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Thread: Weekly quartet. Just a music lover perspective.

  1. #3721
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    I'd have preferred some of the other choices, then I could have listened to my 1-3 recordings. I am not going to listen to all my op.130 and I will usually exclude the fugue, I think. I started already in the morning with the LaSalle Quartet (DG 1973-77) a fairly relaxed and "analytical" recording with some interesting choices for the different tempi in the first movement but overall maybe a bit "cool". Certainly not very manic or spooky in the 2nd movement.
    Last edited by Kreisler jr; Aug-01-2021 at 15:21.

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    Senior Member sbmonty's Avatar
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    I like both versions and tend to listen to them both depending on how the were placed on a particular recording, but I agree that the Grosse Fugue does overweight the work for me. I own the Takacs, Busch, Alban Berg, Talich, Italiano and Amadeus sets.

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    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    I found this fairly extensive article on the quartet by Michael Steinberg taken from the Beethoven Quartet Companion. Includes numerous Kandinsky prints for your viewing pleasure.
    https://www.maramarietta.com/the-art...cal/beethoven/
    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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    ^Also Peter Gutmann on the Grosse Fuge: http://www.classicalnotes.net/classics3/grossefuge.html

    ...and Trout’s recommendations for the fugue alone. And yes, even Emerson skeptics like myself must admit that their thrilling virtuosity here hits the spot.

    1. Emerson String Quartet (1994)
    2. Takács Quartet (2004)
    3. Alban Berg Quartet (1989)
    4. Quartetto Italiano (1969)
    5. Artemis Quartet (2009)
    6. Hagen Quartet (2001)
    7. Tokyo String Quartet (2008)
    8. Guarneri Quartet (1987)
    9. Juilliard String Quartet (1996)
    10. Yale Quartet (1971)
    Bonus: Furtwängler (cond.), Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (1954, Salzburg)
    Last edited by Allegro Con Brio; Aug-01-2021 at 14:52.
    "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

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  7. #3725
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    I like the Fugue and am not really deciced which one works better but it is just quicker and less strenuous (op.133 is a strenuous piece...) to skip the fugue, if one wants to listen to a lot of recordings

    I have a fraction of what is out there but still a lot, I'll probably not feel like listening to two per day (although it is manageable in principle)

    Busch/EMI/Warner \op.133
    Budapest/Biddulph 1930s \op.133
    Hungarian/EMI 1960s
    Smetana 1960s
    Juilliard/Sony 1970s
    Juilliard/Sony 1990s \alternate Finale
    Vegh/Naive 1970s
    Yale/Vanguard
    LaSalle/DG
    Melos/DG 1980s
    Orford/Delos
    Emerson/DG
    Petersen/Capriccio
    Musikverein/Platz
    Hagen/DG \alternate Finale
    Last edited by Kreisler jr; Aug-01-2021 at 20:57.

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  9. #3726
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    I haven't been here for a while, so first things first...Starthrower! Are you ok? The family? That's terrible news and I sincerely hope you and your family are well. I hope you guys are alright and all that was taken were tangible items that can be replaced. I also hope that these were adults, not juveniles, because then you might be able to get some restitution. Don't count on it, but it is a possibility.

    So, Beethoven's Op. 130! My experience with Beethoven's late string quartets has been profound. Yes, I'm one of those saps that will readily admit that listening to Beethoven's late string quartets is a transcendent event, and one I can experience any time I reach for Op.127-135. However, of the magic 5, Op.130 is the one I play least. I enjoy it and recognize its greatness, but it doesn't pull me in like the others, particularly Op.131 and Op.132, which occupy the summit, and are two of my top 5 pieces of music in any genre. I like quirky and unpredictable, which is why these late quartets, and even the Razumovskys, hold such a special place in my heart. Nevertheless, I've never been completely drawn into the episodic, almost intermezzo-like nature of some of Op.130. I always listen to the Grosse Fugue as a finale. It was Beethoven's original intention.

    These are the recordings I have, or at least can remember at this time: Takacs Quartet (great!), Alban Berg Qt. (studio), Julliard String Qt. (Live at the Library of Congress) and Quartetto Italiano. The recording I reach for most frequently is the Takacs Quartet. I think the Takacs rock the hell out of the Grosse Fugue and I love that approach. I suspect Merl has a very busy week on his hands.

    EDIT: I also have the great Busch Quartet set but I believe the Grosse Fugue is not included.
    Last edited by SearsPoncho; Aug-01-2021 at 17:30.
    "It should have worked." - Arthur Carlson

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  11. #3727
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SearsPoncho View Post
    ....I suspect Merl has a very busy week on his hands.
    Tbh, SP, I've got a lot of notes already on the set performances so it's just a case of a quick relisten to check previous judgement and pick up the individual spares, I reckon I'll have it written by midweek. I have a 40 shortlist in front of me right now and 10 newbies to hear.
    Last edited by Merl; Aug-01-2021 at 17:04.

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  13. #3728
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    Quote Originally Posted by SearsPoncho View Post
    However, of the magic 5, Op.130 is the one I play least. I enjoy it and recognize its greatness, but it doesn't pull me in like the others, particularly Op.131 and Op.132, which occupy the summit, and are two of my top 5 pieces of music in any genre. I like quirky and unpredictable, which is why these late quartets, and even the Razumovskys, hold such a special place in my heart. Nevertheless, I've never been completely drawn into the episodic, almost intermezzo-like nature of some of Op.130.
    I think I liked it more when I got to know the music 30 years ago as a teenager; sure, I was puzzled by the Fugue for a while but I loved the quirkiness of the rest and the relatively short inner movements made it in some respects easier to get to know.
    I also think that it is brilliant to have such a different "Mega-serenade" piece among the more conventional opp.127 and 132 and the even less conventional op.131. But I also don't love it as much as op.131 and 132. There is something overambitious about it (not only, but of course wrt the Fugue that one also finds in the Razumovsky's and some of op.18 while I find the other late quartets more "natural", admittedly very vague and subjective descriptions.

    EDIT: I also have the great Busch Quartet set but I believe the Grosse Fugue is not included.
    No, or maybe there is an orchestral version included. I think they played the Fugue as finale in concert, but for some reason not on their recording.

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  15. #3729
    Senior Member Malx's Avatar
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    I've got a fairly busy week ahead, by my standards, so I may not get through all the recordings I have nevermind others that get flagged up on the thread - but I will do my best. For some reason I rarely play the Op 130, I guess because I tend like other posters to prefer some of the other late quartets, so hopefully time will permit me the opportunity to give it a better chance.

    Coincidently when looking at the forum and alighting on this thread I have, a new (to me), recording of my favourite, for now, Beethoven Quartet - Op131 played by the Talich Quartet on the player. I love the Andante of this quartet.

  16. #3730
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kreisler jr View Post
    I think I liked it more when I got to know the music 30 years ago as a teenager; sure, I was puzzled by the Fugue for a while but I loved the quirkiness of the rest and the relatively short inner movements made it in some respects easier to get to know.
    I also think that it is brilliant to have such a different "Mega-serenade" piece among the more conventional opp.127 and 132 and the even less conventional op.131. But I also don't love it as much as op.131 and 132. There is something overambitious about it (not only, but of course wrt the Fugue that one also finds in the Razumovsky's and some of op.18 while I find the other late quartets more "natural", admittedly very vague and subjective descriptions.


    No, or maybe there is an orchestral version included. I think they played the Fugue as finale in concert, but for some reason not on their recording.
    You chose a better word than I: Serenade...but what a Serenade!

    Yes, the Busch have a chamber orchestra version of the Grosse Fugue rather than a quartet.
    "It should have worked." - Arthur Carlson

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  18. #3731
    Senior Member HenryPenfold's Avatar
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    Great choice! Being rather conservative in taste, I consider LvB, Bartok & DSCH to be head and shoulders above all in this genre, but I can never decide who is primus inter pares. Anyway, it doesn't matter.

    I've become accustomed to listening to this piece with the second finale. I can't explain why I prefer it that way, perhaps something to do with the Gross Fugue having taken on a life of its own (coincidentally, I listened to the orchestral version this morning - Otto Klemperer, Philharmonia, EMI).

    Checking the shelves, I have:

    Hagen
    Emerson
    Tokyo
    Italiano

    I'm looking to calm my CD buying down a bit this year, so I hope the week's discussion doesn't put temptation my way!
    Last edited by HenryPenfold; Aug-01-2021 at 18:35. Reason: posessive apostrophe, tsk tsk

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  20. #3732
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    I think I have once seen the idea that although Beethoven already wrote an early trio divertimento (op.3) following in the steps of Mozarts trio divertimento K 563 this late quartet was again a nod towards the tradition of the multi movement "serenade". That's one reason why I think the Rondo finale works in some respects better than the Fugue.
    Another idea I had myself long before I encountered what I just referred to is that Beethoven here "splits" up the slow movement into the "song- and soulful" cavatina (#5 in Eb) and the ambigous andante with scherzando elements (#3 in Db) whereas in opp. 127, 132 and the variation movement (4) in op.131 we have sections or variations with scherzando character within a mostly very slow/sublime/lofty slow movement.

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  22. #3733
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    Quote Originally Posted by HenryPenfold View Post
    Great choice! Being rather conservative in taste, I consider LvB, Bartok & DSCH to be head and shoulders above all in this genre, but I can never decide who is primus inter pares. Anyway, it doesn't matter.

    I've become accustomed to listening to this piece with the second finale. I can't explain why I prefer it that way, perhaps something to do with the Gross Fugue having taken on a life of its own (coincidentally, I listened to the orchestral version this morning - Otto Klemperer, Philharmonia, EMI).

    Checking the shelves, I have:

    Hagen
    Emerson
    Tokyo
    Italiano

    I'm looking to calm my CD buying down a bit this year, so I hope the week's discussion doesn't put temptation my way!
    Henry,

    I have that Klemperer/Philharmonia recording with the Grosse Fugue. It's paired with an excellent "Eroica." Good stuff.

    I'm interested in what Merl and others thinks of some of the new entries, such as the Quator Ebene's live cycle.

    By the way, you guys are a really bad influence! I just ordered a pair of Sennheiser 599s based on the back and forth a few pages ago. Great reviews on other sites. Consume! Consume! Consume!
    Last edited by SearsPoncho; Aug-01-2021 at 19:02.
    "It should have worked." - Arthur Carlson

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  24. #3734
    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    If the 599s sound a bit cold and clinical at first, give them some time to break in. Mine sound warmer now that I've been using them for a while.

    I'm interested in what Merl and others thinks of some of the new entries, such as the Quator Ebene's live cycle.
    I just unpacked my copy. They play the fugue. Gonna give them a listen now.
    Last edited by starthrower; Aug-01-2021 at 19:28.
    In Mahler I usually prefer the Solti approach -caveman having a seisure whips orchestra into a frenzy!! - Radames, TC member

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  26. #3735
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    I too am sorry, Starthrower, to hear that your house was robbed. Thank goodness everyone's okay. Sounds like it was juveniles looking for drug money or a thrill ride. Ugh! (If you get a couple of pit bulls, like my brother did--two of the sweetest & most loving pups I've ever met, btw--believe me, it won't happen again. Especially if you walk them regularly in the neighborhood & the punks see them. In my experience, gang members know what pits can do to them, & no one wants to deal with those kinds of hospital bills. Trust me, you'll get respect. Although you might have to train the pits to guard your house, since they're big sweeties by nature, & particularly if you get them as pups. Yes, I know they have a bad reputation, but that's mostly due to some of their twisted owners, who can be a big problem, since the dogs are fiercely loyal.)

    Thanks for the picks over the past two weeks. I had begun to write posts for each, but didn't get around to finishing them. So, time to move on. However, I did enjoy reading everyone's thoughts.

    I agree with SearsPoncho. For me, Beethoven's Op. 132 is his greatest quartet. I remember that the conductor Eugen Jochum thought so, too. But of course I like each of the Late Quartets, & the Op. 130 is a great pick for the week!

    Of interest, the Merel Quartet seems to be recording a new Beethoven cycle of late. I had hoped they would--since the Beethoven I'd heard from them in concert was first class: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNeP...qrK3wT&index=4, and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUpHGox5aLU). Here's their recent Op. 130:



    and their Grosse fuge separately: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mvyqjQv9pc

    There is also a fantastic recording of the Grosse Fuge by the Merels on You Tube, back when violinist Julia Schroeder played in the group (as 2nd violinist), which I like even better:



    The Gewandhaus Quartet is also very, very good at making sense of this crazy fugue--which let's face it, can sound like a mess:



    Otherwise, my favorite recordings of Op. 130 are by the Smetana Quartet (on Denon & Supraphon), Alban Berg Quartet (studio & live), Quartetto Italiano, Talich Quartet, Suske Quartett, Fitzwilliam SQ, and the Takacs Quartet (and the already mentioned Gewandhaus Quartett), & historically, the Busch Quartet. Like Merl, I also admire the Op. 130 played by the Edding Quartet on period instruments, and--as with the fugal movement in the Hammerklavier Piano Sonata--I think it's essential to hear the Grosse fuge played on period instruments: since what Beethoven had in his mind does actually work with the instruments of his day, as opposed to it becoming a traffic jam, & it's pretty wild music when it does work:

    Edding Quartet:
    1. Adagio ma no troppo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GgPo16_G2Q
    2. Presto: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jMWV8T-9UY
    3. Poco scherzoso: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETJl0UN0ofs
    4. Alla danza tedesca: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YZ2UZYFukQ
    5. Cavatina: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IMkuOYZsxc
    6. Grosse fuge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bMRkSa71gU

    Now compare that to the other period recording by Quatour Mosaiques: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Omw3qZ_PMMI, whose Grosse fuge I don't overly care for: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsMg1mLYq6k&t=0s

    Here are some links to my favorite modern instrument groups (but unfortunately, the Gewandhaus Quartett's NCA recording is no longer on You Tube), if anyone's interested:

    --Alban Berg Quartet, studio (which I slightly prefer to their later live account): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xE1...jzIISq&index=2. & the Berg's Grosse fuge from their live set: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13yg...Lhjaf&index=22.

    --Smetana Quartet, the later Denon recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7S5G...v8jEU&index=45

    --Smetana Quartet, their earlier Supraphon recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwwF...OEc7I&index=21

    --Suske Quartett: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIs8...dPt9L&index=46

    --Quartetto Italiano: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYhK...V3BXFD805PQJsv

    --Takacs Quartet (remastered): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQLv...OiJ2v&index=54

    --Talich Quartet: (unfortunately, the first movement is blocked in the U.S.): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cpk8...Kyyp4Y&index=2

    --Fitzwilliam String Quartet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxYO...atFkcSDn70oDpE

    --Busch Quartet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppjXCXpcXs8

    P.S. I agree that the LaSalle Quartet is too "analytical" and "cold" in this quartet, and in the rest of their Late Quartet set, too. Not a favorite of mine (though I find them better in the music of the 2nd Viennese School--especially Schoenberg).
    Last edited by Josquin13; Aug-01-2021 at 20:54.

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