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Beethoven Quartets and Piano Sonatas - Page 7

post #91 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Masolino View Post
That sounds like a beautiful experience. I had something very similar a few weeks ago while listening to Wieland Kuijken's recording of Bach cello suites. His tempi tend to be so slow that it actually requires a third disc to accommodate the fifth suite (with more "normalized" gamba sonatas as fillers.) Of course it must be said that extreme tempi and rhythmic manipulations were probably more expected in solo performances (as suggested by things like fantasies, toccatas or unmeasured preludes) than in ensemble performances in the old days. What are the timings for op. 18/6 in the Mosaiques version if you have got them? They are 9:07, 6:56, 3:23, 7:52 in the Gewandhaus version.
Hi Masolino,

Here are the timings for the Mosaïques and Emersons 18/6
Mosaïques: 7:06, 7:33, 3:21, 8:21
Emerson: 5:52, 6:52, 3:00, 8:16
Timings from Itunes, not booklet Not as slow I thought, but still slower than the Emersons which I had been listening to most recently.

I'll have to dig out the Alban Berg and Takásc later to compare times. The Gewandhaus really is an "alternative" if the tempos are that broad. However, I'm rediscovering the allure of the more leisurely paced performances. With the Emersons, at first everything was so exciting and exhilarating -- they play with breakneck speed. Eventually as the novelty of the speed palls, little things become annoying. (There is an uneven quality of the play for one thing, perhaps because they alternate the first violin part between the players.) The Takásc added dynamic play to the speed (although not, I believe, as fast as the Emersons - but perceptions can be faulty), so it was like a roller coaster -- thrilling, but also playful and fun. The Alban Berg were more mellow and balanced. I wouldn't call them easy listening, but they have that smoothness and warmth without mawkishness, which I do enjoy very much. In the notes of the booklet, it states that the Mosaïques main influence (or inspiration) was the playing of the Vegh Quartet. As I don't have that set (yet), I can't really make the comparison. I guess it's time to get out the wallet again.
post #92 of 104
Well it turns out that it took the Gewandhaus 9:06 to play through the 18/6 i because they did the second half repeat (development+recapitulation). Without the repeat they would have been done at 6:01. So they are on the par with the Emersons in speed department. No idea if this is a consistent practice throughout the set (yet).
post #93 of 104
Yes, but how do they sound? Are they more playful, more lyrical, more dynamic? What is the feel of the group. After a while, I felt as if speed was the most important thing to the Emersons, and that palls very quickly.
post #94 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunnyears View Post
Yes, but how do they sound? Are they more playful, more lyrical, more dynamic? What is the feel of the group. After a while, I felt as if speed was the most important thing to the Emersons, and that palls very quickly.
You will get to hear that movement (at least) in an hour or so, using the same link as last time. Then you can tell me what you think. I do find a lot more than just speed - the playing is extremely clean and yet with a very graceful tone. But I guess if the whole doesn't work for you, then the parts don't matter.
post #95 of 104
then I suppose I should move my laptop and get it wired into my broadband connection!
post #96 of 104
Don't forget to log back in to share your thoughts. Appreciate it!
post #97 of 104
Spent the evening comparing the Mosaïques Opus 18/6 to the emersons. I don't want to get into it fully, but the Emersons really suffered in contrast.
post #98 of 104
Awww, poor Emersons! Really - I have been waiting for the Mosaïques to speed up and give us the later quartets on cd's for years now There are so many excellent Beethoven Qt cycles on modern instruments, we can use one, not to mention a very good one, on instruments from Beethoven's own time as well.
post #99 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Masolino View Post
Awww, poor Emersons! Really - I have been waiting for the Mosaïques to speed up and give us the later quartets on cd's for years now There are so many excellent Beethoven Qt cycles on modern instruments, we can use one, not to mention a very good one, on instruments from Beethoven's own time as well.
I'm also hoping the Eroica quartet will continue to record the Beethoven S/Qs. They have a recording of the Harp and Serioso with another from opus 135 which is also excellent, if in different style from the Mosaïques. Their tone isn't as silky as the QM, but there is tremendous transparency and they have excellent grasp of the architecture of the works.

post #100 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunnyears View Post
I'm also hoping the Eroica quartet will continue to record the Beethoven S/Qs. They have a recording of the Harp and Serioso with another from opus 135 which is also excellent, if in different style from the Mosaïques. Their tone isn't as silky as the QM, but there is tremendous transparency and they have excellent grasp of the architecture of the works.
I have the said recording but have not really listened to it much (doesn't mean it isn't any good to me, though - just probably not terribly impressive). Their Schumann disc has been critically flat as well (unlike their Mendelssohn) so I kind of lost touch with their progress since - and amazingly there seems to be none.
post #101 of 104
I haven't heard their other work, but they are extremely English in approach -- next to no vibrato which is why they can sound flat (rather, uninflected rather than "flat"). They tend to play in a very straightforward manner with little or no attention to the tonal qualities I enjoy so much with the QM. Tempos are on the faster side, though, which appeals to those who love the faster more modern takes on the quartets. If I had to compare them to modern instrument quartets, I would say that they have the speed of the Emersons (period). They certainly lack the more playful aspects of HM's newest group, the Takács. They are still a first rate group, but not perhaps in that very highest rarified atmosphere.
post #102 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunnyears View Post
I haven't heard their other work, but they are extremely English in approach -- next to no vibrato which is why they can sound flat (rather, uninflected rather than "flat"). They tend to play in a very straightforward manner with little or no attention to the tonal qualities I enjoy so much with the QM. Tempos are on the faster side, though, which appeals to those who love the faster more modern takes on the quartets. If I had to compare them to modern instrument quartets, I would say that they have the speed of the Emersons (period). They certainly lack the more playful aspects of HM's newest group, the Takács. They are still a first rate group, but not perhaps in that very highest rarified atmosphere.
The Schumann album may well be the only thing close to a "dud" from the Eroica from what I read - in general the group is excellent and should make more recordings (Beehoven certainly fine) but don't seem to have done that. Maybe the producers at HMU think otherwise. I donno.

ps. Re: The Emersons in Beethoven 18/6. After listening to the Gewandhaus set for several days, I came to the conclusion that sound quality is really critical for appreciation of chamber music recordings, and especially those on modern instruments. Playing on steel strings recorded less than judiciously (as the DG Emersons may be; the DG Hagens Beethoven qt's sound cold and hard to these ears) and one gets a harsh glare in higher tessituras which in my experience is very distracting and irredeemably reduces one's enjoyment of an otherwise fine performance. Period strings have the opposite problem of sounding astringent on bad recordings, but I think most period chamber music recordings are done by smaller labels which, paradoxically, usually know better how to make pleasant-sounding albums.
post #103 of 104
I'm not really sure how DG goes about engineering their albums, but after the sweet tonality of the QM, the Emersons sounded very harsh. The comparison did not favor them as I finally understood why many of the critics accuse them of superficiality.

The Eroica Qt. is also recorded in a fairly bright accoustic, but the sq. on that is a good deal warmer than that of the Emersons. I still have to dig out the Alban Berg which were my favorite (along with the Takásc) quartet sets, probably because the sq is not that bright.
post #104 of 104

HIP String Quartet recordings

I've been listening to period instrument string quartet recordings, especially Quatuor Mosaïques recordings of the Opus 18 string quartets. I finally got my hands on the recording of the Early String Quartets (Op. 18) by the Quatuor Turner. This long oop recording was famous for it's "revolutionary" nature wrt to the performance of the op. 18 qts. I had already gotten their more recent recording of the middle quartets Opp 59/3 (Razumovsky - 3) and 74 (Harp), which is characterized by quick tempos, sprightly rhythms, and a warm expressive dynamic. I am happy to report that their earlier recording compares very well to their later recording as well as to the Quatuor Mosaïques later recordings of the Op. 18 quartets. There is less use of vibrato than the Mosaïques, and the tempos are a bit faster, but the energy and sense of drama are wonderful. It's hard comparing it to the Mosaïques who haven't recorded any of the middle or late quartets. it is a recording that stands up to recordings by the Takásc Qt., Alban Berg, and certainly the Emersons. The only other HIP recording of the Beethoven St. Qts. to my knowledge is the recording by the Eroica Qt. of some of the middle qts, the Opp. 74 (Harp) and 95 (Serioso) and the late st. qt. Op. 135. The sound of the Eroica Qt. is a bit brighter than the Turner and Mosaïques; they use far less vibrato than the other two as well, in fact their play is almost completely without vibrato except for a few notes. Their tone is correspondingly brighter and less warm, but the lack of vibrato highlights the various voices in the quartets. The increased transparency may not, however, compensate for what many will describe as a more astringent tone. What cannot be disputed is the fact that the individual players in this group are superb musicians. 2 are from the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique which is probably the inspiration for the name of the quartet -- they were part of the orchestra under Sir John Eliot Gardiner's direction during the making of the BBC film "Eroica" about Beethoven and the creation of that symphony.

All of these recordings reflect the highest performance standards, and are highly recommended. For those interested in acquiring more HIP string quartet recordings, unfortunately, there are only the 2 recordings of the Razumovsky quartets. For more Op. 59 we will have to wait for future releases. For the late quartets, there is only the one by the Eroica Quartet of the op. 135. I am hoping that there will be more HIP recordings from these groups.

In summary, the two sets of Op. 18 quartets (Mosaïques and Turner) arevery highly recommended. Go for the Turners for a faster, more sprightly tempo. Go for the Mosaïques if you want to relish the expansive playing and beauty of tone.

For the middle quartets, the Quatuor Turner recording is highly recommended. It is a close to perfect example of HIP play.

Also recommended, but more for true period performance buffs is the Eroica Quartet's recording of the some of the middle and late quartets which is characterized by almost no vibrato, and the greatest transparency. For those unused to the tone of the gut strings without vibrato, this will take adjustment.

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