Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

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Seán
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Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by Seán » Sun Jun 07, 2009 8:09 am

I would like to get a really good recording of Bartok's six string quartets so I'm wondering what recordings are you prepared to recommend?

Are you familiar with the Rubin Quartet's recordings? I ask this question because it's available in Tower in Dublin, it is on the Brilliant Classics label.
Seán

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by Allen » Sun Jun 07, 2009 8:45 am

Hi Sean,

A friend had recommended this version by the Emerson SQ:

http://www.mdt.co.uk/MDTSite/product//4776322.htm

I bought it and enjoyed it a lot.

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by John F » Sun Jun 07, 2009 8:57 am

I don't have the Emersons' recording but I've heard them play all six quartets, and they are excellent. I also like the Tatrai Quartet's older recordings on Hungaroton, and others have recommended the Takacs Quartet's.
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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by Istvan » Sun Jun 07, 2009 9:03 am

It depends on who the members of the Rubin Quartet are - if there is at least one Hungarian player the set might be worthwhile.
Cheers

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by maskedman » Sun Jun 07, 2009 12:02 pm

Seán wrote:I would like to get a really good recording of Bartok's six string quartets so I'm wondering what recordings are you prepared to recommend?

Are you familiar with the Rubin Quartet's recordings? I ask this question because it's available in Tower in Dublin, it is on the Brilliant Classics label.
Sean,
Firstly let me say I have an Arte Nova disc by the Rubin's "20th century string quartets". It has the Bartok Fourth. Judging from that performance I would definitely recommend you purchase the Brilliant box.....I have three sets, Emerson, Julliard (1963) and Tokyo. I like them all. I listen equally to the Emerson and the Julliard......Push comes to shove I would get the Emerson. I think you would have trouble finding the Julliard..


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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by Guitarist » Sun Jun 07, 2009 1:40 pm

John F wrote: others have recommended the Takacs Quartet's.
Absolutely!

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by Chalkperson » Sun Jun 07, 2009 2:53 pm

Belcea Quartet on EMI Budget
Takacs Quartet - Decca
Pro Arte Quartet - Andante
Vegh Quartet - Music and Arts and Naive
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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by arglebargle » Sun Jun 07, 2009 3:49 pm

I have the Emerson, Takacs, Vegh, and also a recording by the Alban Berg purchased when released in the late '80s.

I feel it's quite impossible to chose a best among these, as all are excellent and worthy in their own way. I believe this variety of excellence in interpretation reflects the genius of these works, core holdings in any collection.

Struggling for words here but the Alban Berg may be more "polished" while the others are more "arresting", "immediate", "tough", "urgent, "earthy", or "demanding"...
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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by stenka razin » Sun Jun 07, 2009 5:31 pm

Good choices, mates. But, do not forget the eminent Juilliard Quartet. They recorded the six B beauties three times and helped to make them 'popular'.. I would suggest the 1950's Columbia set which is now on Pearl, as a great set. :D :D :D :D
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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by Fergus » Sun Jun 07, 2009 5:51 pm

John F wrote:
....and others have recommended the Takacs Quartet's.
That would be my recommendation also.

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by CharmNewton » Sun Jun 07, 2009 6:33 pm

Fergus wrote:
John F wrote:
....and others have recommended the Takacs Quartet's.
That would be my recommendation also.
Do you know when the Takacs recorded these? Their Beethoven cycle for Decca is also widely praised and recommended. I was disappointed by their late Beethoven. The first violinist is often wobbly when stressed in the late quartets (in fairness, these are very demanding parts and present problems for most quartets).

John

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by Chalkperson » Sun Jun 07, 2009 8:00 pm

CharmNewton wrote:
Fergus wrote:
John F wrote:
....and others have recommended the Takacs Quartet's.
That would be my recommendation also.
Do you know when the Takacs recorded these? Their Beethoven cycle for Decca is also widely praised and recommended. I was disappointed by their late Beethoven. The first violinist is often wobbly when stressed in the late quartets (in fairness, these are very demanding parts and present problems for most quartets).

John
They recorded them twice, for Hungaroton in 1985 and for Decca in 1996...
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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by CharmNewton » Sun Jun 07, 2009 10:40 pm

Chalkperson wrote:They recorded them twice, for Hungaroton in 1985 and for Decca in 1996...
You prefer the Decca. Have you heard the earlier recording?

John

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by Chalkperson » Sun Jun 07, 2009 11:30 pm

CharmNewton wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:They recorded them twice, for Hungaroton in 1985 and for Decca in 1996...
You prefer the Decca. Have you heard the earlier recording?

John
No, but, I also recommended three other readings, The Vegh on M+A, is my favourite, then the Belcea, I do not like the Emerson's, for example, but, I don't like them in anything other than Bach, many like the Takacs and I do too, but generally I agree with you about the them, I enjoy their readings for a while, but, then I tire of them, sometimes I just think they were just Part of The 90's Decca Machine, that said their Hyperion Recordings of Brahms and Schubert really are very, very, good...
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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by maestrob » Mon Jun 08, 2009 12:10 pm

My recommendation here is also for the Emersons, who also do a bang-up job with their Shostakovich cycle.

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Jun 08, 2009 12:47 pm

maestrob wrote:My recommendation here is also for the Emersons, who also do a bang-up job with their Shostakovich cycle.
For some reason I can never get to like the Emersons, either in Shosty or Bartok...obviously it's a taste thing, they taste bitter to me... :wink:
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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by karlhenning » Mon Jun 08, 2009 12:55 pm

maestrob wrote:My recommendation here is also for the Emersons, who also do a bang-up job with their Shostakovich cycle.
(* pounds on the table *)

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by nut-job » Mon Jun 08, 2009 1:06 pm

No comments on this one?

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by hangos » Mon Jun 08, 2009 1:44 pm

Sean
Tough question - the good thing is, you can't go far wrong as most recordings out there are decent - it is very much a question of how you like your Bartok ( a bit like how you prefer your steak cooked!)
There are amazing variations in sound "texture" rather than "quality" ; my thoughts are as follows ;
Takacs Decca - the sound is too reverberant and like a small string orchestra - I had their set but sold it on ebay!
Novak Philips - warm sound, a bit too introspective for my taste
Keller Warner - good clear sound, but something missing which I can't explain
Hungarian DG 1961 - incredible sound balance, near ideal, their leader premiered Bartok's 2nd VC so they know these works inside out - I like this set
Juilliard Sony 1963 stereo - gold dust, hard to find, worth tracking down - razor-sharp, detailed, in your face but with feeling - superb!
Juilliard 1950 Pearl - amazing sound for 1950, it's all there, great performances make you forget it's mono
Tokyo 1975-81 DG - my personal choice - it all clicks into place for me with every detail in a slightly wiry sound, every note counts here, intensity unparalleled even in these works!

I can't comment on the Emersons or the Alban Berg - I've never explored them, but I don't like the Veghs in no.5 - they just don't seem lithe enough!

Very subjective indeed, I know!

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by Guitarist » Mon Jun 08, 2009 2:07 pm

Has anyone heard the Parkanyi Quartet on Praga Digital? They are SACD recordings, so I assume the sound quality is good--The Praga Quartet, also on that label, have superbly engineered discs.

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by Seán » Mon Jun 08, 2009 2:50 pm

Thanks to all for your considerate responses and in particular to you Martin for your hugely informative detailed list on the Quartet recordings. Now I just have to decide which sets I should buy! :)
Seán

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Jun 08, 2009 3:38 pm

nut-job wrote:No comments on this one?

Image
I don't have that particular recrding but I do have a live one on Orfeo of Bartok's Fifth String Quartet and Schubert's 15th, it's very good...they also have a Box on M+A, again I do not have it but here is what Fanfare has to say about them...
THE HUNGARIAN STRING QUARTET—Historical Recordings, 1937–1968 • Hungarian Str Qrt; Zoltán Székely (vn);1 Willem Otterloo, cond;1 Hague Residentie O;1 Jean Antonietti (pn)2 • MUSIC & ARTS CD-1161 (8 CDs: 589:07)

BARTÓK String Quartets: No. 3 in C♯; No. 5 in B♭; No. 6 in D. BEETHOVEN String Quartets: in C, op. 59/3; in c♯, op. 131; in F, op. 59/1; BRAHMS String Quartet in a, op. 51/2. DEBUSSY String Quartet. DVOŘÁK String Quartet in F, op. 96. GLAZUNOV 5 Novelletes, op. 15. Violin Concerto in a, op. 82.1-3 HAYDN String Quartets: in D, op. 64/5; in C, op. 74/1. KODÁLY String Quartet No. 2. LALO Guitarre.1, 2 MOZART String Quartets: in C, K 465; in d, K 421. PORPORA Sonata II in G. SCHUBERT String Quartets: No. 14 in d; No. 15 in G. SCHUMANN String Quartet in a, op. 41/1. TCHAIKOVSKY String Quartet in D, op. 11


The Hungarian String Quartet was formed in 1935. It survived with surprisingly few personnel changes for several decades, traveling widely, performing and teaching, all the while developing an enviable reputation. Very few of the ensemble’s recordings are still in print, so this collection of mostly live material from arguably its finest years is a boon to chamber music enthusiasts.
The eight CDs cover a lot of territory. The majority derives from live venues, the Menton Festival, Budapest’s Franz Liszt Academy of Music, and the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles. A few items were recorded on 78s that date as far back as 1937, while a few others were taped and first released on the Concert Hall Society label in the early 1950s. Two items are heard in multiple versions: the Haydn op. 64/5 and the Schubert No. 14, “Death and the Maiden.” (Each is performed both live and in a studio recording.) The three Bartók quartets have an extra, personal dimension, as the Hungarian String Quartet gave the Budapest premiere of the Fifth Quartet. Zoltán Székely, the first violinist of the ensemble for so many years, also gave the first performance of Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 2.

Stylistically, the Hungarians were very much of the 20th century, at least, its no-nonsense part. Unlike the Léner Quartet, they had little use for portamento, a richly romantic sound, or a heavy use of rubato in music of all periods. The slow movements of the Haydn quartets heard on this album have a gravitas that points ahead to Beethoven, but they don’t luxuriate in warmth. There was a refreshingly unfussy directness to their Mozart, and even their Brahms, as evinced on this release. This paid dividends elsewhere, as well: their Schubert 15th has an intensity that never belies the intrinsically beautiful tone of the four instrumentalists, or their ability to play hair-raisingly difficult passages in tandem. Sentiment doesn’t become unfocused sentimentality, nor does that intensity already mentioned decline into monochromatic grimness, as it was occasionally wont to do with the Busch Quartet.

The Hungarian String Quartet was not usually forced in its pacing or superficial in its interpretations. Unlike numerous modern quartet ensembles, they didn’t try for visceral excitement at every moment, nor did they strive to find a moderate path at all times, pulling back on extremes of tempo, dynamics, and accent. The ensemble heard in these recordings clearly remained alive to the considerable nuances of whatever music they were playing. They stayed flexible, and took each work as they found it; so that while the Scherzo of Beethoven’s Quartet in F, op. 59/1, has a gossamer delicacy that at times brings Mendelssohn to mind, there are also moments in it that recall the slashing vigor of Bartók. Of course, Beethoven wasn’t forecasting either composer. The Hungarians simply found the universe of music inside this particular quartet, and revealed their discoveries for all to hear. We are the greater for that knowledge, achieved without cost to spontaneity.

No string quartet can be all things to all people. The Hungarians were not, to my ears, as effective in the Russian repertoire. Their Tchaikovsky and Glazunov lack the kind of plush euphony and rubato that this music thrives upon, and which the Shostakovich and Borodin Quartets supplied in spades. Even the celebrated andante cantabile of Tchaikovsky’s First quartet comes across as expertly done (the unison softness and cantabile playing is exquisite) but merely pleasant in effect. The Dvořák, too, is unidiomatic, as Harris Goldsmith in his liner notes admits. He writes that the Hungarian’s “finesse is its own vindication,” and I would agree that finesse can get you very far; but it can’t by itself turn an expert translation of poetry into the real thing.

Székely misses the mark in the Glazunov Violin Concerto, too, though in this case, I’m simply delighted to hear him: there are few instances of Székely as soloist currently available on CD, the Bartók Second violin concerto notwithstanding. He’s suave and intelligent, and offers numerous subtle touches throughout (especially in the third movement, so often treated as a simple display of tone and fireworks), but projects a subdued personality. I’m certain to listen to it again, but I can’t say I find it the equal of Heifetz or Oistrakh. Live performances, of course, can’t be compared for technical polish to studio ones. There is no ability to create alternate takes, or stop a recording and move a microphone. As a result, there are some brief gaffes on many of these selections. The surprising thing is how few are heard, however, and how extraordinarily accomplished the Hungarian String Quartet was. The wonderfully hushed fleetness of the finale from Haydn’s Quartet in D Major, op. 64/5, is a tour de force actually heard to better advantage in the live recording than in the studio one, for the palpable excitement of the occasion. It also sounds better. With a very slight loss of high frequencies, the live material is uniformly excellent. The studio material is variable, the Glazunov concerto showing the greatest wear, at least at the start of the recording. Even so, it is in fine shape.

Music & Arts has also supplied fine notes by Harris Goldsmith. They betray some problems of transition in detailing the ensemble’s history, but otherwise furnish a well-considered review of the Hungarian’s various efforts, here, with sidelights on their other releases. (The comment about the Juilliard’s Bartók recordings making the music sound like Elliot Carter raised a good laugh both for its simile and truth.) Factor in some good interview excerpts featuring Fred Maroth speaking with selected members of the ensemble, and you have not merely a must-have for all chamber music enthusiasts, but a 2005 Want List entry of mine.

Barry Brenesal, FANFARE
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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by maskedman » Mon Jun 08, 2009 3:54 pm

maestrob wrote:My recommendation here is also for the Emersons, who also do a bang-up job with their Shostakovich cycle.
Yes they are good, but I like Borodin Qt. Shostakovich a bit better

Robert

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by maskedman » Mon Jun 08, 2009 3:58 pm

hangos wrote:Sean
Tough question - the good thing is, you can't go far wrong as most recordings out there are decent - it is very much a question of how you like your Bartok ( a bit like how you prefer your steak cooked!)
There are amazing variations in sound "texture" rather than "quality" ; my thoughts are as follows ;
Takacs Decca - the sound is too reverberant and like a small string orchestra - I had their set but sold it on ebay!
Novak Philips - warm sound, a bit too introspective for my taste
Keller Warner - good clear sound, but something missing which I can't explain
Hungarian DG 1961 - incredible sound balance, near ideal, their leader premiered Bartok's 2nd VC so they know these works inside out - I like this set
Juilliard Sony 1963 stereo - gold dust, hard to find, worth tracking down - razor-sharp, detailed, in your face but with feeling - superb!
Juilliard 1950 Pearl - amazing sound for 1950, it's all there, great performances make you forget it's mono
Tokyo 1975-81 DG - my personal choice - it all clicks into place for me with every detail in a slightly wiry sound, every note counts here, intensity unparalleled even in these works!

I can't comment on the Emersons or the Alban Berg - I've never explored them, but I don't like the Veghs in no.5 - they just don't seem lithe enough!

Very subjective indeed, I know!
Hangos,
We are on the same page regarding Julliard and Tokyo. It is amazing to me how many people had no idea that Tokyo had recorded these quartets.. I always enjoy anything Tokyo does. Besides on the Bartok you get Janacek qts as a bonus....I would suggest if you get a chance you listen to the Emerson's Bartok. They seem to be the benchmark for many people..

Robert

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:10 pm

Guitarist wrote:Has anyone heard the Parkanyi Quartet on Praga Digital? They are SACD recordings, so I assume the sound quality is good--The Praga Quartet, also on that label, have superbly engineered discs.
It's good and the sound is exceptional, and this is the first volume, not a first choice but worth considering nonetheless...I would get the Belcea on EMI, it's mid priced, 24 bucks for two discs, it's my favourite modern version...
The pulse-rate is up -- the Belcea's brilliant Bartók beats the best

Bartók's quartets are one of the great musical collision points between modernism and romanticism. How to handle the tension between their expressive gestures and constructivist designs is one of the abiding issues for performers and one reason why even the plethora of fine available recordings cannot remotely exhaust their riches. Getting the best of all worlds interpretatively is hardly a realistic aim. Even so, there are long stretches where the Belceas come as close to the ideal as any ensemble I have heard.

Try the first few minutes of Quartets Nos 2 and 3, and marvel at the gradation of forte and fortissimo, of piano and pianissimo, which helps to give entire movements far more convincing shape than less precisely observant ensembles achieve (even such as the Takács, much vaunted in these pages). Try the outer movements of No 5 and marvel at the gear-changes negotiated smoothly, instantly and unanimously, yet never as ends in themselves, always accompanied by a sense of expressive-dramatic purpose. Try virtually every movement in fact, and revel, as the Belceas do, in the interplay of the lines, even in passages where others seem thankful just to come through unscathed.

Clearly immense thought has been given to tone quality. In the first movement of No 1, for instance, the Belceas point the periodic arrivals on consonant harmonies by withdrawing vibrato, and instantly the as yet not fully mature Bartók's straggly structure gains sharpness of profile. They apply the same ploy in the much tauter environment of the first movement of No 5, and with similarly revelatory results. At the other extreme, their sustained tonal intensity makes the most barbaric onrushes exhilarating rather than exhausting, neither too streamlined nor too effortful. When the score is bare of instructions, as in the first slow movement of No 5, they take it at its word and uncover a hypnotic, staring blankness. And when the invitation to humour is extended, as in the finale of the same quartet, they seize it with full-blooded, yet never self-serving, relish.

Before surrendering to the power of these performances, I wondered if there was going to be enough ethnic tang and zest, enough wildness and strangeness, enough sultry longing. I've certainly heard more of those qualities in the first two quartets. Yet the central movement of No 2 is marked molto capriccioso, not barbaro, and that's exactly what comes across, while the coda is pushed daringly close to the edge, sounding like the distant fluttering of giant moths - not as precisely by the book as the Emersons but vastly more imaginative and emotionally telling - while the slow finale has a superbly intense accumulation at its heart.

Pushed for a general reservation, I'd say that when a “speaking” quality is needed in the quasi-recitatives, the first violin's colleagues don't quite match her for idiomatic insight. And do the Belceas get to the heart of the matter in the trauma-shaded No 6? Not quite, in my book. Not by comparison with The Lindsays, anyway, who are generally more prepared to tolerate rough edges for the sake of emotional revelation.

ASV gives The Lindsays no better than serviceable recording quality. Decca's for the Takács is too swimmy for my taste, while EMI's for the Belcea's is just right. I was surprised when revisiting the Hungarians - whose recordings I grew up with and who coached The Lindsays in these pieces - to find them so strait-laced and generalised, while for all their exciting flare and agility, the Emersons and the Takács often sound like outsiders looking in. In short, the Belceas are more than worthy rivals to the best on disc. And at least until the excitement of this first encounter subsides, my pulse-rate tells me that they are not just on a par but maybe even top of the heap.
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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by hangos » Tue Jun 09, 2009 2:10 pm

maskedman wrote:
maestrob wrote:My recommendation here is also for the Emersons, who also do a bang-up job with their Shostakovich cycle.
Yes they are good, but I like Borodin Qt. Shostakovich a bit better

Robert
Yes, but have you heard the Shostakovich Quartet yet? Their Olympia series on individual CDs was reissued as a complete set at budget price by Regis a few years ago, and I know Chalkie is a big fan! The sound is never less than decent, often very good (1977-85) and very detailed, a bit wiry and steely, never plush - the intensity is incredible and the first violinist, Andrei Shishlov, would make even Paganini sit up in his grave and take note - no exagerration - sample no.11, listen if you dare to no.13 where the high-pitched violins remind me of an electric torture in a dark room of the Lubianka ; they also know when and how to "relax" and play beautifully when appropriate - no glitz, no glamour, just truth - a pity Shosty didn't live to hear their recordings
Sorry to get so carried away - listen at your peril! :twisted:
Martin

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by hangos » Tue Jun 09, 2009 2:23 pm

Seán wrote:Thanks to all for your considerate responses and in particular to you Martin for your hugely informative detailed list on the Quartet recordings. Now I just have to decide which sets I should buy! :)
Seán, you're very welcome! I see the DG Tokyo surfaces occasionally on ebay or amazon.co.uk and sometimes at a decent price (3 CDs were originally £30 when it was first issued) but not that cheap currently!
http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_ss_m_h ... rtok+tokyo
btw, the RCA coupling with the Janacek is not in the same league as the earlier DG set - much mellower and less intense - dodgy!

ebay.co.uk has one if you enjoy bidding but know when to stop! :lol:

http://music.shop.ebay.co.uk/items/_W0Q ... osacat=307

You could always go to www.deezer.com and hear some full tracks (but not, alas, this set!!!)
http://www.deezer.com/track/xenakis-jal ... 20quartets

It's free to join and you can store playlists to access whenever you're online and log in - bide your time and really listen to different recordings - super idea!

Good hunting!
Martin

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by Chalkperson » Tue Jun 09, 2009 3:30 pm

hangos wrote:Yes, but have you heard the Shostakovich Quartet yet? Their Olympia series on individual CDs was reissued as a complete set at budget price by Regis a few years ago, and I know Chalkie is a big fan!
The Shostakovich Quartet are very good, their Tchaikovsky, Gazunov and Borodin discs on Regis are also excellent...but my Favourite of all for Shostakovich are The Beethoven Quartet who premiered the Quartets, it's Expensive but Exquisite...

http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/alb ... _id=144835
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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by maskedman » Tue Jun 09, 2009 11:51 pm

hangos wrote:
maskedman wrote:
maestrob wrote:My recommendation here is also for the Emersons, who also do a bang-up job with their Shostakovich cycle.
Yes they are good, but I like Borodin Qt. Shostakovich a bit better

Robert
Yes, but have you heard the Shostakovich Quartet yet? Their Olympia series on individual CDs was reissued as a complete set at budget price by Regis a few years ago, and I know Chalkie is a big fan! The sound is never less than decent, often very good (1977-85) and very detailed, a bit wiry and steely, never plush - the intensity is incredible and the first violinist, Andrei Shishlov, would make even Paganini sit up in his grave and take note - no exagerration - sample no.11, listen if you dare to no.13 where the high-pitched violins remind me of an electric torture in a dark room of the Lubianka ; they also know when and how to "relax" and play beautifully when appropriate - no glitz, no glamour, just truth - a pity Shosty didn't live to hear their recordings
Sorry to get so carried away - listen at your peril! :twisted:
Martin
Martin,
I have absolutely no problem with the Shostakovich Quartet...I own the whole set from Olympic....They are right up there...I still prefer the orig Borodin Qt. Have you heard there interpretation?....


Robert
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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by Bösendorfer » Wed Jun 10, 2009 3:03 am

hangos wrote: You could always go to http://www.deezer.com and hear some full tracks (but not, alas, this set!!!)
http://www.deezer.com/track/xenakis-jal ... 20quartets

It's free to join and you can store playlists to access whenever you're online and log in - bide your time and really listen to different recordings - super idea!

Good hunting!
Martin
Unfortunately it seems none of these tracks can be played, or can they? I joined for free but that doesn't seem to help. (I guess the copyright issue hasn't been cleared up yet for those tracks?)

Btw, your link has "xenakis-jalons" in it and it also comes up as the title on the browser when you click it. Somehow this piece that you "lauded" before seems to have stuck with you... :wink:

Florian

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by hangos » Wed Jun 10, 2009 1:46 pm

Florian
I've just revisited the deezer site and once I'd clicked "pause" on Jalons I then clicked "play" on a Keller Quartet track and it played immediately - a word from the wise; always click "pause" before you play a different track, otherwise you can end up with several tracks playing in not so glorious polyphony!! :D
Worth another visit - this time try to make some playlists (which you can then listen to at any time provided that you have logged in on that particular visit)
Fingers crossed!
Bonne chance
Martin
By the way, do you like "Jalons" ? :lol:

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by Bösendorfer » Thu Jun 11, 2009 2:12 am

Thanks a lot, Martin. Unfortunately I still can't get it to work. There are three kinds of tracks: ones where I can click "play" and "plus", ones where I can only click "plus" (like for the Keller) and ones where I can't click anything (all the other hits for bartok quartets).

I now tried putting the Keller quartet tracks on a playlist, but that didn't help.

So how do you do it?

As for Jalons, I haven't tried yet... I actually don't see the "Jalons" cd when I click on your link, it's just listed in the title of the browser and at the bottom of the page. Maybe the deezer site doesn't work well on a Mac?

Florian

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by hangos » Thu Jun 11, 2009 1:33 pm

Bösendorfer wrote:Thanks a lot, Martin. Unfortunately I still can't get it to work. There are three kinds of tracks: ones where I can click "play" and "plus", ones where I can only click "plus" (like for the Keller) and ones where I can't click anything (all the other hits for bartok quartets).

I now tried putting the Keller quartet tracks on a playlist, but that didn't help.

So how do you do it?

As for Jalons, I haven't tried yet... I actually don't see the "Jalons" cd when I click on your link, it's just listed in the title of the browser and at the bottom of the page. Maybe the deezer site doesn't work well on a Mac?

Florian
Florian
That's a real pity! You seem to be doing everything right and it's let you log on, so I can only assume it doesn't like Steve Jobs!
Perhaps other CMGers with macs could share their experiences of deezer?
Quel dommage!
Martin

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by Chalkperson » Thu Jun 11, 2009 2:42 pm

hangos wrote:I can only assume it doesn't like Steve Jobs!
Trust me, if you met Steve Jobs you would not like him either...:wink:
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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by Bösendorfer » Fri Jun 12, 2009 1:58 am

hangos wrote: Florian
That's a real pity! You seem to be doing everything right and it's let you log on, so I can only assume it doesn't like Steve Jobs!
Perhaps other CMGers with macs could share their experiences of deezer?
Quel dommage!
Martin
Thanks a lot again! Yes, it's a pity. Just one last question: can you play all those tracks listed for bartok quartets, even the ABQ? Are they all listed with a clickable "play" icon?

Florian

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by hangos » Fri Jun 12, 2009 3:50 pm

Florian
Yes, I've tried several at random and they can all be played (and therefore stored as a playlist too!) - one hell of a facility - I really hope you can access this - can you try it at a friend's palce or your workplace on a "normal" PC instead of your mac? Trouble is, you'll be addicted at once!
Fingers crossed
Martin

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by Seán » Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:18 pm

hangos wrote:Florian
Yes, I've tried several at random and they can all be played (and therefore stored as a playlist too!) - one hell of a facility - I really hope you can access this - can you try it at a friend's palce or your workplace on a "normal" PC instead of your mac? Trouble is, you'll be addicted at once!
Fingers crossed
Martin
I followed the Bartok link above and had no difficulty listening to the music, it is superb. I did not have to register either. I use normal Gates software rather than oddJob's :D Psst don't tell Chalkie I said that. :wink:
Seán

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by Chalkperson » Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:58 pm

Seán wrote: followed the Bartok link above and had no difficulty listening to the music, it is superb. I did not have to register either. I use normal Gates software rather than oddJob's :D Psst don't tell Chalkie I said that. :wink:
I saw that... :mrgreen:
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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by Bösendorfer » Sat Jun 13, 2009 1:57 am

hangos wrote:Florian
Yes, I've tried several at random and they can all be played (and therefore stored as a playlist too!) - one hell of a facility - I really hope you can access this - can you try it at a friend's palce or your workplace on a "normal" PC instead of your mac? Trouble is, you'll be addicted at once!
Fingers crossed
Martin
Thank you, Martin! I'll try it on windows some time. For now at least a few tracks can be played on the Mac. Listening to a very nice Brahms/Liszt disc with Toscanini right now.

As for the Bartok quartets, I should finally get them from a library to get to know them.

Florian

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by hangos » Sat Jun 13, 2009 6:13 am

Florian
The library copy is always a good idea - but beware of the Takacs Quartet's acclaimed Decca set - IMHO it should be labelled "Bartok String Quartets arranged for Chamber Symphony by the Decca recording engineers" :evil: (now if Rudolf Barshai had arranged them it might be better, but personally I don't see the point!) because the sound is so reverberant, the complete opposite of the Tokyo Quartet's DG cycle which as you will have gathered by now, is my own top choice
Happy listening
Martin

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by Bösendorfer » Sun Jun 14, 2009 2:52 am

I'll keep your detailed comments on the various recordings in mind, Martin!

Florian

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by nut-job » Sun Jun 14, 2009 7:24 pm

This thread put the idea into my head and I listened to two versions of the Barkok Quartet #1 today, first the Hungarian on DG (1963 recording) then the Takacs on Decca. (I've had both for a while but had not listened until now.) The DG sound is a bit dated, which is a drawback, but from a musical point of view the Hungarian quartet is so far beyond the Takacs there is really no comparison. The contrast is most evident in the first movement, which is tense adagio pervaded with dissonant counterpoint. In the Hungarian quartet recording the individual voices are clearly delineated, and the tension and release in the very complex harmony is beautifully realized. Listening to the Takacs quartet, it is not evident that they are doing anything wrong, it would just lead you to believe that they music they are playing is of little interest. It is hard to believe it is the same music, the fantastic harmony and counterpoint pass by unnoticed. I recommend the Hungarian highly.

Image

That said, I'd like one in more modern sound and think I will be getting the Keller quartet version on Warner Apex (formerly Erato).
Last edited by nut-job on Sun Jun 14, 2009 8:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by Chalkperson » Sun Jun 14, 2009 7:53 pm

It's now OOP but one of the first "Historic" String Quartet Sets that I bought was the Hungarian's Beethoven traversal on EMI, wonderful atmospheric playing, it looks like it may be available on M+A...just because the sound is "dated" does not automatically exclude a recording, it only takes a movement or two to bypass the sound, i'm an Audiophile too but there is a lot to be said for older recordings, I probably listen to 50+ year old recordings as much as 21st Century ones...
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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by hangos » Wed Jun 17, 2009 4:31 pm

nut-job wrote:This thread put the idea into my head and I listened to two versions of the Barkok Quartet #1 today, first the Hungarian on DG (1963 recording) then the Takacs on Decca. (I've had both for a while but had not listened until now.) The DG sound is a bit dated, which is a drawback, but from a musical point of view the Hungarian quartet is so far beyond the Takacs there is really no comparison. The contrast is most evident in the first movement, which is tense adagio pervaded with dissonant counterpoint. In the Hungarian quartet recording the individual voices are clearly delineated, and the tension and release in the very complex harmony is beautifully realized. Listening to the Takacs quartet, it is not evident that they are doing anything wrong, it would just lead you to believe that they music they are playing is of little interest. It is hard to believe it is the same music, the fantastic harmony and counterpoint pass by unnoticed. I recommend the Hungarian highly.

Image

That said, I'd like one in more modern sound and think I will be getting the Keller quartet version on Warner Apex (formerly Erato).
nut-job,
do you really find the 1960s Hungarian set on DG has such dated sound? I find it hard to believe that it was recorded so long ago, I find the sound excellent (the Decca Takacs is too "broad brushstrokes" and reverberant for me) and even the Penguin Guide, which doesn't rate the performances that highly, praises the sound quality.
I hope you enjoy the Kellers on Apex - I find them (curiously) uninvolving, good performances, well played and recorded, but lacking the intensity which DG Tokyo bring to every bar (IMHO!)
Martin

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by nut-job » Wed Jun 17, 2009 5:56 pm

hangos wrote:
nut-job,
do you really find the 1960s Hungarian set on DG has such dated sound? I find it hard to believe that it was recorded so long ago, I find the sound excellent (the Decca Takacs is too "broad brushstrokes" and reverberant for me) and even the Penguin Guide, which doesn't rate the performances that highly, praises the sound quality.
My problem with the sound can probably be fixed with appropriate eq--low end weak, lower range of the cello has no warmth or richness. The sound is good with regards to clarity.

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by Chalkperson » Wed Jun 17, 2009 6:00 pm

nut-job wrote:
hangos wrote:
nut-job,
do you really find the 1960s Hungarian set on DG has such dated sound? I find it hard to believe that it was recorded so long ago, I find the sound excellent (the Decca Takacs is too "broad brushstrokes" and reverberant for me) and even the Penguin Guide, which doesn't rate the performances that highly, praises the sound quality.
My problem with the sound can probably be fixed with appropriate eq--low end weak, lower range of the cello has no warmth or richness. The sound is good with regards to clarity.
I have three disc players and three DAC's available, I can switch around the transports and DAC combinations to modify the sound and have two different sets interconnect cables connecting the main CD player to the Linn preamp, the change is relatively minor but it's a useful way of tweaking the sound...
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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by nut-job » Wed Jun 17, 2009 6:09 pm

Chalkperson wrote:
nut-job wrote:
hangos wrote:
nut-job,
do you really find the 1960s Hungarian set on DG has such dated sound? I find it hard to believe that it was recorded so long ago, I find the sound excellent (the Decca Takacs is too "broad brushstrokes" and reverberant for me) and even the Penguin Guide, which doesn't rate the performances that highly, praises the sound quality.
My problem with the sound can probably be fixed with appropriate eq--low end weak, lower range of the cello has no warmth or richness. The sound is good with regards to clarity.
I have three disc players and three DAC's available, I can switch around the transports and DAC combinations to modify the sound and have two different sets interconnect cables connecting the main CD player to the Linn preamp, the change is relatively minor but it's a useful way of tweaking the sound...
The anemic band is the 100-200 Hz range and needs a 10 db boost to sound like a typical string quartet recording. No DAC that costs more than 50 cents is going to deviate from flat response in that frequency range.

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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by Chalkperson » Wed Jun 17, 2009 6:53 pm

nut-job wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:
nut-job wrote:
hangos wrote:
nut-job,
do you really find the 1960s Hungarian set on DG has such dated sound? I find it hard to believe that it was recorded so long ago, I find the sound excellent (the Decca Takacs is too "broad brushstrokes" and reverberant for me) and even the Penguin Guide, which doesn't rate the performances that highly, praises the sound quality.
My problem with the sound can probably be fixed with appropriate eq--low end weak, lower range of the cello has no warmth or richness. The sound is good with regards to clarity.
I have three disc players and three DAC's available, I can switch around the transports and DAC combinations to modify the sound and have two different sets interconnect cables connecting the main CD player to the Linn preamp, the change is relatively minor but it's a useful way of tweaking the sound...
The anemic band is the 100-200 Hz range and needs a 10 db boost to sound like a typical string quartet recording. No DAC that costs more than 50 cents is going to deviate from flat response in that frequency range.
I never said it would fix your problem, merely that it gives me a number of different options for slightly different sound, there is a turntable that has four pick up arms, it's ridiculously expensive but it's made so that Audiophiles can have different pickup's, my system is merely a variation of that and it puts old equipment and cables to good use, I notice the biggest differences on piano recordings...
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Re: Recommendations for recordings of Bartok's String Quartets

Post by nut-job » Tue Jun 30, 2009 11:14 am

When I said the 100-200 Hz range in the Hungarian Quartet recording needed a 10db boost I was judging by how it sounded to me. I decided to so some analysis of the recording and came up with the following graph. I took the entire first movement of Quartet #1 and calculated its Fourier power spectrum (acoustic power as a function of frequency). Then I did the same for the Takacs quartet recording of the same movement. Then I took the two power spectra and divided the Hungarian version by the Takacs version. The result is plotted here in Decibels. Positive value indicates that the recording of the Hungarian quartet has more power in a certain frequency band, negative value indicates that the recording of the Hungarian quartet has less power in a certain frequency band. Notice the curve is pretty flat over the range 200-20,000 Hz, but there is a crater from 50Hz to 200 Hz where the Hungarian recording is almost -10 db! That means the Hungarian quartet recording has only 1/10 the acoustic power in the upper bass range, corresponding to the low register of the cello. Oddly, the Hungarian quartet recording has excessive power in the 20Hz - 40 Hz range. There are no instruments in a string quartet that produce that frequency, so this can only be noise. I have no idea why DG would suppress the upper bass range in these recordings. Maybe they think it gives the recordings more transparency, but it results in a very unappealing dry sound.
bartok_db2.jpg
bartok_db2.jpg (70.13 KiB) Viewed 9907 times
The next thing I will try will be running the Hungarian quartet recording through a program that mathematically filters it to make the frequency spectrum similar to the other recording. I'm curious to see if it will sound similar to the other recording after processing.

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