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Thread: Weekly quartet. Just a music lover perspective.

  1. #1471
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    To make all this Alto, Decca, Melodiya nonsense even more complicated it seems that Alto often re-issue old Decca, Mercury, London, Melodiya, Collins, Vox and Vanguard recordings, often with their own remastering jobs (which are not always successful. So this is what I think.

    The following 3 recordings are all the same ones but the red Melodiya set gives recording dates as 1958 (B1) and 1965 (B2) and Chandos and Alto give them as 1964. All have been remastered pretty well to eliminate tape hiss.

    ALC-1298-Cover.jpg
    MI0001052916.jpg
    1186564921_MELCD1000942.jpg

    I think that although the The 2nd quartet on Decca (1962) is almost identical there are differences in sound in all movements and especially the last movement so I'm guessing that there was very little time between all these recordings but all the Decca releases have higher degrees of tape hiss too. Whatever the case, the 3 above are the accounts to hear but the best transfer of the Decca is the one that turned up on the Essential Borodin compilation. What I do know is that the Borodins didn't record the 1st for Decca. Who knows the full story (Russian recordings of the 60s show up in all forms on all labels these days). There's no doubting the later Melodiya / EMI set as it is different in sound (late analogue but as good as early digital) and has different timings and phrasing. Hope that clears things up. Lol

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    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    Regardless of all the confusion about their different recordings, I think the Borodins, predictably enough, have mastered this work like no other ensemble. They really capture the über-Russian-Romantic essence of the music without making it sound indulgent. You just won't hear any quartet playing like them nowadays with those big, swooning portamenti and fat vibrato but that's part of the charm. Borodin dedicated the work to his wife and that sense of wistful romantic passion really needs to come through.
    "If we understood the world, we would realize that there is a logic of harmony underlying its manifold apparent dissonances." - Jean Sibelius

    "Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere." - G.K. Chesterton

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

  4. #1473
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    Sorry to spoil the mood, but I'm not a big fan of this quartet. I'll try to articulate my thoughts the best I can:

    The first movement is beautiful, but since Borodin doesn't "vary" his material much it's probably too long for its own good. I suppose he's somewhat like Schubert in the way he treats his themes (i.e., letting the music meander), but Schubert has a way of playing with expectations and perceptions of time that justify his often large-scale structures. There was not one moment here where I was actually surprised by anything Borodin did. Also, I've been told that the constant back and forth between the cello and first violin is supposed to represent Borodin and his wife, but it does get monotonous. The scherzo and notturno are both fine and dandy, but the fourth movement is... well, boring. I don't think the theme(s) are anything special, and I don't find what he does with them very interesting either.

    There you have it.

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  6. #1474
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    So that's another SQ battered and I heard lots of recordings I liked that I had never sampled before. The ones below are split into 2 tiers. Suffice it to say that I'd happily recommend any of the tier 2 recordings to anyone but the tier 1 recordings were special for me and one recording I found irrestible. Here's my thoughts (remember your will undoubtedly differ).

    Tier 2 - The Excellent

    Steckel, etc
    Alberni
    Moscow
    Leipziger
    Goldner
    Brussels

    Tier 1 - The exceptional

    Emerson - listen to the playing at the end of the notturno and you'll understand why this is one of their best recordings.
    Chilingirian - a great all-rounder. Superbly played and paced.
    Takacs - the lithe, nimble ensemble play make this a joy to listen to.
    Lindsays - no one plays this like the Lindsays and their final movement is sublime.
    Dragon - a hugely enjoyable, brisk, fresh-faced reading that impressed me greatly and that notturno is a killer.
    Borodin (1980) - it impressed in the day and it still goes to the top of the pile. Exquisite.
    Borodin (1964) - see above

    Overall winner


    Shostakovich Quartet


    s-l400.jpg

    This beautiful account is so gorgeously played I found it impossible to resist.
    Last edited by Merl; Yesterday at 22:33.

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  8. #1475
    Senior Member Simplicissimus's Avatar
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    ^ The Shostakovich Quartet’s recording, wow! Found it on my streaming service and just listened. Amazing performance bursting with personality! The first movement came alive in a way I haven’t heard before. The first violin is almost giving a solo performance at times, with Kreisler-like sweetness and depth. Very suitable for this composition. The recording is engineered to have the first violin strongly on the left channel, which accentuates this effect. The third movement takes “notturno” seriously - it’s like a lullaby, with exquisite tenderness. And the final movement brings it home with brilliant exuberance. Thanks for the tip, Merl!

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  10. #1476
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simplicissimus View Post
    ^ The Shostakovich Quartet’s recording, wow! Found it on my streaming service and just listened. Amazing performance bursting with personality! The first movement came alive in a way I haven’t heard before. The first violin is almost giving a solo performance at times, with Kreisler-like sweetness and depth. Very suitable for this composition. The recording is engineered to have the first violin strongly on the left channel, which accentuates this effect. The third movement takes “notturno” seriously - it’s like a lullaby, with exquisite tenderness. And the final movement brings it home with brilliant exuberance. Thanks for the tip, Merl!
    You summed my thoughts up about this perfectly. Strangely, the Musicweb review of this one was not wholly complimentary but everyone else who's heard it seems to love it. It gets a glowing review in the old Penguin guide though. The first violin is just gorgeous.
    Last edited by Merl; Yesterday at 23:06.

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  12. #1477
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    Looking ahead to future selections, both TurnaboutVox and calvinpv have been absent in the thread. I shall PM them both, and if I hear nothing, can newyorkconversation please be on standby for this week's pick just in case? Thanks!
    "If we understood the world, we would realize that there is a logic of harmony underlying its manifold apparent dissonances." - Jean Sibelius

    "Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere." - G.K. Chesterton

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

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