A brief investigation of early 19th century quartet performance practice

The teaching in music conservatories of period performance practice is common today, but it still seems very much focused on the baroque and classical periods; the musical ideals of the early 19th century remain the territory of the specialist. More than twenty years ago orchestras, equipped with authentic instruments, started to explore the sound world and playing techniques of the early romantic period, and conductors like Roger Norrington, John Eliot Gardiner and Philippe Herreweghe have been making ground-breaking performances and recordings ever since, heavily influencing the more regular interpreters. But although there are several string quartets who play with gut strings, most of them stay clear of Beethoven territory, and if they do play his quartets, few seem to have the aim of fully trying to recreate the contemporary playing techniques, a notable exception being the British group the Eroica String Quartet.

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