I really like Messiaen's "Quartet for the End of Time" and Bartok's quartets. A lesser known but most excellent composer with a number of interesting chamber works is Rautavaara.
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This is not unique in terms of material, but the small group rendition, acoustics and recording quality are outstanding:
The Four Seasons: Violin Concerto in G Minor, Antonio Vivaldi
Artist, Janine Jansen with Candida Thompson, Henk Rubingh, Jan Jansen, Julian Rachlin, Liz Kenny, Maarten Jansen & Stacey Watton
Audphile1, here are suggestions for some 20th Century chamber music that I enjoy, just scatter-shooting through my collection. I've referenced the performers I like for most works, and the catalog numbers for the vinyl.
- Fantasies and Sonatinas, for various instruments: oboe, bassoon, flute, clarinet, etc. Nice performances by the Nash Ensemble on Hyperion A66171, A66172, A66173
- String Quartets - You've enjoyed the Shostakovich, you may want to sample some of the Barok. I like the performances of the Talich Quartet on Supraphon. Many people like the Julliard Quartet performances.
- Suite for Cello, No. 1 and No. 2 (solo) - Rostropovich on Decca/London or Helmerson on BIS
- Sonata in C for Cello and Piano - performed by Rostropovich and Britten on Decca/London. There was a Speakers Corner reissue of this, don't know if it's still available. This LP also includes nice performance by Rostropovich and Britten of Schuman and Debussy.
Music for a Glass Bead Game - with Arturo Delomoni, violin, and Nathaniel Rosen, cello, performing music of Bach, Martinu and Kodaly. Wonderful CD and delightful contrasts of the old and new interwoven, with marvelous playing by two great artists. Highly recommended. (John Marks Records)
- I'd also recommend several other recordings by Delmoni and Rosen. Originally released on LP, these are hard to find on vinyl today at any sort of reasonable price, but they are available on CD:
....Songs My Mother Taught Me - Delmoni
....Sonatas of Franck and Faure - Delmoni
....Oriental - Rosen (music for cello by Debussy, Falla, Granados, Elgar, Martinu)
Enescu, Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 3 in Romanian Folkstyle, op25 - Wilson Audo issued a good performance in excellent sound on LP (W 8315), but my favorite performance is on a now impossible to find Altarus LP (AIR 2 9012) with Sherban Lupu on violin.
Hindemith's chamber works for Viola, Kim Kashkashian performing on viola, ECM 1330/32
Kodaly - Duo for Violin and Cello - See Music for a Glass Bead Game, above.
Kodaly - Sonata for Violin and Piano - Perenyi, violin, and Jando, piano, on Hungaraton; or Lavotha and Aberg on BIS.
Nicholas Maw - Life Studies for 15 solo strings
Prokofiev - Sonatas for Violin and Piano - Wilkomirska, violin, and Schein, piano (Connoisseur Society, CS 2016)
George Rochberg - String Quartets - the performances by the Concord Quartet on Nonesuch and RCA are very good.
Shostakovich - Piano Trio No. 2 - Beaux Arts Trio on Philips, or Oslo Trio on Simax, or Palsson/ Helmerson/ Tellefsen on BIS.
Stravinsky - Ragtime for Eleven Instruments - Boston Symphony Players on DGG 2530 551
Szymanowski - Mythes, op30 - Wilkomirska -vn, Barbosa -pf, Connoisseur Society CSQ 2050
Eduard Tubin - Sonata for Violin & Piano in phrygian key (1949) - Sparf -vn, Pontinen -pf BIS LP 269
Wuorinen - Speculum Speculi (for flute,oboe, clarinet, double bass, piano and percussion) - Speculum Musicae, Nonesuch H71300
Ellen Zwilich - Double Qartet for Strings; String Quartet
Haydn, The Seven Words, Rosamunde Quartett ECM
I don't think it falls into the periods you named, but fits the genre: try out some of the astounding music played by Jordi Savall on his label, Alia Vox. This is all early music (baroque) with some emphasis on the Viola Da Gamba if Savall is playing, which he breaths life into in such a remarkable way. If you have SACD (even if not), I'd suggest this 2-CD set of the work of Marin Marais. Most of the work on his label is recorded and mastered beautifully. It'd be difficult to go wrong (search his name on Amazon and see if anything there interests you). I particularly enjoy the renditions of Marais's work as well as Sainte Colombe - both of whom were the subject of the beautiful film, Tous Les Matins du Monde, another good choice with more variety perhaps.
Don't know what you have, but f.w.i.w., here are my favorites:
Tchaikovsky and Borodin: 2nd string quartets.
Faure: Piano quartets.
Bach: Well-tempered Clavier, Goldberg Variations, Partita no. 2 for Violin (the Chaccone movement is the most amazing thing i've heard for solo violin), Cello Suites.
Beethoven: Middle- and Late-period sring quartets. Piano sonatas.
Haydn: String Quartets, opus 33, 50, 64, 76.
And last, but not least, my favorite composer of chamber music,
Brahms: Violin sonatas (3), Piano trios (3), Piano quartets (3), Piano quintet, Sring quintets (2), String sextets (2), Clarinet quintet, trio, sonatas (2).
Won't list my favorite recordings of these, as that sort of thing is so personal (e.g.: I don't like period instruments, but you may).
Hope this helps,
Just picked up 2 CDs:
1) George Enescu - Octet, Op.7; Quintet Op.29 with Gidon Kremer/Kremerata Baltica. Very good disc.
2)Astor Piazzolla "Tango Ballet" with Gidon Kremer, Astor Quartet and Kremerata Baltica.
I have to say I am really impressed with this cd. Very interesting blend of 20th century classical and tango. Really surprised me how good the music on this disc is.
I would like to recommend it but suspect this kind of music isn't for everyone though, so listen if you can before you buy it.
The late Beethoven String Quartets, in my opinion, are at the absolute pinnacle of musical creation in any genre in any period. (Not everyone will agree of course.) If you can find the old Hollywood String Quartet performances of these works, not easily done, you might find that these performances are in a class by themselves.
Something on the obscure side which IMO ranks in the top tier of chamber composition is Biber's Mystery/Rosary Sonatas. My favorite version is by Reinhard Goebel with Musica Antiqua Köln, but it's also pricey. Here's a link to the Amazon page, which has customer reviews toward the bottom:
To whet anyone's appetite, here's one of the reviews (not mine):
By Alan Lekan (Boulder, CO)
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)
Biber's so-called "Mystery Sonatas" are among the most alluring, meditative, virtuostic and amazingly beautiful compositions ever written for the violin - which this fine recording captures most vividly. Three aspects of this recording stand out as superb and make this CD a highly recommended recording for Biber's "Mystery Sonatas." The first is the extremely vivid and crystaline sound quality from DG, who created an ideally-resonant sound ambiance that brings out the mystery and depth of this music. Stunning. The second aspect is the most unique, mysterious and musically innovative compositions from the Austrian violin virtuoso and composer, Biber. The depth of emotive effects and degree of virtusosity immediately catch the attention of the listener and draws one into their mysteries (of the life of Christ). In addition to the "standard" harpsichord and/or therebo continuo, these sonatas also add deeply-resonant organ bass pedal-points that create a powerful and alluring backdrop for the drama of the solosit to unfold. Several reviews below give some valuable background info on these compositions if you are not familiar.
The last aspect that makes this recording special is the accomplished playing of Reinhard Goebels that is of the highest caliber. His technique in the 32nd-note passages is flawless, crisp and worthy of the finest accolades while the sensitive and soaring tonality he exudes in the slower movements is extremely attractive and never grating to the ear. Goebels plays this music not only with the utmost virtuosity but also with a well-judged passion - bringing drama while respecting Biber's sacred and meditative musical intentions by not overly "attacking" the music. His smooth lyricism honors Biber's contemplative designs. Personally, I prefer Goebel's artistry and tone in these works compared to Holloway or Manze, but the fine continuo playing from Romanesca adds to the allure of that recording (Harmoni Mundi). So, the combination of these three aspects along with some interesting notes from Goebels on the music and scordatura techniques make this a most desirable and recommended recording from Musica Antiqua Koln. I cannot say there are any "dull moments" or uninspired playing or composing anywhere on the entire 2 CD's - only the most skillfully and mysteriously composed music for violin and Baroque continuo. It remains one of the more unique compositions and an ever-fascinating study of the art of violin playing. And Musica Antique Koln honors this sacred music with the highest art and musical sensitivity. 5 stars for sure.