Author Topic: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets  (Read 19620 times)

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Offline ElliotViola

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Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
« Reply #60 on: February 06, 2013, 12:27:29 AM »
Most beautiful piece ever...

Cavatina from his Op.130.

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Offline Jo498

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Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
« Reply #61 on: March 18, 2017, 05:48:52 AM »
Let me go spelunking one more time: what political reasons?  ;D
To my knowledge and this is confirmed by wikipedia the Q italiano disbanded when the first violinist died in 1985. They had about two changes on the viola position years before but I cannot find hints for political reasons. (I am pretty sure such reasons would have been "hotter" around 1970s when e.g. Pollini and Abbado (although both considerably younger than any of the QI players) were far left and one wonders a little that it did not hurt there career in bourgeois classical music circles at all.

As for the thread question, I think the first quartets I heard were op.127 and 135! I encountered op.18 last of all the quartets, only when I bought a complete recording. Before that I had borrowed some or dubbed from the radio (among the latter was the string orchestra op.131 with Bernstein I was inordinately fond of) and I had bought a single disc with op.59/2+3 before.
Today, having known all the pieces for more than 25 years, I'd probably recommend the first one op.18/1 or one of the late quartets, either op.135 or 132. All three have immediately appealing, highly emotional slow movements and passionate or vivacious fast movements. Admittedly, op.132 is fairly long but I find it emotionally the most accessible of the late ones.
Of the middle quartets, op.95 seems tougher than most of the late stuff, op.74 is often strangely "un-Beethovenian" in mood and while op.59/3 seems among the most popular, it is not one of my favorites and despite again very appealing slow movements I find op.59/1+2 about as "difficult" as the late ones.
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Offline Alberich

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Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
« Reply #62 on: March 20, 2017, 09:33:18 AM »
Op. 131. Yes, I am dead serious. Hardly anyone would dispute that it is a masterpiece (which it is) but I'm probably one of the very few who would call it his most "accessible" one. Op. 59 no. 1 is also a potential contender plus his A major quartet from op. 18.
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
« Reply #63 on: March 20, 2017, 09:47:56 AM »
Op. 131. Yes, I am dead serious. Hardly anyone would dispute that it is a masterpiece (which it is) but I'm probably one of the very few who would call it his most "accessible" one.

Well, with the sole exception of the Gro▀e Fuge, I consider all his quartets accessible, really.

And, yes, I think the Op.131 an excellent suggestion.
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Offline Scarpia

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Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
« Reply #64 on: March 20, 2017, 09:56:55 AM »
To my knowledge and this is confirmed by wikipedia the Q italiano disbanded when the first violinist died in 1985. They had about two changes on the viola position years before but I cannot find hints for political reasons. (I am pretty sure such reasons would have been "hotter" around 1970s when e.g. Pollini and Abbado (although both considerably younger than any of the QI players) were far left and one wonders a little that it did not hurt there career in bourgeois classical music circles at all.

I think you got all the facts pretty much all wrong. The first violinist (Pegreffi) left the quartet in 1977 due to poor health and was replaced. The quartet continued to perform with Borciani until 1980. The well regarded 1979 recording of the Brahms Piano Quintet with the Q.I. and Pollini was with Borciani. Pegreffi did die in 1985, but that was 8 years after he left the quartet and 5 years after the quartet disbanded. The original viola player was replaced in 1951, I have no idea the reason. (According to wikipedia and the linear notes of my copy of the Brahms recording.)
« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 10:03:03 AM by Scarpia »

Offline Jo498

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Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
« Reply #65 on: March 20, 2017, 10:32:06 AM »
The only fact I got wrong was that they disbanded in 1985, not 1980 (this is an error of the German wikipedia article and I found it propagated somewhere else)

What you got wrong:
Elisa Pegreffi was the 2nd violinist and never left (she died last year)
Borciani never left the ensemble (or changed positions) but stayed until 1980
The viola player Farulli left in 1977 but he had joined in 1947, there was no change in 1951. If he was in ill health he must have recovered because he made recordings as late as ca. 1990 (Mozart quintets with the Melos Quartet) and lived until 2012

so that's about 3:1  for you as far as wrong facts go...

in any case the point was that no change after 1947 had anything to do with politics.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 10:35:51 AM by Jo498 »
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Offline Scarpia

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Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
« Reply #66 on: March 20, 2017, 04:04:53 PM »
The only fact I got wrong was that they disbanded in 1985, not 1980 (this is an error of the German wikipedia article and I found it propagated somewhere else)

What you got wrong:
Elisa Pegreffi was the 2nd violinist and never left (she died last year)
Borciani never left the ensemble (or changed positions) but stayed until 1980
The viola player Farulli left in 1977 but he had joined in 1947, there was no change in 1951. If he was in ill health he must have recovered because he made recordings as late as ca. 1990 (Mozart quintets with the Melos Quartet) and lived until 2012

so that's about 3:1  for you as far as wrong facts go...

in any case the point was that no change after 1947 had anything to do with politics.

Yes, I did get most of the names mixed up. It was Farulli that I left and was replaced by Asciolla. Being Italian myself, I have no excuse in thinking all those Italian names sound the same.

Offline Scarpia

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Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
« Reply #67 on: March 20, 2017, 04:43:13 PM »
Well, with the sole exception of the Gro▀e Fuge, I consider all his quartets accessible, really.

Furtwangler makes even the Grosse Fuge seem accessible in his WPO recording.

Offline Daverz

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Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
« Reply #68 on: March 20, 2017, 06:34:44 PM »
Hi there.

I would like to know what are the most "accesible" string quartets by Beethoven. You know, the ones that are more easily likeable to the untrained ear.

Thanks for your help.  :)

Late to the party here, but I'd say the Middle Quartets, because I believe they defined what we think of as the string quartet.  The Early Quartets seem to be  written for 18th Century connoisseurs, and the Late Quartets for posterity.

Offline α | ý Ă ˝

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Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
« Reply #69 on: March 20, 2017, 08:01:12 PM »
I don't know what "accessible" qualifies as but the Grosso Fugue was the first Beethoven piece that appealed to me....that also happens to be a string quartet   ;D
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
« Reply #70 on: March 21, 2017, 03:41:00 AM »
I ought to have said, with the possible sole exception  0:) ;) 8)
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Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
« Reply #71 on: March 21, 2017, 03:47:19 AM »
Of course if the thread is long enough, every one will be named as being accessible.  :P
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Offline ahinton

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Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
« Reply #72 on: March 21, 2017, 04:05:49 AM »
Of course if the thread is long enough, every one will be named as being accessible.  :P
That's already been suggested above but no wonder, since they are indeed all "accessible" because they're all so compelling!

Online North Star

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Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
« Reply #73 on: March 21, 2017, 04:07:57 AM »
I don't know what "accessible" qualifies as but the Grosso Fugue was the first Beethoven piece that appealed to me....that also happens to be a string quartet   ;D
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
« Reply #74 on: March 21, 2017, 04:15:33 AM »
Of course if the thread is long enough, every one will be named as being accessible.  :P

I may have done, already  0:)

. . . I consider all his quartets accessible, really.
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Offline jochanaan

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Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
« Reply #75 on: March 21, 2017, 05:19:26 PM »
If by "accessible" you mean "not too far out of the norms," then probably the earlier quartets, especially the six in Opus 18, would fit the bill.  But some of us find music that challenges our preconceptions "accessible," and for that the last five work nicely. :)
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Offline Jo498

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Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
« Reply #76 on: March 22, 2017, 01:52:57 AM »
I don't think one should start with the presupposition that the beginner to LvB quartets is deeply familiar with Mozart and Haydn. That's why I doubt that op.18 is usually the best option. Most relative beginners start with romantic and classical symphonic music like the best known symphonies by Beethoven, late Mozart and Haydn, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky etc. They are used to big, bold, highly emotional stuff, so for many the mere sound of a string quartet will often be something they have to get used to. That may be one reason why Schubert's d minor "Death and Maiden" is among the most popular.

So usally a middle period Beethoven piece would be best (and there is probably no doubt that among his orchestral music and maybe also piano sonatas the middle period pieces are the most popular) but as I said above, I have my doubts. Maybe op.59/3 is actually the most popular quartet (it seems to be very often on anthology discs and the beginning of the finale was used many years in a German TV show on literature) but I do not find it as emotionally appealing as e.g. 59/2. And this one has a rather harsh first movement.
Overall, I am not at all sure that the middle period quartets are easier than the late ones. And the late ones are often emotionally very immedate. Sure, the very form of op.131 could be confusing but that's less a problem for the beginner than it was for Beethoven's contemporaries.
Anyway, the corpus is not that intimidating (compared to Bach cantatas or Haydn symphonies) and nowadays the whole bunch can be listened to free on youtube or bought for $25 or so in a cheap box, so the easiest way for a beginner is simply to try a few works and keep going and it does not matter all that much where one starts.
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
« Reply #77 on: March 22, 2017, 02:30:01 AM »
With the LvB quartets, as with music at large, there's more ways to the woods than one.

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Offline FŰanor

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Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
« Reply #78 on: March 22, 2017, 07:52:34 AM »
Well, with the sole exception of the Gro▀e Fuge, I consider all his quartets accessible, really.

And, yes, I think the Op.131 an excellent suggestion.

I'm a humble, non-musically trained person nevertheless I agree that all LvB's quartets are accessible, (albeit Gro▀e Fuge the least;  Op.131 happens to be my favorite).  The trick is repeated listening.

But note that I persevered in my listening only because I knew of the sublime reputation of Beethoven's quartets.  Without that awareness I'd have been SOL as they say.

Come to that, Bartok's quartets, not to mention Elliott Carter's, are a challenge but also worth the effort.

Offline Jo498

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Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
« Reply #79 on: March 22, 2017, 08:20:07 AM »
I think as one meaning of "accessible" is usually taken that not too many repeats are necessary to get "into" a piece. Otherwise the distinction to "thorny but worth the effort" seems lost...
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)

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