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Thread: Weekly quartet. Just a music lover perspective.

  1. #3481
    Senior Member Carmina Banana's Avatar
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    Looks I can quickly get my listening impressions of the Haydn before we are on to the next quartet.

    I started with the Tokyo. I was expecting loads of refinement and sophistication and I was not disappointed. I liked it but didn't feel like it was as deep and personal as it could have been.

    Then I listened to the Festetics. I did not like. I feel like someone did a bunch of research and came up with a list of things not to do when playing Haydn. What was left are notes. Some of them not very pleasant.

    By contrast, when I heard the first few notes of the Nomos quartet, I was immediately entranced. They are able to convey so much human expression in this piece. There are moments of grave seriousness that turn on a dime into a playful lightheartedness. They take great care with the nuance of every phrase. The menuet is elevated from a dance into a work of art and I’m not sure the other recordings I have heard do that.
    Somehow this is different than artists who have an overly precious approach to Mozart and Haydn. That never appeals to me. This recording really brought the piece to life for me.

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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Whose pick is it this week, ACB?
    Last edited by Merl; Jul-10-2021 at 17:58.

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    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    From ACB's post # 3314

    On Sunday, we will have come to the end of our third round. Sticking to the same order of nominators as last time, this will be our schedule:

    Allegro Con Brio
    Mandryka
    Josquin13
    Bwv 1050
    Portamento
    sbmonty
    Merl
    Knorf
    calvinpv
    newyorkconversation
    Malx
    BlackAdderLXX
    starthrower
    annaw
    SearsPoncho
    HenryPenfold
    Helgi
    Carmina Banana
    GucciManeIsTheNewWebern
    StevehamNY
    FastkeinBrahms
    Burbage
    Kjetil Heggelund
    Enthusiast
    Art Rock
    Kreisler jr
    allaroundmusicenthusiast

    The list of quartets already covered is in post #1
    Last edited by starthrower; Jul-10-2021 at 18:20.
    In Mahler I usually prefer the Solti approach -caveman having a seisure whips orchestra into a frenzy!! - Radames, TC member

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    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merl View Post
    Whose pick is it this week, ACB?
    Josquin13 is up! He had already acknowledged it, so I didn’t post it. However, I will make sure to repost the list every Friday for the convenience of everyone.

    I am reading the discussions on tuning, etc. with great interest but I don’t know much about it and therefore don’t have much to add. Mandryka’s Keller book on Haydn quartets is definitely going on my wishlist though!
    Last edited by Allegro Con Brio; Jul-10-2021 at 18:38.
    "If we understood the world, we would realize that there is a logic of harmony underlying its manifold apparent dissonances." - Jean Sibelius

    "Art is an attempt to transport into a limited quantity of matter, modeled by man, an image of the infinite beauty of the entire universe." - Simone Weil

    "Ceaseless work, analysis, reflection, writing much, endless self-correction, that is my secret." - Johann Sebastian Bach

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    To finish up with Haydn's quartet before I present my choice for next week...,

    I don't think a fine ensemble like the Auryn Quartet should be faulted or criticized because their performance doesn't have the quirkiness and spikiness that one hears in a period instrument performance. Period performances are always going to be different in character from modern instrument performances, interpretatively. Since they most often make the music sound like other music, due to the period bows and gut strings producing different sounds, and possessing different capabilities: which are often clearly advantages, at least in regards to what an 18th century composer would have expected to hear. However, IMO, the Auryns are never less than musical and refined.

    Nevertheless, as I wrote earlier in the week, I still prefer the Tokyo Quartet to the Auryn and Amati Quartets, and to the Kodaly Quartet, as well, whose No. 4 was new to me this week. The Tokyos are more energized & spirited, & offer a bolder and more brilliant attack to this quartet than the other three--& particularly in the first movement, where it's most important, in my view. They also do so with equally good intonation. In short, I think it's a very worthwhile No. 4 (& Op. 50 set), & it baffles me that anyone can find much fault in their performance--among modern instrument versions. Yet, at the same time, I did like the Kodaly Quartet's No. 4, as well, along with the Auryn & Amati Quartets--all three are beautiful performances, in my estimation, despite that they don't quite displace the Tokyo Quartet (at least, not for me). (EDIT: After reading Carmina Banana's post above, maybe I should have listened to the Nomos SQ, too: which is a set that I own and actually used to recommend, before I got some complaints in response, so now I'm hesitant to do so...)

    As for the Zaide Quartet, they have the same energized forward drive and brilliant attack as the Tokyo Quartet, which I liked. But I'd put their performance in a different category from the Auryn, Amati, Kodaly, and to an extent the Tokyo quartets, since they are so decidedly HIP in their approach. For example, the Auryns, Amati and Kodaly are not nearly as energized and spirited at the opening of the 1st movement, as the Zaide and Tokyos (& Lindsays) are, and that's a significant difference, in my opinion. So, if you want an HIP account played on modern instruments, I would agree that the Zaides make a good recommendation (although it's the only HIP version on modern instruments that I've ever heard of this quartet.)

    https://music.amazon.com/albums/B07J..._phfa_xx_xx_xx

    I've now listened to the London Haydn Quartet's period recording, & thought it was better than what I had previously encountered from this group earlier in their Haydn cycle. Their Op. 50 No. 4 is a very good performance; although it did take some adjusting to, and interestingly, I liked it more the second time around.

    Yet I still prefer the Op. 50, No. 4 by the Festetics Quartet. Their performance is a bit more fluid and seamlessly played, and less quirky, with their accents or stresses within their phrasing consistently well placed, to my ears. They also found plenty of wit & humor in Haydn, and take delight in it, in contrast to the London Haydn Quartet, who are maybe a bit more on the serious side? I'm not quite sure I understand why Merl & others didn't like the Festetic performance, but I think it's very good:



    With that said, I may still buy the London Haydn Quartet's Op. 50 set, because it is so different from the Festetics. I like owning different views of my favorite music, & suspect that I might appreciate the LHQ's performance more with further listening (unless a better period recording of the Op. 50 set were to come along, which is a possibility considering how under recorded the Op. 50 set is among period ensembles, & how fine the music is ...)

    Therefore, I mostly finished the week where I started out, with the same top two recommendations; plus a couple of extras that were new to me, which I liked, on first impression:

    --Among modern instrument performances, the Tokyo Quartet remains my top pick among non-HIP performances (although it's long overdue to be remastered by DG), while my second choice is the Kodaly Quartet, & then the Auryn & Amati Quartets, who are nevertheless all very good, as noted.

    --Among period instrument performances, the Festetics Quartet remains my 1st choice, but I'd say the London Haydn Quartet is a close second, for now. However, I should point out that they've got the field entirely to themselves, as neither group has any other competition.

    --Lastly, among HIP performances on modern instruments, my first pick is now the Zaide Quartet, who were easily the most HIP of the modern instrument groups that I listened to this week, & therefore stood out.

    Thanks, for a terrific choice this week, Mandryka. I really enjoyed hearing this quartet played in a variety of different ways.
    Last edited by Josquin13; Jul-11-2021 at 02:08.

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    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    ^Any time Sunday



    .............
    "If we understood the world, we would realize that there is a logic of harmony underlying its manifold apparent dissonances." - Jean Sibelius

    "Art is an attempt to transport into a limited quantity of matter, modeled by man, an image of the infinite beauty of the entire universe." - Simone Weil

    "Ceaseless work, analysis, reflection, writing much, endless self-correction, that is my secret." - Johann Sebastian Bach

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    Just popping in to say I too have thoroughly appreciated, and learned a lot from, the recent discussion of string quartet intonation! May have to dig back through this thread a little in search of similarly enlightening discussions...

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    Senior Member StevehamNY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cheregi View Post
    Just popping in to say I too have thoroughly appreciated, and learned a lot from, the recent discussion of string quartet intonation! May have to dig back through this thread a little in search of similarly enlightening discussions...

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  16. #3489
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    Any newcomers to the thread (from the last couple of days, PeterF and Cheregi), just pipe up if you’d like to be added to the list to nominate! It will be a long time since our list is so long, so you will have close to a half year to think of your choice
    "If we understood the world, we would realize that there is a logic of harmony underlying its manifold apparent dissonances." - Jean Sibelius

    "Art is an attempt to transport into a limited quantity of matter, modeled by man, an image of the infinite beauty of the entire universe." - Simone Weil

    "Ceaseless work, analysis, reflection, writing much, endless self-correction, that is my secret." - Johann Sebastian Bach

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    I considered a large number of quartets for my choice this week. (Since my turn comes around so infrequently, I've now amassed a gigantic list of possible choices!) Those that are familiar with my posts on other threads will know that I particularly enjoy discovering interesting works that are lesser known & neglected, or 'off the beaten' path. I had planned to offer such a string quartet for this week, having lately re-listened to a handful of quartets that fit the bill. However, as I was trying to make up my mind, I noticed that, surprisingly, we hadn't done Samuel Barber's String Quartet. Which is an oversight considering that this quartet is, IMO, one the better string quartets of the early to mid 20th century, and one of the finest quartets by an American composer. I also realized that it might prove embarrassing to us 'Yanks', if a non-American were to later choose the quartet for our thread one week, and especially for me, considering that Barber grew up in the same area where I was raised, outside of Philadelphia, and also went to the same summer camp in New Hampshire (albeit decades apart), where, like me, he hiked in the White Mountains, & wrote a couple of his earliest songs, such as "Dere two fella Joe". So that tipped the scale, and I decided to make Barber's string quartet my pick for the week. By the way, Barber composed his quartet between 1935-36, at aged 24-26. Here's a link to the Wikipedia page on his quartet, which also includes an incomplete discography at the bottom of the page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String_Quartet_(Barber)

    I have four excellent recordings of this quartet in my collection. Though I've probably most liked the Emerson Quartet's recording on DG, which I find is both well played & thoroughly idiomatic, I like each of the other three recordings, too--by the Chester String Quartet, Concord String Quartet (on LP), and Duke String Quartet. For some reason, American musicians and conductors and singers always sound more idiomatic to me in Barber's music, not only among the various string quartet groups that I know (of which I'd now include the Ying Quartet), but also in other music by Barber, as well: such as the recordings by Thomas Schippers, Leonard Slatkin, Leonard Bernstein, Andrew Schenck, David Zinman, Leontyne Price, Eleanor Steber, Elmar Oliveira, John Browning, Dawn Upshaw, etc. (with some exceptions of course).

    I also recently listened to the Diotima Quartet's version on You Tube, which is very good, but not as idiomatic as the Emersons & others, in my view. It was, however, very interesting to hear what these French musicians make of Barber's Quartet, considering that their reading shows they see this quartet as a more modern work. For that reason, I found their playing of the two outer movements fascinating. But I also thought they were less successful in the Adagio movement (which, in case anyone doesn't know, is the original version of Barber's famous "Adagio for Strings"). While in contrast, the Emersons seem to fully understand that there is an unavoidable Romantic ethos in the Adagio movement, and therefore, I think their interpretation works better as an integrated whole.

    I also used to like a Nonesuch LP recording by the Concord String Quartet, a group that premiered a good number of quartets by notable American composers back in the 1970s and 80s--recording works that were composed roughly during the period 1950-1970, by Rochberg, Druckman, Wolpe, Crumb, Feldman, etc.. However, to my surprise, it doesn't appear to have ever made it onto CD. While I have a fond memory of this recording, being that it was my first LP of Barber's quartet, I haven't heard their performance in several decades now, so my memory and high regard for their playing may or may not be trustworthy...

    Which leaves the Chester String Quartet and Duke String Quartet as the other two versions that I own in my collection, and I'd rate these more or less equally.

    Here's a list of all the recordings of the Barber SQ that I could come up with (to help Merl out, if he feels so inclined this week, or anyone else), & I've provided You Tube links to the performances that I have in my personal collection (except for the Concord SQ recording), along with the Diotima's performance (which I don't own): Plus, if anyone's interested, I've rated the performances on a scale of 1-5 using asterisks, five being the best--though I expect (& welcome) that Merl & others will make their own ratings over the coming week:

    --Emerson String Quartet*****:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nM1zLq4sTCY
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxtMe9CPZ9M
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wy_ahqWzxJo

    --Concord String Quartet*****: on a Nonesuch LP: https://www.amazon.com/George-Rochbe.../dp/B00MDWNTUG

    --For the purposes of this thread, I've also now listened to the following very fine version of the Barber SQ by the Ying String Quartet***** (which is another excellent American group), from an album they recorded of music by Barber & Hanson, entitled, "American Anthem", which, btw, is the version of choice over at earsense.org (and you can hear it there, if interested, or on You Tube): https://www.earsense.org/chamber-mus...v=nHsydUGppEI2.

    --Quatour Diotima***: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0k0EK_h-SAY

    --Chester String Quartet****: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PldTNVHVAts

    --Duke String Quartet****: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OWZ_uJvwPk

    Here are some other recordings of the quartet, which I've not heard:

    --American String Quartet (a private tape made in Barber's living room?)
    --Alexander Quartet
    --Cleveland Quartet
    --Endellion Quartet
    --Borodin Quartet
    --Serafin Quartet
    --Escher Quartet
    --Cypress Quartet
    --Tokyo Quartet
    --Lindsay Quartet

    In conclusion, I also wanted to add a YT link to the Dover Quartet's recording of just the Adagio movement, which they play exceptionally well, IMO: https://www.doverquartet.com/news/20...io-for-strings. Though I do wish the Dovers had recorded the rest of the quartet, & expect they will do so one day, being an American group.

    Finally, as an added bonus, here is the Concord Quartet playing Barber's "Dover Beach", for baritone & string quartet, which I wanted to provide a link to, since, regrettably, the Concord's recording of the quartet isn't on You Tube, & "Dover Beach" was included on their original Nonesuch LP, where it came coupled with Barber's String Quartet & Rochberg's String Quartet No. 7: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6voofQWuZys. For anyone that's interested, "Dover Beach" was composed by Barber when he was only 21 years old, and it is based on a poem by Matthew Arnold. In addition to the Concord's recording, with baritone Leslie Guinn, there have been a number of other fine recordings, as well--by Randall Scarlata & the Ying Quartet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sUjP6DCasc, Thomas Hampson & the Emerson Quartet, and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau & the Juilliard Quartet; as well as a recording by Barber himself singing with the old Curtis Quartet in 1937 (as Barber was a trained baritone singer, along with being a pianist & composer): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjPtPmshqIA. The late American baritone Sanford Sylvan also used to sing "Dover Beach" in concert, but I don't think Sylvan ever recorded it (unfortunately, since he's a near ideal singer in this repertory); although I could be wrong about this. (Sylvan did, however, record Barber's Hermit Songs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8S2...Rn_tUZto0-vRWn.)

    Speaking of Barber's compositions for voice, his 1947 work, "Knoxville: Summer of 1915", Op. 24--which is set to excerpts of a 1938 prose-poem by the American writer James Agee--is likewise essential listening, and a major work by Barber. I think it is his most beautiful song cycle. The work was commissioned by soprano Eleanor Steber, who premiered the piece in 1948 in Boston & made the first recording. Here are links to three different performances that I like, if anyone's curious:

    Eleanor Steber: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nrnW-F0DzE
    Leontyne Price: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zt5Ssn3MhQ
    Dawn Upshaw (digital): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gjwm4od-Upc

    P.S. I also wanted to add the following 1978 interview with Barber, which was given prior to the premiere of his Third Essay for Orchestra (in New York), where Barber discusses the genesis of the orchestral version of his Adagio for Strings, which Arturo Toscanini premiered, as well as his being frustrated by the lack of commercial recordings of his songs, among other subjects, including his friendship with Francis Poulenc: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtEekeAKHtc.

    P.S.S. Here's yet another documentary interview with Barber made in his NYC apartment, given by pianist James Tocco, to celebrate the composer's 67th birthday in 1977 (in the film, the American String Quartet performs his Adagio for Strings, which may possibly indicate that Barber preferred the version for string quartet, as I do myself):



    (If anyone's wondering where to start with Barber's music, I'd recommend the following two recordings, in addition to the string quartet:

    1. The benchmark orchestral recordings by conductor Thomas Schippers:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwufh66X8u4
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltbpnI1X7PY
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8G9vRqq3RI

    https://www.amazon.com/Samuel-Barber...s=music&sr=1-1

    2. While there will be some duplication here among the orchestral works performed on the Schippers album, I specifically chose the following EMI double fforte discount 2 CD reissue for Barber's Violin Concerto, with its wistful or sadly evocative, nostalgic, or perhaps elegiac feeling in the 2nd Andante movement--which I find deeply moving, & especially as it was played by violinist Elmar Oliveira, and conductor Leonard Slatkin leading the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, who performed it as well as, if not better than anyone else that I've heard. Although you can buy the Oliveira/Slatkin recording individually, too, where it comes coupled with Howard Hanson's Symphony No. 2, "Romantic", on a single EMI CD:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWtgxh34ifo.

    https://www.amazon.com/Barber-String...s=music&sr=1-6).
    Last edited by Josquin13; Jul-11-2021 at 16:14.

  18. #3491
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Nice choice, Jos. I only have the Emersons and Brodskys in this one (both very fine) so looking forward to sampling the other 25 or so recordings. And here was me thinking it would be DATM. Hahaha.

    Btw, theres also the aforementioned Brodskys, Lipkind, Eberle, Ying, Aeolus, Lipkind, Vegh and Serbian quartets to consider here.
    Last edited by Merl; Jul-11-2021 at 12:44.

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    I have the Emerson and the Tokyo - will pick one or two of the recommendations from this thread for comparison.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Josquin13 View Post
    I considered a large number of quartets for my choice this week. (Since my turn comes around so infrequently, I've now amassed a gigantic list of possible choices!) Those that are familiar with my posts on other threads will know that I particularly enjoy discovering interesting works that are lesser known & neglected, or 'off the beaten' path. I had planned to offer such a string quartet for this week, having lately re-listened to a handful of quartets that fit the bill. However, as I was trying to make up my mind, I noticed that, surprisingly, we hadn't done Samuel Barber's String Quartet. Which is an oversight considering that this quartet is, IMO, one the better string quartets of the early to mid 20th century, and one of the finest quartets by an American composer. I also realized that it might prove embarrassing to us 'Yanks', if a non-American were to later choose the quartet for our thread one week, and especially for me, considering that Barber grew up in the same area where I was raised, outside of Philadelphia, and also went to the same summer camp in New Hampshire (albeit decades apart), where, like me, he hiked in the White Mountains, & wrote a couple of his earliest songs, such as "Dere two fella Joe". So that tipped the scale, and I decided to make Barber's string quartet my pick for the week. By the way, Barber composed his quartet between 1935-36, at aged 24-26. Here's a link to the Wikipedia page on his quartet, which also includes an incomplete discography at the bottom of the page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String_Quartet_(Barber)

    I have four excellent recordings of this quartet in my collection. Though I've probably most liked the Emerson Quartet's recording on DG, which I find is both well played & thoroughly idiomatic, I like each of the other three recordings, too--by the Chester String Quartet, Concord String Quartet (on LP), and Duke String Quartet. For some reason, American musicians and conductors and singers always sound more idiomatic to me in Barber's music, not only among the various string quartet groups that I know (of which I'd now include the Ying Quartet), but also in other music by Barber: such as the recordings by Thomas Schippers, Leonard Slatkin, Leonard Bernstein, Andrew Schenck, David Zinman, Leontyne Price, Eleanor Steber, Elmar Oliveira, John Browning, Dawn Upshaw, etc. (with some exceptions of course).

    I also recently listened to the Diotima Quartet's version on You Tube, which is very good, but not as idiomatic as the Emersons & others, in my view. It was, however, very interesting to hear what these French musicians make of Barber's Quartet, considering that their reading shows they see this quartet as a more modern work. For that reason, I found their playing of the two outer movements fascinating. But I also thought they were less successful in the Adagio movement (which, in case anyone doesn't know, the 2nd movement is the original version of Barber's famous "Adagio for Strings"). While in contrast, the Emersons seem to fully understand that there is an unavoidable Romantic ethos in the Adagio movement, and therefore, I think their interpretation works better as an integrated whole.

    I also used to like a Nonesuch LP recording by the Concord String Quartet, a group that premiered a good number of quartets by notable American composers back in the 1970s and 80s--recording works that were composed roughly during the period 1950-1970, by Rochberg, Druckman, Wolpe, Crumb, Feldman, etc.. However, to my surprise, it doesn't appear to have ever made it onto CD. While I have a fond memory of this recording, being that it was my first LP of Barber's quartet, I haven't heard their performance in several decades now, so my memory and high regard for their playing may or may not be trustworthy...

    Which leaves the Chester String Quartet and Duke String Quartet as the other two versions that I own in my collection, and I'd rate these more or less equally.

    Here's a list of all the recordings of the Barber SQ that I could come up with (to help Merl out, if he feels so inclined this week, or anyone else), & I've provided You Tube links to the performances that I have in my personal collection (except for the Concord SQ recording), along with the Diotima's performance on You Tube: Plus, if anyone's interested, I've rated the performances on a scale of 1-5 using asterisks, five being the best--though I expect (& welcome) that Merl & others will make their own ratings over the coming week:

    --Emerson String Quartet*****:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nM1zLq4sTCY
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxtMe9CPZ9M
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wy_ahqWzxJo

    --Concord String Quartet*****: on a Nonesuch LP: https://www.amazon.com/George-Rochbe.../dp/B00MDWNTUG

    --For the purposes of this thread, I've also now listened to the following very fine version of the Barber SQ by the Ying String Quartet***** (which is another excellent American group), from an album they recorded of music by Barber & Hanson, entitled, "American Anthem", which, btw, is the version of choice over at earsense.org (and you can hear it there, if interested, or on You Tube): https://www.earsense.org/chamber-mus...v=nHsydUGppEI2.

    --Quatour Diotima***: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0k0EK_h-SAY

    --Chester String Quartet****: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PldTNVHVAts

    --Duke String Quartet****: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OWZ_uJvwPk

    Here are some other recordings of the quartet, which I've not heard:

    --American String Quartet (a private tape made in Barber's living room?)
    --Alexander Quartet
    --Cleveland Quartet
    --Endellion Quartet
    --Borodin Quartet
    --Serafin Quartet
    --Escher Quartet
    --Cypress Quartet
    --Tokyo Quartet
    --Lindsay Quartet

    In conclusion, I also wanted to add a YT link to the Dover Quartet's recording of just the Adagio movement, which they play exceptionally well, IMO: https://www.doverquartet.com/news/20...io-for-strings. Though I do wish the Dovers had recorded the rest of the quartet, & expect they will do so one day, being an American group.

    Finally, as an added bonus, here is the Concord Quartet playing Barber's "Dover Beach", for baritone & string quartet, which I wanted to provide a link to, since, regrettably, the Concord's recording of the quartet isn't on You Tube, & "Dover Beach" was included on their original Nonesuch LP, where it came coupled with Barber's String Quartet & Rochberg's String Quartet No. 7: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6voofQWuZys. For anyone that's interested, "Dover Beach" was composed by Barber when he was only 21 years old, and it is based on a poem by Matthew Arnold. In addition to the Concord's recording, with baritone Leslie Guinn, there have been a number of other fine recordings, as well--by Randall Scarlata & the Ying Quartet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sUjP6DCasc, Thomas Hampson & the Emerson Quartet, and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau & the Juilliard Quartet; as well as a recording by Barber himself singing with the old Curtis Quartet in 1937 (as Barber was a trained baritone singer, along with being a pianist & composer): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjPtPmshqIA. The late American baritone Sanford Sylvan also used to sing "Dover Beach" in concert, but I don't think Sylvan ever recorded it (unfortunately, since he's a near ideal singer in this repertory); although I could be wrong about this. (Sylvan did, however, record Barber's Hermit Songs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8S2...Rn_tUZto0-vRWn.)

    Speaking of Barber's compositions for voice, his 1947 work, "Knoxville: Summer of 1915", Op. 24--which is set to excerpts of a 1938 prose-poem by the American writer James Agee--is likewise essential listening, and a major work by Barber. I think it is his most beautiful song cycle. The work was commissioned by soprano Eleanor Steber, who premiered the piece in 1948 in Boston & made the first recording. Here are links to three different performances that I like, if anyone's curious:

    Eleanor Steber: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nrnW-F0DzE
    Leontyne Price: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zt5Ssn3MhQ
    Dawn Upshaw (digital): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gjwm4od-Upc

    P.S. I also wanted to add the following 1978 interview with Barber, which was given prior to the premiere of his Third Essay for Orchestra (in New York), where Barber discusses the genesis of the orchestral version of his Adagio for Strings, which Arturo Toscanini premiered, as well as his being frustrated by the lack of commercial recordings of his songs, among other subjects, including his friendship with Francis Poulenc: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtEekeAKHtc.

    P.S.S. Here's yet another documentary interview with Barber made in his NYC apartment, given by pianist James Tocco, to celebrate the composer's 67th birthday in 1977 (in the film, the American String Quartet performs his Adagio for Strings, which may possibly indicate that Barber preferred the version for string quartet, as I do myself):



    (If anyone's wondering where to start with Barber's music, I'd recommend the following two recordings, in addition to the string quartet:

    1. The benchmark orchestral recordings by conductor Thomas Schippers:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwufh66X8u4
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltbpnI1X7PY
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8G9vRqq3RI

    https://www.amazon.com/Samuel-Barber...s=music&sr=1-1

    2. While there will be some duplication here among the orchestral works performed on Schippers' album, I specifically chose the following EMI double fforte discount 2 CD reissue for Barber's Violin Concerto, with its wistful or sadly evocative, nostalgic feeling, or perhaps elegiac 2nd Andante movement--which I find deeply moving, & especially as it was played by violinist Elmar Oliveira, and conductor Leonard Slatkin leading the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, who performed it as well as, if not better than anyone else that I've heard. Although you can buy the Oliveira/Slatkin recording individually, too, where it comes coupled with Howard Hanson's Symphony No. 2, "Romantic", on a single EMI CD:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWtgxh34ifo.

    https://www.amazon.com/Barber-String...s=music&sr=1-6).
    Thank you so much Josquin13 for such an interesting and useful post. I've spent the last couple of hours following your links etc.

    What an amazing Park Apartment Barber had - what I would give to live in a place like that!

    Excellent choice, too. I haven't listened to this work for quite a while, so I'm looking forward to this week's listening and comments.

    I have the Endellion on a marvellous EMI disc and the Quatuor Diotima (bought for the Crumb sqt).

    I think I'll probably be acquiring the Emerson.


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  24. #3494
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    Really great pick! Barber is my second favorite American composer after Ives. Particularly his three main concerti (piano, violin, cello) are among my favorites of the century. Like you, Josquin, I much prefer the famous Adagio in its intimate original setting here. Looking forward to it!
    "If we understood the world, we would realize that there is a logic of harmony underlying its manifold apparent dissonances." - Jean Sibelius

    "Art is an attempt to transport into a limited quantity of matter, modeled by man, an image of the infinite beauty of the entire universe." - Simone Weil

    "Ceaseless work, analysis, reflection, writing much, endless self-correction, that is my secret." - Johann Sebastian Bach

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    Josquin13: Excellent choice! Looks like you, I and Samuel Barber had something in common, that is, growing up just outside of Philly. My hometown was about a 45 minute drive from the City of Brotherly Love. I'm not a big flag-waver, but the two places I've visited which elicited strong patriotic feelings were Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia. I grew up watching Jim Gardner on the local news. My goal in life was to be Dr. J. Ormandy, cheese steaks, Broad Street, Constitution Hall, the Liberty Bell, Rittenhouse Square, South Street, the Academy of Music and the Tower Classical Music Annex, with a life-size cardboard cutout of Riccardo Muti, were all part of my youth.

    Emerson Quartet all the way! I think it's good to hear the Adagio in context, and in its original form. I'll be enjoying this one.
    Last edited by SearsPoncho; Jul-11-2021 at 14:52.
    "It should have worked." - Arthur Carlson

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