So the Alban Berg Quartet's version came out on top. Quite a convincing review.
Did no-one else listen?
I didn't turn on until near the middle, and her rather flat delivery didn't entice me to stay.
String quartets don't seem to engender as much forum discussion as some other ensembles/genres. Anyway, whatever the sound of her voice, I thought she spoke a lot of sense - certainly I agree with her impressions of both the superslick Emersons and the dreadful Amadeus. And I already have 3 of her favourite recordings (ABQ, Takacs, Lindsays), so it's not an expensive BaL for me...
I still think the Vegh quartet (not currently available?) bring something special to all their Beethoven. Sandor Vegh's intonation is sometimes a bit wayward (as with Peter Cropper, the Lindsays' leader), but nobody could make their pianissimi sound as special as the Veghs. Harriet S mentioned the lack of HIP versions: I have 2, presumably nla: the British Eroica Quartet, and the Italian/French/Dutch Quatuor Turner.
Yes, I did EA.
Originally Posted by Eine Alpensinfonie
I was sorry to hear what I thought was an unkind dismissal of the dear old Amadeus Quartet, and a quite snooty shot at the excellent Emersons. But there you go - ostuni was quite pleased at those remarks.
I must confess that it is some time since I listened to Op 74, but the presenter's remarks got me to play the version by the Takacs, which is on now. The only other version I had was a radio shot of the Chilingirian Quartet which I made years ago, and since the advent of CDs my tapes have had little play.
Much as I admire the ABQ, and the Beethoven Quartets, I'll pass on this one. I had hoped that the Leipzig Quartet would make a 'better' showing, but then there are so many great quartets to choose from, and since the Takacs got an honourable mention I'm happy with my lot.
Sorry, writing this has made me lose sight of the Harp. Back to the Adagio.
Perhaps there's still hope for me then, although somehow I doubt it after many years of trying! Beethoven is absolutely No.1 for me, but I've never got the message of this quartet.
Originally Posted by verismissimo
I bought the Cleveland Quartet's recording - with which I'm pretty happy - because I needed Opp 74 and 95 to complete my set of Beethoven quartets and didn't want any duplicates.
I've never understood the almost reverential view of the Amadeus and I felt the excerpts amply demonstrated just how bad they were at the end of their careers. There was no example from their earlier version but an excellent description of why it was rejected.
Originally Posted by PatrickOD
I also agree with the view of the Emerson. Although I'm not a fan of the Alban Bergs, I found it a well balanced and interesting review.
I have often found Harriet Smith a fussy and dismissive reviewer, especially in chamber music. I remember her deriding Tchaikovsky's string quartets (on CD Review, during a survey of new chamber music discs). I didn't agree with her view that the poco adagio introduction to the Harp quartet needed to be played with purpose - it seems to me it is the exact opposite, a mysterious and interrogative opening where the (first-time) listener does not know which key will eventually become 'home'. The version by the Quartetto Italiano, which I think is excellent, was dismissed with faint praise, and the fine Leipzig Quartet whose version was the first extract played (and sounded very good) was not heard again. The ABQ which was the chosen version sounded too urbane to me, though I agreed with HS that the Emerson's performance was too driven. I also agreed with her opinion of the Budapest's historical version & would like to hear more of it.
I would rather have had this work reviewed by Richard Wigmore, or Jan Smaczny (or perhaps an Interpretation on Records discussion).
Well, maybe, but we can't choose our own reviewer. Harriet Smith was far less dismissive than, say, Roy Goodman, in the Beethoven Violin Concerto BaL.
Originally Posted by aeolium