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Beethoven - Late String Quartets Box set


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Product details

  • Performer: Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Audio CD (1 Mar. 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Bridge
  • ASIN: B000003GJU
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 389,865 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


Disc 1:

Samples
Song Title Time Price
  1. Quartet No. 16 in F Major, Op. 135: I. Allegretto 6:10£0.89  Buy MP3 
  2. Quartet No. 16 in F Major, Op. 135: II. Vivace 3:13£0.89  Buy MP3 
  3. Quartet No. 16 in F Major, Op. 135: III. Lento assai, cantante e tranquillo 7:15£0.89  Buy MP3 
  4. Quartet No. 16 in F Major, Op. 135: IV. Der schwer gefasste Entschluss: Grave, ma non troppo tratto - Allegro 6:38£0.89  Buy MP3 
  5. Quartet No. 15 in A Minor, Op. 132: I. Assai sostenuto 9:39£0.89  Buy MP3 
  6. Quartet No. 15 in A Minor, Op. 132: II. Allegro ma non tanto 6:55£0.89  Buy MP3 
  7. Quartet No. 15 in A Minor, Op. 132: III. Heiliger Dankgesang eines Genesenden an die Gottheit, in der lydischen Tonart. Molto adagio - Neue Kraft fuhlend Andante17:02Album Only
  8. Quartet No. 15 in A Minor, Op. 132: IV. Alla marcia, assai vivace 2:15£0.89  Buy MP3 
  9. Quartet No. 15 in A Minor, Op. 132: V. Allegro appassionato 6:34£0.89  Buy MP3 


Disc 2:

Samples
Song Title Time Price
  1. Quartet No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131: I. Adagio ma non troppo e molto espressivo 5:52£0.89  Buy MP3 
  2. Quartet No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131: II. Allegro molto vivace 2:50£0.89  Buy MP3 
  3. Quartet No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131: III. Allegro moderato0:37£0.89  Buy MP3 
  4. Quartet No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131: IV. Andante ma non troppo e molto cantabile - Piu mosso - Andante moderato e lusinghiero - Adagio - Allegretto - Adagio, ma non troppo e semplice - Allegretto12:18Album Only
  5. Quartet No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131: V. Presto 5:03£0.89  Buy MP3 
  6. Quartet No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131: VI. Adagio quasi un poco andante 1:46£0.89  Buy MP3 
  7. Quartet No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131: VII. Allegro 6:23£0.89  Buy MP3 
  8. Quartet No. 12 in E-Flat Major, Op. 127: I. Maestoso - Allegro 6:11£0.89  Buy MP3 
  9. Quartet No. 12 in E-Flat Major, Op. 127: II. Adagio ma non troppo e molto cantabile - Andante con moto - Adagio molto espressivo14:58Album Only
10. Quartet No. 12 in E-Flat Major, Op. 127: III. Scherzando vivace - Presto 6:27£0.89  Buy MP3 
11. Quartet No. 12 in E-Flat Major, Op. 127: IV. Finale 6:00£0.89  Buy MP3 


Disc 3:

Samples
Song Title Time Price
  1. Quartet No. 13 in B-Flat Major, Op. 130: I. Adagio, ma non troppo - Allegro10:26Album Only
  2. Quartet No. 13 in B-Flat Major, Op. 130: II. Presto - L'istesso tempo 1:57£0.89  Buy MP3 
  3. Quartet No. 13 in B-Flat Major, Op. 130: III. Andante con moto, ma non troppo 6:31£0.89  Buy MP3 
  4. Quartet No. 13 in B-Flat Major, Op. 130: IV. Alla danza tedesca. Allegro assai 3:35£0.89  Buy MP3 
  5. Quartet No. 13 in B-Flat Major, Op. 130: V. Cavatina. Adagio molto espressivo 7:15£0.89  Buy MP3 
  6. Quartet No. 13 in B-Flat Major, Op. 130: VI. Finale. Allegro 7:50£0.89  Buy MP3 
  7. Grosse Fuge, Op. 133 - Overtura. Allegro - Fuga16:06Album Only

Product Description

Amazon.co.uk

This three-CD set presents live performances from the Library of Congress by the most famous chamber ensemble of them all. Dates range from 1941 to 1960, capturing the Budapest in its prime. Compared with their more sedate, though still hugely impressive studio recordings, the group plays here with greater abandon and risk-taking. It pays off handsomely in more nuanced phrasing, greater intensity, especially in slow movements, and some recklessly fast speeds that add to the thrills. As expected, the 1960 performances are better-sounding sonically, though not completely without intonation problems; the earlier performances are almost flawless, but in boxy, dated sound. These interpretations still stand high among the best available, presenting a highly dramatic, thrustful Beethoven with the added excitement only live concert performances can give. --Dan Davis

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Peter Street on 11 Nov. 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I heard the Budapest Quartet's last London recital in the Festival Hall in the 1960s, with the players present in all but one of the performances here. By then they were clearly in decline, but there was no mistaking how good they had once been. Whenever I think of their recordings I always hear one breathtaking bar, Roismann's descending scale in their first HMV 78 rpm recording of the Beethoven Op 59 E minor quartet's first movement, an almost perfect diminuendo of matchless beauty, which stands out no more than it should. For me it sums up their Beethoven style - and also ruled out for good the items in their stereo Beethoven cycle I have heard, which are a travesty of recorded quartet sound. Their mono cycle of the late 1940s and early 1950s gives a much better idea of the character of their playing and its limitations. Their interpretations, once fixed, didn't change much, and it would seem Roismann, the leader, wasn't interested in re-thinking them. They had managed to achieve a balance and blend of tone that hasn't really been equalled since, which went with middle of the road tempi and beautiful phrasing, and it seems they settled for conserving this as best they could. The Busch Quartet, which unlike them had, for various reasons, a precarious existence in America and recorded little there in the 1940s, though signed for the same label as the Budapest, had a much more exploratory character, much less concerned with beauty of sound for its own sake. Yet as its two recordings of Op 130 show, its exploration revealed marvels.Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 9 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Intense Beethoven -- Not for the faint of heart! 1 Mar. 2000
By The Man in the Hathaway Shirt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
If you think classical music--or at least string quartet literature--is mostly grace and refinement, get this set and be prepared to be blown away. These are searing-hot performances of Beethoven's last quartets, some say the greatest music he or even _anyone_ ever wrote (I wouldn't argue). The recordings are from live performances for the Library of Congress from 1941 to 1960. The sound is what you'd expect from that period, or maybe even a bit better, given how well these discs have been preserved. The audience is quiet (though very appreciative). But the expressivity of the playing is so intense that it cuts through any concerns for mere sonics. This is Beethoven with no middle-man. The Budapests are so naturalistic and musical that they disappear into the works...more recent performances by the Italiano, Emerson and Tokyo Quartets sound mannered and calculated by comparison. The Grosse Fugue and Op. 130 particularly stand out. There are some drawbacks to the hell-bent-for-leather approach. Sometimes they lose sight of the long line, but this is something you don't really hear until you've lived with these pieces for decades, and I mean decades. Sometimes they are too driven--rhythm at the expense of shape and shading. Sometimes there are ambiguities and subtlties that these musicians run over. But every approach to these works has some drawback--no one can milk all the music. The liner notes talk about how blown away they were with Toscanin's conducting approach--the clarity of textures and the impetuousness--and it shows in some of their interpretations--sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. There are times whem I don't agree with what they're doing (Op. 131), but find that *they* are so convinced of it that I just don't care!

Nice booklet with historic photos and an interesting essay on what brought this group of musicians to the Library of Congress. Of course, the listener should not stop with these recordings. The Budapests' own studio discs (on Sony), the Vegh, Yale, Busch, Fine Arts, Amadeus and Lindsay Quartet recordings are also mandatory listening: this music is too rich for any one performance to make sense of everything. But this set is highly recommended for any serious chamber music library.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Performances that will live forever 9 May 2006
By N. M. Swerdlow - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The greatest quartets ever written by the greatest quartet that ever played. I have been listening to these works for fifty years, and heard the Budapest Quartet play them live when I was a lot younger. I have many recordings them, including the early fifties mono sets (Jac Gorodetzky second violin) and the early sixties stereo sets (Alexander Schneider second violin), of all the quartets on Columbia LP alas, neither transferred complete to CD although parts of each have been, and several recordings by other quartets, older, the Busch Quartet, also essential, and newer, of which there are many fine ones, the Quartetto Italiano and the Talich in particular. But nothing, nothing compares with these. They are as I remember them from so many years ago. There are no words to express how beautiful, how intense, these performances are: the first movement of op. 131, the Heiliger Dankgesang of op. 132 (Edgar Ortenberg second violin), the Cavatina of op. 130, and a Grosse Fuge, op. 133, with energy beyond all others. As one of the other reviewers recommends, get the Dover score, and then spend the rest of your life listening. How is the sound? Just fine except for occasional distortion in some louder passages, but that is no matter. These are without doubt among the greatest recordings ever made. Let us hope that more Library of Congress recordings are made available and that some day all the Columbia recordings are reissued, including the earlier 78's, some of which have made it to CD.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Pure Magic 8 July 2002
By Derek Lee - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This set of recordings is absolutely incredible. The depth of feeling that the Budapest puts into this music very persuasively depicts the spiritual intensity that Beethoven put into composing this music. Beethoven's last five quartet and the Grosse Fuge are quite possibly the single greatest pieces of music ever written, and the Budapest plays the music like they are. Incidentally, I must respectfully disagree with the previous review; I find the Heiliger Dankgesang completely satisfying; The Budapest plays it just right, giving the slow lyrical passages an almost unbelievably deep tone quality, and contrasting this beautifully with the bright, cheerful passages, which are performed to perfection. Very highly recommended, one of the best recordings I have.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Precious performances trapped by bad engineering 3 Feb. 2009
By A techno geek - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
These transfers have been filtered to death. No one should let restoration engineers Adam Abeshouse and Silas Brown anywhere near an equalization knob. You can hear almost no surface noise on these 78 record transfers. But in the process of eliminating surface noise, the remaining tone of the Stradivarius instruments that the Budapest Quartet are playing is indistinguishable from $100 Chinese instruments. As Hemingway said, "It was a brilliant cure, but we lost the patient," or as the major said in the Vietnam war, "It became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it." The musical power of these performances is eviscerated by the dulled mushy sound. It is a shame that these are the only available releases of these precious recordings. Since they belong to the Library of Congress, hence the American people, they ought to be made open source.

Pearl, Sony, and Naxos are better labels for 78 archival recordings. I happened to get The Great Violinists on the Naxos label at the same time, and the 1927 recordings of Thibaud, Cortot, Casals --- when electric microphones had been in use only a year --- sound better than these transfers. Lest one think that it was the circumstance of live recording that is the problem here, just listen to what an amateur was able to capture on his 1940 live recording of Duke Ellington in an auditorium in Fargo, North Dakota (but not The Duke at Fargo, 1940: Special 60th Anniversary Edition which a reviewer warns has also been 'nonoised').

Fortunately, the 3rd disk in this set was recorded in 1960, so the engineers could resist the compulsion to filter surface noise, and the sound is very nice. The power of the Budapest Quartet comes through. Now, if only they would release on multichannel SACD the 1960s studio recordings of the Budapest Quartet --- and throw in the Linsday Quartet while you're at it --- then the ultimate Beethoven experiences would be available to the world.
15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
These are the Late Beethoven Quartets 8 July 2002
By Craig Matteson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
...This is a live performance at the Library of Congress. But it is THE LATE BEETHOVEN STRING QUARTETS.
This is GREAT STUFF. These quartets have a very special and devoted audience because of their exquisite beauty. Most who hear them love these pieces very deeply. I think this is a common effect.
It is important to know that Beethoven explored things in these pieces that other musicians have been coming to grips with for well over a century and a half. These are not pieces about only charm and grace (although there is plenty of charm and grace in these pieces). These are pieces that go deep into the human soul.
If you listen very closely these pieces can seem awfully strange. But if you listen even more closely their wonder shines through. Then awhile later you realize they own you and they become transcendent and they become a special part of your life.
For extra fun, get the Dover edition of the score of the complete Beethoven String Quartets and follow along.
The sound of these recordings is awfully good for their age, but don't expect it sounding like it came from the latest equipment.
These pieces are so important that you will want to collect several versions of them. I also recommend the Guarneri Quartet recordings. There are several others.
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