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Great Performances From The Library Of Congress, Vol. 6: Budapest String Quartet In Concert At The Library of Congress
Budapest String Quartet
Great Performances From The Library Of Congress, Vol. 6: Budapest String Quartet In Concert At The Library of Congress
Genre: Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (27) - Disc #1

These recordings, which until now lay virtually hidden in the archives of the Library of Congress, span nearly the entire length of the Budapest's residency at the Library. This remarkable set showcases performances of yo...  more »

      
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Album Description
These recordings, which until now lay virtually hidden in the archives of the Library of Congress, span nearly the entire length of the Budapest's residency at the Library. This remarkable set showcases performances of youthful ardor from the early 40s, as well as those deep and mature reflective performances which project the visceral excitement of the Budapest's onstage persona. The Budapest's exceptionally warm sound in these performances displays the quality of the famous Stradivarius instruments that the quartet played on at their Library concerts. The Budapest Beethoven cycles is being sold at a special price- three discs for the price of two. Bridge Records has taken great care in the restoration of these rarities- concerts that only a lucky few were privileged to hear at the original sold out performances, when the audiences regularly lined up around the block for tickets. Bridge has documented the set with extensive annotation by Harris Goldsmith.
 

CD Reviews

These are the Late Beethoven Quartets
Craig Matteson | Ann Arbor, MI | 07/08/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"...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."
Intense Beethoven -- Not for the faint of heart!
John Grabowski | USA | 03/01/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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."
Performances that will live forever
N. M. Swerdlow | Chicago, IL USA | 05/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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."