Friday, February 19, 2016

Metamorphosis: Béla Bartók, String Quartet No. 4 - György Ligeti, String Quartet No. 1 "Metamorphoses nocturnes" - György Kurtág, 12 Microludes for String Quartet - Cuarteto Casals - Harmonia Mundi 2010

This is really a birthday post for the great Hungarian composer György Kurtág who turns 90 today. I don't have the energy to comb around for my "all-Kurtag" discs so this recording of his "12 Microludes for String Quartet" (which happens to be the shortest piece here) will have to do. This is, however, an exceptional disc in every way and I'm sure I would have posted it eventually anyhow. Cuarteto Casals is a top-tier ensemble and their performances of all three works are near-perfection. This is surely one of my top Bartók 4ths, and I have *never* heard Ligeti's "Metamorphoses nocturnes" Quartet played better than this. I don't think it gets any better than this! Same goes for the Birthday boy's "12 Microludes" (I have another recording of the Kurtág with the Avanti Quartet on Ondine, and then there's a DG disc that I haven't heard, admittedly).  I think that everyone who loves quartet writing in general and intense, powerful string quartets of our time will be quite pleased :)

György Kurtág

Enjoy everyone!


Anonymous said...

Thanks! It is a great disc! I shared it a few years back on Avax, so by now the links are dead no doubt! :) Keep up the good work!


Johannes R. Becher said...

This disc is really endearing, if only by its program and by its cover depicting the Cuarteto Casals in what I guess is the Barri Vell in Barcelona. The Metamorphoses is indeed a truck bomb disguised as a string quartet. My favourite version is the extremely accurate Arditti's, most other versions I've heard, including this one, come as a bit fuzzy to me.

As for the Kurtág pieces, I'm quite fond of his succintness, but this pieces are far too volatile for me. I'll try and listen to them five or six times in a row and tell you :D

Believe it or not, the Cuarteto Casals was playing last month in town and I didn't go. The reason? Lazyness and, above all, the concert program: Schubert, Beethoven and Shostakovich. An evening with Shostakovich sounded nice (Mr. Pillable complains about the supposedly ubiquitous Mahler & Shostakovich glut, but where I live these count rather as avantgarde), but Schubert and Beethoven came as rather trodden to me.

Even funnier: I remember complaining to myself why oh my god why cannot they play any piece of this very nice record of theirs?

The answer is, of course, that the Casal Quartet and the Cuarteto Casals are rather ontologically diferent entities.


Tzadik said...

Hello Piterets, always nice to hear from you :) Truly a great recording, even the engineering is something to write home about. So do you have a favorite recording of these works? -The Bartok is a tough one, there are so many great and varied performances!


Tzadik said...

Greeting Johannes

Well, you are correct about the Arditti Quartet; I do own the complete works set and it is a monster of a performance! Perchance I spoke too soon ;) Then again I have been listen to the Casals quite a bit lately, so I have inadvertently been wearing 'musical blinders' I suppose. Kurtág's "Microludes.." musically plays out as if it could use a bit of lithium indeed - but, I personally love that! I can well understand about the Casal's program; it'a always a pleasure to hear Shosty quartets but Beethoven and Schubert, while I greatly admire
their quartets, I'd rather listen at home *when* the mood strikes. That plus I cannot afford to go to any concerts anymore. Meanwhile I am speculating that you live in North Dakota, hehe (I must admit if you have ever mentioned where in the world you are, I have forgotten so I apologize, potentially..)

Yes, that's a solid program by the CASAL Quartet, ha. It would be reasonable to venture out to hear such fascinating works during a hailstorm.

-'Tis nice to hear from you once again!


Johannes R. Becher said...

ND :D You missed it by only a few thousand kilometers. I actually live in a small town 100km north of Barcelona (the same one Xavier Montsalvatge was born in, if this name tells you something).

I've been searching for reviews of this concert but I've been unable to find any. Nonetheless there is a short video here.


Tzadik said...

I was off by a hop, skip, and a jump, wasn't I? very beautiful. And the towns around it even more so, sadly though I have never been there. I like Montsalvatge, and he had "neighbors" such as Mompou, Granados (ok Granados was actually from Lleida but close enough!) and I think Albeniz, among others.

Thanks for the url. I wish the commentator would...ermm...not comment however ;) There passion is quite evident in this minute-long clip!

Best regards,


Tzadik said...

Oopsy, "their" passion, that is.

Scraps said...

I trace my classical learning to the Bartok quartets thirty-one years ago, when a roommate of mine (Don Keller -- are you out there, Donald?), noticing my rock taste, played them (in the [I think] second recording of the Juilliard Quartet) for me. I was knocked out, and within a week I obtained the six quartets by the Takacs Quartet: not the Decca version, but the earlier one on Hungaroton (1985) with the original members.

I think Donald liked the 4th best; but I could be wrong -- he liked the 3rd, 4th, and 5th. (Of course we liked all six.)