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Thread: As I embark on a Beethovenian journey, what are your memories?

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    Default As I embark on a Beethovenian journey, what are your memories?

    For years now I have been annoyed at the fact that I have listened to hardly any of Beethoven's non-orchestral, non-piano music (apart from Große Fuge and string quartet it originally came from and a couple of lieder) so I have decided I must finally go through all of this music I have never heard. Starting with the string quartets. There are probably many threads around here about these quartets, favourite recordings etc. so with this thread I am opting for a slightly different approach, with this question: what are your memories of the Beethoven string quartets?

    A bit of nostalgia.

    So far I have but a single good memory of Große Fuge (it's a bit blurry though since it has been such a long time): I first heard it in a composition workshop, sight read by musicians there (they were terrified!). Australian conductor/teacher Richard Gill was giving us a bit of an explanation on the introduction in relation to the double fugue which followed. It was quite an experience!

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    One of my favorite memories is, when I first moved to Tennessee, I was at a used LP store and found the C# minor quartet by the Quartetto Italiano, my first exposure to the piece. I put it on my stereo, and when I looked out the window, it had begun to snow, one of my first exposures to snow.

    I remember how utterly quiet the snowfall was, the snowflakes gently falling, the little pops in the LP, and the transcendence of the first movement.

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    Listen to the String Quartet in B-flat, with the Grosse Fuge substituted for the finale. It's even better that way, believe it or not!

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    I remember that the last quartet was the third classical piece that really established me in this genre, after Bach's Brandenburg Concertos and Brahms' first piano trio.

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    As a study piece, I believe that You can learn a whole lot about Beethoven as a Symphonist from listening to Franz Liszt's transcriptions of the 9 Symphonies (fx in the hands of Cyprien Katsaris) that You don't hear in their original format!

    /ptr
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    Quote Originally Posted by ptr View Post
    As a study piece, I believe that You can learn a whole lot about Beethoven as a Symphonist from listening to Franz Liszt's transcriptions of the 9 Symphonies (fx in the hands of Cyprien Katsaris) that You don't hear in their original format!

    /ptr
    Good idea! But they have more life 'in the hands of' Idil Biret.
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    Senior Member Ukko's Avatar
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    The Opus 18 quartets were some of the first music I bought to play in my new (and first electric) record player. It was the set by the Guarneri, one of their first few recordings I think. The instrumentation threw me off for awhile, but since I owned only a dozen or so LPs they got played every few days anyway. Somewhere in there I connected.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ptr View Post
    As a study piece, I believe that You can learn a whole lot about Beethoven as a Symphonist from listening to Franz Liszt's transcriptions of the 9 Symphonies (fx in the hands of Cyprien Katsaris) that You don't hear in their original format!

    /ptr
    I haven't heard Katsaris but I have Glenn Gould playing the 5th and 6th in transcriptions by Liszt. The 6th is a particularly astonishing feat of pianism as Gould chooses show tempi but keeps the concentration going throughout.
    The fifth is good too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    I haven't heard Katsaris but I have Glenn Gould playing the 5th and 6th in transcriptions by Liszt. The 6th is a particularly astonishing feat of pianism as Gould chooses show tempi but keeps the concentration going throughout.
    The fifth is good too.
    I have both the Katsaris set and the few that Gould recorded. The Katsaris is probably preferable because you get them all (and they're all good) and in better sound. A great way to listen to the symphonies!


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