Author Topic: Franz Schmidt String Quartets 1-2  (Read 2266 times)

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snyprrr

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Franz Schmidt String Quartets 1-2
« on: March 27, 2013, 08:16:42 AM »
I have here before me the two recordings of these two most sumptuously wrought examples of Ultra-Late Romanticism, perhaps the very pinnacle of the German Art. For those who are seeking life after Faure, Schmidt has, with these two late works, fashioned quite an answer to Faure's explorations.

Most of you will have the NIMBUS disc with the Franz Schubert Quartett,Wien, performances that are generally regarded as much more than serviceable, though some have expressed moments of questionable intonation. The music is thick as molasses, so, there is readily an opportunity for questions to arise. Some (Cato?) have declared Taneyev's SQs 'microtonal' due to the performance by the Russian group there. I dare say we have no problems like that here. Still, as fine as the FSQ,W are, I have always wanted to hear a compare.

Well, and we have one, an ultra-rare Slovakian export on the OPUS label with the Moyzes Quartet (who, I believe, did some DSCH for Naxos?). This cd has been long OOP and totally unavailable since I've been checking, but, the other day I just did an 'ah well' Search, and, lo and behold, there was a copy available for pretty cheep cheep.

I just tore away the bodice... er, I mean, wrapper (came in a Trader Joe's bag haha!)... aaand... WHAAAT?!?!... wow, take a look at these timings:

Franz Schubert Quartet   (No.1 in A)         Moyzes Quartet

        12.25                                                 11.12
        10.55                                                 10.39
        6.09                                                  5.43
        9.13                                                  9.52

                                   (No.2 in G)

        12.36                                                  8.59
        10.45                                                  9.01

         8.57                                                   8.12
         6.38                                                   5.45


Maybe there's repeats? Anyhow, I'm almost bursting here. Time for a little one-on-one. I'll B Bach!

snyprrr

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Re: Franz Schmidt String Quartets 1-2
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2013, 09:08:37 AM »
OK, let's get down to business. I've listened to the Scherzo of No.1 and the Finale of No.2.


Let's get the Nimbus out of the way first. Number one, the Nimbus sound is extremely yummy in this one, always has been, a superlative recording. The performance is comparatively 'public', and yes, in the middle 'trio' of the 1st's Scherzo there is some vibrato thickness or whatever you want to call it. I'll call it the nit picky stuff.

But, seriously, this performance has always been at least good enough, though it is most always much much more. It's not the Teldec ABQ (THAT!!), but, I don't know anyone who is. The guys at MDG are almost interchangeable with most of the Nimbus roster (this group, the Artis, Volger,...). They are all what appears to be shy of the Arditti/ABQ mark, but, since that's not happening, this is what we have.


Now, onto the Moyzes. I set myself up with, 'It's gonna suck. It's gonna suck,' so, I felt ready for anything. The first notes of the 1st's Scherzo were at a more intimate voltage than the FSQ, a 'private' rather than 'public' performance. The Opus sound, too, is much more intimate than the Nimbus's usual space (which I usually always love). The space here is akin to the Festetics' Haydn: tight, but good (well, this is absolutely transparent).

As the Scherzo continued, the obvious flowered: the Moyzes have already outclassed the FSQ within two minutes. I seriously had not the intonational issues that I might have had just moments before with the other group. The ensemble here was just wonderful. I almost wished for gut strings! The group made me fantasize of a gauzy creaminess that one only hears in HIP performances. The FSQ do have a more urgent, and finely etched, Scherzo, but the Moyzes pretty well grab your attention with their beauty. Here is a case of two approaches, both performances will continue to be referenced.

At the slightly creepy, and octave heavy climax of the Finale of No.2, both groups' strengths shine. The FSQ's dramatic, manly approach gives the ending a weighty darkness that pricks up one's ears; the Moyzes are sinewy and slithery, giving a completely different feel- the final upward diddle is much more pronounced here.


Well, I'm really excited to compare the main movements. The bottom line so far is, if you have the Nimbus, and you're like me, you will be hunting down that Opus disc for the next decade! Sorry fellas!! $:)

snyprrr

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Re: Franz Schmidt String Quartets 1-2
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2013, 10:37:18 AM »
Well, as I'm going through the two first movements, honors are somewhat evenly divided. The Moyzes are tighter all the way around in terms of arguing the conversation, but the FSQ hold their own. The two different sound images are both pleasing in totally different ways.

If there was ever any question with the FSQ, the Moyzes appear fairly irreproachable. This Opus disc might become my greatest shining example of this kind of thing. The music, the playing, the intimate sound, they all come together in a frighteningly good way. This music keeps you on the edge with its near constant low level dissonance (at the service of a complex polyphonic web) , which keeps both group quite on their toes throughout.

I mean, if you want to, you can move this to the Schmidt Thread. No one seems to care here.

Offline Sammy

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Re: Franz Schmidt String Quartets 1-2
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2013, 12:58:35 PM »
OK, let's get down to business. I've listened to the Scherzo of No.1 and the Finale of No.2.

So you're first listening to the shortest movements from each work; I find that an odd way to compare recorded performances.  Regardless, I don't have the Opus recording, so I have nothing to add to any comparison.

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Franz Schmidt String Quartets 1-2
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2013, 01:07:38 PM »
I mean, if you want to, you can move this to the Schmidt Thread. No one seems to care here.

If any of us had more than the FSQ recording, I suppose we could add to the conversation. But I doubt any of us do. That Franz Schmidt is so totally ignored outside of Austria and Czech/Slovakia is just reality at this point. More's the pity.

Sarge
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

snyprrr

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Re: Franz Schmidt String Quartets 1-2
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2013, 05:53:35 PM »
So you're first listening to the shortest movements from each work; I find that an odd way to compare recorded performances.  Regardless, I don't have the Opus recording, so I have nothing to add to any comparison.

I just wanted to dip and savor, dip and savor, and now the day is gone and I must say that the Opus recording is very special indeed. Forget the sound being compared to the Festetics Haydn: WRONG! The sound has a slightly better bloom in the car, but, I'm going to confuse you if I say anything more than Perfectly Transparently Intimate (with just a nice little touch of bloom if one were to crank 'er up).

I really listened to this music today, and yea, hello, has anyone gotten the odd Fauresque way these SQs slither and slide and bob and weave around like nobody's business. Frankly, these SQs could in a way be thought of as Schubert-meets-earlyCowell (the dissonant weavings of the Quartet Romantique (sic?)), and I hope someone will correct me.

I mean, we ALL have the Nimbus, I'm obviously playing like no one knows this music, but, in this Moyzes performance we have what amounts to... I don't know, I was gonna say Dvorak on some really mild acid (Schmidt is one of the Most Chromatic Composers Ever),... I mean, whereas Schoenberg's route led to 'the Grave' (Hard Expressionism), in these SQs Schmidt reveals one of the most assured positions of repose of any Late Work one would care to mention: there is JOY in the morning with Schmidt, shocking for pieces as densely complex and beautiful as these.

The Opus presentation presents the music more naturally than we've experienced with the Nimbus; but both are essential, because the 'newer' one reveals the wonder of both interpretations. The quicker timings are no mistake: the Moyzes glide, slither and slide through the scores like... what's the cliche?, liquid mercury? The slower timings of the Nimbus let us enjoy about 10mins. more of the Schmidt Experience. Fear not, but listen again to your Nimbus.


I have to declare before I... Schimdt's Finales, both, really... really, listen, are they not ahead of their time? Neither seems nor acts like a traditional Finale. Maybe I need further comparisons, but, at least (in the Moyzes), the subtlety and nuance and displacement, and everything, the 'all' of Schmidt that he displays in these Finales, could someone please comment on them?

btw- this was my first cd of the year!


And you know, this whole Thread wasn't just to be a Big Dikk, nanny nanny, but, I have been waiting to hear this Opus recording as much as I guess a few of you, so, YES!, IT'S (as close to) THE ONE!! The Nimbus is still as good as it is, so, don't be afraid of taking Scmidt's SQs for a spin. No other 80mins. compares: there are NO TWO QUARTETS AVAILABLE(IN HISTORY) that when played together give off this particular fragrance (apt, considering the time and place).

roger wilco and out