Author Topic: Beethoven's String Quartets  (Read 115101 times)

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Offline marvinbrown

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Beethoven's String Quartets
« on: July 14, 2007, 02:29:06 PM »


  Hello All, I have recently started reading up on Beethoven's chamber music which I am completely unfamiliar with.  Most of what I read praises the string quartets and especially the late string quartets. So I have 2 questions:

  1) Are the earlier string quartets worth knowing? Or should I just concentrate on the late quartets?

  2) What recordings complete or otherwise would you recommend?  I prefer modern recordings with excellent sound.  I have seen so many recordings on the market retailing at various prices I am getting confused...figured I'd ask for help.

   I would appreciate any advice....


  marvin 

Mark

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2007, 02:38:15 PM »
Marvin, you should've titled this thread 'Opening a can of worms'! ;D

Expect a bewildering array of recommendations. ;)

Offline Todd

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2007, 02:49:35 PM »
All of Beethoven's quartets are worth knowing.  My two favorite complete cycles are the Budapest's mono set on United Archives and the Vegh's stereo cycle on Naive.  Since you want modern sound, the Takacs are superb in the early and middle quartets, and still technically superb in the late quartets.  (I'm not so keen on the interpretations, though.)  The Cleveland Quartet is also excellent.
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Offline Holden

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2007, 02:58:49 PM »
The early quartets - Op 18 etc - contain some of Beethoven's most delightful music and as a beginner I stringly suggest that you actually start with the quartets from that Opus.
Cheers

Holden

mahlertitan

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2007, 03:03:41 PM »
Lindsay

George

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2007, 07:22:15 PM »

As Todd mentioned, Vegh's stereo set is incredible. This is the set that a member on the old forum described as "the set you want to take home, get married and have grandchildren with." I've heard others say that "never has Beethoven's quartet music been treated with so much love." I really can't say enough about this set, except - buy it! The sound is totally fine, it isn't modern, but it's far from historical.  :)

I have other sets and individual discs, but I find them to be in another league.

Scriptavolant

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2007, 07:42:52 PM »
Leaning on much more experienced minds - since I didn't listen to a consistent range of interpretations -, if I had to recommend a recording , I'd go for our great Quartetto Italiano.



Enjoy.

George

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2007, 07:50:08 PM »

Actually, I just found something. A while ago, I asked for recommendations here and on rmcr for the Beethoven Quartets.

These are the results I came up with (coming from both sites and a number of guidebooks):

Vegh got 14 votes

Talich got 12

Takacs, Busch, Julliard all got 7

Italiano got 5

Smetana and Emerson got 4

Amadeus got 2


I sampled Talich and found them bland, Vegh didn't impress me at first, but quickly clicked for me. I also have the Italiano, they have a more beautiful sound that is nice, but just not my first choice. The Julliard has a very modern approach that I haven't warmed to yet. Same could be said of Emerson. Haven't heard the others yet, except for Busch, where I haven't made up my mind yet.  :)

 
 
« Last Edit: July 14, 2007, 07:54:34 PM by George »

Offline edward

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2007, 07:56:23 PM »
Nobody voted for Budapest on rmcr? (They're alongside my Juilliards as favourites: I need to get the Veghs next.)
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
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Offline Expresso

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2007, 12:18:17 AM »

The Juilliard's from the 60's. Very intense performance and good sound quality.

It's worth buying a whole set of SQ's, even the first ones have many qualities. Also it comes cheaper than buying various different quartets.

Steve

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2007, 12:45:31 AM »
I will, second the Juliard reccommendation, but if you can afford it, I would add a couple more:






Offline marvinbrown

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2007, 02:01:11 AM »
As Todd mentioned, Vegh's stereo set is incredible. This is the set that a member on the old forum described as "the set you want to take home, get married and have grandchildren with." I've heard others say that "never has Beethoven's quartet music been treated with so much love." I really can't say enough about this set, except - buy it! The sound is totally fine, it isn't modern, but it's far from historical.  :)

I have other sets and individual discs, but I find them to be in another league.

  Oh WOW Mark was right I guess I really opened the flood gates (can of worms) on this one.  Gosh I do not think I have ever read a recommendation quite like the one posted above by George.  As of now I have I reached one conclusion based on what I have read:  I need to buy a COMPLETE set of the String Quartets and start at the beginning as Holden and others have suggested.  George thanks for posting those voting results on various sets. This will be my guide as I shop around.....so many recommendations one is spoiled for choice.  I'll give a few more days to see how this thread develops then I'll go shopping Thurs/Fri of next week.

   marvin

George

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2007, 05:19:45 AM »
  Oh WOW Mark was right I guess I really opened the flood gates (can of worms) on this one.  Gosh I do not think I have ever read a recommendation quite like the one posted above by George.  As of now I have I reached one conclusion based on what I have read:  I need to buy a COMPLETE set of the String Quartets and start at the beginning as Holden and others have suggested.  George thanks for posting those voting results on various sets. This will be my guide as I shop around.....so many recommendations one is spoiled for choice.  I'll give a few more days to see how this thread develops then I'll go shopping Thurs/Fri of next week.

   marvin

No problem, Marvin. I forgot to add, as always, do some sampling before buying.

Also, I forgot to post this Review of the Vegh: https://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=3144

George

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2007, 05:20:43 AM »
Nobody voted for Budapest on rmcr? (They're alongside my Juilliards as favourites: I need to get the Veghs next.)

I am sure they did, though I wasn't zeroing in on historical recordings at the time.

Offline Bogey

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2007, 05:51:23 AM »
All of Beethoven's quartets are worth knowing.  My two favorite complete cycles are the Budapest's mono set on United Archives and the Vegh's stereo cycle on Naive.  Since you want modern sound, the Takacs are superb in the early and middle quartets, and still technically superb in the late quartets.  (I'm not so keen on the interpretations, though.)  The Cleveland Quartet is also excellent.

As Todd mentioned, Vegh's stereo set is incredible. This is the set that a member on the old forum described as "the set you want to take home, get married and have grandchildren with." I've heard others say that "never has Beethoven's quartet music been treated with so much love." I really can't say enough about this set, except - buy it! The sound is totally fine, it isn't modern, but it's far from historical.  :)

I have other sets and individual discs, but I find them to be in another league.

Put me down for the Végh String Quartet set as well....here is the cover of the set I have:

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Offline MishaK

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2007, 05:56:10 AM »


I like this one very much. The early quartets are a joy in particular.



I found these guys' phrasing rather mannered in places.

Offline PerfectWagnerite

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #16 on: July 15, 2007, 06:06:28 AM »
I don't see how you can beat the Alban Berg if you are a beginner. You get a brand new set for about $25. You should be laughing all the way to the bank at that price. All the other sets are more expensive, often at 2x the cost.

Offline marvinbrown

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #17 on: July 15, 2007, 07:37:29 AM »
I don't see how you can beat the Alban Berg if you are a beginner. You get a brand new set for about $25. You should be laughing all the way to the bank at that price. All the other sets are more expensive, often at 2x the cost.

  Thanks for alerting me.  obviously the first step is finding out what's in the market...basically what's considered good or popular and what's considered not so good or not so popular- bearing in mind that there is always a subjective element to it all (thanks to everyone's responses I have a good idea now whats out there).  Then the shopping starts- trying to find out exactly how much each of these sets  cost.   In this particualr case i am going to sample before I buy as George points out given that i'll probably end up paying somewhat over bargain prices.  From what i have seen so far these sets seem to be on the expesive side (most averaging £25-£40 the alben Berg being amongst the most economical)  But sometimes I like to pay a little bit more and buy a set with a very good reputation which appears to be the case with the Vegh set- kind of like an investment for the future.  I wonder if other GMG members go through this painstaking research before buying cds?

   Please feel free to discuss why you like your recommended recordings...I think we can all benefit from open discussion.

  marvin

Offline PerfectWagnerite

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2007, 09:05:33 AM »
The Alban Berg review:
here

The Vegh review:

here

I haven't heard the Vegh but as far as the ABQ goes, the playing is simply stupendous. Lyrical and powerful, every stringendo frighteningly real, and tonal beauty and dynamic contrast that defy the imagination. As your FIRST complete set it just makes sense. Now you can spend twice that much and get the Vegh and then decide: Uh, I don't like this music. At least with the ABQ you only wasted $25. I haven't heard the Vegh but members here laud it so I am sure it is a magnificent set. But I just don't believe it makes sense as an introduction to spend 2x the price of the ABQ.


Offline Que

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #19 on: July 15, 2007, 09:13:25 AM »

  Hello All, I have recently started reading up on Beethoven's chamber music which I am completely unfamiliar with.  Most of what I read praises the string quartets and especially the late string quartets. So I have 2 questions:

  1) Are the earlier string quartets worth knowing? Or should I just concentrate on the late quartets?

  2) What recordings complete or otherwise would you recommend?  I prefer modern recordings with excellent sound.  I have seen so many recordings on the market retailing at various prices I am getting confused...figured I'd ask for help.

   I would appreciate any advice....


  marvin 

Marvin, considering the technical and emotional complexity of these works, your appreciation of them is bound the develop in stages. First the stage in which you get to know and explore them. Then you'll develop ideas on how you would like to hear them. And then begins the quest for the recording that matches that best!

Highly improbable that you'd hit the right recording for years to come in just one go.
Buying a solid performance that is very modestly priced, just to get " the feel" of these works first, therefore seems the best option to me.

Q
À chacun son goût.

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