Chamber Music - your best pick.

Be it the solo, duets, trios, quartets or quintets.
What is/are your favorite(s) in this gener?
What are your recommendations - classical, romantic or 20th century composers.

Most played lately in my system is Shostakovich String Quartets.
Others that get a lot of playing time are Brahms, Dvorak and Schubert.

Would like to check out something new that I haven't heard before. I was looking to pick up some Elgar string quartet and piano quintet next. Any other recommendations? Thanks.
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.
I recommend Brahms' double concerto. My favorite recording is on EMI with Oistrakh, Rostropovich, and Richter.

Mozart, the complete piano trios.Beaux Arts Trio, Phillips 446 254-2 Superb.

Bach, Sonatas for violin and harpsichord, double disc. Sony sm2k 52615, Glenn Gould, Leonard Rose,Jaimie Laredo This disc is discontinued but can be found used.Its beauty will make you cry.
Emerson String Quartet Bach "Die Kungst Der Fuge". Onr of my favs.

Sufentanil, thanks for the recommendation. I have Brahms' double concerto with Heifetz and Piatigorsky. I may also get the disc you recommended. Could it be that you're talking about Beethoven's tripple concerto with Oistrakh, Rostropovich and Richter cd on EMI?
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

Decca, 2005
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.

Malcolm Arnold
- 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.

Benjamin Britten
- 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.

And now or something completely different but true to your genre request - Bond!

...and you thought classical artists were stuck up and boring! JackBlack eat your heart out!
Mozart. Eine Kleine Nacht Muzik. The Budapest Quartet featuring Clarinet. I have it on vinyl and even though it is in 8 condition (some pops and clicks) I absolutely love it. Really moves me. I am not into classical music, but this one is a must.
Oh, brother! Those guys need to hook up with Lara St. John for a titillating double bill. Actually, St. John is pretty damn good...check out her renditions of Bach, which is one of my favorites. It's all solo violin.
By the way, chamber music presents a fantastic oportunity for multichannel. A prime example is the TACET DVDA of Mozart Flute Quartets, and other similar discs from TACET. Close your eyes and the performers are with you in your room.
Have you tried Bartok yet? His six quartets are superb. There are many fine readings available - Julliard, Tokyo and Emerson - but my favorite is the Tatrai Quartet. I've got it on vinyl (Hungaraton) - don't know if it was issued on CD.
WOW.....This is great!
I'll definitely look into every suggestion.
To start with something, Bartok is next on my list.

Shadorne, LOL.....
My wife actually likes their "Born" cd.
Tchaikovsky must be spinning in his grave to their techno version of "The 1812" though

Any Piano Trios on Hyperion by the Floristan Trio. They have recorded a nice selection, I haven't heard a bad one yet.
As far as composers I'm partial to just about anything by Schubert.
Tchaikovsky "The Seasons" is also very nice as is Kodaly on the Fidelis Label.


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,

Steve O.
Also Rachel Podger and Trevor Pinnock do a very nice job with Bach recordings on the channel classics label.

Steve, Brahms is one of my favorite. I have the Clarinet pieces you mentioned. I have Piano Quintet on order.

Thanks all....keep the suggestions coming.
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.
Thanks Lapaix! I'll check it out...if I can find it

there is a lot of great chamber music, such as schubert quartets, the ravel and debussy quartets, borodin quartets, frank bridge quartets.

this is such an open question and there is no definitive answer.
I actually wasn't asking for a definitive answer.
I was just asking for suggestions.
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)
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.
Opalchip, thanks for the link. I listened to most of it. Very good. But this set is pretty expensive thoug....
It is expensive from the dealers, but if you keep an eye on Ebay with a "Saved Search", you may be able to pick up a used copy for much less. I got mine that way for $15 on a "Buy It Now". There are also other very good performances that are still in print and priced normally.
Got Bartok Quartets(Emerson String Q) and Brams Quartets and Piano Quintet(Emerson String Q).

Bartok is wild! Definitely grabs your attention.

Thanks for the recommendations!
The Shostakovich quartets are among my favorites too. Try the St Lawrence Quartet recording of 3,7,&8. Outstanding!

I also really enjoy the Klenke Quartett recordings of the late Mozart Quartets are very worthwhile.

Finally, the Beethoven piano trios are a joy.
Brownsfan, thanks.