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David Hurwitz doesn't like British string quartets!

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 Hugh
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After listening to Haydn's Op 33 no 1 played by the Doric Quartet I was googling to find out what others have written about it, and I stumbled on this extraordinary rant by David Hurwitz:

Review: HORRIBLE Haydn from the Doric Quartet - Bing video

When comparing the Doric's playing with the sort of performance he likes he several times mentioned the Buchberger Quartet so I gave that a listen. After the Doric it seemed extraordinarily bland to me. I wonder what others think.

‎Hadyn: String Quartets, Op. 33 by Doric String Quartet on Apple Music

‎Haydn: String Quartets, Op. 33 & 42 by Buchberger Quartet on Apple Music


   
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 Jen
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‘Rant’ is quite an understatement! 😂

To my ears, this Doric recording brings the Haydn Op.33s to life.  

Yup, there are times when the tempo is a bit startling, when the slides seem mannered, but that all adds to the performance.  

It’s true that I tend to prefer a string quartet to sound wiry rather than pretty, but the sound and intonation of the Doric seems impeccable to me!

And to extend the criticism to all British string quartets in modern times, well, I’m speechless… 

 


   
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 Hugh
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Hurwitz's tone reminds me of some of the online comments I've seen about Currentzis's conducting. These seem strange things to get cross about.


   
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Posted by: @jen

this Doric recording brings the Haydn Op.33s to life.

My thoughts exactly. After hearing them I felt the Buchberger didn't seem to understand the point of the music. Mind you, I only listened for a minute or two.


   
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 Jen
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Posted by: @hugh

some of the online comments I've seen about Currentzis's conducting. These seem strange things to get cross about.

Ah, yes, but it’s impossible to be merely indifferent to Currentzis’s conducting 😂

I’m smiling as I recall the splendidly spirited discussion we had in the Primephonic community!


   
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 Jen
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But back to what I think was the essence of David Hurwitz’s argument: that it is not necessary for a string quartet to sound ugly for them to convey the full gamut of expression.

Ugly is obviously in the ear of the beholder but even with that in mind, I have to differ.  I think it is impossible for any musician to fully convey anger, or anxiety, or fear, with a sound that is perpetually beautiful.  And it’s not desirable either.  Why paint with half of the palette missing?  I don’t want music that sounds only beautiful; I love those jarring contrasts!

What do others think? Does Hurwitz have a valid point?


   
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 Hugh
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Getting back to Op 33 no 1, last night I listened first to the Cuarteto Casals (who Hurwitz approves of ... up to a point: Haydn: Op. 33 Quartets/Casals Quartet - Classics Today) and then back to the Doric Quartet. The comparison helped me feel (very) slightly more sympathetic to Hurwitz's point of view. It seemed to me that the Casals managed to convey the contrasts and the emotions without disturbing the flow of the music to the same extent as did the Doric. I particularly loved the slow movement.

The more I hear of the Casals the more I like them.

Tonight I'll go back to the Mosaiques.


   
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 Hugh
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Posted by: @jen

Why paint with half of the palette missing?

Both the Doric Quartet and Currentzis have helped me listen with fresh ears. The world would be poorer without them.


   
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 Jen
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I entirely agree with you about the Doric Quartet…

… but choose avoid Currentzis at all costs 😊


   
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 Hugh
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Posted by: @jen

avoid Currentzis at all costs

I don't understand this. For me he added new life to Don Giovanni, especially in the recitatives, but not just in them: only the other day I added Protegga il giusto cielo to a playlist of operatic ensembles that I started compiling for my desert island.

It seems to me that that performance well fulfils your requirements set out in one of your posts above. There is a wide range of emotions; his palette is always interesting and refreshingly new; there are plenty of sudden contrasts. Above all, for me, the performance is great fun.

This reviewer pretty much reflects my thoughts.

MOZART - Don Giovanni Sony 88985316032 [ST] Classical Music Reviews: December 2016 - MusicWeb-International


   
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 Jen
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I think we’ve re-opened a can of worms here 😂

My problem with Currentzis is not that he takes a radical, fresh approach to many works - it’s good to have choice - but more that his particular takes are not always, to my ears at least, very sympathetic to the composers.

I’m thinking of his Rameau album, and the recording of Dido and Aeneas, in which Currentzis shines, but Rameau and Purcell seem to almost disappear.

Perhaps he is more generous to Mozart?  


   
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 Hugh
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Well, I won't listen to his Purcell or Rameau then! 😉 

Reverting to Don Giovanni, and to your earlier reference to half a palette, I'm amused to note that in his review of Don Giovanni Simon Thomson ended with a painting simile. He had "hated" Currentzis's recordings of the other Da Ponte operas and came to the Don Giovanni recording to "bury" it (shades of Hurwitz) but concluded " ... if you want something as fresh as a new coat of paint and bristling with life then you should turn to this one for some exciting new discoveries. These are words I never thought I’d write! Maybe I was wrong about Figaro and Così… "


   
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Posted by: @hugh

Well, I won't listen to his Purcell or Rameau then! 😉

And I will listen to his Don Giovanni! 😁


   
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Posted by: @jen

I will listen to his Don Giovanni!

Well, well, I have no more hats left to eat 😂

This definitely sounds like Mozart, delightfully articulated Mozart, and I agree that it’s great fun too!  I’d prefer a more menacing Commendatore, but you can’t have everything 😁

 


   
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 Hugh
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Well well! I'm so pleased you found it worth a listen. 😀 


   
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