Select Page
Top 10 String Quart...
 
Notifications
Clear all

Top 10 String Quartets

29 Posts
8 Users
39 Likes
297 Views
 Jen
(@jen)
Stalwart
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 375
Topic starter  

Gramophone magazine set themselves quite a challenge recently, and say “It’s almost impossible to come up with a credible ‘top 10’ list for the best string quartets”.

Top 10 String Quartets

Well, that seems to be an excellent starting list of suggestions, and great recordings, too! 

Is your favourite string quartet(s) missing from the list?

Or… perhaps your least favourite is included?

 


   
Dinah reacted
Quote
(@divertimento)
Semi-active Member
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 6
 

I see that Gramophone also says "...this is more of a newcomer's starter-pack". That's good for me, given my very limited knowledge of string quartets. So I'll set up their suggestions as a playlist and listen while I'm on holiday in the coming weeks.

What about you, @jen? Is a favourite missing? Is there one that made the list that you thought was unworthy?


   
Dinah and Jen reacted
ReplyQuote
 Jen
(@jen)
Stalwart
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 375
Topic starter  

I’m not sure how to define “best”, but one of my favourite string quartets is Beethoven’s Op. 95 in F minor, Quartetto serioso.  It forms a bridge between the middle and late quartets, and is possibly a contentious choice.  Even Beethoven, apparently, declared it “was never to be performed in public”.

And yes, it may the darkest, the most austere of Beethoven’s quartets, it may break all the rules, but I love it: the way it hurtles from one mood, and one idea, to the next.  Flashes of impatience are interleaved with wistful pensiveness, there’s the wonderfully tender opening to the last movement, and that crazy ending.

I’m so glad it is often performed in public!

It’s hard to choose between many excellent recordings.  Takács Quartet, perhaps?  But I’m drawn to the inspired performance and less traditional sound of Chiaroscuro Quartet, playing here with almost no vibrato on gut strings:

https://app.idagio.com/recordings/28185975


   
Dinah reacted
ReplyQuote
 Jen
(@jen)
Stalwart
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 375
Topic starter  

Hi, @divertimento, our earlier posts crossed in the ether 😊

That list from Gramophone does seem to be a great starting point… although there are (too many) extras I might add.

Is there anything ‘unworthy’ on the list?  Not for me, but I’m intrigued to hear what others think.

It’s tempting, though, to swap the Debussy out for the Ravel in that wonderful album by Quatuor Ebène:

Debussy, Fauré & Ravel: String Quartets | Stream on IDAGIO

Or maybe not? 


   
Dinah reacted
ReplyQuote
(@dinah)
Forum Champ
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 287
 

Like @divertimento, I'm a rather newcomer to quartets, I prefer the big, loud, pomp and circumstance of a full orchestra 😂

I might give the Gramophone list a try, also your suggestions are always welcome @Jen, I trust your judgment 👌


   
Jen reacted
ReplyQuote
 Hugh
(@hugh)
Forum Champ
Joined: 12 months ago
Posts: 234
 

Golly. How to choose a Top 10?

The Gramophone list certainly provides a very good cross-section of styles.

I'm not sure I would choose the Emperor out of all Haydn's quartets. In another life (... how I would love to be able to re-read some of the discussions we had there! ...), when we touched on the subject of favourite quartets I mentioned my *short* list of Desert Island music. In that list I wrote Op 77-1 with a ?

I'm glad to see the Cuarteto Casals listed and their performance of the extraordinary introduction to Mozart's Dissonance quartet is wonderfully ... dissonant!

While I admire Beethoven's Op 131 and love all the late quartets the ones I tend to go back to are the three Razumovsky Op 59 quartets: I especially love the slow movement of Op 59-2 and the finale of Op 59-3, but as a whole work I think I would choose Op 59-1. (However, after listening last night to part of the Chiarascuro Quartet album that @Jen mentioned in another thread I'm not sure I wouldn't choose Op18-1, not least for its dramatic slow movement.)

For Shostakovich my desert island list says Quartet 3 or 7. No 3 is powerfully moving, but I have a soft spot for no 7, perhaps because it was one of the first quartets (apart from Beethoven's and a few of Haydn's and Mozart's that I got to know.)

 


   
Dinah and Jen reacted
ReplyQuote
 Jen
(@jen)
Stalwart
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 375
Topic starter  

Yes indeed, it’s impossible to choose a top 10 😂

And I wouldn’t be choosing the Emperor, either… although I can perhaps understand why they did (and I’m quite fond of the final movement, and the typical Haydn mischievousness in the first).  

Of all Haydn’s quartets I’d be picking one earlier in Op.76 instead: Fifths.  

 


   
Dinah and Hugh reacted
ReplyQuote
(@odalisque)
Active Member
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 20
 

Notably absent:

  • Borodin #2
  • Ravel
  • Smetana #1
  • Tchaikovsky #2
  • Brahms - any and all but I'm partial to the Bb major
  • Schubert Rosamunde

   
Dinah and Jen reacted
ReplyQuote
 Hugh
(@hugh)
Forum Champ
Joined: 12 months ago
Posts: 234
 

@odalisque Which of those would you put in your top 10?


   
ReplyQuote
 Hugh
(@hugh)
Forum Champ
Joined: 12 months ago
Posts: 234
 

Hello @dinah! I hope you enjoy exploring string quartets. There is so much pleasure to be gained from them (and from other chamber music). A small group of committed players can be just as passionate as a full orchestra! 


   
Dinah and Jen reacted
ReplyQuote
(@dinah)
Forum Champ
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 287
 

Hello @hugh

I'm yet to dedicate some "quality" time for string quartets. I feel I should really study/ listen to examples of this genre in depth, as it's one of the least that I know about.

Maybe I'll start by setting up a playlist of those pieces @odalisque mentioned above (if only for Borodin and Smetana!), then move on to Gramophone's list?


   
Hugh reacted
ReplyQuote
(@odalisque)
Active Member
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 20
 

@hugh Definitely included in my top 10 are Ravel, Brahms Bb (and the cmin since it's my list) and the Borodin.


   
Hugh reacted
ReplyQuote
 Hugh
(@hugh)
Forum Champ
Joined: 12 months ago
Posts: 234
 

@odalisque I can understand why you might rate the Ravel ahead of Debussy. I scarcely know the Borodin so I shall come back to it, but since you rate Brahms Op 67 so highly I shall give it top priority.


   
ReplyQuote
 Hugh
(@hugh)
Forum Champ
Joined: 12 months ago
Posts: 234
 

@odalisque I can understand why you might rate the Ravel ahead of Debussy. I scarcely know the Borodin so I shall come back to it, but since you rate Brahms Op 67 so highly I shall give it top priority.


   
Jen reacted
ReplyQuote
 Jen
(@jen)
Stalwart
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 375
Topic starter  

Yes, I’d replace the Debussy with Ravel’s quartet in the Gramophone list, too.  How distinctive is that pizzicato second movement: once listened never forgotten!

We’ve talked about Sally Beamish before on these forums, and I’m a fan of her string quartets.  This morning I’m listening to the lovely Opus California, played here by the Brodsky (Idagio)

String Quartet No. 2 (1999)

It may not make the list for the 10 best quartets, but it’s likely among my 10 favourite quartets 😁

 

 


   
Odalisque and Hugh reacted
ReplyQuote
Page 1 / 2