Author Topic: Beethoven's String Quartets  (Read 145905 times)

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Offline SurprisedByBeauty

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #880 on: December 25, 2017, 02:42:54 PM »
Today, I couldn't stop myself from playing Mosaiques' 131 over and over again. Will try to find a fault tomorrow.  ???


 ;D

Or just keep playing. I can totally understand ya.


Offline Herman

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #881 on: December 26, 2017, 05:16:30 AM »
In the big survey the second cycle by the Alexander SQ is characterized as "essentially a fancy promotional issue on behalf of their instrument builder," adding the Seinfeldian "Not that there is anything wrong with that."

In that case the Budapest Library of Congress recordings need to be viewed as "a fancy promotional issue" for the four matched LoC instruments, too, and I believe the Tokyo used to perform on a matched 4t of instruments, too, called the Paganini Strads, loaned to the 4t by the Nippon Music Foundation.

The difference that would make it a promo (not that there's anything wrong with that!) is that the Alexander SG play on a matched 4t by a living maker, rather than Stradivari? I would applaud them for this.

What's different is that it has become custom, or rather, fashion for violinists to append a note in their programs and liner notes detailing the make of their instrument. It's like when you're out having dinner and the waiter explains to you from what lineage your steak hails. People like this. I like these little instrument bios, too.

However, back to the ASQ. Recording an entire cycle of the LvB quartets is an exhausting, back breaking process, and these guys did not do this to thank the people who helped them acquire the Kuttner instruments. I'm sure they did it because they felt they could do it better than the first time.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2017, 05:18:50 AM by Herman »

Offline SurprisedByBeauty

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #882 on: December 26, 2017, 06:20:27 AM »
In the big survey the second cycle by the Alexander SQ is characterized as "essentially a fancy promotional issue on behalf of their instrument builder," adding the Seinfeldian "Not that there is anything wrong with that."

In that case the Budapest Library of Congress recordings need to be viewed as "a fancy promotional issue" for the four matched LoC instruments, too, and I believe the Tokyo used to perform on a matched 4t of instruments, too, called the Paganini Strads, loaned to the 4t by the Nippon Music Foundation.

The difference that would make it a promo (not that there's anything wrong with that!) is that the Alexander SG play on a matched 4t by a living maker, rather than Stradivari? I would applaud them for this.

What's different is that it has become custom, or rather, fashion for violinists to append a note in their programs and liner notes detailing the make of their instrument. It's like when you're out having dinner and the waiter explains to you from what lineage your steak hails. People like this. I like these little instrument bios, too.

However, back to the ASQ. Recording an entire cycle of the LvB quartets is an exhausting, back-breaking process, and these guys did not do this to thank the people who helped them acquire the Kuttner instruments. I'm sure they did it because they felt they could do it better than the first time.

Surely there is a difference between the examples you mention. Every quartet that plays at the LoC is expected, if not outright required, to play those instruments. It may be considered an honor or a benefit or a marketing-worthy detail. Fair enough. But these are not the quartet's instruments nor did Stradivari or the LoC, in the Budapest's case (or any other that may exist; like the Juilliard's) finance the recording project.

The promotional aspect of the Alexander II cycle's instruments goes well beyond what is usual for such issues. I don't know if the instrument maker was above-and-beyond supportive in the making of the cycle, nor would that, if true, suggest that the Alexanders didn't also have something new or better to say about the works at hand than in their previous release. It's just a point of interest. Not, as has been mentioned liberally, that there's anything wrong with that. In any case, the result is excellent enough to stand on its own -- and if anything a listener might be thankful to whomever helped to make their recording a possibility.

I'm not sure if there's much of a disagreement here to pick at, actually, except perhaps phrasing or assumed insinuations.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #883 on: January 10, 2018, 09:18:43 AM »
I'm afraid we must still wait for such a performance. So far least irritating interpretation I've heard is the pianoforte one:



I wonder what you make or the new Mosaiques op 130/133.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #884 on: January 10, 2018, 09:27:17 AM »
Listened to Op 131 by the Cleveland Quartet (Telarc) as an antidote to the Mosaiques.

The Cleveland Quartet performance had no distinguishing features. They simply performed the music, observing dynamic and tempo markings, and with commitment. Telarc sound was very natural, engaging but never harsh. It was wonderful.

My view of Op 131 has evolved over the years. Once I was walking on the street on the upper west side of Manhattan and a guy with his girlfriend stopped me on the sidewalk and asked what I considered the best work of art, in any genre, painting, music, architecture, sculpture, anything. I said "Beethoven string quartet in c# minor." He seemed satisfied with that response. I thought of it as a work steeped in profundity.

But now, it sounds to me like an extremely subtle but light hearted serenade. I don't like it any less.

Offline Herman

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #885 on: January 16, 2018, 02:46:20 AM »
I thought of it as a work steeped in profundity.

But now, it sounds to me like an extremely subtle but light hearted serenade. I don't like it any less.

There is a lot of parody in these late quartets, and in that regard they are sublime and sometimes bawdy fun.

fun, as you can see, is part of the word profundity.

Offline Jo498

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #886 on: January 16, 2018, 04:24:39 AM »
But in op.131 there is no obvious parody. The only movement that could maybe considered that way is the scherzo and what should it be a parody of (in the way the danza tedesca could be a parody of a waltz)? Some of the variations in the central movement employ a "serenade style" but it does not sound parodistic to me either.

Wagner loved op.131. To him it contained the whole world:

„Das ist der Tanz der Welt selbst: wilde Lust, schmerzliche Klage, Liebesentzücken, höchste Wonne, Jammer, Rasen, Wollust und Leid; da zuckt es wie Blitze, Wetter grollen: und über allem der ungeheuere Spielmann, der alles zwingt und bannt, stolz und sicher vom Wirbel zum Strudel, zum Abgrund geleitet: – er lächelt über sich selbst, da ihm dieses Zaubern doch nur ein Spiel war."
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Herman

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #887 on: January 18, 2018, 10:43:43 PM »
But in op.131 there is no obvious parody. The only movement that could maybe considered that way is the scherzo and what should it be a parody of (in the way the danza tedesca could be a parody of a waltz)? Some of the variations in the central movement employ a "serenade style" but it does not sound parodistic to me either.

In the variations movement the idea of the March gets parodied relentlessly.

Wagner loved op.131. To him it contained the whole world:

„Das ist der Tanz der Welt selbst: wilde Lust, schmerzliche Klage, Liebesentzücken, höchste Wonne, Jammer, Rasen, Wollust und Leid; da zuckt es wie Blitze, Wetter grollen: und über allem der ungeheuere Spielmann, der alles zwingt und bannt, stolz und sicher vom Wirbel zum Strudel, zum Abgrund geleitet: – er lächelt über sich selbst, da ihm dieses Zaubern doch nur ein Spiel war."

And, as a consequence, people started raping this piece by making big orchestrations out of this intimate sublime piece of quartet writing.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2018, 10:49:00 PM by Herman »

The One

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #888 on: January 19, 2018, 01:09:06 AM »

And, as a consequence, people started raping this piece by making big orchestrations out of this intimate sublime piece of quartet writing.

Have you tried Mosaiques Quartet's take. You can hardly listen to a better one,

Offline Jo498

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #889 on: January 19, 2018, 01:16:24 AM »
Which march?  I hear some serenade-style textures and embellishments in the op.131 variations but nothing alla marcia. The only thing remotely march-like in this quartet is the finale and this is certainly dead serious and no parody whatsoever. The little alla marcia in op.132 might be understood as a parody. But this also between two completely serious movements.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Herman

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #890 on: January 19, 2018, 08:38:49 AM »
Have you tried Mosaiques Quartet's take. You can hardly listen to a better one,

No, not yet.

Today I listened to the terrific Juilliard recording from 1969.

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #891 on: January 19, 2018, 08:45:31 AM »
Have you tried Mosaiques Quartet's take. You can hardly listen to a better worse one,

A typo, I assume. :)

I find my self stunned reading that they had come up in Harnoncourt's ensemble since their playing, insipid and lacking character, is the polar opposite of Harnoncourt's approach to music.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2018, 08:47:17 AM by Baron Scarpia »

Offline SurprisedByBeauty

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #892 on: January 19, 2018, 08:56:37 AM »
A typo, I assume. :)

I find my self stunned reading that they had come up in Harnoncourt's ensemble since their playing, insipid and lacking character, is the polar opposite of Harnoncourt's approach to music.

Baron Scarpia crusading against the Quatuor Mosaiques with his battle ax, today.  ;D

You've really got it out for them. Not just their Beethoven then, but the ensemble generally?

(You do know that's rather a minority opinion, though?)

Baron Scarpia

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #893 on: January 19, 2018, 09:01:12 AM »
Baron Scarpia crusading against the Quatuor Mosaiques with his battle ax, today.  ;D

You've really got it out for them. Not just their Beethoven then, but the ensemble generally?

(You do know that's rather a minority opinion, though?)

Can't fault their playing, technically, but I find it dreary. I had their big Mozart set and sold it for a pittance. Little did I know it would go out of print soon after and fetch a kings ransom on the used market.

I find their playing whiney. For a period instrument string quartet I much prefer the Festetics. And yes, every time I mention the Festetics I get a bunch of self-important replies politely pointing out that the Mosaiques "are considered superior." Not by me.

Offline SurprisedByBeauty

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #894 on: January 19, 2018, 09:03:44 AM »
Can't fault their playing, technically, but I find it dreary. I had their big Mozart set and sold it for a pittance. Little did I know it would go out of print soon after and fetch a kings ransom on the used market.

I find their playing whiney. For a period instrument string quartet I much prefer the Festetics. And yes, every time I mention the Festetics I get a bunch of self-important replies politely pointing out that the Mosaiques "are considered superior." Not by me.

Perfectly fine to step out of line.  :D (How dare you!)
 I was just checking because you seemed so particularly sure that your sentiment that no more than moderate enjoyment could to be taken from the QM would fall on fertile ground.

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #895 on: January 19, 2018, 09:19:57 AM »
Perfectly fine to step out of line.  :D (How dare you!)
 I was just checking because you seemed so particularly sure that your sentiment that no more than moderate enjoyment could to be taken from the QM would fall on fertile ground.

Obviously people will decide for themselves what they prefer. There is no objective criteria by which I can criticize the Mosaiques' playing, except that they strike me as "unmusical," which is a matter of taste.

However I can point out that they have left out the final finale composed by Beethoven for Op 130. I find it absolutely fine that they think the Grosse Fuge is a more suitable finale, but there I find no justification whatever for failing to record Beethoven's own finale, which is after all an undeniably superb movement for string quartet written by Beethoven during his almost god-like "Late Period." So there is an objective argument I can make that they are self-important assholes that put their own notions over those of Beethoven himself.

I kick myself for letting curiosity get the better of me, prompting me to buy this set at all. 

The One

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #896 on: January 19, 2018, 09:32:18 AM »
A typo, I assume. :)

I find my self stunned reading that they had come up in Harnoncourt's ensemble since their playing, insipid and lacking character, is the polar opposite of Harnoncourt's approach to music.

OK. You shared and you have been sharing what you think about them and everybody knows your opinion now. Could you leave it alone from now on?

Baron Scarpia

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #897 on: January 19, 2018, 09:36:44 AM »
OK. You shared and you have been sharing what you think about them and everybody knows your opinion now. Could you leave it alone from now on?

Will you agree not the share how much you like them? I plunked down my hard-earned cash for it. That gives me a ticket to ride, I think. :)

The One

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #898 on: January 19, 2018, 09:37:52 AM »
There is no objective criteria by which I can criticize the Mosaiques' playing, except that they strike me as "unmusical," which is a matter of taste.

Actually there are. Performance is a science and since we know almost everything about Beethoven's time it is quite easy. But yes, you can say that they play as Beethoven intended or were loyal to the score or whatever and I don't like it that way, that is taste and as you say it is fine, too. We can discuss it when you are able to leave your opinions at the door :). and yes you don't like mosaiques...do not listen to them :)

The One

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Re: Beethoven's String Quartets
« Reply #899 on: January 19, 2018, 09:40:37 AM »
Will you agree not the share how much you like them? I plunked down my hard-earned cash for it. That gives me a ticket to ride, I think. :)
They are most probably the most consistent PI quartet around... Listen to their 14 after/in between listening to a few more of his compositions from that time. Yes, there are problems with the rest of QM's late quartets set, and I've mentioned that somewhere, but their 14 is good :)
« Last Edit: January 19, 2018, 10:18:49 AM by The One »