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Thread: Best recording/s of the Beethoven String Quartets.

  1. #211
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    When the Emerson came out in the late 1990s it was the most brilliant of the "virtuoso modern" approaches (like Alban Berg, Guarneri, Cleveland...) Quartets have become so highly proficient since then that such blistering tempi, virtuosity are not special anymore. But on the flipside the Emersons had been considered "cold" since they came out, I believe.

  2. #212
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kreisler jr View Post
    When the Emerson came out in the late 1990s it was the most brilliant of the "virtuoso modern" approaches (like Alban Berg, Guarneri, Cleveland...) Quartets have become so highly proficient since then that such blistering tempi, virtuosity are not special anymore. But on the flipside the Emersons had been considered "cold" since they came out, I believe.
    I've always found the 'Emerson hate' a bit bewildering. This is a quartet that most people agree are technically very proficient, yet are often stereotyped as being 'cold' (see also Rattle 'micromanaging', HVK 'smooth', etc). As a set I'd have no problems recommending the Emersons in Beethoven (but there are few complete sets i wouldnt endorse, tbh). Is it the best or one of the best complete sets out there? Hard to generalise. What I will say is that in certain quartets the Emersons are very good indeed (listen to both of their accounts of the 16th SQ). Elsewhere they arent the finest but many ensembles arent either. The late quartets are possibly where many feel they are strongest and i'd partially agree with that assessment but again thats a generalisation. I think youre right, Kreisler, that the Emersons are now considered 'old new' but does that invalidate their approach? Well not for me. I suppose it depends what youre looking for. We all have our favourites but im finding the more I revisit others' performances the more i appreciate them. Truth is my tastes keep changing and I like to revisit. There is nothing worse than a fixed mindset, for me.
    Last edited by Merl; Jul-10-2021 at 14:14.

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  4. #213
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    The 1952 Vegh Quartet recordings pulled me into the world of Beethoven quartets many years ago. I have since enjoyed many of the fine performances mentioned in this thread. Harder to go wrong than right in picking a cycle to listen to. Most recently I’ve enjoyed the Ebene and Cuarteto Casals recordings.

    I’ve a fondness for the Takacs recordings because I listened to them while reading member Edward Dusinberre’s enjoyable Beethoven for a Later Age.

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    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Here's David Hurwitz's take on the best complete cycles:

    Last edited by wkasimer; Jul-19-2021 at 16:51.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    Here's David Hurwitz's take on the best complete cycles:
    That dilettante doesn't deserve a tithe of the attention he receives. He helps propagate so much of what are the worst and most harmful anti-musical, anti-artistic tendencies, among a certain prevalent class of classical music afficionados.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Knorf View Post
    He helps propagate so much of what are the worst and most harmful anti-musical, anti-artistic tendencies, among a certain prevalent class of classical music afficionados.
    Could you be a bit more specific about which tendencies you mean?

  11. #217
    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kreisler jr View Post
    Could you be a bit more specific about which tendencies you mean?
    There's a whole thread abiut the massive problems with Hurwitz. I'm not going to derail this thread, but if you're truly interested, it's a pretty exhaustive discussion. Short answer: his obsession with "The BEST," with himself as arbiter or the BEST, of course.
    Hurwitz's YouTube channel - your thoughts?

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    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knorf View Post
    There's a whole thread abiut the massive problems with Hurwitz. I'm not going to derail this thread, but if you're truly interested, it's a pretty exhaustive discussion. Short answer: his obsession with "The BEST," with himself as arbiter or the BEST, of course.
    You obviously didn't bother to watch this particular podcast. He highlights not one, not two, but sixteen favorite sets, and quite an interesting mixture of older and newer traversals.

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  14. #219
    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    You obviously didn't bother to watch this particular podcast.
    Of course not! I've had my fill of his blather.

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    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knorf View Post
    Of course not! I've had my fill of his blather.
    Then you should feel free not to participate in a discussion of this video.

    Personally, I have a rule that I never criticize anything that I haven't heard, watched, or read myself.

  17. #221
    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    Then you should feel free not to participate in a discussion of this video.
    Or, I should feel free to participate because I have heard, seen, and read plenty enough from him to justify my opinion.
    Last edited by Knorf; Jul-19-2021 at 17:42.

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  19. #222
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    Are the Emersons' performances cold? I certainly find some of their recordings dry (which may be my word for cold). I am a little disturbed when my subjective view is pigeonholed as belonging to a misguided group who have a biased and wrong impression. The same sort of criticism gets thrown at anyone who dares to dislike a Karajan recording. Maybe there are listeners out there who are just jumping on a bandwagon but I feel most of us are just saying what we do and do not like. Mostly that is what we discuss but there seem to be a few performers who if you don't like them it can only be because your mind is closed. I think I am as adventurous as anyone and only too willing to give any well-liked recording a second and third chance.

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  21. #223
    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    I personally like the Emerson Quartet's Beethoven quite a lot, and can't find sympathy with describing any of it as "cold." I've met the members of the Emerson Quartet in person numerous times (but not the current cellist,) and there is no denying that they deeply love and are utterly devoted to the Beethoven quartets, as well as anything they undertake.

    Not every quartet in the Emerson Beethoven set is necessarily my favorite, but I enjoy it all very much, especially both of their versions of Op. 135, as Merl mentioned above. I also really like their Op. 16s. In any case, none of it disappoints.
    Last edited by Knorf; Jul-19-2021 at 18:10.

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  23. #224
    Senior Member Baron Scarpia's Avatar
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    I don't know about hot vs cold, but the Emerson Quartet recordings sometimes strike me as having ensemble that is too well integrated, so that individual voices don't stand out. Both their style of performance and the engineering of their recordings may have an effect.
    There are two kinds of music, good music and the other kind. - Duke Ellington.

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