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Discussion: Bartok: String Quartets Nos. 1 & 2 - Parkanyi Quartet

Posts: 7

Post by Beagle November 2, 2006 (1 of 7)
Woo-Hah! --And a merry xmas to you too, Parkanyí!

With SQ 5 & 6, and now 1 & 2, it looks like the higher-fidelity world will have a complete Bartók Quartet set (and I will be obliged to die happy).

Post by Windsurfer November 3, 2006 (2 of 7)
Beagle said:

Woo-Hah! --And a merry xmas to you too, Parkanyí!

With SQ 5 & 6, and now 1 & 2, it looks like the higher-fidelity world will have a complete Bartók Quartet set (and I will be obliged to die happy).

Try hard to postpone that event!
BTW there is as you know, some other very wonderful music, such as Dohnanyi's Piano Quintet, that could be well served by Praga.

But I share your enthusiasm over this latest issue!

Post by Beagle November 3, 2006 (3 of 7)
Windsurfer said:
BTW there is as you know, some other very wonderful music, such as Dohnanyi's

As long as we're indulging in another bout of wishful thinking (and why not? we wished for Bartók and got it)...

Dohnanyí is nice stuff -- but Janácek's two quartets and the Smetana's are THE SEXIEST music ever written (literally adults only: tumbles in the hay, adultery and murder...); their absence in higher-fidelity is incomprehensible. Praga/Kocian should push them into production, but Parkanyí -- or Fry Street -- would be excellent also.

And, in this Year of our Dmitri, where's the Complete Shostakovich Quartet cycle? We've got 4 of the 15: no. 1 & 4 -- 2 and 8 twice! -- and some bloody poems....

-- So, I guess I'm safe from death-by-happiness for a while yet.

Post by Beagle March 25, 2007 (4 of 7)
If you've been tempted...
It's on sale right now at CD Universe.

Post by samadhi March 26, 2007 (5 of 7)
I asked Praga for more recording information and was told that this disc was recorded in the Domovina studio, unlike the previous Parkanyi releases, which were recorded in the Dutch church. In this latest Bartok disc, they seem to have captured the cello, in particular, with astonishing clarity. I've spent many hours listening to this music with rapt attention over the years, but I'm hearing so many nuances of the cello line for the first time here. (Perhaps also because they are using a different edition of the music than usual?) And there are some delightfully earthy growls as well -- just the way I like my Bartok. Listen to the chords at the end of the first quartet. They really dig into the strings! Nevertheless, I'm finding that, on my system, at least, I need to be very careful with the volume to keep the sound from becoming hard. I found this to be less so with the previous Bartok release and not at all the case with the Ravel/Debussy disc, recorded by the great Jared Sacks.

Post by Beagle March 27, 2007 (6 of 7)
samadhi said:
... recorded by the great Jared Sacks.

Thanks for your comments -- why not post a review?

And speaking of Jared Sacks, I see that he is Engineer and Co-Producer of the Erhu Chant disc (I ordered it yesterday).

Post by jdaniel December 8, 2010 (7 of 7)
Beagle said:

Woo-Hah! --And a merry xmas to you too, Parkanyí!

With SQ 5 & 6, and now 1 & 2, it looks like the higher-fidelity world will have a complete Bartók Quartet set (and I will be obliged to die happy).

Just listened to 1/2...lovely, and unsurprisingly the modern Vegh. I love the very subtle achingly beautiful chord progressions in the beginning of the 1st. I look forward to the rest, but:

I absolute implore/beg anyone who loves these quartets to acquire Juilliard's **1st** reading from the '50's on Pearl.

I know: the entire world thrills to their middle recording but their first is better still, and unsurpassed IMHO. The cellist is different (Winograd) and far more imaginative, folksy and charismatic. The sense of "awe and wonder" (as the Gramophone puts it) is palpable as the quartet thrills to Bartok's amazing sound-coloring. Just listen to the bizarre "drunken" slides in the 2nd mov't of the 6th, not to mention the ineffable sadness in the closing pages--tender, ghoulish and the best "shoulder-shrug" plucks which end the piece so enigmatically. The "whistling" tune sounds like someone casually whistling...imagine that!

Elsewhere the corporate virtuosity is stunning and almost unhinged. Almost. It makes for such exciting listening; sample the final mov't of the 5th, it's unbelievable. The 60's cycle is virtuosic but more a "smug" virtuosity; they're not playing as if their lives depended on it, IMHO.

The sound is remarkable as well. Mono, but remarkable; it's an interesting story: the quartet was recorded "direct to disc" on huge platters so you've find the sound pretty palpable, esp. the string plucks. Mono-phobics no worries: it doesn't sound like Bessie Smith through a wax cylinder. In fact the sound is better balanced in the 50's recording than the 60's.

If you love Bartok's quartets, **do** try this set.

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