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

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    Default Best recording/s of the Beethoven String Quartets.

    I've just started appreciating chamber music and I want to buy recording/s of the Beethoven String Quartets. If possible, I'd like some reasonably recent recordings in fabulous sound.
    Any suggestions?

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    Senior Member chill782002's Avatar
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    I think the recordings by the Takacs Quartet should meet your requirements.

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    Senior Member gardibolt's Avatar
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    The older set by Tokyo String Quartet is quite cheaply had and has quite good sound and excellent performances to boot.
    Hours of unrecorded, unpublished and unknown Beethoven works at The Unheard Beethoven

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    The last recording is not automatically a better choice.My preference is the Alban Berg quartet and I am not so much in favor for the Takacs recordings.Choosing is a personal matter,you have to search for a really bad one.Juiliard is also very fine and not to forget the quartetto Italiano.All have their own approach and I would advise you to take your time in order to find out what is the (your) best choice.
    The best recording does not exist,it is a personal matter a ,matter of taste,what I like you may dislike,so find out for yourself it is something very worthwhile.
    Last edited by Traverso; Aug-21-2017 at 22:12.

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    Kodály Quartet is great.
    Last edited by Waldesnacht; Aug-21-2017 at 22:21.

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    The Takacs are IMO the set to have if you have only one. Now available (finally) as a reasonably priced set.

    Best value: Probably the Tokyo on RCA, it's pretty darned good.

    Best amazing superbargain: The Colorado Quartet for 99 cents. No kidding, these are fine performances and very well-recorded.
    https://www.amazon.com/Beethoven-Com...ms-bar-strip-0


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    You know, this topic has been talked to death already.

    All one has to do is a search and you would have found a gazillion recommendations.

    As has been stated already here and many other places on TC, the older Tokyo set on RCA is incredible in its consistent excellence throughout the set. A great string quartet in its prime.
    Last edited by hpowders; Aug-22-2017 at 02:18.
    Facts don't care about your feelings.

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    I concur with the many others that the Tokyo (RCA) set is excellently played and recorded, and an unbelievable bargain at around $15 on Amazon. I must have paid around $80 for it years ago.

    I also have the Italiano, Berg, Guarneri, and Emerson sets, all of which I like to varying degrees.

    My current favorite, however, with superb playing and the best sound I've heard is the Cypress Quartet.
    Last edited by classfolkphile; Aug-22-2017 at 02:45.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Improbus View Post
    Kodály Quartet is great.
    But seriously, you need to be listening to these: they blow the rest out of the water.

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    It is indeed a matter of personal taste. My favourite is the live Budapest Quartet recordings at the Library of Congress made between 1940 and 1962. However, this set may not meet your requirements as regards sound quality.
    Last edited by chill782002; Aug-22-2017 at 14:30.

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    Senior Member realdealblues's Avatar
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    Everyone has their favorites and you will probably see the same dozen or so recommendations. Much of it depends on how much you want to spend and how much comparative listening you want to do.

    I have over a dozen sets and I personally like the sets from Alban Berg Quartett and Quartteto Italiano the best.

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    Quote Originally Posted by damianjb1 View Post
    in fabulous sound.
    Tokyo (SACD Harmonia Mundi); Smetana (Denon); Alexander (Foghorn); Leipzig (MDT)

    I only really know the late quartets and interpretively I enjoy all of these very much in 127-135, apart from Leipzig. But nothing follows about what you'll like, or the earlier quartets!

    A good single disc from the point of view of sound and I'd say from the point of view of interpretation is The Hagen Quartet on Myrios, with a couple of early quartets and op 135
    Last edited by Mandryka; Aug-22-2017 at 17:11.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Improbus View Post
    But seriously, you need to be listening to these: they blow the rest out of the water.
    But seriously, many people disagree. Humdrum and workmanlike are some of the descriptors used. And the screechy first violin and mediocre sound don't help.

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    Quote Originally Posted by classfolkphile View Post
    But seriously, many people disagree. Humdrum and workmanlike are some of the descriptors used. And the screechy first violin and mediocre sound don't help.
    People are bound to disagree, especially when things are done better than usual. To me it sounds measured, smooth and well-articulated, but others may value other things.

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    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chill782002 View Post
    It is indeed a matter of personal taste. My favourite is the live Budapest Quartet recordings at the Library of Congress made between 1940 and 1962. However, this set may not meet your requirements as regards sound quality.
    No argument from me, but of particular note is the complete cycle the Budapest Quartet recorded at the Library of Congress in 1951 and 52. The second violinist in these recordings is Jac Gorodetzky and not Alexander Schneider. Gorodetzky was a great violinist but was emotionally unstable and ultimately committed suicide in 1955. Alexander Schneider then returned to the quartet. A few months after this cycle was completed, first violinist Josef Roisman fell and badly broke his arm. He had difficulty recovering and probably never fully returned to peak form.
    This is the best set for me. The earlier Budapest recordings are outstanding but the sound quality is not. (Sound quality of the 1951-52 set is so-so but much better than the earlier material.) Their later stereo Beethoven cycle is very good but in my opinion features the quartet slightly past its prime.

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