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The Music Room => Classical Music for Beginners => Topic started by: Diletante on November 09, 2008, 10:03:06 PM

Title: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Diletante on November 09, 2008, 10:03:06 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.  :)
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Mark G. Simon on November 09, 2008, 10:32:32 PM
Any of the op. 18 quartets should be pretty enjoyable without excess head-scratching. They're all wonderful, of course. Listen to the catchy scherzo of op. 59 no. 2 in E minor with the dancing rhythms, plus a Russian tune in the trio, the same on used by Mussorgsky in the Coronation Scene from Boris. The "Harp" Quartet, op. 74, in E flat, is a beauty.

Save the later ones for last, but otherwise don't be afraid to just jump in there anywhere
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on November 09, 2008, 10:35:21 PM
The 'untrained' ear would probably get along most with the string quartets from Beethoven's early and middle periods, from op.74 and back (or maybe op.95 and back).

The late quartets starting from op.127 perhaps don't have quite the mass appeal of the earlier quartets - not because quality is lacking but because Beethoven has turned in on himself and brought much more introspection to the works. There isn't quite the visceral thrill as in the earlier quartets, no real overt displays of 'heroism', so some people defer to the earlier ones because of this.

The late quartets though will no doubt grow on you as your ear 'develops'. Bet on it. :)


Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: knight66 on November 09, 2008, 11:42:39 PM
Yes, I agree with the above. My introduction to them was through a set of the middle period ones. There were on Phillips by the Quartet Italiano; I still prize them highly. Unfortunately the quartet no longer exists; they disbanded for political reasons. That is the only time I have known of that happening. However, they left behind them quite a few very beautiful recordings.

Mike
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Wanderer on November 09, 2008, 11:53:57 PM
I would think the Quartetto serioso (op.95) to be the most easily accessible or, better, the most effortlessly enjoyable. At least, that's the first one I heard and I loved it instantly whereas I'm still rather casual with the Rasumovsky lot (op.59).  8)
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on November 10, 2008, 01:39:26 AM
I would think the Quartetto serioso (op.95) to be the most easily accessible or, better, the most effortlessly enjoyable. At least, that's the first one I heard and I loved it instantly whereas I'm still rather casual with the Rasumovsky lot (op.59).  8)

Tasos, you pre-empted me - op. 95 is an excellent choice, a perfect work. It gripped me too from the moment go. From the late quartets op. 135 is very accessible, imo.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: rappy on November 10, 2008, 02:43:14 AM
The ones I first fell in love with were 59/3, 59/2, 74 and 18/4.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: PSmith08 on November 10, 2008, 05:51:45 AM
Yes, I agree with the above. My introduction to them was through a set of the middle period ones. There were on Phillips by the Quartet Italiano; I still prize them highly. Unfortunately the quartet no longer exists; they disbanded for political reasons. That is the only time I have known of that happening. However, they left behind them quite a few very beautiful recordings.

Mike

The Quartetto Italiano middle-period quartets were, interestingly enough, my introduction to the quartets. In fact, I have gone QI when I've wanted to branch out into the early and late quartets.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: hornteacher on November 12, 2008, 04:16:47 AM
My first Beethoven Quartet was Opus 18 #4.  After that one I was hooked for life.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Kuhlau on November 12, 2008, 05:36:11 AM
Any of the op. 18 quartets should be pretty enjoyable without excess head-scratching.

I'd certainly concur with this. These were where I began with Beethoven's string quartets, and they served as an appropriately gentle introduction to his compositions in this form.

FK
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on November 12, 2008, 07:15:03 AM
I'd certainly concur with this. These were where I began with Beethoven's string quartets, and they served as an appropriately gentle introduction to his compositions in this form.

Everyone is different. My first quartet was op. 132, which I loved immediately (minus the second movement, which I still find boring, the Trio excepted).
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Opus106 on November 12, 2008, 07:42:45 AM
It's Beethoven, for crying out loud!

;)

Personally, I've never had "accessibility issues" with any of Beethoven's compositions I've heard so far. (Okay, the last movement of Op. 130 apart.) If anything, it was only the appreciation that grew with each listen.

Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Josquin des Prez on November 16, 2008, 09:20:43 AM
Never had a problem with Beethoven either, aside for the usual suspects (Hammerklavier, Grosse Fugue), which took some time to crack. I recommend starting from the early compositions anyway. It's a fascinating experience to go from his early classical period to the incomparable genius of his late works.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Todd on November 16, 2008, 09:24:54 AM
The 'untrained' ear would probably get along most with the string quartets from Beethoven's early and middle periods, from op.74 and back (or maybe op.95 and back).



Yep, 1-11 are all easy enough to get into.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: DavidW on November 16, 2008, 11:48:38 AM
Yes, I agree with the above. My introduction to them was through a set of the middle period ones. There were on Phillips by the Quartet Italiano; I still prize them highly. Unfortunately the quartet no longer exists; they disbanded for political reasons. That is the only time I have known of that happening. However, they left behind them quite a few very beautiful recordings.

Mike

I also was introduced to Beethoven's SQs via the Italians, surprisingly enough it didn't scar me for life. >:D  Nah I'm playing, I agree with you middle quartets.  The early ones are good, but the middle ones are fiery.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Diletante on November 20, 2008, 02:16:34 PM
Gee, thanks a lot for your replies!   :)
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Gabriel on March 09, 2009, 01:42:15 PM
It seems that there are many ways of approaching these magnificent works. My love towards these works began with op. 130, not with the most complex movements, but with the Presto (2nd) and Alla danza tedesca (4th). The rest of the exploration was backwards through time: after the late quartets, the middle ones, and ending by op. 18.

Now I'm listening to the Cavatina of op. 130. It's almost superfluous to say, but... what a magnificent music.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Haffner on March 09, 2009, 02:20:21 PM
I started with op. 59, 1 Borodin String Quartet. It took three listens, then I was "converted" into a hopeless zealot.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Valentino on March 10, 2009, 12:27:11 AM
I'd buy the new Endellion String Quartet box set before the Italiano. The Endellions are more direct in their communication, whereas the Italiano are softer, less Beethoven the way I understand him. They also use the latest corrected edition of Beethoven's scores. Also, you get more music with Endellion: The 1799 version of op. 18/1, the H34, the string quintets, some short pieces and fragments.
Why a box set? Because it's cheap and it will be your reference for the rest of your life.

Where to start? Op. 18 (all six), 59/1, 74, and 135 (es muss sein...) should be mighty fine.
Op. 95 is a little brute or a little softie, depending on who's playing, so I cannot really recommend it as a starter. But if you have a need for speed try the Hagen Quartett and get the best Schubert D887 I've heard at the same time.

(http://www.musicalcriticism.com/competitions/endellions-comp1.jpg) (http://www.arkivmusic.com/graphics/covers/full/503/5033277.jpg)

The Endellion set is availabe at Amazon whereas the Hagen disc is on ArkivMusic or available as mp3@320kbps from Deutsche Grammophon.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: George on March 10, 2009, 03:12:41 AM
Also, you get more music with Endellion: The 1799 version of op. 18/1,

Is that the 12" remix?  ;D

To the OP
: I recommend going into itunes (or some other site where you like to sample music), typing in a specific movement to a specific quartet and listening to the sample of as many different interpretations as you can. Narrow your choices to say a half dozen, then try another SQ, continuing in this fashion until you have zeroed in on some QTs that seem accessible to you. To me, if one finds a SQ accessible, then one should be able to discern this from listening samples. Like others have suggested, I think you will find that many (if not all) of the quartets leading up and including the Op. 95, are quite accessible. You can buy all of the early quartets or middle ones (or late for that matter) for some quartets, but not all. Like Valentino, I think a complete set is your best way to go, if not for just economic reasons. Good luck! 
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Peregrine on March 10, 2009, 04:09:18 AM
I thought this set had gone OOP, but appears available from Amazon at present for a good price and whilst not the last word in this genre, they are most eminent, soulful accounts -

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000051ZPV/ref=ord_cart_shr?%5Fencoding=UTF8&m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: George on March 10, 2009, 04:44:15 AM
I thought this set had gone OOP, but appears available from Amazon at present for a good price and whilst not the last word in this genre, they are most eminent, soulful accounts -

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000051ZPV/ref=ord_cart_shr?%5Fencoding=UTF8&m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE

Strongly seconded. That's my favorite set. The price is dirt cheap too!  :)
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Valentino on March 10, 2009, 05:01:19 AM
Dirt cheap? Bring on the Bon!

(http://www.theage.com.au/ffximage/2006/06/18/knBON_narrowweb__300x437,2.jpg)
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Keemun on March 10, 2009, 05:51:22 AM
Strongly seconded. That's my favorite set. The price is dirt cheap too!  :)

Today's exchange rate makes this $40.71 USD.  Much cheaper than the $77.99 Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Beethoven-Complete-String-Quartets-Box/dp/B0000DET84/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1236692498&sr=8-3) wants for it in the US.  >:( 

Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: George on March 10, 2009, 06:17:14 AM
Today's exchange rate makes this $40.71 USD.  Much cheaper than the $77.99 Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Beethoven-Complete-String-Quartets-Box/dp/B0000DET84/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1236692498&sr=8-3) wants for it in the US.  >:( 



I know... :-\

for the Karajan box, amazon.uk is also the place to go. Perhaps I should browse the amazon.uk site more often?
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Keemun on March 10, 2009, 07:07:54 AM
Yeah, I'm thinking I should start checking prices at the UK site before purchasing from the U.S. site.  :-\
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Jay F on March 10, 2009, 01:35:29 PM
I had the Lindsays on ASV at first, and liked them a lot, but they all got bronzed and made that helicopter noise. Now I have the Takacs Quartets, and I like them, too. The Razumovskys are my favorites.

Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 15, 2009, 07:32:44 PM
Everyone is different. My first quartet was op. 132, which I loved immediately (minus the second movement, which I still find boring, the Trio excepted).

Like Johan, my first experience with Beethoven's quartets was with the late ones (in my case, a box of LPs by the Yale and, a short time later, the Busch). I actually had the most trouble getting into the early quartets; it took me years to appreciate them. But the Große Fuge clicked immediately. Before I'd suggest any single quartet to the OP, I'd first ask him what kind of music he likes. I didn't find the late quartets intimidating; he might not either.

Sarge
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Diletante on March 16, 2009, 09:27:00 AM
Before I'd suggest any single quartet to the OP, I'd first ask him what kind of music he likes. I didn't find the late quartets intimidating; he might not either.

Some months have passed since I asked this question, but the only Beethoven string quartet I've heard is the first. To be honest, I find string quartets harder to approach than other configurations, maybe because of the fact that they're all string instruments and you don't have the tone color variety of a symphony or even a violin sonata.

FWIW, my favorite movement of the first Beethoven string quartet is the second movement. Also, the other day I was listening to the Smetana string quartets on TV and I found the first movement of his first string quartet ("From my Life") extremely compelling.

Other music that I like are mostly Romantic, Late Romantic and 20th century concertos and symphonies (Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Bartók, Ravel). As for chamber music, I'm fond of Chopin's nocturnes, ballades, barcarolle and his cello sonata.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: ChamberNut on March 16, 2009, 09:34:38 AM
To be honest, I find string quartets harder to approach than other configurations, maybe because of the fact that they're all string instruments and you don't have the tone color variety of a symphony or even a violin sonata.

Perhaps I could suggest you try sampling some mixture of string quartet with piano or clarinet?  There are many great piano trios, piano quartets and piano quintets that are almost guaranteed to grab you 100%. 
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: George on March 16, 2009, 09:46:00 AM
Perhaps I could suggest you try sampling some mixture of string quartet with piano or clarinet?  There are many great piano trios, piano quartets and piano quintets that are almost guaranteed to grab you 100%. 

Isn't it interesting that Beethoven did not write a piano quartet?
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Wanderer on March 16, 2009, 09:53:57 AM
Isn't it interesting that Beethoven did not write a piano quartet?

Actually he did, three of them (WoO 36). They were written around 1785 when he was still in Bonn and they were published posthumously.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: George on March 16, 2009, 09:54:48 AM
Actually he did, three of them (WoO 36). They were written around 1785 when he was still in Bonn and they were published posthumously.

Thanks, I haven't seen any recordings of them.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: ChamberNut on March 16, 2009, 10:00:25 AM
Isn't it interesting that Beethoven did not write a piano quartet?

As mentioned, he actually did compose 3 piano quartets.  I do have them, they were composed when he was 15.  Nice, but definitely not missing too much, IMO George.  Sorry Ludwig.  :-[
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: George on March 16, 2009, 10:08:07 AM
As mentioned, he actually did compose 3 piano quartets.  I do have them, they were composed when he was 15.  Nice, but definitely not missing too much, IMO George.  Sorry Ludwig.  :-[

Thanks, I figured as much.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: nut-job on March 16, 2009, 10:23:42 AM
Yes, I agree with the above. My introduction to them was through a set of the middle period ones. There were on Phillips by the Quartet Italiano; I still prize them highly. Unfortunately the quartet no longer exists; they disbanded for political reasons. That is the only time I have known of that happening. However, they left behind them quite a few very beautiful recordings.

Mike

Political reasons?  I though it was bickering over who should play viola.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Wanderer on March 16, 2009, 10:24:10 AM
Thanks, I haven't seen any recordings of them.

I'm only familiar with the one recording I have with Escenbach and members of the Amadeus Quartet (presumably OOP now). They're quite delightful, tuneful pieces with a mostly sunny disposition (all three are in major keys) and with prominent piano parts.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Haffner on March 16, 2009, 10:34:41 AM
Perhaps I could suggest you try sampling some mixture of string quartet with piano or clarinet?  There are many great piano trios, piano quartets and piano quintets that are almost guaranteed to grab you 100%. 


JA! Schumann, anyone?
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Gabriel on March 16, 2009, 12:26:40 PM
As mentioned, he actually did compose 3 piano quartets.  I do have them, they were composed when he was 15.  Nice, but definitely not missing too much, IMO George.  Sorry Ludwig.  :-[

They are certainly not masterpieces, but they are very pleasant works. I haven't listened to them for quite a long time, but there was one among them that seemed to me to prefigure the first movement of the Pathétique sonata.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: ChamberNut on March 16, 2009, 01:00:03 PM
I'm only familiar with the one recording I have with Escenbach and members of the Amadeus Quartet (presumably OOP now). They're quite delightful, tuneful pieces with a mostly sunny disposition (all three are in major keys) and with prominent piano parts.

That's the one I have.  It isn't OOP, as far as I know.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Valentino on March 16, 2009, 01:06:47 PM
Beethoven did produce some piano trios, about four CDs if I remember correctly.  ;D
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Diletante on March 19, 2009, 05:14:33 PM
Holy cow!   :o I'm listening to the String Quartet No. 13 right now and I'm completely gripped! It sounds way more interesting and compelling than the first! Wow, just wow!  :o
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: ChamberNut on March 19, 2009, 06:17:53 PM
Holy cow!   :o I'm listening to the String Quartet No. 13 right now and I'm completely gripped! It sounds way more interesting and compelling than the first! Wow, just wow!  :o

The 13th is pretty much what solidified my metamorphosis from a "rock/metal" guy to a classical guy.  It made me want to learn everything about Beethoven...and classical music.  It's a work with very, very special meaning to me.  Still pretty much my favorite string quartet, along with the 15th, Op. 132.

Very glad you enjoyed it Tanuki!  :)
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Haffner on March 20, 2009, 08:34:16 AM
Holy cow!   :o I'm listening to the String Quartet No. 13 right now and I'm completely gripped! It sounds way more interesting and compelling than the first! Wow, just wow!  :o


There are so many moods/emotions portrayed in that quartet. Always something new every time I listen. Beyond brilliant.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 23, 2009, 10:01:43 AM
Holy cow!   :o I'm listening to the String Quartet No. 13 right now and I'm completely gripped! It sounds way more interesting and compelling than the first! Wow, just wow!  :o

Welcome to the late quartets  8)  The 13th is my favorite...and my favorite poet had this to say:

My unprentending love's the B flat major
by the old Budapest done.

         John Berryman "Beethoven Triumphant"

Sarge
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Haffner on March 27, 2009, 01:23:30 PM
Welcome to the late quartets  8)  The 13th is my favorite...and my favorite poet had this to say:

My unprentending love's the B flat major
by the old Budapest done.

         John Berryman "Beethoven Triumphant"

Sarge



Great quote! That is just one of the LvB Late String Quartets that progressively pays off with every listen.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Fëanor on April 03, 2009, 06:13:42 AM
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.  :)

I recommend the "Rasumovsky" quartets, Op.59/1 to 3.  I enjoyed them on my first listen.

I'm a relative classical beginner, (let's say sophomore), and although I've begun to acquire a taste for the Late Quartets, my reaction to the Grosse Fugue is still pretty much ... (http://ca.geocities.com/w_d_bailey/wtf.gif)

If you want a different challenge, try Elliott Carter's quartets.  They're pretty much all great but you might want to start with No. 2 or 3.  I enjoyed them on first listen which is more than I can say for Beethoven's Late Quartets.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: ChamberNut on April 03, 2009, 06:33:44 AM
If you want a different challenge, try Elliott Carter's quartets.  They're pretty much all great but you might want to start with No. 2 or 3.  I enjoyed them on first listen which is more than I can say for Beethoven's Late Quartets.

Feanor, seriously?  I'm not sure anyone would find Elliott Carter's quartets immediately accessible, for a relative new beginner, I think you are the exception.

There are many more accessible 20th Century string quartets than Carter's that might be more appropriate to suggest to Tanuki.  Just a thought.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Gurn Blanston on April 03, 2009, 06:47:25 AM
There are many more accessible 20th Century string quartets than Carter's that might be more appropriate to suggest to Tanuki.  Just a thought.

Bartok and Shostakovich leap immediately to mind... Both speak a dialect of the modernist language, but are far more accessible (to me, at least) than Carter.

In any case, I think if you can get your mind truly around Beethoven post-Op 95, you should have no problem with anyone else's. :)

8)

----------------
Listening to:
Schubert: Fortepiano Works - Lambert Orkis - D 899 #4 Impromptu in Ab for Fortepiano - Allegretto
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Fëanor on April 03, 2009, 09:05:17 AM
Bartok and Shostakovich leap immediately to mind... Both speak a dialect of the modernist language, but are far more accessible (to me, at least) than Carter.
...

Well I did say that Carter is a challenge, just maybe no more so than LvB's Grosse Fugue.

But I can't argue against Bartok or, especially, Shostakovich.  Tanuki, try Shostie's No. 3, 5, 8, 10 for starters.

Tanuki, if you're OK with avoiding some contemporary quarters for now, I suggest you include those by Brian Ferneyhough and Gloria Coates.   :-X  Uck!
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Diletante on April 03, 2009, 09:27:24 AM
Thanks, guys, for the suggestions. I'll definitely try Shostakovich's quartets, since I've liked his works I've listened to so far (Symphonies 5 & 7, Jazz Suites). And Bartók is slowly becoming my favorite composer, so I'm bound to listen to his SQ sooner or later.

By the way, what is you guys' opinion on Janáček's quartets?
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: ChamberNut on April 03, 2009, 09:30:06 AM
By the way, what is you guys' opinion on Janáček's quartets?

Two thumbs up, Tanuki!  :)  I know I enjoy them.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Valentino on April 03, 2009, 10:34:07 AM
Saw on Amazon today that the Hagen Quartett disc of Janacek quartets are available at a reasonable price. For a hardcore, no mercy approach look no further.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Fëanor on April 03, 2009, 10:35:49 AM
....

By the way, what is you guys' opinion on Janáček's quartets?

Amongst the greatest, no question -- don't wait.  :D
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Contrapunctus666 on May 09, 2009, 12:17:13 AM
I think 11. At least I can say that I started with that one and didn't have any problems with it.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: GKC on May 24, 2010, 10:59:46 AM
Holy cow!   :o I'm listening to the String Quartet No. 13 right now and I'm completely gripped! It sounds way more interesting and compelling than the first! Wow, just wow!  :o

That's terrific, Diletante. So what did you think of the Grosse Fugue ?  I have been listening to Beethoven's quartets for two decades, and I still can't get a handle on it. These days I always listen to the alternate ending of no. 13.

The first Beethoven qt. I heard was no. 12 (Alban Berg) and was just bowled-over. This was a whole other world and a whole other Beethoven (c.f. symphonies and piano concertos).

OK; so listen to the other four late ones and tell us what you think of them.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: laredo on January 08, 2011, 04:25:18 AM
The most accessible quartet for beginners is without any doubt the op. 18 n. 4. Is it casual that it is even the less interesting quartet of all?
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: DavidRoss on January 08, 2011, 07:04:49 AM
My barely trained ear loved the late quartets on first hearing.  It took longer to like the early ones.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Florestan on February 01, 2013, 11:39:32 AM
Yes, I agree with the above. My introduction to them was through a set of the middle period ones. There were on Phillips by the Quartet Italiano; I still prize them highly. Unfortunately the quartet no longer exists; they disbanded for political reasons.

Let me go spelunking one more time: what political reasons?  ;D
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: mszczuj on February 03, 2013, 03:23:20 PM
So what did you think of the Grosse Fugue ?  I have been listening to Beethoven's quartets for two decades, and I still can't get a handle on it.

I must say I find this work completely misunderstood. It is always played as if it was the some battle drama, for me it should be the dance while entering in Elysium.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: ElliotViola on February 06, 2013, 12:27:29 AM
Most beautiful piece ever...

Cavatina from his Op.130.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pewBRolWwjQ

 :'( :'( :'(
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Jo498 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.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Alberich 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.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng 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 Große Fuge, I consider all his quartets accessible, really.

And, yes, I think the Op.131 an excellent suggestion.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Parsifal 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.)
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Jo498 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.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Parsifal 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.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Parsifal on March 20, 2017, 04:43:13 PM
Well, with the sole exception of the Große Fuge, I consider all his quartets accessible, really.

Furtwangler makes even the Grosse Fuge seem accessible in his WPO recording.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Daverz 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.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: opaquer 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
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 21, 2017, 03:41:00 AM
I ought to have said, with the possible sole exception  0:) ;) 8)
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: springrite 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
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: ahinton 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!
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: North Star 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
Well, and you are that fabulous alien. 8)
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng 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.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: jochanaan 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. :)
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Jo498 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.
Title: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng 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.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Fëanor on March 22, 2017, 07:52:34 AM
Well, with the sole exception of the Große 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 Große 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.
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Jo498 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...
Title: Re: Most "accessible" Beethoven's string quartets
Post by: Fëanor on March 23, 2017, 07:20:05 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...

Ah well, that would be one definition of "accessible".  It's a question of how many repeats are "not too many".  In my case it was as many as 8 times for some of the Late quarters -- that would be too many for some people no doubt.