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Thread: Weekly quartet. Just a music lover perspective.

  1. #1021
    Senior Member annaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merl View Post
    There's also a few other older recordings of the Nielsen SQ that are now OOP but worth hearing if you can...
    .
    Copenhagen Quartet (late 60s)
    Carl Nielsen Quartet (late 70s DG complete set of the SQs)
    Erling Bloch Quartet (post-war mono - search 'Carl Nielsen Historic vol. 4' on Spotify)
    Zapolski Quartet (Chandos 2000)
    Thanks! Couldn’t find these myself apparently.

  2. #1022
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Final batch of listens and a quick round up on the Szymanowski SQ. Of what I've heard, there's no recording I've found less than very good and a few I really like. I've also listened again to two recordings as they were listened to via my old headphones and so I relistening on my decent cans which revealed far better recordings than I first thought.

    Very Good
    Prometeo
    Silesian
    Carmina
    Schoenberg
    Camerata
    Goldner

    Highly Recommended (I couldn't split these - they all have their plus points)
    Varsovia - Smoother performance but this suits the first two movements in particular.
    Royal SQ - boisterous, harder attacks. With a little more subtlety it could have been better.
    Silesian - superb playing and performance but the sound has some odd balances and is a little dry.
    Carmina - on relisten this is much better than I thought. Excellent soundstage and top-notch recording.

    Top choice

    Meccore Quartet

    meccore.jpg

    There was something about this recording that gripped me from start to finish. The Silesian account would have been on par with this but I dont like the sound too much on that recording. The Meccore just has it all - great sound, super performance, vital, tender, beautiful. However, these are all very self-recommending performances. Thanks ST for a great choice. Looking forward to the Nielsen this week.

    Ps. There were a few recordings I didn't get to hear (eg. Maggini SQ).q
    Last edited by Merl; Jul-31-2020 at 19:00.

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  4. #1023
    Senior Member Simplicissimus's Avatar
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    I’m looking forward to the Nielsen. The only recording I can find at the moment is an old one: the Erling Bloch Quartet from 1946. I read that this ensemble is the predecessor of the Danish Quartet.

    But I just can’t stop listening to the Szymanowski! Noting ACB’s comment about the Goldner Quartet having fuller tone than the Schoenberg, I tried it and it really works for me. The Goldner play with quite a lot more vibrato, which gives the first two movements a wonderful “tender” feel (to borrow an apt term from Merl). I will keep trying different recordings of this gem and eventually add one to my collection.

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  6. #1024
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    I just listened to the Nielsen SQ (one I'm not familiar with) and it's a cracker. Absolutely superb. That was the Danish Quartet. I know this is gonna be a labour of love working my way thru these (the pizzicato section in the 4th movement ....ahhhh! )
    Last edited by Merl; Aug-01-2020 at 00:15.

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  8. #1025
    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    I'm doing the live performance.

    “Music makes you feel feelings. Words make you think thoughts. But a song can make you feel a thought.”

    - Yip Harburg

  9. #1026
    Senior Member Enthusiast's Avatar
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    I have the Kontra Quartet recording of the Nielsen quartets. Our weekly quartet is a work I love.
    Last edited by Enthusiast; Aug-01-2020 at 16:38.

  10. #1027
    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    I was very impressed watching and listening to the Danish Quartet play Nielsen's 3rd. I am not familiar with his quartets although I've listened a bit on YouTube over the years. But I think this piece is wonderfully melodic and inventive. The performance by the Danish Quartet really knocked me out.
    “Music makes you feel feelings. Words make you think thoughts. But a song can make you feel a thought.”

    - Yip Harburg

  11. #1028
    Senior Member annaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by starthrower View Post
    I was very impressed watching and listening to the Danish Quartet play Nielsen's 3rd. I am not familiar with his quartets although I've listened a bit on YouTube over the years. But I think this piece is wonderfully melodic and inventive. The performance by the Danish Quartet really knocked me out.
    I was also just enjoying some bits of that video! Seeing the players play enhances my understanding of its dynamics. It's quite new discovery for me as well. I'm not sure how long it would have taken me to stumble upon Nielsen's quartets without this thread, although I'm fond of his orchestral music.

    Meanwhile, I'm safe and sound back in Estonia and finally got to listen to Szymanowski's quartet properly as well. It's a great work I plan to visit again next week as I didn't really manage that this week. I listened to Meccore's recording which was beautiful and I really like the mix of late-Romantic and modernist qualities of the quartet.
    Last edited by annaw; Aug-01-2020 at 14:59.

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  13. #1029
    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    A little late, but found this old dissertation on the Szymanowski Qt

    https://open.library.ubc.ca/media/do...31/1.0097221/1

  14. #1030
    Senior Member annaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bwv 1080 View Post
    A little late, but found this old dissertation on the Szymanowski Qt

    https://open.library.ubc.ca/media/do...31/1.0097221/1
    Whew... almost 250 pages

  15. #1031
    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by annaw View Post
    Whew... almost 250 pages
    Yes, did not read the whole thing, but some interesting bits on the harmony - a mix of parallel non-functional triads and whole tone passages

  16. #1032
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bwv 1080 View Post
    .. some interesting bits on the harmony - a mix of parallel non-functional triads and whole tone passages
    Just what I was going to say....
    Last edited by Merl; Yesterday at 10:21.

  17. #1033
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Right, I've been listening to the Nielsen SQ. Before this weekend I cant say I'd ever heard Nielsen's SQs and really didn't know what to expect but it's a positive joy! I've also listened to the F Minor quartet too and that's just as enjoyable. Firstly though, a word of warning - the 2 recordings on the Dacapo label by the 'Danish Quartet' and the 'Young Danish Quartet' are one of the same! I don't know why we have two differently named sets (maybe someone can answer this) but they have identical timings and identical quartet members and recording dates. So, here's my opinions on the recordings I've heard. I've still got to hear the Carl Nielsen Quartet's OOP set on DG (if anyone gets a youtube link, etc then drop me a line).

    Average

    Erling Bloch Quartet - unless you're one of those people that swear that anything recorded before electricity was invented is the bees knees you probably wont rate this much. This 1946 performance is obviously from the 78 era but the string sound is terribly wiry and there's very little bass (as expected). The EBs play well enough and the rhytms are nicely sprung but this is uncompetitive when there are far better modern recordings, played better and in terrific sound.

    Good

    Zapolski Quartet - This OOP Chandos set is very well recorded but the Zapolskis opt for an incredibly slow and heavy approach that captures none of the joy of this quartet and kills the final movement dead. They've also taken some poetic license with phrasing (and the score?). I really didn't rate this performance but the sound is terrific.
    Copenhagen Quartet - Another OOP one. I did get to hear this eventually through extensive searching on youtube (it's murder to find). The Copehagens' warmly romantic approach lacks some of the depth of the others on here but it's pleasant enough.

    Excellent

    Oslo Quartet
    This is a really impressive performance. The Oslo Quartet are a bit more rugged than their competitors and may not have their finesse but you can't fault this disc. Naxos give them a really good sound for this one and there's little between this and my top pick.
    Kontra Quartet
    Some will probably put this one above my top pick and I nearly did. The dealbreaker, though, is not the playing, which is excellent, lively and fun, but the sound which is a little bright and very reverberant. This, for me, obscures some of the details of the playing in ensemble passages. However, this is a terrific set and a certain Classics Today critic (no names) has this as his reference set and I can fully understand why.

    Top Pick

    (Young) Danish Quartet
    Whatever theyre called this is the one I came back to the most. The recording is absolutely brilliant and drives a middle line between the boisterous bass of the Oslos and the brightness of the Kontras. THe playing throughout is uniformly stunning, especially in the finale, so much so that I grabbed this one the other day. A keeper.

    danish2.jpgdanish.jpg
    Last edited by Merl; Yesterday at 21:32.

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  19. #1034
    Senior Member annaw's Avatar
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    Thanks, Merl, for an insightful post! I think, so far, Kontra might be my favourite, but I yet haven't compared the recordings to each other. I hope to start with that tomorrow.

    I found an explanation about the name of The Danish String Quartet: https://danishquartet.com/category/review/

    Almost 15 years ago, the men of the Danish String Quartet — they were in their 20s, at the time, and still called themselves the “Young” Danish — said in an interview that they would need to become more mature before daring to play Beethoven’s late string quartets in public.

    This might be the reason, although I'm not 100% sure. Someone has probably mixed up something...
    Last edited by annaw; Yesterday at 21:36.

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