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In Reply to: RE: The flash drive has arrived! - Won't be able to listen until Monday posted by Chris from Lafayette on June 09, 2017 at 21:43:09
1)The Scherchen Beethoven 5th will turn out to be the most invigorating and rousing you've ever heard.
2) The Juilliard's Bartok 6th was your epiphany.
3) No one understands Mahler's 3rd better than Adler.
And this is what I found:Scherchen Beethoven 5th - check.So far, I've listened to the Scherchen Beethoven Fifth and the Julliard Bartok Fifth. I'll try to listen to more tomorrow. Please let me know by e-mail if you want me to comment about my impressions (and/or Madeline's impressions!) of these recordings. ;-)
Julliard 1949 Bartok 6th - check
Badura-Skoda / Scherchen Emperor - unexpected but it's there
Julliard 1949 Bartok 5th - another unexpected bonus
Adler Mahler 3rd - MIA (nowhere to be found!)
I thought the 1949 Julliard performances of the 5th and 6th Quartets were wonderful - amazing sound quality for that era, and the intonation and general command of the rhetoric of the two works are no less amazing! It's all the more impressive because this was a time well before the era of electronic tuners which help so many of today's string players "tune" their ears! Those Julliard players had obviously tuned their ears natur'ly! ;-)
Having said that however, I remain as before in my opinions about these works - and I think we got off the track just a bit on this element of the discussion: I like the Bartok Quartets OK, but I still think they're overrated. My favorite is probably the Sixth, because it builds its structures in a more patient, inevitable way compared to the other works, which sometimes seem to flit from one idea to another and undermine their own continuity. Well (you say), maybe that's what Bartok was after. I don't disagree - maybe it WAS what he was after. But it's certainly not always on MY wavelength. ;-)
I was playing the Fifth Quartet when Madeline came back from shopping. The fourth movement was playing as she entered the room and commented, "Ooh! Ugly!". Later on, in the fifth movement, where that little children's theme appears just before the end, she exclaimed, "OMG! That is SO lame!". Nevertheless, she was also amazed at how good those 1949 recordings were!
Regarding the Scherchen Beethoven Fifth with the RPO, I was very surprised that the articulation was so clear at the breakneck speeds he was taking (except in the second movement). Big thumbs up for this aspect of the performance! Nevertheless, I feel a lack of tonal weight in this performance/recording, and I really miss it. This missing weight of tone makes the performance sound somewhat small scaled (to me anyway). Again, the performance has some good qualities, but it wouldn't be among my faves.
Thanks all I can say at this point.
Chris, glad you took time out to take a peek at SQ 5 and 6. That little children's tune at the end of 5 has always got my attention. Not sure where that came from, but I think it is a bit of genius. Just my take on it.
You bring up a good point about lack of tonal weight. Most of Bartok quartet performances lack tonal weight. Of my roughly 20 versions of Bartok's Quartets (all on LP), only about 2 or 3 have ample low end weight, in my opinion. The performances and/or recordings do not get the cello correctly with regards to weight. This is where the Vegh (Valois or Telefunken pressing) is very very good. The Vegh cellist plays aggressively and the recording reflects this with ample weight. It makes a substantial positive difference in the performance. It would really be nice if a contemporary string quartet could record a complete set of Bartok with superb engineering and a mindful eye towards the cellist. We need more meat.
Please pass along to Ralph at your convenience.
But in all seriousness, thanks for sending it - I'll listen as soon as I can!
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