Author Topic: Blind Comparison: Schubert String Quintet D. 956 / Op. 163  (Read 34355 times)

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kishnevi

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Re: Blind Comparison: Schubert String Quintet D. 956 / Op. 163
« Reply #300 on: December 12, 2014, 06:32:27 PM »
Thank you.

Of all five, I only have the Pavel Haas, and that a very recent purchase.  Apparently it impressed me less in disguise than it did in my CD player, although I only played it once before the final round.

Perhaps you should let Harmonia Mundi know they won the most recent GMG Best in Show?

Offline amw

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Re: Blind Comparison: Schubert String Quintet D. 956 / Op. 163
« Reply #301 on: December 12, 2014, 06:38:12 PM »
They should be adding 'Winner of the 2014 GMG Schubert D956 Blind Comparison' to the recording's distinctions and awards as we speak! Would be silly not to, really.

----------------------------------

Also a shout out to the recordings left on the cutting room floor:

Rosamonde Quartet & Nicolas Deletaille (good, but didn't stand out enough)
Isaac Stern/Yo-Yo Ma/Jaime Laredo et al (opted for Kavafians et al. instead)
LaSalle Quartet & Lynn Harrell
Jascha Heifetz/Gregor Piatigorsky et al (totally subjective: I really disliked it.)
Verdi Quartet & ... someone?
Artemis Quartet & Truls Mørk (opted for Auryn/Poltéra instead, which was very similar whilst being better in most respects)

and an additional shout out to recordings I was interested in but couldn't get hold of (or didn't have the money to spend on):

Bartók Quartet & Miklos Perenyi (especially)
Schubert-Quintett
Acies Quartet & David Geringas
Alberni Quartet & Thomas Igloi
Endres Quartet & ???
Oleg Kagan et al. (actually, someone may have offered this but I think by that point I already had 32)
« Last Edit: December 12, 2014, 06:39:48 PM by amw »

Offline aukhawk

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Re: Blind Comparison: Schubert String Quintet D. 956 / Op. 163
« Reply #302 on: December 13, 2014, 02:27:38 AM »
Thankyou amw for a fascinating reveal.  And I never spotted the Lincoln Centre recording despite it being one of the three I actually had - bah!

Online Jo498

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Re: Blind Comparison: Schubert String Quintet D. 956 / Op. 163
« Reply #303 on: December 13, 2014, 02:35:48 AM »
I did not recognize the Petersen, the only one of the finalists I had in my shelves, but it got my top votes. Not sure what this should tell me about my ears. I am puzzled though because apart from the trio (which I could/should have recognized) I did not remember that it was such a dramatic and contrastful reading.
I have not heard the Raphael, although I have their Brahms's sextets and Mendelssohn quintets which I both like a lot, but I also thought they were more "moderate" and "warmer". I suspected Artemis or Belcea for #5  ::)
In any case the more "extreme" interpretations were kicked out before the final, it seems.
I'll probably try the Kagan et al. at some stage, this is bound to be different, I think.

Probably should also re-listen to the others. I was not even aware of the Kafavian/Sherry combo recording, apparently an even darker horse than the Marlboro with Galimir/Frank et al.. I do remember some raves about the Arcanto and would have expected the Pavel Haas to vow me more than they apparently did.

FWIW, at the core (which held at the time of the recording) the Petersen is also Eastern German, but Berlin not Leipzig. There is another very good Eastern quartet founded in the mid-80s East Berlin, the Vogler-Quartett.

Thanks again for organising this!
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 Cato

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Re: Blind Comparison: Schubert String Quintet D. 956 / Op. 163
« Reply #304 on: December 13, 2014, 04:45:32 AM »
Again, many thanks to AMW for all the co-ordination!

I assume people have checked their personal results?

For me K 5 was a #1 pick as E 6K 3 was a #1 as I 4, but #4 as E 1.

K 4 was a #3 choice as E 5K 2 logically was #2  ;) as E 7.

And I had given a BIG #1 rating to K 1 when I heard it as F 7.  It merited a #3 when I heard it as D 2.

And I love our completely contradictory comments about the Arcanto Quartet's winning performance here!  Such chaos keeps Life from being boring!   ???   ;)


"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

- Brian Aherne introducing Rosalind Russell in  My Sister Eileen (1942)

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Re: Blind Comparison: Schubert String Quintet D. 956 / Op. 163
« Reply #305 on: December 13, 2014, 05:43:22 AM »
Now going over my notes throughout. I gave the Raphael decent (1st mvmt) to good (scherzo), but not great marks and the Petersen was my favorite Scherzo. Seems almost more consistent than I would expect.. ;)
I am somewhat puzzled that I noted twice complaints about a somewhat mannered "clipped" accompaniment of the first movement "cello theme", in the first round with the Raphael, but in the final round with the Lincoln center ensemble and there I did not notice it in the Raphael?... I probably have to double check this.
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 aukhawk

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Re: Blind Comparison: Schubert String Quintet D. 956 / Op. 163
« Reply #306 on: December 13, 2014, 10:53:27 AM »
I was not even aware of the Kafavian/Sherry combo recording, apparently an even darker horse than the Marlboro with Galimir/Frank et al..

It received a 'top recommendation' review in Gramophone when it was first released, which is how I came to have it in my collection.  At the time I offered it to amw for inclusion in this test, there was a copy for sale at Amazon for $195.84  :o

I notice in my old LP collection I have a version by the Landsdowne Quartet (EMI house band) plus Amaryllis Fleming** - dating from 1970 and also a top recommendation in its day.  I don't think I've seen it mentioned? - perhaps I should do a needle-drop.
** half-sister of Ian Fleming, the James bond author.

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Re: Blind Comparison: Schubert String Quintet D. 956 / Op. 163
« Reply #307 on: December 13, 2014, 11:22:05 AM »
I probably was not born when the Lincoln center recording was released on LP (or very small and not interested in Schubert yet) and I do not remember having seen it as a recommendation internet or print guide in the 20+ years a more or less follow the stuff. This does not mean very much as I hardly ever read any of the famous Penguin/Gramophone guides, but it is clearly not one coming up frequently in web discussions. E.g I find only a couple of neutral references to it in the usenet/google groups.
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 aukhawk

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Re: Blind Comparison: Schubert String Quintet D. 956 / Op. 163
« Reply #308 on: December 14, 2014, 02:38:51 AM »
 ;) Heh - actually it's a DDD recording so quite likely was never released on LP.  The recording sessions were November 1989 and it was originally released on a small specialist label - Omega.

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Re: Blind Comparison: Schubert String Quintet D. 956 / Op. 163
« Reply #309 on: December 14, 2014, 04:37:27 AM »
o.k., so I was already listening to Schubert (but I probably bought my first recording of the piece, Alban-Berg/Schiff a year or so later), I thought Kavafian/Sherry was from the early 70s!
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)

Cosi bel do

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Re: Blind Comparison: Schubert String Quintet D. 956 / Op. 163
« Reply #310 on: December 14, 2014, 08:14:50 AM »
amw, could you please post a list of all versions that were in the comparison ? I couldn't participate but I really like this quintet and would also like to check when each was eliminated.

Offline amw

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Re: Blind Comparison: Schubert String Quintet D. 956 / Op. 163
« Reply #311 on: December 14, 2014, 09:58:14 PM »
Sure! Versions included:

Aeolian/Schrecker - rounds 1, 2
Alban Berg/Schiff - round 1
Amadeus/Pleeth (II) - round 1
Arcanto/Marron - rounds 1, 2, 3, final [#1]
Auryn/Poltéra - rounds 1, 2
Belcea/Erben - rounds 1, 2
Borodin/Milman - rounds 1, 2
Casals & co. - rounds 1, 2
Diotima/Gastinel - rounds 1, 2
Emerson/Rostropovich - rounds 1, 2, 3
Festetics/Kuijken - round 1
Fitzwilliam/Kampen - rounds 1, 2
Frank & co. - round 1
Grumiaux & co. - round 1
Hagen/Schiff - rounds 1, 2, 3
Hollywood/Reher - rounds 1, 2
Jansen & co. - rounds 1, 2
Juilliard/Greenhouse (II) - round 1
Kavafians & co. - rounds 1, 2, 3, final [#4]
L'Archibudelli - rounds 1, 2, 3
Leipzig/Sanderling - rounds 1, 2, 3
Lindsay/Cummings - round 1
Melos/Rostropovich - round 1
Nomos/Kämper - round 1
Orpheus/Wispelwey - rounds 1, 2, 3
Pavel Haas/Ishizaka - rounds 1, 2, 3, final [#2]
Petersen/Sanderling - rounds 1, 2, 3, final [#3]
Raphael Ensemble - rounds 1, 2, 3, final [#5]
Sine Nomine/Guye - round 1
Takacs/Kirshbaum - round 1
Taneyev/Rostropovich - rounds 1, 2, 3
Villa Musica Ensemble - rounds 1, 2

Cosi bel do

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Re: Blind Comparison: Schubert String Quintet D. 956 / Op. 163
« Reply #312 on: December 15, 2014, 06:53:25 AM »
Thanks ! Wow, really, you did things well, that's almost the most perfect selection ! There's just one of my favourites missing : Vienna Konzerthaus Quartet & Günther Weiss (Westminster, 1950). Slightly lacking tension (but not the only one here...) but with an irresistible sense of style.

I'm a little sad to see the Lindsays were out of the competition so quickly (even if I always acknowledged their limitations), but happy that the Taneyev/Rostropovich version almost made it to the finals. And I have a bunch of recordings to discover...

Thank you and bravo !

PS. Just for the record, the Vivarte recording is not officially by L'Archibudelli, probably because Jürgen Kussmaul doesn't play in it, and is replaced by Steven Dann. So, on all releases, only the line-up is indicated : Beths/Rautenberg/Dann/Gatwood/Bylsma.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2014, 07:09:59 AM by Discobolus »

Offline aukhawk

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Re: Blind Comparison: Schubert String Quintet D. 956 / Op. 163
« Reply #313 on: December 16, 2014, 03:43:15 PM »
Surprised there's not more reaction here, at the end of such a long process with so much time invested by all.

Anyway, I've just done my own 'alternative final round', comparing K2 with my previous favourite, Orpheus, and two recent acquisitions resulting from this blind test, Diotima and Leipziger.  (And I also have K3 of course but in my own collection I prefer the Orpheus to that.)

Of those four, for me K2 (Haas Quartet) was the clear winner - so it looks like I'll be buying a new version of the Quintet after all!

I will needledrop the old, circa 1970, Lansdowne over Christmas sometime, just for interest.  If anyone wants that as 320/mp3, PM me and I'll be able to supply it in the New Year.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2014, 03:46:01 PM by aukhawk »

Offline amw

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Re: Blind Comparison: Schubert String Quintet D. 956 / Op. 163
« Reply #314 on: December 16, 2014, 10:41:13 PM »
Thanks ! Wow, really, you did things well, that's almost the most perfect selection ! There's just one of my favourites missing : Vienna Konzerthaus Quartet & Günther Weiss (Westminster, 1950). Slightly lacking tension (but not the only one here...) but with an irresistible sense of style.

I'm a little sad to see the Lindsays were out of the competition so quickly (even if I always acknowledged their limitations), but happy that the Taneyev/Rostropovich version almost made it to the finals. And I have a bunch of recordings to discover...
I did take the liberty of including all of my favourites (well, I was organising the comparison, after all 0:) ) plus at least a few that I didn't like at all.

Quote
PS. Just for the record, the Vivarte recording is not officially by L'Archibudelli, probably because Jürgen Kussmaul doesn't play in it, and is replaced by Steven Dann. So, on all releases, only the line-up is indicated : Beths/Rautenberg/Dann/Gatwood/Bylsma.
Ah, I was wondering why they didn't use the L'Archibudelli name for that release. That's what they are in my notes, but I think I've been pretty good at referring to them as "Bylsma & Co." in the thread.


I've re-listened to several of the recordings here that I was most curious about, but am afraid my personal preferences haven't changed significantly since I put together the recordings back in May/June or thereabouts.

Personal list:
Top 3
Taneyev/Rostropovich - intense, dramatic (perhaps to a fault?), incredibly powerful with a deeply funereal adagio and explosive finale. (Cons include mono sound and no CD availability)
Marlboro - broad and lyrical without being over-romanticised, a true chamber music partnership, full of detail and personality
Bylsma et al. - another radically rethought version with a powerful sense of forward motion; adagio doesn't always work (veers between too rushed and too lethargic) but the scherzo and trio, the 'dark underworld' of the quintet, have probably never been bettered

Rest of the top tier
Petersen - close to ideal, as said, but with some drawbacks ('wet' acoustic, outer movements a bit pedestrian, Conrad Mück's intonation)
*[Petersen/Gerhardt - live in Köln 1996 - much more intense, almost histrionic, but worth hearing. Someone on symphonyshare supplied it to me, I don't know how to find it otherwise]
Leipzig - understated but powerful, with a proto-Taneyev adagio of death and the dark undertones continually brought to the surface.
Fitzwilliam - delicate, gossamer-light (though not without robustness where necessary); perhaps a bit 'Classical'
Arcanto - broadly agree with aukhawk & mc ukrneal, find their reading's main weakness is a certain reserve or even coldness that prevents them from going 'all the way' in their interpretation. Sexual tension, like I said. (However, while every movement is an example of an interpretation done better by someone else, no one puts them all together so well—I would say this is the most consistent and easy-to-like recording available. Though Jay F really disliked it, so maybe I should recommend Raphael Ensemble to first-timers instead.)
*[Arcanto/Marron - live @ Aldeburgh 2012? - superior to their studio recording in many respects, actually. Only occasional intonation lapses betray the lack of studio magic involved, and it's got that 'live' energy. Sound is pretty good too. Also got this from my symphonyshare contact but it's a BBC3 recording so it might be available elsewhere. Or I'll just upload it.]
Emerson - I always forget how good this recording is. Have to say that here as in Prokofiev the Emersons take a very similar approach to the Pavel Haas Quartet, while (in my opinion) doing it better. Comes down to which band you prefer I guess.

Other special mentions
Auryn - 'Better than I was expecting' award. From timings and samples it seemed pretty average, but it's actually quite interesting especially as regards instrumental balance (mid heavy and with a sense of delicacy)
Orpheus - 'Most improved' award. For whatever reason something about their phrasing and articulation really didn't appeal to me on first listen, seemed clipped and rough. Repeated listens have made it increasingly enjoyable. Not quite top tier but close.
Lindsay - Adagio award. I don't think anyone who's heard this can dispute the specialness here—an extremely slow adagio but not elegiac, rather pleading, introspective and 'beklemmt', unique even among the slowest renditions (which include also Taneyev, Diotima, Melos/Slava, Sine Nomine. Not so much Leipzig and Marlboro which actually take the outer sections of the adagio at a more flowing pace) Unfortunately the other movements are nothing special and prevent it from becoming a favourite.
Bartók/Perenyi (not included here) - 'Wow, this is addictively weird' award. Find it, listen to it, tell me I'm wrong.

Leipzig Quartet also wins the Echt Viennese award, Arcanto (studio) the Best Ensemble award and Pavel Haas the 'Performance that should hit all the right buttons but somehow leaves me cold' award.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2014, 12:48:04 PM by amw »

Offline Pim

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Re: Blind Comparison: Schubert String Quintet D. 956 / Op. 163
« Reply #315 on: December 25, 2014, 11:02:57 AM »
I had some apres-ski type of fun (and shame) while reviewing the results of the blind comparison and my contributions to it. Reasonably  :) about being kind of consistent about the Arcanto Quartet & Marron, relatively  :-[ about the Takacs, and genuinely  :( about Stern & Casals.
Thanks AMW, it's been really great!