A Conversation for Ludwig van Beethoven - Pianist and Composer

String quartets

Post 1

Dr. Funk

As a 26-year-old who does not wear cardigans and yet listens to string quartets, I feel I can add my two bits here.

Beethoven's late string quartets are psychotic and godlike. In them, the difficulties and pleasures of Beethoven are distilled into something rare and fine. Each of the four parts are brutally, brutally difficult. The form of each movement is torn up, ripped apart, put together again in strange ways. in many cases all throughout the score, Beethoven makes tons stylistic markings that go against almost everything that classical musicians are taught. Awkward bowings, counterintuitive fingerings, seemingly nonsensical dynamics--all of these things are shoved down the players' throats with sadistic glee. Yet those who manage to struggle through them and master them--most notably the Lindsay Quartet--find themselves to be playing music of unearthly emotion. While he was alive, these late quartets were considered just too difficult, nonsense, unplayable. Beethoven responded that they weren't written for his contemporaries, but for future audiences who were better prepared for this new kind of music that he had to offer. He was arrogant, but he was right.

String quartets

Post 2


The Lindsays. My experience of people who claim that the Lindsays' Beethoven recordings are supremely great is that they've bever heard anynone else's. Or never LISTENED to them. My guess is that it is the deficiencies of the Lindsays that somehow make their recordings more human. Which is crap.

Lindsays better than Busch? I don't think so. In fact, in this case I'm prepared to say I know that the Busch Quartet are better. By miles.

Lindsays better than Quartetto Italiano? The amazing QI seem to be critically unfashionable these days. Just listen: the comparison leaves the Lindsays ripped to shreds.

Lindsays better than Vegh? I think that the Vegh 4tet's gruffness is sometimes taken as extra-deep profundity and their recordingd thereby over-rated, but I still think that their recordings will be listened to after the Lindsays have become a footnote.

Lindsays better than the Hungarians? No. Pure and simple. No.

Lindsays better than the Talich? Matter of choice. My vote goes to Talich.

The Lindsay Quartet are a superb ensemble. Comparing their Beethoven recordings to many other quartets shows what formidable interpreters of this astonishing music they are. But, please use yours ears and intellect. There will never be definitive recordings of these works, despite ASV's absurd claims.

If you stumble across this, please, do yourself a favour: listen to Beethoven's String Quartets. It just doesn't get any better, honest.

Captain Swing

String quartets

Post 3


Just wanted to say my vote also goes to the Talich. Having said that I haven't heard the Lindsay's recordings.

I have the Busch recordings of the late quartets. They are marvellous.

That's all. Short and sweet.

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