Beethoven String Quartets
Nov 9, 2008 at 11:21 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 14

EnOYiN

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Do you guys have any recommendation on which recording I should get because I am kinda lost with the many available options and I simply don't have the money to be able to buy them all I'm afraid.

Thanks in advance.

Edit: I should add that I am mainly looking for the late string quartets.
 
Nov 10, 2008 at 12:45 AM Post #2 of 14

pbarach

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You can get all of the quartets in an excellent set of performances by the Alban Berg Quartet on EMI for about $36 on Amazon and elsewhere. The Guarneri's first complete set (now on Brilliant Classics for $45). The late quartets only (quartetto italiano) are two 2-disc sets on Phillips for a total of $28. The Alexander String Quartet did an excellent series of the quartets on Arte Nova for $5.99 a disc--they've been discontinued but aren't hard to find. All of these recordings have very good to excellent sound. As you can see, it doesn't cost much more to get great versions of all 16 quartets than it does to buy just the late quartets.

Let me suggest an interesting alternative: If you look on Amazon for "Beethoven Complete Masterpieces," you will find a SIXTY-CD set that includes the Alexander Quartet's complete quartet cycle, the symphonies and concertos and Missa Solemnis (Bronfman, Tetzlaff, Zinman, Zurich Tonhalle), violin sonatas (Zukerman), cello sonatas (Bylsma), string trios and piano trios, all the piano sonatas, Fidelio (Masur), and other pieces. The entire set comes new in a box for $34-62, depending whom you buy it from on Amazon or elsewhere. Some of the performances are not so hot (especially among the piano sonatas), but much of the material is top-notch, often with excellent sound. The drawback is that there are no notes other than a CD with a PDF containing brief and generic info about the pieces. Overall, I found it a wonderful value, and IMO the Alexander String Quartet's cycle is in the top rank.
 
Nov 10, 2008 at 2:51 AM Post #3 of 14

jsaliga

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Philips has a pair of two CD duo sets with the late quartets by Quartetto Italiano that are superb:

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And as has already been suggested, the EMI complete quartets set with the Alban Berg Quartet is very worthwhile and quite the bargain:

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--Jerome
 
Nov 10, 2008 at 2:52 AM Post #4 of 14

Bunnyears

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The Alban Berg set is an excellent choice, especially if you have a limited budget.

The Takács Quartet are probably the premier string quartet playing today and their recording of the Beethoven string quartets while more expensive than the Alban Berg, are probably one of the best sets available. They have been available off and on at the BMG music clubs, so keep an eye out for them. They are also available as a download from Amazon for a very reasonable price.
 
Nov 10, 2008 at 7:26 AM Post #5 of 14

Tyson

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Emerson's are great for a group playing the quartets at (or near) Beethoven's metronome markings.

For less speedy approach, I'l second the Takacs quartet rec.
 
Nov 10, 2008 at 9:32 PM Post #7 of 14

lionel marechal

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Quatuor Vegh Here, I always liked like ... the "heavy grain of their sound". It could be related as well to a good presence of the cello (recording putting the bass more in front)

Listening to the last mvt of q9, op59no3 I find Takacs too fast for my taste (not caring specifically about beethoven indication which I do not know).

I love Talich in those as well. They got praised all over in europe for their Beethoven quartett recordings.

Lionel
 
Nov 10, 2008 at 11:20 PM Post #8 of 14

Arjisme

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Bunnyears /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The Takács Quartet are probably the premier string quartet playing today and their recording of the Beethoven string quartets while more expensive than the Alban Berg, are probably one of the best sets available.


That's what I have and really enjoy it!
 
Nov 12, 2008 at 2:58 AM Post #10 of 14

JayG

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I second (third, fourth, whatever) the Takacs and Berg Quartet recommendations. I own both and love both. I prefer one or the other for various individual pieces, but I would have to say overall I give a slight edge to the Berg Quartet for its magnificent tonal blend and IMO slightly wider range of expressive color in the slow movements. Since it is also significantly cheaper, I would make it my first recommendation.
 
Nov 12, 2008 at 6:51 PM Post #11 of 14

EnOYiN

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After recovering from purchasing this I will probably get the recordings made by the Takács Quartet. From what I could make up from the available samples offered by several sites I think I will like their recording the best.
 
Nov 13, 2008 at 1:03 AM Post #12 of 14

LarryK2

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All good recommendations - I heard Takacs a couple of years ago doing an all Beethoven concert including Op. 132 - one of the peak 2 or 3 listening experiences in my life (and I'm a professional cellist). If you ever come across the Hungarian Quartet recordings of the Beethoven get them (Bartok and Brahms too). They are similar in approach but generally superior to the Takacs IMO. Unfortunately they are only available on LP (Angel Seraphim).
 
Nov 13, 2008 at 11:18 PM Post #13 of 14

calaf

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Quote:

Originally Posted by EnOYiN /img/forum/go_quote.gif
After recovering from purchasing this I will probably get the recordings made by the Takács Quartet. From what I could make up from the available samples offered by several sites I think I will like their recording the best.


the Takacs provide an excellent "romantic" interpretation, although I don't care too much for the sound quality of their recordings: too much reverb, and a bit distant, make you feel like you are listening to them playing in a big church.
FWIW I second pbarach recommendation for the Alexanders in the Sony "best of Beethoven" set. They provide straight, middle of the road performances in good sound, and the set is a terrific value with the Zimmerman Symphonies and Concerts, and the fantastic Bylsma, Immerseel Cello sonatas.
 

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