Classical Corner Classical Music Corner

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by George P, May 29, 2015.

  1. JuniorMaineGuide

    JuniorMaineGuide Forum Resident

    They play this music with comfort and familiarity, which is not how a lot of ensembles approach it.

    Do you have any favorites for Bartok's quartets? I have and enjoy the Vegh and Keller Quartets. The Hagen Quartet got a lot of great reviews but I started listening to it recently and it wasn't to my taste.
     
  2. George P

    George P Love Will Lead Us Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    My favorite for the Bartok Quartets is the Hungarian quartet on DG. I also have Vegh, Julliard (on Pearl) and Takacs.
     
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  3. crispi

    crispi Sound Archaeologist

    Location:
    Berlin
    Mine, too. There is a grittiness to the performances that I missed in newer interpretations, including the lauded Takács and Emerson quartets.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Åke Bergvall

    Åke Bergvall Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Karlstad, Sweden
    I had the first five of the quartets from this box on vinyl back in the day (middle seventies), and have appreciated them ever since. Even more special to me, however, is Borodin SQ's first take on quartets 4 and 8 recorded during Mercury Record's fabled 1962 visit to Moscow, using 35 MM Magnetic Film instead of a tape machine and thus ensuring the best possible sound. It was in preparation for this recording that the Borodins played quartet no. 8 for Shostakovich at his home, after which they left in silence when the composer responded by weeping. I have not seen this as a stand-alone CD, but it is included in the third Mercury Living Presence box.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018
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  5. George P

    George P Love Will Lead Us Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Very interesting. I wasn't aware of those recordings. Thanks for posting!
     
  6. crispi

    crispi Sound Archaeologist

    Location:
    Berlin
    Yes. That’s a great recording.

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  7. michaelO

    michaelO Forum Resident

    Location:
    Louisville, KY
    Hi:

    You might want to give the HDTT (high definition tape transfer) version(s) a try -- transferred from reel to reel tapes.
    Mahler: Symphony No. 4 - George Szell Conducts the Cleveland Orchestra | High Definition Tape Transfers

    Michael
     
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  8. Wes H

    Wes H Forum Resident

    Location:
    Virginia
    On the turntable: J.S. Bach played by Wilhelm Backhaus (piano).

    English Suite No.6 in D minor
    French Suite No.5 in G major
    Prelude & Fugue No.15 from the WTC, book I
    Prelude & Fugue No.39 from the WTC, book II


    Very familiar Bach (to me), played in a less-familiar, somewhat Romanticized fashion--which I enjoy on occasion because it can sound fresh, especially when played with such conviction as Herr Backhaus achieves in this 1956 performance. Beautifully recorded by Decca, with a very full-sounding piano which I presume to be a grand Bösendorfer (the preferred instrument of Backhaus). My LP is labeled as manufactured in England by Decca and issued in the US under the London STS (budget) label in 1969.

    [​IMG]
     
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  9. George P

    George P Love Will Lead Us Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Interesting that his Bach is romanicized, as he was one of the earliest proponents for the new, modern (meaning non-romantic) of piano playing. His solo Brahms is very unromantic. Have you heard it?

    Me, I am still working through the Mahler symphonies. Tonight and old favorite:

    [​IMG]

    Edit: Woops, I mistakenly started the first disc at the beginning, forgetting that the Strauss work was programmed first. Will have to listen to this M6 another night.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018
  10. Wes H

    Wes H Forum Resident

    Location:
    Virginia
    I have not heard Backhaus play any solo Brahms -- at least, none that I can recall. In what ways would you characterize it as "very unromantic"?

    I can only think of three other Backhaus records that I have (besides the Bach). One is the Brahms Concerto No.2 with Karl Böhm on a 1967 London release.

    [​IMG]

    It is probably my least favorite version of the many recordings I have of this Brahms Concerto, mainly because his tempos are constantly shifting, his phrasing sometimes accents odd notes, and the last movement is often crawling instead of soaring. But then, Backhaus was 83 when this recording was made (according to the liner notes) and, unlike many other pianists, he actually heard Brahms conduct this concerto... though he modestly makes no claims to remembering any musical details. So who am I to say he's doing anything wrong?... or that it's "unromantic"?

    The Bach recording I played earlier is somewhat like this Brahms. His pacing is uneven--slowing at the darndest places to add personal emphasis, where I prefer drive--and he'll loudly underline some passages in ways that bury the melodic line or some inner voice that I'm trying to hear. He also leans on the sustain pedal more than most. I added up such liberties as "romantic," but perhaps that's the wrong term. Maybe "highly personal" would be a better description -- and I would apply that to the Brahms Concerto as well.

    I also have his recording of the Beethoven Piano Concerto No.2 with Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt and a LP of Haydn piano music. The Beethoven is similar to his Brahms; the recital of Haydn is engaging, but often heavy-handed (IMO) compared to McCabe, Kalish, Brendel, or Gould. YMMV. ;)

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  11. crispi

    crispi Sound Archaeologist

    Location:
    Berlin
    I really like Backhaus’ 78-rpm era Brahms recordings. I have them in digital form, ripped from Pearl and Naxos CDs. Like you, I had only heard the Brahms Concerto on Decca, and wasn’t impressed. At all. His older recordings changed all that. Lively and crisp playing, lots of fun.
     
  12. George P

    George P Love Will Lead Us Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    His solo Brahms comes across to me as being driven by intellect rather than emotion. There is no lingering, no focus on or attention to beauty. Very little rubato, if any. The overall effect is cold rather than warm. All of these things being characteristics of romantic style.
     
  13. J.A.W.

    J.A.W. Music Addict

    I have very little Backhaus, and can't get used to his playing. Your comments above are spot-on.
     
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  14. George P

    George P Love Will Lead Us Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    His Beethoven sonatas did not impress me at first (the slowish fast movements, the fastish slow movements, the narrow dynamic range in his playing), but because they were so highly regarded I stuck with them. His sense of structure with these works is peerless. I always feel I am with a knowing, confident guide. Still, his choices are very much his own and on his terms. He doesn't come to you, you must go to him.

    I find the playing better on the mono set (last I saw it was available from Amazon Japan) but the stereo set has much better sound.
     
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  15. Wes H

    Wes H Forum Resident

    Location:
    Virginia
    In surveying my meager collection of Backhaus LPs, I almost mentioned that I'd not heard his early (78) recordings which are surely more representative of his peak years... but I thought I'd rambled on long enough and David would likely jump on that fact. I see you beat him to it! ;)
     
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  16. Wes H

    Wes H Forum Resident

    Location:
    Virginia
    I see -- "cold" & "unemotional." And yet I've always heard he was a great interpreter of Romantic works--particularly Brahms. Is your assessment based on the early 78-rpm recordings?
     
  17. George P

    George P Love Will Lead Us Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Yes, as issued on Naxos.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2018
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  18. George P

    George P Love Will Lead Us Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    He certainly has his fans for Brahms, though I have never heard of him being a great interpreter of Romantic works. I had always thought that he was best known for his Beethoven.

    By the way, his prewar Brahms is on Spotify if you wish to sample it. It's the subpar Music and Arts transfers, but you can at least get a sense of the playing.

    Since this has come up (and its been a year or so since I last listened), I plan to check out his prewar solo Brahms again soon and see if my opinion has changed.
     
  19. Åke Bergvall

    Åke Bergvall Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Karlstad, Sweden
    Another possibility is to wait for the Complete Szell (106 CDs) coming out in August, which presumably will have new masterings if recent Sony boxes are anything to go by. It's available for pre-order from jpc: Complete.. -Box Set- (106 CDs) – jpc .
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2018
  20. Wes H

    Wes H Forum Resident

    Location:
    Virginia
    I've not heard enough Backhaus to form an opinion; just going by some things I've read...

    Wikipedia: "He was particularly well known for his interpretations of Beethoven and romantic music such as that by Brahms."

    Gramophone magazine: "...there were two events which left an indelible impression: at the age of ten he met Brahms and played for him; and at about the same time he heard performances of both the Brahms piano concertos by Eugen d'Albert, with the composer conducting. He later studied with d'Albert in Frankfurt. These personal associations provided a particular source of inspiration for Backhaus, who was always at his very best in the music of Brahms. This fact was recognized by HMV's Fred Gaisberg, who invited the pianist to record an extensive series of Brahms piano works in the mid 1930s."

    I appreciate your steering me to Spotify, though, and I'll see if I can look up some of his early recordings.
     
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  21. George P

    George P Love Will Lead Us Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    [​IMG]

    Revisiting the Op. 76 works and late works from this CD for the first time in a while. The fast works are as I remembered them. They sound rushed with clipped phrases. Many of the slow works are also played somewhat fast and without any real tenderness.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2018
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  22. George P

    George P Love Will Lead Us Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Still working through the Mahler symphonies. Tonight enjoying an old favorite:

    [​IMG]
     
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  23. Wes H

    Wes H Forum Resident

    Location:
    Virginia
    The Four Ballades by Chopin on the turntable now. I would say that Ivan Moravec's recording on Connoisseur is my favorite, but I'm also very fond of this brilliant 1959 performance by Philippe Entremont.

    This is an original "6-eye" Columbia Masterworks LP (mono).

    [​IMG]
     
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  24. dale 88

    dale 88 Errand Boy for Rhythm

    Location:
    west of sun valley
    Andrew Davis
    BBC Symphony Orchestra
    Tasmin Little

    Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 6; Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis; The Lark Ascending.
    Apex, 2003
    from a Teldec recording 1991.
    Recording engineer: Tony Faulkner

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2018
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  25. George P

    George P Love Will Lead Us Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    I would say the same.
     

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