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Thread: Successful Quartet Group, Violist most impoartnt link

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    Default Successful Quartet Group, Violist most impoartnt link

    The best SQ groups/recordings
    are those which have the violist as the principle player, the group leader,
    The violist has to be the strongest link in the quartet to make the whole work as a success.
    I mean the 2 violinists will do their thing, the cellist his part,
    But it is the violist which has to hold the whole together, its the bones of the group.

    This is most likely the problem with any of your 2,3,4 star recordings on your shelf.
    The violist has not understood the music, not possess the necessary talents, skills, nuances to hold the whole together.
    The performance quality, that is 5 stars, or lets say 9/10, all rides on the violist.

    Finally the violist wins over the violin.

    Viola trumps the violin
    in SQ's.



    Lets be clear.
    What would you prefer,
    1) star violinists /cellist, with average viola
    2) star violist with average violins/cellist.
    Hypothetically of course.

    2nd scenario will always give a better performance.

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    Obviously all sq artists have to be above the average, otherwise they could not performa SQ with success.
    what I am saying, is that the violins/cello should be above average,,,and the violist, has to be FAR ABOVE average,,,say on the level of David Oistrakh,,or Hillary Hahn.
    To makea 10/10 recording....someone over at amazon mentions the Bartok SQ's can not be rendered excellent in a studio,,only live perf will work for Bartok.
    Few of us can go to weekly perf local of Bartok SQ's/
    + ticket price?

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    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Can you cite an example of a string quartet (ensemble) in which the violist really shines? I feel like they are all too often relegated to the background, though of course this could be a flaw in the compositions themselves.

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    Yes Here is how I developed my theory, otherwise
    Uncovered this little known truth/fact
    OK. so, everyone has been in seaking, seeking a
    &definitive& Bartok?
    True or not, its been my experience and having read many other such comments, its a valid truth.
    Now sure we can all agree Bartok did not write the most ,,,Conveniently,,,,styled SQ;s. Not aat all.
    So I pondered,
    why is this so?
    Why all the lousey perfs,,,so often, 6,7,8 stars,,none 9, 10 stars?


    any way
    back to my story as to how I made this discovery...
    So I had the Kronos in Schnittke,,,,dumped it,,I think may have repurchased, as possiblya knee jerk reactionary mode which happens often with me.
    But no, after visiting YT uplodas, its a 7, maybe a 6 out a possible 10 stars.
    Forget amazon's 5 star rating sytem,,10 stars makes things clear.

    So I received the Molinari a group from Canada, the quintets/trios, ,,,I thought,,this may be a group which has good SQ;'s as well, so ordered the hard to find-at-a-good-price Molinari/Schnittke..
    Arrived, and confirmed, 10 stars, maybe 9 at times.
    They approach Schnittke delicately and with care, purpose,meaning, accessible to the avg listener. Success 10 stars.
    Now I thought, what is it that made the Molinari a success, and Kronos a failure.
    I went to YT to ck Molinari in Schnittke/Live
    Rigyht away, I noted the Violist was really into, the music, that he was the inside man. and also noted how the viola carries a mid line, and glues the whole thing together, and also noted that,,the 2 violinsts/cello are excellent, but not much above any other SQ;'s 2 violints/cellist.
    That is to say.
    Violinst/Cellists will always do their thing, quite acceptable ina SQ. But it is
    The Violist
    which carries the day.
    His skills/poetics, is the bones and blood of the work.
    If the violist is on such a level as the Molinari;'s violist, the other 3 members have a staging point, a guide, a leader to follow.
    That is his genius will rub off on the other 3 and you will have
    your sought after 10 stars performance.
    I visited Kronos in Schnittke/live,,,and sure enough, there was a average violist, and the performance was a 6/7 stars. what is that to us.
    We prefer at least 9, if not 10 stars in all our cds.


    and yes, a flaw in the works themelsves.
    Bartok wrote some very dif SQ;s. I have The New Hungarian arriving next week, if they pull off a 9 star, then I know its not the scores, but in fact it is the violist in all other recordings which is pulling the SQ group down to 6,7,8 stars.

    In every 9 and 10 star SQ recording in any composer, the violist is the star of the show, it is due to his genius the record gains the top award, The Gold.
    There are so mahy lousey 5,6,7,8 star SQ records in the catalogue, maybe like 95% are lower than 9 stars.
    OK lets be reasonable, 90%, 9 stars or less.
    I will accepta 9 star only if, I can not finda 10, and/or I want a 2nd experience of the SQ;'s.

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    and all those violist jokes,,now the Violist takes his rightful place in the Trios and SQ's , as
    The Principle Player

    all 3 SQ' members sit and await the entrance on the stage of their Violist,,,who receives a applaud from audience and the 3 other SQ members.

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    There are no 4tets that have a viola player as leader, at least not in my experience......just doesn't happen (one reason may be because they stand still outside peoples houses.... it seems they can't find the key and never know when to come in)........

    Seriously though, there are no traditional 4tets formed as such, beautiful though the instrument is, unless its a 4tet of violas or 2 vla and 2 cello etc.
    Last edited by mikeh375; Jul-30-2019 at 14:29.

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    If you can not observe the
    Violist
    highly placed,,,importance
    in any/every SQ
    The whole thing rises ,,or,,falls,,upon the violist.,
    Here ck this out,,you will see what I mean

    just keep your eyes focused on the violist


    w/o doubt, all 6,7,8 star perfs are the fault of the lousey violist.





    I would say this is a good performance.
    w.o a reference cd, it is difficult for me to givea solid opinion.
    Good it is, but I would not say *great*.
    Last edited by paulbest; Jul-30-2019 at 15:31.

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    Quote Originally Posted by paulbest View Post
    just keep your eyes focused on the violist
    What I noticed was, the violist has some serious manspread. I'd hate to sit next to him on an airplane.

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    Senior Member Open Book's Avatar
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    There are certainly quartets where the first violinist pushes where things will go, or where the cellist stands out, but I have a hard time picturing the violist being able to do this. It's best when everyone gets an equal voice, but the viola is disadvantaged by its non-piercing tone and maybe by the way its parts are written.
    "No one chooses the tuba" - Alexander von Puttkamer

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    Yeah but remember CM is about MIDDLE range,
    the violins/cellos will take care of their parts,,,but a shabby violist will always hide behind the violins.
    I stand by my
    The Violist is the star of the show

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    Senior Member CnC Bartok's Avatar
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    Paul Hindemith and his original Amar Quartet might agree with you:

    The Quartet attracted particular interest when they interpreted Hindemith's own works. A critic was both fascinated and amazed when he wrote the following in November 1927 after a concert in Zurich: «Hindemith writes for his viola, his quartet, so that they follow his lead, only that his viola part sometimes jerks through the ensemble like a snake and carries everything away with it. The result is that the artists can perform their pieces in a tempo that would make one dizzy without sacrificing a single note.

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    Excellent find, Gives my idea a foot,,well maybe a big toe,,,to stand my theory on.

    The trad argument to be made here is: *The quartet practices TOGETHER as would any orchestra, all having equal importance*
    well you know,,,
    I might have gotten carried away a bit in my theory,,,i say this after watching the 1st SQ of Bartok here on YT.
    Seems the violist does *not carry the show*.
    ,,anyway , here is perhaps my fav SQ from Bartok , his 1st,,,its his early work, not his late mature quartet,,but somehow this 1st really gets to me.





    The 2 violin parts are strong and piercing throughout, hoovering over the modest viola sections.
    ,,,oh well, ,,now in Schnittke, Viola is more pronounced and important,,thats why there are so few success recordings in Schnittke's SQ.s
    The violist is not up to par excellence.

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    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    This is a nonsensical theory based on nothing. It is especially ridiculous for the first fifty years of the string quartet.

    What greater comfort does time afford than the objects of terror re-encountered and their fraudulence exposed in the flash of reason?
    — William Gaddis, The Recognitions

    Originality is a device untalented people use to impress other untalented people and to protect themselves from talented people.
    Basil Valentine

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    I did notice back many years ago, as I was sampling many traversals of late Beethoven quartets, that of the Yale Quartet's mostly very successful recordings of them, the least successful were the two or three in which the violist was the otherwise noteworthy Walter Trampler.

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    Yeah and I recall seeking descent, acceptable at least 8 stars out of 10 Varok SQ set,,,,i found so many to have barbed, screechy, too forward attacking, too out of sync from the 2 violints who just went full speed ahead and just dragged along with cellist and violist,,,I guess the violist in all those groups had no nerves to hint at the violins to calm things down abit.

    I've come across more bad SQ's in Shostakovich, Bartok, Ravel, Schoenberg, and a few other composers I like.
    The romantic SQ's are even worse...Note how many Beethoven SQ recordings, ad yet no one can seem to find a 10/10. Every single TC member on that thread has a different opinion...its like amazon reviews,,I never go to 5 stars UNLESS FIRST going to 1,2,3 stars comments.
    More often than not, the 2,3,4 star comments have honesty going on,,the 5 stars are all fluff and puff. ,there are exceptions.
    I say if the violist can't lead the vioklins the SQ product will be all out of wack.
    He is the glue that holds the thing together, Tones, tempos, structure, melodic textures,,it all falls on his graces and talents.
    I stand by my theory.
    It is impossible to have a 10/10 recording with a *average* violist, Impossible.

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