Author Topic: LvB string quartet shoot out Ebene / Artemis / Petersen  (Read 804 times)

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Offline Herman

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Re: LvB string quartet shoot out Ebene / Artemis / Petersen
« Reply #20 on: June 25, 2020, 11:23:20 PM »
The other thing is HVBIAS saying that the Ebène's op 18 quartets were much more successful than the late quartets.

This could be true. I've heard some of the early quartets and thought they were fine.

I'm very much a late quartet listener (though I'm very fond of the Harp and the Serioso, too, and the 59s, too), and that's why this 'shootout' of mine focused on those.

Perhaps that's the wrong way to go for this box. Still, there's a problem if those last five quartets present a falling off.

Offline Jo498

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Re: LvB string quartet shoot out Ebene / Artemis / Petersen
« Reply #21 on: June 25, 2020, 11:58:24 PM »
But in chamber music? If I compared a bunch of recordings of op.131 that starts softly wouldn't I rather be more impressed by a hushed and very soft beginning?

With not even one complete listening on the Netherlands radio online, I didn't realize the loudness thing. But I found them most convincing in the middle quartets. Their extreme contrasts and exaggerations seem to fit best, even in a more lyrical piece like op.74.
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 Herman

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Re: LvB string quartet shoot out Ebene / Artemis / Petersen
« Reply #22 on: June 26, 2020, 02:34:12 AM »
The 131 starts quietly no matter what, because it's just the first violin in the first five bars.

There is no indication of what LvB expects until the fourth note, the painful big A natural, gets a sforzando, going back to piano in the next note (g sharp, just like the opening note, it's the dominant, the jump note).

So there is reason to believe LvB expects the ground level in the fugue to be piano. There are a lot of crescendi in the  two opening pages, but it always goes back to p.

The issue for the performers is, if you play this whispery soft (lower than p) some people will think you're still tuning or this is some wee prelude, whereas of course the fugue is really big stuff.

'Nother thing you want to avoid is giving the sforzando at the beginning of of what's usually the 4th stave (bar 27) too big a push. It's the dominant chord with two Gsharps at the base and E and C at the top, but you don't want to play it like, "see, this is what it's all about, now we're going back." A good quartet plays this chord discreetly, IMHO. No climaxing please!
« Last Edit: June 26, 2020, 08:55:18 AM by Herman »

Offline Brian

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Re: LvB string quartet shoot out Ebene / Artemis / Petersen
« Reply #23 on: June 26, 2020, 04:50:54 AM »
If we were to blind-compare five very good recordings of string quartets, on initial reaction the loudest-sounding one would grab the attention the most.  Yes of course as discerning listeners of taste we would very soon be questioning our own initial reaction and would probably end up preferring one of the others - but it's that initial hit that's important.
I've noticed this in almost every blind listening game on GMG.

Offline T. D.

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Re: LvB string quartet shoot out Ebene / Artemis / Petersen
« Reply #24 on: June 26, 2020, 08:12:49 AM »

If we were to blind-compare five very good recordings of string quartets, on initial reaction the loudest-sounding one would grab the attention the most.  Yes of course as discerning listeners of taste we would very soon be questioning our own initial reaction and would probably end up preferring one of the others - but it's that initial hit that's important.

A phenomenon well-known to proprietors of audio shops, going back (my experience) to at least the 1970s.

Offline Herman

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Re: LvB string quartet shoot out Ebene / Artemis / Petersen
« Reply #25 on: June 27, 2020, 11:58:37 PM »
Probably everybody is pretty much done with this, however yesterday I gave the Artemis' Op. 131 a couple of spins. The recording is in a slightly different class than the other ones in the Artemis box, because it's an unadulterated radio take from 2002, six to eight years earlier than the rest, with another first violinist, Heime Müller. Natalia Prishepenko is playing 2nd in the 131.

The opening fugue has a kind of hushed, awed tone that (to my mind) is a little too close to the "prelude" idea.

However the middle movements are really terrific, the variations and the presto. In the latter movement Müller plays the riffs way up high on the high string like he's playing a piccolo (by using minimal hair on the bow), a brilliant idea.

Overall it's a feature of the Artemis box that it's got the energy and occasionally the artisan roughness of a live recording, even though most of them are studio recordings. I like that a lot.
The strange thing about the live recordings in the Ebène Around the World box is they sound as if they are heavily doctored non-spontaneous studio recordings.
Strange.

Offline aukhawk

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Re: LvB string quartet shoot out Ebene / Artemis / Petersen
« Reply #26 on: June 28, 2020, 01:17:55 AM »
The opening fugue has a kind of hushed, awed tone that (to my mind) is a little too close to the "prelude" idea.

However the middle movements are really terrific, the variations and the presto. In the latter movement Müller plays the riffs way up high on the high string like he's playing a piccolo (by using minimal hair on the bow), a brilliant idea.

[seeks out that recording] Oh good, it's on Spotify.

Offline hvbias

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Re: LvB string quartet shoot out Ebene / Artemis / Petersen
« Reply #27 on: June 28, 2020, 05:55:08 AM »
I agree there's nothing wrong with the recording - it's close, but presumably the aim was to get a consistent sound from the various venues, and to that extent the closeness worked.  (Although in that case why make a big thing of the world tour in the first place.  You'd expect different venues to sound different.)

I think it's brick-wall limiting rather than digital clipping - superficially there's not much difference but one implies control whereas the other implies carelessness.  And it's only very mild - negligible compared with typical popular music practise.  As far as it goes, the processing works for me (writing as a retired audio engineer).

For me brick walling isn't really a matter of intent but degree of compression. Perhaps because a lot of music from the early/mid 90s were those coming of age albums for me (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, etc) where some of those albums have severe dynamic range compression, as in a "brick" of music coming at you with no space. As you say there is plenty of dynamic range left in the Ebene cycle.

I'm very much a late quartet listener (though I'm very fond of the Harp and the Serioso, too, and the 59s, too), and that's why this 'shootout' of mine focused on those.

Same here, vast majority of my outside cycle purchases are late quartet discs. Though for me personally I play all the string quartets more than things like Op. 2 or 49 sonatas.

This is the reason I've been hesitant to buy Ebene's cycle.

Which pieces do you find the most difference in between the box and Festival Wissembourg? I listened to Grosse Fuge from Festival Wissembourg and I hear a more whole integrated approach with not as much extreme contrast (in this one of the things people feel is forced?) in the voices. I was listening to Arditti play this recently and this is a magnificently executed modern interpretation that doesn't turn into a high wire act, if only they'd recorded all of Op. 130.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2020, 05:57:37 AM by hvbias »