Originally Posted by Claritas
I'm interested in the two Smetana string quartets. Which recordings should I consider?
I tend to prefer less seamless interpretations, such as the Cleveland and Julliard compared to the Emerson, but I'm open to anything great. How's the Hollywood String Quartet version?
What other music by Smetana should I take in (besides Má Vlast)?
Gee, I hate to break your streak by recommending a non-US group
but... You should hear an eastern European group in this music, e.g. Takacs or Talich Quartets. Apparently the one on Naxos is good too, though I haven't heard it.
Other works: his overtures. The operas, if you are into that sort of thing. His piano trio is undeservedly obscure. His early "Festive" symphony is ... not great.
Originally Posted by sam3k
A few weeks back I decided it was time to 'get into Mahler', the impression I get is that if you like romantic music you're going to find yourself at Mahler sooner or later, but at the same time it can be a bit hard to get in to. A little bit of Googling and it seems Symphony no. 2 is the best place to start, so I bought myself the BPO/Rattle and by the second listen I'm hooked.
So the question is, which one should I listen to next?
If the cheap EMI boxsets are still available, you should just pick up Bertini and Tennstedt's sets (& Rattle's recording of 10). Then take your time working your way through. I recommend listening to the 5th symphony next; after the programmatic early symphonies, it's sort of the overture to his later phase. The Karajan recording is top notch (probably K's best work in Mahler).
Originally Posted by LugBug1
I've been delving into Bruckner as I do every now and then. Not sure what you guys think of him? I know he creates polarizing opinions. But I'm guessing because there seems to be a lot of Wagner fans here that he might be appreciated.
I still find a good chunk of his symphonies frustrating to listen to (his way of teasing). But his 8th and 9th are two of the greatest symphonies ever written imo. His 6th is not far behind.
Anyways, if there are fans here - what set would you recommend? I have Barenboim, Chailly, one of RCA Wands, and Karajan's.
I personally still think that Karajan got him right. Stodgy, exaggerated with huge emphasis on the strings textures.
I'm a big Bruckner fan - I even have a T-shirt! http://www.cafepress.com.au/mf/14216151/bruckner_tshirt?productId=71902030
Karajan's cycle is the best I've heard overall, though it desperately needs remastering. His EMI 4 and 7 are great. There's a 1966 9th which I think overrated; also a DG DVD with 8, 9 and the Te Deum in the best performance I've heard.
From what I've heard of Wand his later recordings are well played but lack a bit of personality. His early Cologne set is more extroverted and expressive.
Since encountering the finale, I can't really listen to the incomplete 9th anymore; - I favour Wildner's recording, though it's split across discs; Rattle's version is stillborn IMHO.
Horst Stein's recordings of 2 and 6 are very solid. I'm not a great Solti fan, but his early Vienna recordings of 7 and 8 are good. I think Bohm's famous recording of the 3rd is overrated, but I love his Vienna 7 and live 8 with the Cologne radio orchestra. Celibidache's main contribution is slowness; some parts work surprisingly well this way (e.g. the finale of the 8th) but otherwise he has nothing much to say in this music.
Jochum just brings me out in hives.
For the three mature masses, I like Nicol Matt for the Dm (though his choir is small), Best for the Em, and Barenboim for the Fm (though his Em is a bit of a disaster).