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What's your Beethoven Quartet cycle?

Discussion in 'classical' started by lordsummit, Sep 8, 2017.

  1. lordsummit

    lordsummit Moderator

    What's your favourite? Mine is the Vermeers. Perhaps slightly biased as I studied with one of them, but they were an amazing quartet, and few can play with with both their beauty and their vigour. I think they get better as they go along, they really kick into gear in the middle period, and their unravelling of the late quartets is fabulous. Their Grosse Fuge has to be heard to be believed.

    It's also good to see that Warner have reissued the original Teldec recordings.

    Beethoven: The Complete String Quartets 1-16 https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0001ZA2IE/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_IpRSzbJH4C1AV
  2. alanbeeb

    alanbeeb pfm Member

    I imprinted on the Italian Quartet for the middle quartets, but Belcea Qt for all the rest, Op 18 and the lates.

    The Belcea Quartet set was a free MP3 download a few years ago - blown away by how good it is, and the SQ is superb even as MP3.
  3. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member

    Mono - Budapest Quartet (CBS/United Archives); OOP. There's also a Library of Congress cycle in mono, but sound is not as good. The 40s recordings on CBS/Sony are probably their best efforts, but obviously incomplete. The stereo cycle is very good, but not quite as good as the earlier options.

    Analog Stereo - Vegh Quartet (Auvidis Valois); OOP in official form, but streamable, with used and pirate copies available. It will undoubtedly be reissued again. I remember about a decade ago, a friend of mine who plays both viola and double bass heard this for the first time, and though she had heard the complete set before, she remarked that she had never heard any playing that sounds so natural in every work. (Not being an audiophile at all, the sound was perfectly fine for her.)

    Digital Stereo - Pražák Quartet (Praga). Amazon UK link. In general terms, if the Pražák has recorded it, then that recording is my go-to. Here's playing as vibrant and driven as the Budapest, remarkably well played, and in SOTA sound.
  4. lordsummit

    lordsummit Moderator

    The Vegh is wonderful, they're all available on Apple Music.

    I also love the Amadeus quartets, and at this price they're something of a bargain. They're so good at being earthy and visceral.I don't think any other group is as good at unleashing the pent up fury in some of the later works. They're never afraid to be 'not beautiful' if the music suits it.

  5. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member

    Regarding the Amadeus Quartet, a 70 disc box set of their complete recordings is slated for release later in the month. The per disc price is low, but I'm not sure if it is truly a budget box. Amazon UK link.
  6. lordsummit

    lordsummit Moderator

    Yes Insaw that. It's a bargain, but an expensive one!
  7. George J

    George J pfm Member

    My favourite complete cycle is the mono LP American Columbia set from the Budapest Quartet, and my favourite incomplete cycle is that of the Busch Quartet on Warner nowadays. [EMI and American Columbia recordings]

    I have three quartets recorded by the Rose Quartet in the 1920s, which has a wonderful old-World style that takes us probably closer to the style of Beethoven’s time. Qite wonderful - on Bidulf Lab CDs.

    The trouble with trying to choose in an objective fashion a definitive recording is that ultimately it comes down to subjective personal taste!

    ATB from George
  8. Buntobox

    Buntobox pfm Member

    The Amadeus Quartet's stereo cycle on DGG. Unbeatable.
  9. albireo

    albireo pfm Member

    I find the Amadeus very beatable.

    Quartetto Italiano and Takács Quartet for me.
  10. Gerontius

    Gerontius Forever dreaming...

    Those would be my choice too.

    I prefer the Takács in the late quartets but the Italiano versions of the early works are superb.
  11. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Far from informed or knowledgable here but Quartetto Italiano is my go to at present. I have this lovely big box which contains their complete Decca, Philips and DGG output including the well regarded Philips Beethoven cycle. There is something very direct and compelling about their presentation, it just sounds ‘right’ somehow. I also have this Tokyo Quartet SACD box, which is a bargain at the current price of £30 or so, and a different presentation to the QI. It was my introduction to the work and I like it a lot.
  12. Stunsworth

    Stunsworth pfm Member

    Back in 77 I was hoping that I would be bought the QI complete Beethoven quartets for my 21st. That didn’t happen, but what I remember is that the box was £20. According to the Bank of England calculator that’s equates to £130 these days. We live in a time of incredible bargains.
  13. Citroen2CV

    Citroen2CV pfm Member

    I only really know the Quartetto Italiano, which I bought for about GBP15

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