You can't go wrong, although tastes will vary, with recordings by the Tokyo, Emerson, or Alban Berg quartets of this repertoire in the digital era; some like the Lindsays a lot (particularly British listeners) in Haydn. For period performances of Mozart and Haydn, you could try the excellent Quatour Mosaiques. If you can get over the need for digital recordings, the best performances bar none IMO are the Vegh for the Beethoven, and the Tatrai for Haydn. I also like the Quartetto Italiano in Mozart. For Haydn, don't bother with the generally critically lauded Kodaly performances on Naxos, an admittedly attractive budget alternative-- they just aren't that good, and aren't a patch on the older Tatrai.
I have the Tokyo Quartet for Beethoven and Alban Berg for the others. The only drawback to the Emerson Quartet is they record for Deutsche Grammophon. In general, I don't care for how DG's recordings sound.
For the Beethoven, Cleveland Quartet. ( By the way they do one of the best Debussy/Ravel) Can't make any high recomendation for the Mozart, maybe the Budapest S. Q. on #'s 14-19. There is the Heutling Quartet on EMI import from France. Not sure how they sound, but you get the complete quartets + 4 quintets. Tweekerman
I heartedly second Swklein's recommendation of recordings by the Mosaiques Quartet. Their Haydn is excellent, as are the recordings by the KodÃ¡ly Quartet on Naxos.
String Quartets Op. 76, Nos. 1-6
KodÃ¡ly Quartet (Naxos)
MosaÃ¯ques Quartet (Naive AstrÃ©e)
Tokyo or Emerson or Alban Berg Qts
String Quartets, K387, K421(Haydn Quartets, disc 1)
Mosaiques Quartet (Naive AstrÃ©e)
String Quartets, K464, K465 ("Dissonance") (Haydn Quartets, disc 2)
Mosaiques Quartet (Naive AstrÃ©e)
I'm a little surprised that these recordings have not been recommended yet, but for the Beethoven String Quartets, I think the Guarneri Quartet's recordings are in a class by themselves.
There's also an interesting recording of the Mozart Quartets by the American String Quartet. The recordings were done using the "Axlerod" Stradivari instruments that are housed at the Smithsonian. The playing, and the sound, is fantastic.
Just my two cents. Regardless, I hope you enjoy listening to all of these great, great works.
I must agree: Guarneri Qt. is also great for Beethoven. I have some of their LPs, but not the CDs.
Scratch my vote on the cleveland quartet on Beethoven. For great sound recording and great performance the Naxos label, The Kodaly Quartet. The Tanayev Quartet plays excellent, but is "heavy" sounding vs the Kolady. The Kolady is more musical. Not sure, but i think Naxos has the complete Beethoven as a set. The Kolady does the complete Haydn , like 35 cd's!! Tweekerman
Wow...thanks to all...as usual...Audiogoners seem to really know their stuff...any thoughts on Schubert's "Death and the Maiden"? Also, as far as I know, Haydn pretty much perfected the genre...with Mozart and Beethoven following suite...are there are lesser known quartets that come to mind..I do have Borodin done by the Borodin quartet which is world class...any thoughts?
The Borodin by Borodin are indeed spectacular. For "Death and the Maiden" there are excellent recordings by the Emerson and Tokyo, and the best of all is the Busch Quartet from the 1930s (which can be found, or could once, on EMI/Angel CD: don't sweat the dated sound, it's surprisingly vivid). You might want to try the Brahms quartets (Alban Berg, Takacs are good), the Bartok (Tokyo, Emerson, best of all Vegh), the Janacek (Tokyo, Smetana). These are some of m favorites!
Also...anbody have the Smetana Quartet doing Mozart?...these were on the Denon label...and sound amazing...I wonder if they are still available...
there is at least one Mozart/Smetana on the Testament label.
I think Dvorak's chamber music is also fantastic. Give a listen to the old RCA (I think) recording of the "American" String Quartet and the Piano Quintet with the Guarneri String Quartet and Arthur Rubinstein. I believe the album also includes the Brahms f minor Piano Quintet. Truly great performances.
Of course! The Dvoraks! Hard to play them badly, recorded evidence suggests. I have a soft spot for the Chilingirian Quartet on Chandos: excellent performances of the major quartets, with smooth and rich sound. Don't miss the G major quartet: it's the best, despite the far greater name recognition of the "American"...
Also Dvorak piano trios
I bought a great recording of some Faure chamber music that is outstanding (performance and recording) that might be of interest to some of you:
Sonatas for Violin and Piano, Nos. 1, 2
Berceuse, Op. 16
Romance, Op. 10
Andate, Op. 75
Morceau de lecture
Isabelle Faust (violin), Florent Boffard (piano)
Harmonia Mundi (2002)
To be completely honest, I can't think of any truly great performances on digital. I can think of great performances transfered to cd that sound great:
Hungarian S.Q.- their complete Beethoven is the best studio recorded set I know of. No compromises here. Their Mozart and Haydn is masterful as well. Check out their Brahms quartets, fantastic.
The Griller S.Q. on Dutton Labs, fabulous mozart and Haydn. One of the best examples of British string chamber musicians on record. Real elegance and style.
There is a live recording of the Quartetto Italiano playing a recital of Mozart d minor, Haydn lark, dvorak american, and debussy quartet(?). organic, and the best quartetto italiano recording I know of. Their Phillip's recordings all sound sterile, thin, static and boring to me.
The Budapest S.Q. live at the library of Congress, esp. the late quartets "live" readily avail at any tower records. the budapest at their finest, human, full blooded, deep performances. I think it is on bridge records(?)
Capet S. Q. playing anything.... now this a completely, much higher level of artistry. Spiritual, deep, elegant, stylish, human, organic, realness, true string technique/art, check them out. Their late beethoven is stunning. Also Mozart is pristine. Finest Schumann too.
I would pay Busch S.Q. lip service out of respect and admiration and awe, but find when it comes to pleasure listening (which is the only I have time for) I find it a little tiresome.
I nominate the Mosaiques Quartet's recordings as great digital ones.
they are interesting... they are one of the uncategorizable "authentic" quartets, due the inventiveness and instinctive playing of Hobart. Will gve them a relisten. I recall thinking that Hobart kind of outshined the rest of the group....
It's possible that Hobart does so, just as Cropper does (or tries to do) in the Lindsays. And Cropper snifs so much that I can hardly listen to more than a few minutes at a time!
Wake me up when you decide to go beyond the precursors
to the greats of the string quartet: Schubert and
Bartok. Most anything by the premier Emerson String Quartet
lights me up. Although I will make a case that Mozart's
String Quintets are interesting. And maybe the most sublime
chamber music is the Brahms' String Sextets. In my 6CD
changer right now:
3.Shostakovich/Late string quartets
4.Webern/Complete chamber works
This thread was about Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, regardless of what you think about these composers.
Why not start another thread on Schubert, inter alia?
Ewha, I really like that dvorak piano quintet recording with rubinstein. It is my favorite Guarneri S.Q. recording who otherwise I find sound overproduced. I didn't know why I liked that particular recording for the longest time and then I was told that they sight read the piece the studio. Of course they had all performed that work many times... but it has a life and spontaniety that I find missing in many of their other recordings.