New Classical Tracks®

Calidore String Quartet tells the story of Beethoven by starting from the end

The Calidore String Quartet has released the first installment of its Beethoven cycle.Courtesy of artist

New Classical Tracks - Calidore String Quartet (Extended)


download audio

February 22, 2023

Calidore String Quartet — Beethoven: The Late Quartets (Signum Classics)

New Classical Tracks - Calidore Quartet

Sometimes the best way to tell a story is to start at the end. That way your destination is clear. That’s what the Calidore String Quartet decided to do when recording all of Beethoven’s String Quartets during the pandemic and recently releasing their first 3-CD set, Beethoven: The Late Quartets.

Cellist Estelle Choi said about the creation of the project, “It will be an interesting journey to go back and realize how much uniqueness and creativity was involved in every single one of his quartets. Each one is completely different from the other.”

Why are these string quartets significant to you?

“The Beethoven String Quartets span his entire career. You get work from every single period of his life. The importance of these works is immeasurable. It ushered in a completely new era and cemented the roots of the string quartet as a vehicle, not just for looking into the past but also looking far into the future.

“Suppose you're coming into this not knowing anything about the string quartets. In that case, it represents an incredible body of work from somebody who pushed his creativity and did not feel constrained to fit the status quo. You can explore his compositional eras and find something that speaks to you because his music expresses the human condition.”

How do these late quartets unite us as people?

In his struggles, you see how he made himself heard within the music. One particular piece which hits me personally is Opus. 132, Heiliger Dankgesang. This is Beethoven struggling to come to terms with knowing that he's towards the end of his life. But in the slow movement, he takes a moment to give thanks.

“A visceral moment in learning this piece that stays with me forever is when we worked with the first violinist from the Alben Berg Quartet, Günter Pichler. He was describing this movement as going from this gorgeous chorale-like opening into the next section which is renewed force.

“He described it as imagining somebody who had been belabored with sickness, suddenly being able to stand up and walk as a healthy individual. That has always stayed with me in imagining Beethoven feeling the burden of this illness and yet being able to stand up and say, ‘No, there is something to live for.’”


Calidore String Quartet — Beethoven: The Late Quartets (Signum Classics)

Calidore String Quartet (official site)