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Beethoven: The String Quartets [7 CD + Blu-ray Audio]
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During the 23 years when the Amadeus Quartet was under exclusive contract to Deutsche Grammophon, their name was synonymous with the finest in music-making. Central to their repertoire were the key Austro-German quartet works, and their Beethoven cycle is perhaps the most fitting choice as a tribute to the Amadeus – one closest to their hearts. Many of us will have learned this exalted repertoire from their complete DG cycle, and revisiting it for the first time in true HD sound reaffirms qualities which have set it as one of the pinnacles of recorded chamber music. 7-CDs + Blu-ray Audio mastered at 24-bit/192kHz presenting the celebrated Beethoven cycle recorded by one of the twentieth centuries most celebrated ensembles Limited Edition slipcase with mintpacks 52 page booklet with an introduction by Steven E. Paul and expansive repertoire notes by Heinz Becker The Amadeus were the most successful and highly-regarded Quartet of the 20th century. Benefitting from the jet aeroplane and from the record industry’s ability to reach out to world, they dominated chamber music making for nearly 40 years. But concert tours are only successful if reviews are ecstatic and audiences delighted. They both were. For nearly 40 years, the Quartet (who styled themselves ‘The Wolf-Gang’) roved the world, argued, celebrated and worked like no other group, and changed not a single member: Norbert Brainin, Siegmund Nissel, Peter Schidlof and Martin Lovett had a recording career from 1951 to 1987, ending only with the death of Peter Schidlof in 1987. A replacement was never a discussion since the quartet had made a vow to each other that they would play string quartets with no other musician. This sad occasion marked the end of a quartet whose universal musicianship to this day transcends any changes in style that quartet playing might have undergone since.
To talk of an Amadeus performance is to talk in terms of the music pure and simple. One cannot speak of what they 'did ' or 'didn't' do with a score, because the magic lay not in an y interpretative affectation but in a strong yet self-effacing presentation of musical argument.. --Gramophone
DG s Amadeus Quartet legacy spells one quality above all: class [...] it is a legacy that, as far as the post-war period is concerned, would be difficult to equal let alone surpass. In a word, magnificent. --Gramophone
Luminous performances of tremendous insight, replete with the kind of wisdom, gentleness, and humanity that can only be achieved after decades of playing Beethoven's music and living through it.. --Fanfare
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The packaging consists of a clamshell cardboard box containing the discs, which are in individual paper sleeves. There is a fair booklet of essays about the compositions. This is certainly budget packaging, but at least it doesn't take up incredible volumes of space to house the seven CDs.
As this CD set is currently discounted as part of Amazon's "classical blowout," it's hard to beat the value. Enjoy!
This made for an incredible experience. Music lovers that know Beethoven's music only through his symphonies really do not know Beethoven.
Almost invariably, Amadeus cuts the exposition repeats. In the earlier quartets perhaps this approach annoyed less. But, in the B flat op. 130 the results were disasterous. Amadeus also played the great cavatina of this quartet in a very pedestrian manner. I could not tolerate their performance. The B flat was the very first Beethoven quartet I ever heard on a CD I own of the Fitzwilhelm Quartet, a heartfelt performance with great sound. The Fitzwilhelm includes both the Grosse Fuge and the new finale Beethoven's publishers convinced him to write. The CD booklet makes a powerful arguement for retaining the original Grosse Fuge as the finale. De Marliave is less sympathetic to the Grosse Fuge as part of this whole very rhapsodic quartet and I have a tendancy to agree.
The Amadeus set's sound is almost consistently inferior to any recording I compare it to. It's a somewhat bright aura, dominated by the first violin. It did not please me. I have op. 75, 127, 131, and 135 on the Guarneri Quartet. Comparative listening between these very different groups make the Guarneri sound almost organ-like.
Often times, Amadeus holds its own decently enough in the op. 18 and 59. Amadeus performed the slow movement of op. 18. no. 1 in F major more passionately than the Tokyo Quartet. Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" evidently inspired Beethoven in this movement.
My favorite quartet? Op. 59 no. 1 in F major. I really admire the easy going energy of the first movement and its shear joy of making music. The Allegretto vivace e sempre scherzando is amazing, elfin, magical, and fiendish at the same time. Only Beethoven could have written such a masterpiece as this movement with such banal themes. Add a beautiful heart felt slow movement and a quartet masterpiece is born. A budget release of both op. 59 no.1 and 2 by the Budapest String Quartet with gorgeous sound remains one of my very favorite Beethoven string quartet recordings.
The power and intensity of op. 131 in C sharp minor make it music for special occassions. The central variation movement is of the highest order even for Beethoven. The Adagio quasi un poco andante can bring tears to my eyes even though it's only a few minutes long. The contrast between this movement and the diabolical finale is convincing and almost frightening. Here I slightly prefer Guarneri's performance to Amadeus.
I wanted to hear another performance besides Amadeus of the op. 59 no. 3 in C major as well as op. 132 in A major and Amazon sells Emerson's recording to fill that need. Again, while Amadeus holds its own in both works, I prefer the Emerson, especially for their additional thoughtfulness and intensity in the A minor. Truly, while Beethoven wrote many masterly slow movements, those of the A minor Quartet, the 9th symphony, and the Hammerklavier Piano Sonata belong to a special class of great, epochal Beethoven slow movements.
Though I can understand Emerson's reputation for over-polish, if I could buy a complete set again, it would be Emerson's. Their recording of op. 59 in C major and op.132 in A minor have inspired me to get more acquainted with their work.
Beethoven's creative spirit never ceases to move, amaze, and inspire me. I work in the health care industry. Often I'd listen to the quartets during my lunch hour. To listen to the slow movement of the A minor or op.135 in F and many others and then return to patient care was quite a moving experince.
One of the things I love about this set is that each CD is internally-consistent -- early, middle, or late. None of the jarring pairings on a single disk with an early quartet followed by a late quartet. That's not as jarring as a CD side that pairs a Bach Cantata with Alice Cooper, but it is <i>jarring</i> and not necessary!
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L'iniziativa di pubblicare cofanetti di cd audio + bluray " Pure Audio " 24bit 192 khz di cicli storici è veramente opera meritevole e portarselo a casa ( anzi, farselo portare a casa da Amazon !! ) ad una cifra inferiore ai 30 euro è incredibile.
Nel caso dei quartetti di Beethoven nell'interpretazione del Quartetto Amadeus, sulle registrazioni degli anni 60' è stato fatto un lavoro di restauro dell'audio fantastico. Fruscii praticamente inesistenti e ripristino di dinamica e presenza stereo rimarchevoli.
Sull'interpretazione inutile spendere parole. Da notare la presenza tra i pezzi anche della Grande Fuga Op.133, stranamente non riportata nel listato dei brani di Amazon ...
On appréciera bien volontiers ces versions savoureuses de l'Amadeus Quartet des Quatuors à Cordes de Beethoven.
J'ai réalisé le test sur les 3 Razumovsky Opus 59.
Les CDs sont bien remasterisés, le violoncelle se dessine parfaitement à sa juste taille dans le quatuor, les deux violons sont élégants, l'image du quatuor bien restituée.
Le BRA apporte ce qui me manquait dans ma description, la définition. Le BRA rend une lecture nettement plus aboutie de ces 3 quatuors, la netteté des cordes et leur frotté sont palpables. On perçoit le positionnement au laser des 4 solistes sur chaque mouvement. Un pur bonheur.
Alors que se passe t'il avec les Amadeus ? Rien, ou plutôt tout : le violon virtuose et mordoré de Norbert Brainin, qui a pu les desservir( !) un temps aux oreilles de certains, s'impose de toute évidence pour ce qu'il est ,l'un des moteurs de l'interprétation : qualité du timbre, conduite de la ligne, idiomatisme spirituel. Tout, sauf ce quelconque juste milieu auquel on les cantonnait encore très récemment . Le Pavé dans la Mare , sous la symphatique égide de Frédéric Lodéon chaque dimanche après-midi sur France Musiques, propulse presque régulièrement les Amadeus aux premières places dans les répertoires chambristes où ils excéllèrent (Mozart, Beethoven ... donc, Brahms, notamment dans les quintettes).
Si l'on osait un parallèle avec l'interpétation des sonates, on songerait alors à Wilhelm Kempff : même lyrisme, même poésie, même classicisme serein donnant l'impression à l'auditeur qu'il pourra se familiariser amoureusement avec l'immense...avec en plus, si l'on ose dire, l'exploration poignante des derniers opus, probablement plus prégnante chez Serkin ou Arrau en ce qui concerne les opus 109 à 111. Ca, donc, plus ça.