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

  1. #76
    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Let’s not forget the second Tokyo String Quartet cycle, on Harmonia Mundi. It’s available as four items: the Op. 18, the Rasumovskies, the Harp and Serioso, and the late quartets. Not discounted much.

    I have only the early quartets from this cycle and also heard them play one of the Razumovskies in concert ln their final tour. The play as well as on their earlier RCA cycle, but (at least on the quartets I have) the sound is improved – not that it was bad in the first place!


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    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by starthrower View Post
    It's too bad the Takacs sets go out of print after a couple years. I found a used copy of the Bartok's, but the Beethoven set seems rather rare.
    The last edition - the one with both CD's and a BluRay disc, seems to be OOP already, but the three RBCD sets aren't hard to find, e.g.:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/TAKACS-QUAR...a/162997612374

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    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenOC View Post
    Let’s not forget the second Tokyo String Quartet cycle, on Harmonia Mundi. It’s available as four items: the Op. 18, the Rasumovskies, the Harp and Serioso, and the late quartets. Not discounted much.
    This was issued (briefly) as a complete set, steeply discounted. I didn't think it good enough to keep. I don't recall why, but I found it inferior to their earlier RCA set, not to mention any number of others on a crowded shelf.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    I didn't think it good enough to keep. I don't recall why.
    My guess -- the cello!
    Last edited by Mandryka; Dec-02-2018 at 21:24.

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    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    My guess -- the cello!
    Could be. It's on Spotify, so maybe I should remind myself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by APL View Post
    My favourites are
    Vegh Q.
    Q. Italiano
    Takacs Q.
    Nice and I would add the Berg and Amadeus to these.
    "...it is said that first your heart sings, then you play. I think if it is not like that, then it is only just combination of notes, isn't it? " - Pandit Nikhil Banerjee, Master of the Sitar.

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    I don't have any complete sets. I'd rather dip into a number of recordings so that I don't miss out on the Vermeer doing op. 59 or the Yale, Hollywood, Busch and Smetana (on Denon lp for better sound) playing the late quartets.

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    I bought the Takács set about a year ago but now, at least on Amazon, it's currently only available as MP3. Perhaps it's already out of print. Seems pretty quick for that to happen. Is it normal?

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    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fliege View Post
    I bought the Takács set about a year ago but now, at least on Amazon, it's currently only available as MP3. Perhaps it's already out of print. Seems pretty quick for that to happen. Is it normal?
    Unfortunately, yes.

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    My personal choice is the Guarneri Quartet set, but there are many fine sets out there as shown above. There are several fine sets available for free on You Tube.

    https://www.youtube.com/results?sear...ring+quartets+

    Dan

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    Senior Member Ras's Avatar
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    My favorite complete set is Quartetto Italiano on Phillips/Decca.

    BeethovenItaliano.jpg
    "I only have a hunch in what I've become expert." - Leonard Cohen

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    the sound on this set is still good compared to more modern recordings. I think a number of the performances on the set are a bit slower then say the Takacs recordings, but the playing is quite beautiful.

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    Senior Member Ras's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quartetfore View Post
    the sound on this set is still good compared to more modern recordings. I think a number of the performances on the set are a bit slower then say the Takacs recordings, but the playing is quite beautiful.
    Yes, I think the Quartetto Italiano is probably slower, heavier - but also somehow "warmer" - It's something I find in recordings of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven from the early golden days of stereo - like probably 1960's and 1970' - "Warmth" - I don't know what else to call it... But it is probably old-fashioned.
    Last edited by Ras; Dec-08-2018 at 15:47.
    "I only have a hunch in what I've become expert." - Leonard Cohen

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    It might be that when LP`s are converted to CD (add) they still retain a bit of the "warmth" of the original recording. There are some that say or used to say that the sound of the CD is cold. I for one don`t hear that, but I will trade Cold sound for the pops and snaps that you could hear on LP`s.
    I to have thought that the performance might be old fashioned, but they do make a beautiful sound.

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    Interesting thread, and I'm sure that "damianjb" found some excellent recommendations; I'd like to know WHICH cycle (or cycles) he finally chose. I've seen reviews of the Beethoven 16, even going back to the pages of High Fidelity magazine, and it's 1970 (or 1971) comprehensive view of ALL of Beethoven, incl. the Quartets … the latter handled by Robert P. Morgan (a fine reviewer). Well, it's a FUNNY (I guess) thing, but I've seen NO mention of one of the great chamber ensembles of all …. the Juilliard Quartet. I'd bought the LP box version of the MIDDLE Quartets, partially because of this -> "The Juilliard set omits Op. 95, but it has outstanding performances of the other four pieces. The Juilliard plays with a sense of precision and rhythmic thrust unmatched by any other quartet currently active." …. and " … I find their playing highly expressive, but this expressivity is the result of clear articulation of formal structure rather than mere surface nuance." …. Well, after listening to that "old", boxed LP set once or twice more, I'm sure that Morgan's comments are completely justified, and, to go further, it might be difficult for many or less of the other recommendations to MATCH what the Juilliard achieved, decades ago. In any case, thanks to you, who've posted the very-fine OTHER recommendations, and this is the sort of music that can COMPEL a chamber group to reach their best level, one would think.

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