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Thread: Bartok's Quartets

  1. #106
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldhoosierdude View Post

    I can find almost no info on this Quartet. I'm guessing they are Hungarian?
    There are three transfers: Denon, Tuxedo Music and Bibliotheque Nationale de France. I think the last, the BNF, is best, but there's not much in it, and I could be wrong, all are listenable. The sound is historic, but not too painful.

    People who want a more lyrical approach to the all the quartets but who need good sound may well enjoy the Alban Berg Quartet.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Aug-06-2019 at 21:03.

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    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldhoosierdude View Post
    Ah, someone familiar with the Ramor set. The only place I can hear before buying is the 30 second samples on Amazon. Am I hearing right that the sound quality seems muted/dull in the slightest? I don't know, maybe once I get it on my music app where there is more sound refinement, it is different.

    I can find almost no info on this Quartet. I'm guessing they are Hungarian?
    The Ramor SQ Bartok recordings are available on Amazon, including as an inexpensive download:
    https://www.amazon.com/Bartok-Ramor-.../dp/B004ZPGTJW. They were the first Bartok string quartet performances that I ever liked. Take the astringent and harsh performances by some others and dump them in the ocean, as far as I’m concerned. One can have incisive, clear and modern Bartok, and still play them as music, still play them with the kind of musically they deserve. Bartok was a modern, an uncompromising modern, but unnecessary and inappropriate harshness, not to mention a forbidding astringency, can be a turn-off for some listeners, and I found the Ramors ideal, especially as an introduction to these great string quartets. As mentioned before, the Ramor SQ were Hungarians and loved Bartok.
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Aug-08-2019 at 16:52.
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  4. #108
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    Thanks, Larkenfield! That harsh and astringent quality you mention is so prevalent among Bartok quartet recordings. I have two sets by Takacs, and Alban Berg Quartet and I don't enjoy the sound. Anyone who has attended a live performance knows that strings don't sound that way when you're in the room. I'll look into the Ramor Quartet to see if I can live with their sound.

    I'll check Presto Classical. Their samples seem to be longer and of better quality than Amazon.
    Last edited by starthrower; Aug-08-2019 at 17:10.
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    Yes
    harsh, steely Bartok SQ's,. you can dump in the trash can , today, That weird approach is too post mod and is not what Bartok intended.
    This is a good time to note what amazon is doing,,, a few days ago, i posted a *review* (=comment) on amazon's review page fora new set I just received The New Hungarian SQ on Hungatron.
    You can read my comment in the link to the set mentioned by Larkenfeld.
    Why amazon allows the NHSQ comment to jump over to this Ramor set, I have no idea,,,but6 i posted on another comment where i state, *make sure everyone places the cd in review at the top of the review*..I simply forgot to do so here.
    Ck out my aka handle *the honest review guy*,,,btw just from hearing some clips of Ramor,,the edge/steely treatment is taken off, agree, but its too syrupy, cohesion is broken...The New Hundarian takes these SQ's, like the Ramor, but has more cohesion.

    Paul
    The Honest Review Guy/aka The 1 minute clip master review guy.

    https://www.amazon.com/Bartok-Ramor-.../dp/B004ZPGTJW



    I will now update my review to mention that my comment refers to the New Hungarian set...also I have the Hungarian /DG set on order.

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    Quote Originally Posted by starthrower View Post
    Thanks, Larkenfield!

    I'll check Presto Classical. Their samples seem to be longer and of better quality than Amazon.
    I also use Presto , only if I can not figure out a opinion on amazon's 30 second clips,,,amazon long ago offered, a wopping 1 minute clip,,,,,from that tiny 1 minute window , i could detect, whethera cd was 1,2,3,4 or 5 stars..only sometimes i struck out,,,useually i hit home runs,
    = either avoid purchase based on a chat forum members recommend,,..= home run as i now had cash for other superior recordings,,,or it was a rare bonifide comment and i bought it,,= rum run. usually the comment/suggestion to buy was off, as in larkenfeld's case,,i can eaily hear its too syrupy, lacks cohesion,,Now the New Hungarian also takes all the bite/harsh edge/steely aspect off,,yet they just squueze in the door to keep the tempos moving forward...a tad slower,,and would suffer as the ramor suffers,,,,Bartok wrote some interesting SQ's, but he sure wrote them where no group could understand = they possess this weirdness, odd ball , stragness,. Not sure why Bartok could not just write 1 or 2 great SQ's, like Ravel,,instead of 6 which has interpretative issues.
    Paul
    The Honest Review guy

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    What do you guys make of Ramor in 4? Don’t you think it’s a bit too heavy in the first movement, like elephants dancing? And the articulation is strange, as if they want to spell everything out syll-a-ble by syll-a-ble. Just not much good IMO.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Aug-08-2019 at 14:26.

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    just heard a few (3) 30 sec clips of the EMI release, The Alban Berg SQ's *attempt*.
    You see that group plays the SQ's where ALL of Bartok's issues blare and glare, in high relief.
    Everyone over at amazon gave the set 5 stars. I would grant it a generous 4,,or lets say, 8 stars out a possible 10.
    paul
    The Honest Review Guy

    To be fair and honest,,I just visited YT uplod of Alban Berg SQ,,,just bumped it up 1 extra star,,,4/5 or better 8 out of 10. Its OK,
    I prefer others.
    I have 3 good sets,,i certainly do not need a 4th *version* as i say Bartok wrote some odd sections...I think he was feeling the pinch to modernize his writing as the 2nd Viennese greats were showing off their genius,,,as i say the only SQ i have some reservations about is the 3rd SQ,,all others i like.
    I especially love the 1st SQ.
    Last edited by paulbest; Aug-08-2019 at 14:37.

  9. #113
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulbest View Post
    just heard a few (3) 30 sec clips of the EMI release, The Alban Berg SQ's *attempt*.
    You see that group plays the SQ's where ALL of Bartok's issues blare and glare, in high relief.
    Everyone over at amazon gave the set 5 stars. I would grant it a generous 4,,or lets say, 8 stars out a possible 10.
    paul
    The Honest Review Guy

    To be fair and honest,,I just visited YT uplod of Alban Berg SQ,,,just bumped it up 1 extra star,,,4/5 or better 8 out of 10. Its OK,
    I prefer others.
    I have 3 good sets,,i certainly do not need a 4th *version* as i say Bartok wrote some odd sections...I think he was feeling the pinch to modernize his writing as the 2nd Viennese greats were showing off their genius,,,as i say the only SQ i have some reservations about is the 3rd SQ,,all others i like.
    I especially love the 1st SQ.
    Another idea I had when I mentioned ABQ, maybe check them if you can, is Keller.

    My own view is that the approach needs to be different for 3,4 and 5 than for 6, that Ramor did a good job in 6. I don’t know 1 and 2 at all.

    If I had to pick just one recording of a Bartok quartet, it would be The New Music Quartet playing 3.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Aug-08-2019 at 14:43.

  10. #114
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    The first mistake is to put any stock in Amazon reviewers. Listening at Presto, many of the ensembles sound similar. I liked the sound of the Mikrokosmos Quartet. The only ensemble I really didn't like is Fine Arts because the tempos are rushed. But I didn't sample all eight pages of recordings. I've been through this routine several times over the years and I never get anywhere. If I do find an ensemble I like, the CDs aren't available. But I don't expect to encounter silky sounding Bartok quartets.
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  11. #115
    Senior Member Oldhoosierdude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larkenfield View Post
    The Ramor SQ Bartok recordings are available at Amazon, including as an inexpensive download:
    https://www.amazon.com/Bartok-Ramor-.../dp/B004ZPGTJW. They were the first Bartok string quartet performances that I ever liked. Take the astringent and harsh performances by some others and dump them in the ocean, as far as I’m concerned. One can have incisive, clear and modern Bartok, and still play them as music, still play them with the kind of musically they deserve. Bartok was a modern, an uncompromising modern, but unnecessary and inappropriate harshness, not to mention a forbidding astringency, can be a turn-off for some listeners, and I found the Ramors ideal, especially as an introduction to these great string quartets. As mentioned before, the Ramor SQ were Hungarians and loved Bartok.
    Thank you kindly.

    Like I mentioned, I have the Emerson SQ in this and like it. I have heard other SQ recordings and yes harsh and whatever. So, they aren't supposed to sound that way? Wonder why that is the norm. I certainly don't prefer harsh if it can be avoided.
    I don't live in the past,
    there's no future in it.

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    Senior Member Oldhoosierdude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by starthrower View Post
    Thanks, Larkenfield! That harsh and astringent quality you mention is so pretty prevalent among Bartok quartet recordings. I have two sets by Takacs, and Alban Berg Quartet and I don't enjoy the sound. Anyone who has attended a live performance knows that strings don't sound that way when you're in the room. I'll look into the Ramor Quartet to see if I can live with their sound.

    I'll check Presto Classical. Their samples seem to be longer and of better quality than Amazon.
    Ah, Presto. Did not check them but will. I prefer dealing with them as Amazon tends to want to own your soul.
    I don't live in the past,
    there's no future in it.

  13. #117
    Senior Member CnC Bartok's Avatar
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    I very much like the Ramor set, a pleasant surprise and a good recommendation. That said, it's not my first choice, even if I wouldn't want to be without it. I love their musicality. I think these wonderful works can only sound uninspiring if the quartet plays them purely as a virtuosic vehicle for their own sense of importance, or with a sense of indifference themselves. So I feel I have but three poor sets, and even here all things are relative. There IS harshness in these works, but it has a context, there is also fun in there too. The very best sets bring that out as well. The more contrast the better!

  14. #118
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    Amazon is a typical gargantuan retailer with poor attention to detail. The reviews for different editions are mixed together. And many items still in print show 3rd party vendor copies only at scalper prices. I just saw a Chandos CD there going for 89 dollars. I checked Presto and it's in stock there for 10.50
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    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by starthrower View Post
    Thanks, Larkenfield! That harsh and astringent quality you mention is so pretty prevalent among Bartok quartet recordings. I have two sets by Takacs, and Alban Berg Quartet and I don't enjoy the sound. Anyone who has attended a live performance knows that strings don't sound that way when you're in the room. I'll look into the Ramor Quartet to see if I can live with their sound.

    I'll check Presto Classical. Their samples seem to be longer and of better quality than Amazon.
    You’re welcome! I hope you like them. If not, you’re welcome to bawl me out. But I preferred not to be bawled out by those who haven’t heard them. The main reason I mentioned the Ramor is to give more people a chance to enjoy these marvelous string quartets that some people find forbidding and unwelcoming because they’re playing too aggressively. I think that’s a mistake and misinterpretation of Bartok’s intentions. As the series progresses, it’s the Fifth for me that’s the peak in the series, as they get increasingly more complex as he goes, though I haven’t heard them in a while. Such a wonderful composer—for me, one of the great 20th-century masters. He’s of the earth.
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Aug-08-2019 at 17:07.
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  16. #120
    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    Here's the Bartok quartet listings at Presto.
    https://www.prestomusic.com/classica...tring+quartets

    Honestly, after going through five pages of ensembles listening to the 3rd movt of no.1 I didn't hear anything I liked. I don't think these digital samples are a reliable source for making a determination on a good sounding recording. The Ramor's are one of the worst sounding samples, so if they sound good on CD then these samples are not an accurate representation.
    Last edited by starthrower; Aug-08-2019 at 17:39.
    Short-term thinkers are rewarded with reelection, while those who dare to take seriously our responsibility to future generations commonly find themselves out of office.

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