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Thread: Weekly quartet. Just a music lover perspective.

  1. #4141
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    The Hagen Q. is very good but the fillers are really slight curiosities, so if you want to get a disc, I'd rather suggest one with a more substantial discmate, so should the Verdi Q never capture your heart you still have it for completeness and also another piece on the disc.

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    Senior Member StevehamNY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kreisler jr View Post
    It is not my native language. Is "discographically" such an unusual word or was it wrong?
    No, it's used perfectly! It's just an impressive word, and doubly so if this is your second language. (I feel so American with my smattering of college French and nothing else, while so many Europeans can get by passably in their fourth or fifth language.)

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    Senior Member StevehamNY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HenryPenfold View Post
    Snap! (do you say snap in the US?).
    Henry, we absolutely have "snap!" in the US. Although it's most effective when you add the right body language:


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  5. #4144
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    I had a listen to the Amadeus recording this morning and whilst it's elegantly played its all a bit stuffed-shirt for me and the prestissimo was not really very joyous sounding at all, particularly when played back to back with the far more dramatic Artemis and Melos performances that will certainly make the final round-up (but who knows where?). I wasn't impressed by the Juilliard's recording either but not because of the performance but the rather odd sound balances (one minute close and the next recessed). Thankfully I finished off with the Schumann Quartet who made a much better fist of proceedings. I'm going to try and race through these in the next few days as I have a horrendous week at work.

    Edit: since I came home I've listened to 3 recordings I have in my collection - the Alberni, Delme and Italianos. All are easily recommendable but some may struggle with the slightly ascerbic string sound of the Quartetto Italian's 1950 mono recording, which sounds a bit scrawny compared to others. It is beautifully played, though.
    Last edited by Merl; Sep-20-2021 at 19:06.

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  7. #4145
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    I listened to Juilliard in my Sony Chamber Music Box and found them brilliant. I think this work, which Verdi clearly intended to demonstrate that he was a master of the contrapuntal form, not just a composer of melodies, benefits from a slightly more sober approach. I did not find the sonic imbalances Merl mentioned on my recording. BTW, the Juilliards do let their hair down when Belcanto cantilenes are on display, especially the gorgeous Vc solo in the third movement. I think this quartet is a work of genius. However, I does not surprise me it never became popular. I guess the overlap between Verdi Opera lovers and string quartet lovers is limited. The former will miss hummable tunes in the quartet, the latter would probably not expect Verdi to be capable of this and will mostly not bother to listen to it. What actually impressed me most was the modernity of the two outer movements.

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  9. #4146
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FastkeinBrahms View Post
    I listened to Juilliard in my Sony Chamber Music Box and found them brilliant. I think this work, which Verdi clearly intended to demonstrate that he was a master of the contrapuntal form, not just a composer of melodies, benefits from a slightly more sober approach. I did not find the sonic imbalances Merl mentioned on my recording. BTW, the Juilliards do let their hair down when Belcanto cantilenes are on display, especially the gorgeous Vc solo in the third movement. I think this quartet is a work of genius. However, I does not surprise me it never became popular. I guess the overlap between Verdi Opera lovers and string quartet lovers is limited. The former will miss hummable tunes in the quartet, the latter would probably not expect Verdi to be capable of this and will mostly not bother to listen to it. What actually impressed me most was the modernity of the two outer movements.
    I'll try and get another source for a listen, FKB. It did strike me as strange that the sound deviated so wildly.

    Edit: I tried another source, FKB, and although the weird balances weren't there the close, very dry recorded sound (via Spotify) is definitely not pleasant which is odd for 90s Juilliard recordings that tend to be more reverberant. I don't know if it's been remastered for the Sony Chamber Box but if not it needs to be. Funnily enough I checked online and its mentioned in a very negative review from the BBC magazine.....

    Unfortunately, these new recordings are far from ideal. Both suffer from an unpleasantly close balance....
    https://www.classical-music.com/revi...erdi-sibelius/
    Last edited by Merl; Sep-20-2021 at 22:38.

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    Senior Member allaroundmusicenthusiast's Avatar
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    I had no idea Verdi had written a SQ. Very interesting choice!

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  13. #4148
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    I've made my way through all the other available recordings I could (unfortunately I can't get hold of a recording of the Vogler, as I wanted to hear it) and some of the ones that stood out have even had at least 2 plays. A few surprises but some others that weren't immediately recommendable were Di Roma (just OK, ensemble issues) , Michailow (plain and a bit stiff), Amar-Hindemith (dreadful historic 78s with terrible frying pan sound) and Amati (wildly reverberant) didn't make the final cut. The majority of recordings were at least recommendable (good hit-rate). I'll put up a list later.
    Last edited by Merl; Sep-22-2021 at 13:33.

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    I listened to the three recordings I have, Artemis, Vogler, Hagen. It's a interesting piece, but still not a favorite of mine. It's a bit amazing that Verdi could write a very well executed, mostly standard string quartet that maybe apart from a few melodies (mostly the cello solo in the trio, maybe bits of the slow movement) could have almost been written by Mendelssohn (or a similar romantic classicist). However, this also means that if this was an 8th Mendelssohn quartet instead of the singular piece of an opera composer we would probably not take it as something so special.
    After one run through (but as I said above, I had listened to all of them in spring) the Vogler seems the least remarkable, it is a bit too straightforward and a bit rigid (I think also the fastest but this is usually only a few seconds). It is by no means bad, just does not feel that special to me. It was one of their first recordings (so Merl, I think you should not go too far out of your way to listen to the Vogler).
    The Hagen and especially the Artemis sometimes seem to go a bit too much in the opposite direction with a refinement in sound and other contrasts sometimes bordering on mannerism. Overall, I probably liked the Hagen best, but would restrict the recommendation because the fillers are Puccini's Crisantemi and arrangements from Luisa Miller, especially the latter is nothing I'd not have missed, had I never heard it.
    I don't really have a strong opinion how the piece "should go", as I feel rather "neutral" about it anyway.

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  17. #4150
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Oops.... Mistake
    Last edited by Merl; Sep-22-2021 at 14:43.

  18. #4151
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    I'm posting early this week as I got an early start on this one (I listened to quite a few prior to my pick as I was going to choose it). I also know that the rest of my week is very busy so I've crammed every bit of listening I could up to now.

    As regards Verdi's quartet it's a work I've always enjoyed, especially the lovely 'operatic' andantino and bracing prestissimo. Gladly though, over-indulgence this week has actually made me really love this quartet. I know Verdi wrote it as a distraction but I find it a fine work. I still prefer those inner movements but the scherzo, on particular, has really grown on me. As I said in my last post there were few recordings I'd not play again but one recording nailed it for me and I will be getting it. The Di Cremona recording (which is available on most streaming sites) just had that bit more character and attitude that I wanted to hear. Full blog Verdi overview in link below. Alluding to something Kreisler has just said, I think this is one quartet where a lot of character and a bit of mannerism in the performance go a long way. Often if a performance is too mannered or nuanced it will turn me off but I do like some playfulness in this quartet as it has quite a theatrical feel to it, for me.

    cremona_edit_212484913576431.jpg

    https://www.talkclassical.com/blogs/...quartet-e.html

    PS. Thanks for the heads-up on the Vogler, Kreisler. The Voglers are a weird bunch. I found the same thing with their Dvorak recordings - either excellent or very plain. Never bad, though.
    Last edited by Merl; Sep-22-2021 at 14:47.

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  20. #4152
    Senior Member Carmina Banana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kreisler jr View Post
    I listened to the three recordings I have, Artemis, Vogler, Hagen. It's a interesting piece, but still not a favorite of mine. It's a bit amazing that Verdi could write a very well executed, mostly standard string quartet that maybe apart from a few melodies (mostly the cello solo in the trio, maybe bits of the slow movement) could have almost been written by Mendelssohn (or a similar romantic classicist). However, this also means that if this was an 8th Mendelssohn quartet instead of the singular piece of an opera composer we would probably not take it as something so special.
    After one run through (but as I said above, I had listened to all of them in spring) the Vogler seems the least remarkable, it is a bit too straightforward and a bit rigid (I think also the fastest but this is usually only a few seconds). It is by no means bad, just does not feel that special to me. It was one of their first recordings (so Merl, I think you should not go too far out of your way to listen to the Vogler).
    The Hagen and especially the Artemis sometimes seem to go a bit too much in the opposite direction with a refinement in sound and other contrasts sometimes bordering on mannerism. Overall, I probably liked the Hagen best, but would restrict the recommendation because the fillers are Puccini's Crisantemi and arrangements from Luisa Miller, especially the latter is nothing I'd not have missed, had I never heard it.
    I don't really have a strong opinion how the piece "should go", as I feel rather "neutral" about it anyway.
    Interesting comparison with Mendelssohn. I think one could do a mash up of the first movement of the Mendelssohn violin concerto with the opening movement of this quartet and they would go nicely (being in the same key would help, also).
    I wonder if we could safely say this is a conservative piece for 1873. I think of Mendelssohn as being a conservative composer for his time, and he died before the midway point of the century!

  21. #4153
    Senior Member HenryPenfold's Avatar
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    Listened again to Hagen Quartet DG recording. Lithe, clear and pacey.

    I'm sure that if one didn't know in advance it was written by Verdi ...................

    Sounds perhaps ahead of its time.

    very happy to be promoted in its direction.

    Should return to it regularly get a proper grasp.

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  23. #4154
    Senior Member Carmina Banana's Avatar
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    I don't know what it says about my personality, but whenever I hear criticisms of a recording, that is the one I need to immediately hear. I checked out the Juilliard recording aforementioned and I will say that I thought this was a top-notch performance but I also agree with Merl that the production was not to my taste.
    I have heard other Juilliard recordings like this and maybe part of it is the era, but I can't understand how going into a hyper-soundproof studio, recording a performance with clinical precision and putting that on the market as is, is a good decision. That is never the way one would hear the music in real life.
    If you are not recording on location with an interesting acoustic, then I think you have to do like the pop producers and add a little reverb--create the illusion that we are not in such a sterile environment. Maybe one could make the comparison to photography--just because we can photograph someone in such a way that we see every detail of their face with absolute clarity, it doesn't mean we should.

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  25. #4155
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    I don't think Mendelssohn was very conservative for his time. He was classicist but basically every composer of string quartets was (Liszt or Berlioz didn't write any). He wrote two early quartets strongly influenced by late Beethoven alreadly in the late 1820s (they are still my two favorites of his, even before the "late" f minor) and his op.44 (also containing an e minor work) is a bit more "conservative".
    Brahms' op.51 are from the same year as Verdi's, 1873, are also more on the conservative side, but again, almost anyone who wrote chamber music was comparably conservative until the 1890s or so. Whatever Verdi's motivations, I think an overly daring piece would have been contrary to the demonstration of technical ability that seems to have played a certain part. I don't know too many of Verdi's operas that well, so I dare not evaluate commonalities between the quartet and his opera style. To me it seems that he tastefully put only very little opera into the piece (whereas I tend to cringe at some passages of the Requiem (loving some others), especially the "banda-Sanctus").

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