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

  1. #106
    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merl View Post
    Ignore the reviews that state that the recordings were all 1969. That's rubbish, especially considering the full set was released in 1968. The whole cycle was probably recorded between 1962 and 1966 but documentation is sketchy and Everest (original label) and Discogs give the recording year of some of the quartets as 1959 (and later, confusingly, as 1963). If anyone can pass on any more details then fire away. I only have the remastered download and recording dates aren't given. What I can work out is that the late quartets were released first and some could be from 1959, the early quartets were released next (around 1964) and the middle quartets came last in 1967. In 1968 the full set was released for the first time and re-boxed and re-released in 1969.
    The FAQ Wikipedia page has some dates:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine_Arts_Quartet

    I have the middle and late sets on CD - if I can remember, I'll have a look at the booklets and see if they provide specifics.

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    Senior Member CnC Bartok's Avatar
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    Thanks for your help gents, appreciated. Sorry but the anorak in me insists on having these details to hand.....

    That said, lots of details to absorb, perhaps I shouldn't have asked???

  4. #108
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    I generally prefer the Alban Berg Quartett, however for Beethoven I think the Kodály Quartet is essential listening (especially the final F major quartet, their performance of the second movement is untouchable. I never really realized how incredible of a composition this was until I heard this recording; it's really something else). That said, people have also touched on my other favorites (Tokyo and Takacs).

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    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SchubertDidKetamine View Post
    I generally prefer the Alban Berg Quartett, however for Beethoven I think the Kodály Quartet is essential listening (especially the final F major quartet, their performance of the second movement is untouchable. I never really realized how incredible of a composition this was until I heard this recording; it's really something else). That said, people have also touched on my other favorites (Tokyo and Takacs).
    Welcome to the boards SchubertDidKetamine—what a name! Anyway, I love that Kodály Quartet recording of the final F major quartet. Tákacs Quartet who you also mention are performing the op.135 near me next month. So excited! I'm not familiar with their Beethoven but I will have to make it out surely.

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  8. #110
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SchubertDidKetamine View Post
    I generally prefer the Alban Berg Quartett, however for Beethoven I think the Kodály Quartet is essential listening ........
    That cycle is hugely underrated. I think its one of the better ones out there but im no Naxos-snob so it gets the same consideration as all the others.

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  10. #111
    Senior Member HenryPenfold's Avatar
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    For some reason I always come back to the Emersons. It also helps that I've seen them live. a few times in London.

    But I also have the DG recordings of the Hagen Quartet which I recommend highly. And of course the Quartetto Italiano are indispensable.

    I've been enjoying the Belcea Quartets cycle via streaming and I'm tempted to buy the set.

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  12. #112
    Senior Member CnC Bartok's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merl View Post
    That cycle is hugely underrated. I think its one of the better ones out there but im no Naxos-snob so it gets the same consideration as all the others.
    Glad someone mentioned "Naxos-snobbery", and commenting upon its absence here. If people think they're cheap and shoddy, their loss. Naxos have introduced me to not only some wonderful music, but also some excellent performers, the Kodaly Quartet being just one of many of the latter.

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  14. #113
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CnC Bartok View Post
    Glad someone mentioned "Naxos-snobbery", and commenting upon its absence here. If people think they're cheap and shoddy, their loss. Naxos have introduced me to not only some wonderful music, but also some excellent performers, the Kodaly Quartet being just one of many of the latter.
    That same budget-label snobbery was also in evidence towards some of the Brilliant Classics releases. Fortunately, the more savvy buyers saw past that and ended up with some phenomenal performances for pennies (Blomstedt's Beethoven cycle, Barshai's Shostakovich, Suske LVB quartets, etc). I have a lot of Naxos releases and some are amongst my faves (Bognar's Hungarian Dances, Alsop's Brahms symphonies, etc).
    Last edited by Merl; Feb-09-2020 at 12:03.

  15. #114
    Senior Member CnC Bartok's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merl View Post
    That same budget-label snobbery was also in evidence towards some of the Brilliant Classics releases. Fortunately, the more savvy buyers saw past that and ended up with some phenomenal performances for pennies (Blomstedt's Beethoven cycle, Barshai's Shostakovich, Suske LVB quartets, etc). I have a lot of Naxos releases and some are amongst my faves (Bognar's Hungarian Dances, Alsop's Brahms symphonies, etc).
    True, but as far as I am aware, Brilliant are mainly re-releases, so "cheap" may mean old or obscure, or back catalogue clean-out. Naxos are mainly new recordings (ignoring their huge Historical catalogue of course!), so cheap could easily be associated with second rate? I suppose Antoni Wit doesn't have the same financial demands as Gustavo Dudamel.

    I cannot list my favourite Brilliant CDs, there are too many, but that Suske set is a no-brainer, as are the Barshai Shostakovich. Their opera series has some absolute gems too.

    With Naxos, it'd be even harder!! However, they aren't as super-bargain as once they were......

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  17. #115
    Senior Member Oldhoosierdude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CnC Bartok View Post
    Glad someone mentioned "Naxos-snobbery", and commenting upon its absence here. If people think they're cheap and shoddy, their loss. Naxos have introduced me to not only some wonderful music, but also some excellent performers, the Kodaly Quartet being just one of many of the latter.
    Kodaly is an excellent quartet. Naxos has what some people call a house pianist in Jeno Jando. He is quite wonderful with Bartok and Haydn and his Beethoven Piano Sonatas are my favorite. He has some strinkers, his Goldberg Variations I simply do not understand. Naxos also has an above average Beethoven Symphony Cycle under Bela Drahos.

    I've also seen snobbery over the Bach Guild box downloads. Snobbery exists. Their loss
    Last edited by Oldhoosierdude; Feb-10-2020 at 04:51.
    I don't live in the past,
    there's no future in it.

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  19. #116
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CnC Bartok View Post
    True, but as far as I am aware, Brilliant are mainly re-releases, so "cheap" may mean old or obscure, or back catalogue clean-out.....
    I was just trying to point out that cheap doesn't always equate to inferior.

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  21. #117
    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merl View Post
    I was just trying to point out that cheap doesn't always equate to inferior.
    I feel obliged to point out that in 2020, Naxos is no longer "cheap". Their price has drifted up, at the same time as major labels issue historic sets for $2 or less per CD. The Kodaly Quartet is perfectly fine, but why would I want to shell out $9 per CD for their cycle when on Friday, I'll be able to purchase this?:

    juilliard.jpg

    Naxos has issued some excellent recordings, but I'd describe the vast majority of their offerings - and I've heard hundreds of them - as serviceable to good. Naxos is valuable when they issue obscure music that other labels won't touch.

  22. #118
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    I feel obliged to point out that in 2020, Naxos is no longer "cheap". Their price has drifted up, at the same time as major labels issue historic sets for $2 or less per CD. The Kodaly Quartet is perfectly fine, but why would I want to shell out $9 per CD for their cycle when on Friday, I'll be able to purchase this?:

    juilliard.jpg

    Naxos has issued some excellent recordings, but I'd describe the vast majority of their offerings - and I've heard hundreds of them - as serviceable to good. Naxos is valuable when they issue obscure music that other labels won't touch.
    I agree that Naxos have missed a trick by not putting their recordings out in boxes now they are quite a few years old. The Kodaly recordings and The Drahos set would sell much better if they were in cheap boxes but they lumped then together in that big Beethoven 250 box and that was a bad decision. They could have knocked out budget boxes of both and they'd have sold far better. Missed opportunities.

    BTW, wkasimer, how much is that Juilliard set retailing at? I'm tempted to pull the trigger if it's remastered.
    Last edited by Merl; Feb-10-2020 at 17:43.

  23. #119
    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merl View Post
    BTW, wkasimer, how much is that Juilliard set retailing at? I'm tempted to pull the trigger if it's remastered.
    I think that it's under US$50. I assume that it's remastered - that cycle was last issued about twenty years ago by French Sony:

    juilliard.jpg

    That set sounded fine, BTW.

  24. #120
    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Anyone familiar with this set?
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

    "Life's a long song, but the tune ends too soon for us all." Ian Anderson lyric

    "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Hamlet

    "Man does not live by bread alone......"

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