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Thread: Budapest String Quartet

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    Senior Member misterjones's Avatar
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    Default Budapest String Quartet

    I probably heard of this quartet long before I even owned a classical recording. The name seemed to be synonymous with greatness, like Heifetz or Cliburn. Are they that great, and if so, why? I have their recordings of Beethoven's late quartets from the early 1950s. (Before I only had the Tokyo String Quartet performing them.) They sound good to me, but I don't have much of an ear for classical recordings. (If a note isn't missed, I'm usually none the wiser.) Can anyone sum up on this?

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    Senior Member jurianbai's Avatar
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    from what I read in Cambridge's companion to string quartet, the Budapest looks like the major ensemble in the past for the genre. I remember don't owned any of the recording, though I must have listened to them via youtube somewhere. You can dig more in wikipedia, the ensemble history closely connected to violinist/composer Jeno Hubay in the begining, and with some intrique chances of formation. there is a New Budapest SQ which recorded Spohr's SQ but this probably did not connected to the Budapest SQ.

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    Senior Member misterjones's Avatar
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    No opinions? I thought they'd have plenty of fans and an equal number of detractors.

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    Senior Member Ukko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by misterjones View Post
    No opinions? I thought they'd have plenty of fans and an equal number of detractors.
    I don't know why there would be many 'detractors'. The ensemble was great in its time, which overlaps the Busch at one end and the Mann-led Julliard at the other. Personally, I feel that the playing was at its technical - and interpretive as related to technique - best before recording technology could adequately reproduce it. Recorded sound may influence my impression that the interpretive targets the Budapest strove for are not the same ones that current ensembles aim for.
    Experience teaches you to recognize a mistake when you've made it again.
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    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    I think the Budapest was great for similar reasons Beethoven was great (don't take this the wrong way, I'm just using him for comparisons' sake). They single-handedly revolutionized the way string quartets worked, played, got payed, concertized...they weren't as technically great as, say, Emerson or some others, but they were a driving force in the whole string quartet business.

    Oh, and they were the first quartet whose members never had a solo career or orchestra career until the quartet broke up, if I recall correctly. That in itself was a huge deal back then.

    I haven't heard many of their recordings. I've got an LP that I never listen to of encore pieces played by them (slow movement of Borodin 2, some Grieg, probably a bit of Beethoven). They were absolutely legendary back in the day for their Beethoven, though of course any recordings are fairly old (c. 1950's). I tried a few years ago to find their Beethoven on CD to no avail, and I'm afraid that now it is actually available cheaply on CD I've rather lost interest.

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    Senior Member misterjones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hilltroll72 View Post
    I don't know why there would be many 'detractors'.
    I learned quickly that there are detractors for everything and everybody in every blog.

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    Senior Member Taneyev's Avatar
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    I've some old recordings, including a few from their original Hungarian team (in the 20s.and firsts 30s), before the Russian invation. A great ensamble. But of the old quartets, I prefer the fantastic Hollywood SQ

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    Senior Member Ukko's Avatar
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    The Hollywood SQ certainly had a 'following'. They really aren't as 'old' as the Budapest though; most of their recordings come from post WW2 though the early '50s, and not the best mono sound of the time. Some recordings have them sounding under-prepared, IMO.

    I like your moniker. I have a recording of Odnoposoff playing Lalo; good.
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    Senior Member Taneyev's Avatar
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    About Odnoposoff, he had to be really very good to take second after Oistrakh, on the 1937 Ysaye contest!

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