Author Topic: Bartok - The String Quartets  (Read 24712 times)

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Offline George

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Bartok - The String Quartets
« on: September 16, 2011, 04:46:10 PM »
I just went searching for a thread on the Bartok Quartets, as I was certain that we had one, but it seems we don't have one.

I found this CD set in the used bins tonight and decided to grab it, even though I really enjoy the Hungarian QT and Takacs QT recordings (in that order) of these awesome works:



It's the Julliard's 1950s recordings of these quartets. Now I know that they recorded these three times and the last set is considered the worst, but how does this 1950s set compare to their 1963 set (I don't have it.)

And - what are your favorite recordings (sets) of the Bartok QTs?
"I can't live without music, because music is life." - Yvonne Lefébure

Offline Todd

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Re: Bartok - The String Quartets
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2011, 04:59:56 PM »
The early cycle is the one I do not own.  I can't say the digital cycle is the "worst," since that implies bad, and it is not, but it is not as good as the second cycle. 

My favored cycles are the Takacs Decca cycle, the Vegh stereo cycle, and Emerson cycle.  Lush, "Hungarian", and "Modern" is the best way to simplify the three in one word descriptions.  (The Hagen are also quite good, and in the Emerson style here.)
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Offline not edward

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Re: Bartok - The String Quartets
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2011, 05:04:49 PM »
I've not heard the '50s Juilliards (am sure they're great); of the recordings I've heard I've been most impressed by the '60s Juilliards, and perhaps above all, the stereo Vegh set. I particularly like the Veghs in Bartok's tramping-rhythm finales, in which they really let their hair down; the 3rd is probably the only disappointment, while the 6th is astonishingly good.

Of more recent recordings, I've been most taken with the Kellers--highlights for me being a superb 2nd and a fine 6th that's just shaded by the Veghs' astonishingly bitter and cynical view of the work. Apart from a superb 3rd, the highly rated Emersons never really grabbed me, while I'm yet to hear the Takacs.
"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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Brahmsian

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Re: Bartok - The String Quartets
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2011, 05:08:57 PM »
I love both the Takacs Qt. and Emerson SQ. recordings.  Haven't heard the Julliard's.

kishnevi

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Re: Bartok - The String Quartets
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2011, 05:17:54 PM »
I have the Nowak, Belcea and Emerson sets, and my preference runs in that order.  The Emerson recording seem to me to justify the criticism that they are too intellectual and unemotional (which, btw, I generally don't agree with, except for this set).

DavidW

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Re: Bartok - The String Quartets
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2011, 05:44:06 PM »
I like Takacs and sony Juilliard.  Haven't heard that first Juilliard cycle.

Offline George

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Re: Bartok - The String Quartets
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2011, 05:46:26 PM »
I like Takacs and sony Juilliard.  Haven't heard that first Juilliard cycle.

Hey Dave!  :)

So you have the second Julliard from 1963?
"I can't live without music, because music is life." - Yvonne Lefébure

DavidW

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Re: Bartok - The String Quartets
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2011, 05:49:19 PM »
Hey Dave!  :)

So you have the second Julliard from 1963?

Not currently, I decided that I liked Takacs a little bit better and they weren't different enough.  But I had it.  It's pretty darned good!  It has that dry, nervous energy they are known for.

Offline George

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Re: Bartok - The String Quartets
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2011, 06:02:57 PM »
Not currently, I decided that I liked Takacs a little bit better and they weren't different enough.  But I had it.  It's pretty darned good!  It has that dry, nervous energy they are known for.

I am spinning the set in my OP right now and it's definitely dry and tense! If it were a movie, it'd be in black and white, with a lot of shadows.
"I can't live without music, because music is life." - Yvonne Lefébure

Robert

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Re: Bartok - The String Quartets
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2011, 06:05:58 PM »
Emerson and Tokyo

Online SonicMan46

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Re: Bartok - The String Quartets
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2011, 06:08:36 PM »
Well, if this is going to be another 'list' your collections thread, then I have 2 sets of these SQs including the Emersons, which I do enjoy; in addition, I picked up an inexpensive set by the Keller Quartet reviewed positively HERE - I'm sure that there must be other releases on interest - :)

 

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Bartok - The String Quartets
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2011, 06:34:05 PM »
My favorite set is from the Takacs Quartet on Decca. I also have the Emersons, but, while they're good technically, the Takacs have a better feel for the idiosyncrasies of Bartok's music.
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Offline Herman

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Re: Bartok - The String Quartets
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2011, 06:58:22 PM »
How is that Keller set?

I heard the Keller Qt play the Bartok 2 and 5 in concert recently and wasn't totally blown away, but the recording may be better, as indicated by some reviews.

Bulldog

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Re: Bartok - The String Quartets
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2011, 07:38:36 PM »
I have more recordings of these works than I remembered:

Parkanyi/Praga
Takacs/Decca
Vermeer/Naxos
Juilliard/Sony (1963) (1981)
Novak/Philips
Vegh/Naive
Tatrai/Hungaroton
Emerson/DG
Vertavo/Simax
Penderecki/Eclectra
Hungarian/DG
Ebene/Mirare (1-2-3)
Arcanto/HM (5-6)

Currently, my favored sets are the Emerson (intensity) and Vegh (gorgeous).  However, I was tremendously moved with the Arcanto's single disc of qts. 5 and 6 - nothing more from this group so far.

Offline not edward

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Re: Bartok - The String Quartets
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2011, 04:08:09 AM »
How is that Keller set?

I heard the Keller Qt play the Bartok 2 and 5 in concert recently and wasn't totally blown away, but the recording may be better, as indicated by some reviews.
IMO it's pretty good, though not on the same level as the best sets out there. I think the 6th is probably the best of the set; if it weren't for the Vegh it would probably be my favourite recording of that quartet. 3-5 it's been a while, but I recall the Kellers playing it a bit too safe in the 3rd and the finales of the 4th and 5th, despite some good stuff in the earlier movements.

Should really pull the set out again some time.
"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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snyprrr

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Re: Bartok - The String Quartets
« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2011, 11:16:07 AM »
I just got the Hagens (on Newton Classics ???) from the library, and checked my favorite bits, like No.3.

All I can really compare with is the Emerson's, which I also get from the library (wasn't there, will check another later). I like the Emersons in the brutal bits, but, I don't like them so much in 1-2. The Hagens at first glance compare very favorably in 3. I will have to double check later.

The Hagens also get a thick sound which is very pleasing.

The Hagens, however, take the opening to No.4 almost as slow as the ill-conceived Arditti reading on Grammavision. The Emersons really dig into this opening like no other, but, the Hagens actually make their slower way work for them, which I don't think the Ardittis pulled off.

I'm assuming this is THE Hagen/DG recording. Anyone else have both the Hagens and Emersons?

Offline Todd

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Re: Bartok - The String Quartets
« Reply #16 on: October 20, 2011, 11:28:19 AM »
I'm assuming this is THE Hagen/DG recording. Anyone else have both the Hagens and Emersons?


Yep.  I prefer the Emerson across the board.  Not quite sure you mean when you say the Hagen are "thick."
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Offline Josquin des Prez

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Re: Bartok - The String Quartets
« Reply #17 on: October 20, 2011, 01:46:43 PM »
Tokyo on DG.

Offline Xenophanes

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Re: Bartok - The String Quartets
« Reply #18 on: October 20, 2011, 04:46:38 PM »
Bartok is one of the composers I don't really get, as per Josquin's thread, but I have been trying to get into the string quartets for a long time.  Quite a while ago, I got the Novak Qt. on Philips and later came across the Takacs Qt. on London, when it was fresh and new. 

Some months ago, I got the set with the old Fine Arts Quartet, because they are my favorite string quartet, and I have been listening to it now and then to see if I can get into them. They even have a discussion of the first quartet by the members.


Kontrapunctus

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Re: Bartok - The String Quartets
« Reply #19 on: October 21, 2011, 11:46:20 AM »
I like the Parkanyi's series on Praga.

« Last Edit: October 24, 2011, 03:20:41 PM by Toccata&Fugue »