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Beethoven: The Complete String Quartets / Hungarian Quartet


Release Date: 07/29/2002 
Label:  Emi Laser Series Catalog #: 67236   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian String Quartet
Number of Discs: 7 
Recorded in: Mono 
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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

The Hungarian String Quartet's 1953 Beethoven cycle stands the test of time very well, even after a half century of excellent competition and sonic advances, to say nothing of the group's own 1960s stereo remake. I've never made up my mind which of the two Hungarian Quartet Beethoven cycles I prefer, since each is quite different from the other. 1953's distant and slightly opaque ambience contrasts to the stereo version's closer, more vibrant and detailed pickup. These sonic characteristics reinforce my general impressions of 1953's smoother, more uniform ensemble blend versus the later one's more individual, contradictory approach to phrasing and vibrato and tonal astringency. As a result, first violinist Zoltan Szekely's intense vibrato Read more makes more of a stinging impact in stereo.

For the most part 1953's tempos are faster, apparently in order to honor the composer's often optimistic metronome markings, yet they never sound pushed or stressful. Cogent examples of what I mean include Op. 59 No. 2's Presto finale, where the dotted rhythm accompaniment is tightly, perhaps rigidly articulated in stereo, but organically flows and even presses ahead in mono. The earlier Op. 18 No. 5 variation movement benefits from swifter, more unified tempos than in the relatively disjointed remake, while Op. 131's Presto boasts a sense of lightness and balance that eludes the stereo version, which, however, is superior in terms of intonation. Yet the emotional fragility and polyphonic distinction that glue your ear to Op. 132's Molto adagio in stereo prove less gripping and more matter-of-fact in mono. It all boils down to apples and oranges, although both traversals share one big scrappy lemon: the Grosse Fuge!

If you missed EMI's limited-edition 1991 reissue, Arkivmusic.com's on-demand reprint program gives you another opportunity. Should the stereo cycle also pique your curiosity, it's available as part of the 50-CD boxed set Beethoven: The Collector's Edition (EMI 3877392).

--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Quartet for Strings no 1 in F major, Op. 18 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian String Quartet
Written: 1798/1800 
2.
Quartet for Strings no 2 in G major, Op. 18 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian String Quartet
Written: 1798/1800 
3.
Quartet for Strings no 3 in D major, Op. 18 no 3 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian String Quartet
Written: 1798/1800 
4.
Quartet for Strings no 4 in C minor, Op. 18 no 4 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian String Quartet
Written: 1798/1800 
5.
Quartet for Strings no 5 in A major, Op. 18 no 5 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1798/1800 
6.
Quartet for Strings no 6 in B flat major, Op. 18 no 6 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian String Quartet
Written: 1798/1800 
7.
Quartet for Strings no 7 in F major, Op. 59 no 1 "Razumovsky" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian String Quartet
Written: 1805-6 
8.
Quartet for Strings no 8 in E minor, Op. 59 no 2 "Razumovsky" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1805-1806; Vienna, Austria 
9.
Quartet for Strings no 9 in C major, Op. 59 no 3 "Razumovsky" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian String Quartet
Written: 1805/6 
10.
Quartet for Strings no 10 in E flat major, Op. 74 "Harp" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809; Vienna, Austria 
11.
Quartet for Strings no 11 in F minor, Op. 95 "Serioso" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian String Quartet
Written: 1810 
12.
Quartet for Strings no 12 in E flat major, Op. 127 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1823-1825; Vienna, Austria 
13.
Grosse Fuge for String Quartet in B flat major Op. 133 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1825-1826; Vienna, Austria 
14.
Quartet for Strings no 13 in B flat major, Op. 130 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1825-1826; Vienna, Austria 
15.
Quartet for Strings no 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 131 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian String Quartet
Written: 1826 
16.
Quartet for Strings no 15 in A minor, Op. 132 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1825; Vienna, Austria 
17.
Quartet for Strings no 16 in F major, Op. 135 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian String Quartet
Written: 1826 

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