ‘Rasumovsky’ and Op. 127 8.550563
BEETHOVEN: String Quartet, Op. 130 / Grosse Fuge, Op. 133 8.554593
BEETHOVEN: String Quartets, Opp. 135 and 131 8.554594
BEETHOVEN: String Quartets Op. 132 and H. 34 8.554592

The Kodály have the benefit of very good recorded sound, with a particularly good balance, and the actual playing is very fine, with judiciously chosen tempi and expertly moulded phrasing. Both the Rasumovsky Quartets here are very good indeed: thoughtful, decently paced and thoroughly musical accounts, which will give satisfaction. No one getting any of these discs is likely to be disappointed…

Richard Todd
Ottawa Citizen, December 2001

"The Kodaly Quartet's lucidity is uncommon, especially on the great Opus 131, Beethoven's own favourite."

Stephen Johnson
BBC Music Magazine, August 2001

"The Kodaly Quartet is a polished, taut, thoroughly integrated foursome, capable of intelligent, probing, tastefully expressive interpretation...well recorded."

Michael Jameson, June 2001

"The Kodály Quartet's Beethoven survey on Naxos brings fine performances and good digital recordings at minimal cost. Following their acclaimed Haydn series and crossing the century divide into the 1800s, the Kodálys' Beethoven impresses for its clarity of vision and unwavering technical command. Volume 9 includes the group's long-awaited account of the C-sharp minor quartet, paired with that slighter but no less enigmatic tailpiece to the cycle, Op. 135 in F, which is placed first here. In its opening movement the Kodály Quartet appropriately elicits an almost Haydnesque lightness and grace that the Lindsay Quartet (ASV) fails to capture and that comes off as too crystalline-delicate in the Tokyo Quartet's performance on RCA. The Kodálys pace the Vivace scherzo very robustly indeed--so here it's strength and power, not grace, that's the key. Only the Alban Berg Quartet's EMI reading finds greater dynamic contrast, but that's due more to the exceptionally transparent recording than the playing itself. In the finale, the Kodálys are again outstanding, making the music seem oddly paradoxical and even old-fashioned, providing a clue to the fact that even in Beethoven's last quartet, Haydn's jocular verve isn't deeply hidden.

"Op. 131 is a triumph for the Kodálys, whose account ranks with the best modern performances, such as those by the Berg, Vegh, and Talich Quartets. True, the opening isn't clothed with the kind of mystery we hear on the Vegh Quartet's Astrée recording, but then as the first Allegro shows, the Kodály Quartet has better discipline and ensemble, and you won't hear the occasionally rough playing that's such an endearing feature of the Vegh cycle. The timeless expanse of the Andante at the hub of the work is again wonderfully played, and only in the last details of nuance and sensitivity are the Bergs possibly superior--and their EMI recording allows more of the interplay between inner voices to register in the very quietest sections. Not even the Bergs achieve a more abrupt and shocking contrast in the Presto that follows, although the Kodalys don't quite manage the breathless return to normal bowing after the weird-sounding "Ponticello" section. The finale and its sad preface are both superbly done, and in all but the finest details in which the Bergs memorably excel, the Kodály Quartet's account of Op. 131 is outstanding--and more than a bargain at the price."

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