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Beethoven: Complete String Quartets (Budapest Quartet) Box set


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Product details

  • Audio CD (3 Oct 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 8
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: United Archives
  • ASIN: B005HO1W7O
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 144,215 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. String Quartet in F Major, Op. 18, No. 1
2. String Quartet in G Major, Op. 18, No. 2
3. String Quartet in D Major, Op. 18, No. 3
4. String Quartet in C Minor, Op. 18, No. 4
5. String Quartet in a Major, Op. 18, No. 5
6. String Quartet in B Flat Major, Op. 18, No. 6
7. String Quartet in F Major, Op. 59, No. 1
8. String Quartet in E Minor, Op. 59, No. 2
9. String Quartet in C Major, Op. 59, No. 3
10. String Quartet in E Flat Major, Op. 74, 'Harp'
11. String Quartet in F Minor, Op. 95, 'Serioso'
12. String Quartet in E Flat Major, Op. 127
13. String Quartet in B Flat Major, Op. 130
14. String Quartet in C Sharp Minor, Op. 131
15. String Quartet in a Minor, Op. 132
16. Grosse Fuge in B Flat Major, Op. 133
17. String Quartet in F Major, Op. 135

Product Description

This unique recording of the Beethoven string quartets made from 1951 to 1952 for Columbia has for the first time been entirely edited for CD. These digital remasterings enable the listener to hear the Budapest Quartet at the peak of its sound and performing a repertoire on which it so famously made its mark. Balance of tonality, intensity of expression, precise phrasing: the following collection is symbolic of the qualities of an ensemble that, during the 1950s, left behind a discography that continues to inspire musicians and listeners today.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By hillbank68 TOP 500 REVIEWER on 6 July 2012
Format: Audio CD
If you want a set of the Budapest Quartet playing the complete Beethoven Quartets, this is the one to get. I used to have LPs of some of their later set, made from 1958 to 1961 and now available complete on Sony Classical Masters, and they were disappointing. Intonation was suspect and the sound often thin or sour, and though the recordings were made a good eight to ten years later than these, they were boxy. Knowing that the Budapest Quartet had the reputation of a distinguished and celebrated group, I was puzzled. However, these earlier recordings fully justify that reputation. The recording, in the first place, is clean, clear and well balanced, mono only but faithful and always pleasant to listen to. As for the performances, they are immensely assured (as the later ones were not) and often seem absolutely 'right'. Well-known works such as the first Rasumovsky Quartet come up as good as new, with a confidence and wisdom that is very impressive ; the late quartets are wonderfully done. In the middle and later Quartets Beethoven makes immense demands upon the players, technically and, even more so, musically, but the Budapests rise to these, not with ease, which might suggest superficiality, but with an assurance that serves the music really well. I have other excellent, more recent sets - the Quartetto Italiano, the Takacs, the Artemis, some of the Wihans, some of the Bartoks, some of the Lindsays - but I can say without hesitation that this Budapest set is fully worthy to take its place among them and provides new insights into this inexhaustible music. The only slight reservation I have is that the Budapests do not usually make exposition repeats, which no doubt was usual practice at that time, and that is a pity. However, the music-making is wonderful and the set is also very reasonably priced - indeed, it's a bargain - and can be very highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Peter Street on 5 Nov 2014
Format: Audio CD
I'm in general agreement with the other reviews here, but it's worth mentioning that the Bridge label has three sets covering all the quartets in live performances by the Budapest at the Library of Congress made between the end of the 1930s and the early 1960s. Most are in mono, but even the stereo presents the quartet more naturally balanced than these recordings, which, as the European 78s did, favour the upper strings. The difference hearing Mischa Schneider properly makes in the late quartets is remarkable. I'm currently 400 miles away from my copy of this United Archives issue, which is excellent, but I find myself consistently fascinated by the Bridge issues- which have perhaps been over-cleaned up. There's very little ambience, and little sign either of a live audience. There are also two two-CD issues of the commercial Beethoven 78s they made after arriving in the US and signing up with Columbia, which cover all but one (Op18.5) of the Beethoven Quartets they didn't record for HMV on 78s in the 1930s. Sony still have these available in a box of historic remasterings - with 1990s hatred of 78 rpm surface noise these are possibly even more deprived of ambience than the Bridge issues. Some of the HMV 78s were transferred by Biddulph, mercifully more sympathetically, but they are hard to find. All these have the Quartet as led by Joseph Roisman. The very earliest recordings of the "original" Dutch-Hungarian Budapest Quartet led by Hauser include Beethoven Op 59.1. This, and Roisman's first encounters on disc with Op 130 and the Grosse Fuge I don't think have been transferred - the Biddulph transfer is of a later version, but they should be.Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Classic Recording 8 July 2013
By D. J. Leedham - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
These are the transfer from the original 1951/2 recording. Sound quality if very good. You can quibble over stylistic or technical preferences compared with Tokyo or Julliard, or Emmerson, etc. But no question of the sheer quality of their beautifully combined musical intelligence. A joy and pleasure to listen to, over and over...
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
How lovely to be in Budapest now that spring is here! 4 April 2014
By Andrew Billek - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
These complete recordings have not been available since, probably, the late 1950s. The Budapest Quartet was newly recorded in the stereo format in the late 50s but the boys were past their prime. The mono versions have been hard to get in the CD era and were only issued piece-meal. Now they come in a sexy red cardboard box, in individual red sleeves with the minimal but necessary information and a brief essay. The asked price is ridiculously low considering what you get.
These performances are without a doubt among the best recorded performances of this music. I state that without the qualifying 'in my opinion.' Mine is not a subjective opinion. It is an objective fact. How do I know? Trust me - I'm right. Don't even think of adding a comment to this review.
If you're under 70 years of age you probably aren't aware of these recordings. It seems that every decade has a new prism, mode or style in which to play the quartets. These interpretations stand out among the many great performances that followed. I grew up on the Budapest’s and when the CD age came I had purchased or listened to every other that appeared. I always came back to these as a reference point.
The permanent lack of surface noise on a CD and the excellent mastering make these performances new again.
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The beginning of plenitude . . . 4 Dec 2013
By Albert MacSwigart - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is the first set of the Budapest complete Beethoven and I'm old enough to have purchased it in its original Hi-Fi LP incarnation, when it was virtually the only complete cycle available. I still revisit some of the old discs with great fondness from time to time, but I must say that the experience is no longer a unique one. The Budapest was a pioneering group, yes, and one of the things they pioneered was the notion that these pieces of music (the Late Quartets especially) could be played, and played well by more than one or two transcendental artists in the world. In short, they begot several generations of younger musicians who refused to accept the idea that late Beethoven was impossible to play except by a few hexagenarian geniuses. Now the world is full of first rate string quartets, and some of them (many of them perhaps) play Beethoven on an artistic level that is comparable and perhaps even superior. If there is one member of the Budapest who best exemplifies the ways the BQ democratized Beethoven without degrading him it is Alexander Schneider, "the best second fiddle in the world".
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