Amid the immediate and ongoing economic and political global crisis, what scabrous dilettanti spew into cyberspace is vanity.
Yet for the innocuous who seek solace (provided they are lucky enough to have the basic necessities for life), perhaps appreciation of Art in its many forms is a decent pastime.
Truly great artists and thinkers are almost always working ahead of their own spacetimes.
Schubert, for example, though working in what we may term the first quarter of the Romantic Movement (c. 1825), was already thinking and composing on the massive scale of late-Romantics Bruckner and Schönberg (c. 1895-1905).
Schubert's G-major Quartet (D.877) is a case in point: in terms of scale, technique, and vision it makes a `great leap forward' to Schönberg's d-minor Quartet (Op. 7)--and to Berg's exquisite Op. 3 Quartet, as featured on Der Kuss's fascinating newest release on the boutique Onyx label with its outstanding recording values.
(Cf. Der Kuss's earlier release of Schönberg's Op. 7, available at Amazon.de, B0000DCXQQ.)
Der Kuss is a Berlin-based youthful German ensemble already attaining recognition for its superb technical excellence and distinctive expression.
(Aside: the Leipziger String Quartet is of course Germany's reigning ensemble of its type, and one of the three global super-heavyweight quartets--along with the Prazak and the Emerson; however, the Leipziger [as likewise the Emerson shall soon do] has recently experienced a membership change which, while virtually inevitable, is also regrettable as obviously it's not the original group: c'est la vie.)
Frankly, we weren't looking for yet another D.887.
No; in fact, we obtained this disc specifically for the Berg Op. 3 (1910)--of which there are not many recordings--(and of those available recordings is almost always paired with the Lyric Suite and/or Webern's and/or Schönberg's quartet works).
(For the past couple of years the Emerson has been playing Berg's Op. 3 in concert; yet sans recording.)
We were looking for the Berg Op. 3 paired with something else--anything else [!], and so the Kuss Quartett's 2010 release caught our eye.
And though having fine performances of D.887 by the aforementioned Leipziger as well as the Melos-Stuttgart, Panocha, Emerson, Hungarian, and Quartetto Italiano, we weren't so very curious concerning yet another reading of same.
Well--how wrong can one be?
Der Kuss's realization of D.887 is utterly extraordinary in terms of precision, clarity, and originality of vision and intention: for while using modern instruments, Der Kuss seems to probe via HIPP applications a kind of diegetic narrative which is frightfully fresh and exhilarating.
Amongst aficionados of the string quartet medium, the Berg Op. 3 is especially cherished and loved for its distinctive confection of lush late-Romanticism and Berg's unique originality of lyrical free-pantonalism.
Der Kuss's reading here makes a nice bookend to the LaSalle's classic performance.
Art lovers will know.
i. 20'20 ii. 11'41 iii. 06'43 iv. 10'58 Panocha (1991)
i. 21'22 ii. 11'09 iii. 06'32 iv. 10'45 Leipziger (1994)
i. 22'50 ii. 13'33 iii. 07'21 iv. 11'19 Quartetto Italiano (1965)
i. 21'09 ii. 11'23 iii. 07'38 iv. 12'37 Kuss (2011)
Berg Op. 3
i. 08'57 ii. 09'37 LaSalle (1968)
i. 10'18 ii. 10'59 Schoenberg (2000)
i. 09'51 ii. 11'16 Kuss (2011)