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Thread: Bartok's Quartets

  1. #121
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    Quote Originally Posted by starthrower View Post
    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.
    Noone has ever said that the sound in Ramor is any good, the question is whether musically what they do is interesting.

    I agree that the Mikrokosmos are well recorded.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Aug-08-2019 at 17:56.

  2. #122
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    Noone has ever said that the sound in Ramor is any good, the question is whether musically what they do is interesting.
    You haven't read Larkenfield's comments? My feeling is that some of this is intrinsic to the music itself.
    Last edited by starthrower; Aug-08-2019 at 17:56.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CnC Bartok View Post
    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!


    There might be some dissonance throughout all bartok's SQ;s. Which is why we are all seeking the finest recordings of the dozen or so available, *the best of the best*.
    This New Budapest set has beena part of my collection for ages now, ]
    Listen to the opening of SQ6.
    Have you ever in your life, heard anything more beautiful?

    There are passages throughout the Bartok 6 which offer these mesmerizing sounds.


    https://www.prestomusic.com/classica...tring-quartets

  4. #124
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    As a follow up. I did sample the Ramor Quartet in this work on Presto. I could hear no issue with the sound. I did go ahead with a purchase for $5.00 and have listened to longer samples of each quartet before settling down to a real listen. I also did a back and forth with my Emerson recording and that was interesting. It shows me why I seek more than one interpretation of works like this. The groups have a different approach for sure, although I do not find Emerson SQ to be harsh, quicker and not as full or lush for sure but it works for their approach. Bartok SQ's are fascinating works for me that I may have never given much thought if it were not for TC.
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  5. #125
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    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    Anyway, it's about damn time I get a recording of these quartets with a Hungarian ensemble, I only have the Juilliard and Emerson. Love the Emerson, lukewarm about the Juilliard. I believe it's their earliest recording, on Columbia originally.

    I'm looking at this one:

    Attachment 121980

    ... or maybe the Takács on Decca...?

    I'm more than satisfied with the Emerson Quartet cycle of Bartók, but I've heard that there are two ways to play them, the American way and the Hungarian way, and I'm curious to see what people mean.

    Anyone else think that the first two quartets are really good, possibly underrated...?
    I have that Hungarian DG and like it very much. Also have Juilliard ‘50 and Vegh ‘54. Looking now into the Takacs.

    For years my only recording was the Tokyo DG, but I sold it away after I got the Hungarian. More idiomatic, less clinical.

  6. #126
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldhoosierdude View Post
    I could hear no issue with the sound.
    That’s strange, did you have your hearing aid in?
    Last edited by Mandryka; Aug-10-2019 at 08:53.

  7. #127
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    That’s strange, did you have your hearing aid in?


    It has that early stereo recording sound to it if that's what people are whining about. It is not a digital recording. There are countless excellent recordings of music available that are before the digital age. But if digital only is your thing, more power to you. There's nothing wrong with the sound for some of us, we have a wider pallet.

    If you want to make something of it, I'll get a longer oxygen tube and my good walker and we can step outside.
    Last edited by Oldhoosierdude; Aug-10-2019 at 12:39.
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  9. #128
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    I have that Hungarian DG and like it very much. Also have Juilliard ‘50 and Vegh ‘54. Looking now into the Takacs.

    For years my only recording was the Tokyo DG, but I sold it away after I got the Hungarian. More idiomatic, less clinical.
    Good luck with both Takacs And yes both Tokyo DG and RCA are too clinical. Excellent groups, yet in Bartok we have all figured out excellent playing only goes so ffar.
    The only groups that work for me are the Hungarians.
    The Takacs are Huns, but they miss the spirit of the music as do other hungarian groups.
    I have the Hungarian SQ/DG arriving next week.

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    Takacs DECCA group, 3 stars. , or lets say 7/10.
    I only keep 8+ records in Bartok, all others go



  11. #130
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    Now this Takacs group is much better,,,whether this is a 8 or 9 star record, i have no idea. But it is superior to their later DECCA group, thats for sure.
    Bet you can find the DECCA cd set on the cheap , everyone dumping.



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    Possibly the 1954 VEGH group has been mentioned either on this 9 page Bartok topic of the other Bartok SQ topic,,,just got back from listening to all of 10 seconds worth of the opening to SQ 1 on a YT upload,
    Odd recording , thats for sure.
    That is the oddest take I've ever heard of SQ 1 , opening.
    Too strange for my taste.

  13. #132
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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?

    Presto Classical has longer clips..I was not that impressed with the opening to the 1st SQ.
    I will pass. The opening to the SQ 1 is my goto reference.
    *not that impressed* = its OK, but I can not say *great*.

    and its on DENNON, a japanese label which picks up these OOP releases which no other label will carry.
    Dennon is nothing about great recordings.

    https://www.prestomusic.com/classica...tets#tracklist

  14. #133
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulbest View Post
    Presto Classical has longer clips..I was not that impressed with the opening to the 1st SQ.
    I will pass. The opening to the SQ 1 is my goto reference.
    *not that impressed* = its OK, but I can not say *great*.

    and its on DENNON, a japanese label which picks up these OOP releases which no other label will carry.
    Dennon is nothing about great recordings.

    https://www.prestomusic.com/classica...tets#tracklist
    The beginning of SQ #1 has a bit of fuzz, that's true. This isn't a recording for all. It is early stereo days quality, which is warmer and not as distinct as digital. That said, there are thousands of stereo days recordings out there, some are quite legendary and sound quality varies. I find this recording as acceptable as most from that period, and middle of the road sound wise. As for approach, Ramor is a laid back interpretation, which many do not like for these works. I don't know what Bartok intended but many groups interpret these works very hard edged and harsh (if that is the right term). My other recording with Emerson SQ is not the hard edge I have heard from other groups but more so than Ramor. I like the contrast of the two. I have heard one of the Takacs recordings, a Berg, and another but can't remember who, and didn't care for these. Too edgy for me. I do like what I have heard from Tatrai SQ but the recording is too costly for my tastes. I think I have the bases covered to my satisfaction. I don't believe I will seek any additional recording unless I happen on one at a good price.
    Last edited by Oldhoosierdude; Aug-11-2019 at 21:24.
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    For those looking to hear Bartok's 6 String Quartets in sterling sonics, the Párkányi Quartet offers one of the better sets, IMO. Their Praga cycle was recorded on three superb sounding DSD hybrid SACDs. Although I suppose some might find they play with more tonal heft and lyrical warmth than is desirable in Bartok. I don't. Another criticism I've read is that they occasionally slow down in "slight variance with the scores" (according to Blair Sanderson at All Music), but that's a minor point, as the cycle is exceptional overall, & they offer many insights. For example, I found them especially interesting in the difficult 4th Quartet. (Btw, the Párkányi's Debussy & Ravel SQs are remarkable, and now come coupled with their Bartok 4th--see link below.)

    https://www.allmusic.com/album/bart%...4-mw0001556920
    https://www.allmusic.com/album/bart%...2-mw0001870475
    https://www.amazon.com/Bartok-String...s=music&sr=1-3
    https://www.sa-cd.net/showtitle/3844
    https://www.amazon.com/Debussy-Strin.../dp/B019GLEEEQ

    I also think very highly of the Arcanto Quartet in Nos. 5 & 6, and wish they'd recorded the entire cycle for Harmonia Mundi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pnl4yLKVUM0. The group is comprised of Antje Weithaas & Daniel Sepec on violin, Tabea Zimmermann on viola, and Jean-Guihen Queyras on cello--who are all exceptional musicians: https://www.amazon.com/String-Quarte...s=music&sr=1-1. Interestingly, like the old Hungarian quartets, such as the Tatrai Quartet, they don't use a lot of vibrato.

    As for the Hungarian quartets, I think highly of the following three groups:

    --Mikrokosmos Quartet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5dY...Ye-WpZY0vpE-Ds

    --Hungarian Quartet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7EY...KSzDcfYNfShwSU

    --Takacs Quartet (especially their 1st cycle on Hungaroton): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpPN...h626KR_AMKGQK6

    I've not heard the New Budapest Quartet in Bartok, but have heard their Beethoven, and thought they were good & certainly more in tune than the old Budapest Quartet was in Beethoven, whose instruments were so often out of tune (which is a negative for me in Bartok, as it can become torturous). So, I'll have to try to hear to their Bartok.

    Today, I listened to the 1963 Juilliard Quartet in Bartok's SQ #4 (on You Tube), and thought they had intonation problems: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYifcDt4ToA. However, interpretatively, I found their playing very imaginative.

    Does anyone like the Novak Quartet's Bartok on Philips, recorded in 1965? Their set arrived in the mail the other day, and I've only listened to the 1st SQ so far, but thought it was beautiful playing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfuL...q6yPAWi-qXzx8A

    Also, has anyone heard and liked the recent Bartok cycle by the Romanian Arcadia Quartet?, who recorded these 6 SQs for their debut on Chandos. I've read strong reviews for this cycle, but I don't know the group: https://www.amazon.com/Bartok-Arcadi...s=music&sr=1-1. Not that I need another Bartok cycle at this point, but I'm curious what others think of them.
    Last edited by Josquin13; Aug-12-2019 at 19:23.

  16. #135
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josquin13 View Post
    For those looking to hear Bartok's 6 String Quartets in sterling sonics, the Párkányi Quartet offers one of the better sets, IMO. Their Praga cycle was recorded on three superb sounding DSD hybrid SACDs. Although I suppose some might find they play with more tonal heft and lyrical warmth than is desirable in Bartok. I don't. Another criticism I've read is that they occasionally slow down in "slight variance with the scores" (according to Blair Sanderson at All Music), but that's a minor point, as the cycle is exceptional overall, & they offer many insights. For example, I found them especially interesting in the difficult 4th Quartet. (Btw, the Párkányi's Debussy & Ravel SQs are remarkable, and now come coupled with their Bartok 4th--see link below.)

    https://www.allmusic.com/album/bart%...4-mw0001556920
    https://www.allmusic.com/album/bart%...2-mw0001870475
    https://www.amazon.com/Bartok-String...s=music&sr=1-3
    https://www.sa-cd.net/showtitle/3844
    https://www.amazon.com/Debussy-Strin.../dp/B019GLEEEQ

    I also think very highly of the Arcanto Quartet in Nos. 5 & 6, and wish they'd recorded the entire cycle for Harmonia Mundi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pnl4yLKVUM0. The group is comprised of Antje Weithaas & Daniel Sepec on violin, Tabea Zimmermann on viola, and Jean-Guihen Queyras on cello--who are all exceptional musicians: https://www.amazon.com/String-Quarte...s=music&sr=1-1. Interestingly, like the old Hungarian quartets, such as the Tatrai Quartet, they don't use a lot of vibrato.

    As for the Hungarian quartets, I think highly of the following three groups:

    --Mikrokosmos Quartet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5dY...Ye-WpZY0vpE-Ds

    --Hungarian Quartet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7EY...KSzDcfYNfShwSU

    --Takacs Quartet (especially their 1st cycle on Hungaroton): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpPN...h626KR_AMKGQK6

    I've not heard the New Budapest Quartet in Bartok, but have heard their Beethoven, and thought they were good & certainly more in tune than the old Budapest Quartet was in Beethoven, whose instruments were so often out of tune (which is a negative for me in Bartok, as it can become torturous). So, I'll have to try to hear to their Bartok.

    Today, I listened to the 1963 Juilliard Quartet in Bartok's SQ #4 (on You Tube), and thought they had intonation problems: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYifcDt4ToA. However, interpretatively, I found their playing very imaginative.

    Does anyone like the Novak Quartet's Bartok on Philips, recorded in 1965? Their set arrived in the mail the other day, and I've only listened to the 1st SQ so far, but thought it was beautiful playing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfuL...q6yPAWi-qXzx8A

    Also, has anyone heard and liked the recent Bartok cycle by the Romanian Arcadia Quartet?, who recorded these 6 SQs for their debut on Chandos. I've read strong reviews for this cycle, but I don't know the group: https://www.amazon.com/Bartok-Arcadi...s=music&sr=1-1. Not that I need another Bartok cycle at this point, but I'm curious what others think of them.
    I'd better listen to the first Takacs again. It is a very different kettle of fish from the second -- different first violin, different style, different sound.

    I had come to the opinion that they were much less incisive, and the sound was more homogeneous, and the approach was less passionate, with the early line up, and that that didn't bode so well in the central quartets (3-5) -- which is really the half-cycle which interests me.

    I think the second recording is exceptional in those quartets!

    Quote Originally Posted by Josquin13 View Post

    Today, I listened to the 1963 Juilliard Quartet in Bartok's SQ #4 (on You Tube), and thought they had intonation problems:
    .
    I don't know how relevant this is but don't forget that a quartet will make small adjustments to create harmonic effects, what you perceive as an intonation "problem" may in fact be an interpretative choice to move away from equal temperament.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Aug-12-2019 at 19:46.

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