Wednesday, February 26, 2003

[2/26/2011] String-quartet encores, Part 2 -- We hear from the Russians (continued)


Borodin's "Notturno" is played by four talented young Turks -- according to the YouTube poster, violinists Deniz Türeli and Özge Tanriver, violist Aydal Sargutan Isgören, and cellist Özlem Gürsoy are all members of the Antalya Symphony Orchestra, "around" their late 20s and early 30s.

Now back to our program of four Russian quartet "encores."

§ § §

TCHAIKOVSKY: String Quartet No. 1 in D, Op. 11:
ii. Andante cantabile

We've heard the Andante cantabile, both in Fritz Kreisler's celebrated violin-and-piano arrangement and in the original version. I don't know that it's necessary to say anything more about this gorgeous piece.
St. Petersburg Quartet (Alla Aranovskaya and David Chernyavsky, violins; Boris Vayner, viola; Leonid Shukayev, cello). Marquis, recorded June 22-27, 2005
Kocian Quartet (Pavel Hůla and Jan Odstrčil, violins; Jiří Najnar, viola; Václav Bernášek, cello). Bonton, recorded c1993

§ § §

GLAZUNOV: Novelettes (5), Op. 15:
iv. Valse: Allegretto

Maybe it's just me, but I haven't encountered the Glazunov Novelettes much. The "Valse" is the obvious charmer, and is performed as a free-standing encore on the Borodin Quartet CD. But the whole set strikes me as utterly delectable in the complete recording by the Hungarian Quartet, which we'll have to hear in its entirety one of these days. It comes to us courtesy of an outstanding eight-CD Music & Arts set devoted to the Hungarian. It's mostly previously unissued broadcast performances, but also includes most of the infectiously animated recordings the group made for the budget Concert Hall Society label c1952-53 -- essentially live performances, since they were basically recorded in straight-through single takes.
Borodin Quartet (Mikhail Kopelman and Andrei Abramenkov, violins; Dmitri Shebalin, viola; Valentin Berlinsky, cello). Teldec, recorded November 1994
Hungarian Quartet (Zoltán Székely and Alexandre Moskowsky, violins; Laurent Halleux, viola; Vilmos Palotai, cello). Concert Hall Society/Music & Arts, recorded September 1952

§ § §

BORODIN: String Quartet No. 2 in D:
iii. Notturno: Andante

Our friend Philip Munger anticipated this selection with his comment on last night's post: "I'll be conducting the Notturno from Borodin's 2nd String Quartet in its string orchestra transcription in Anchorage on May 14th, as part of a Russian pops concert by the Anchorage Civic Orchestra. That is one lovely little gem. Like the ["Haydn"] Serenade, a simple, straightforward breath of beauty. If we have any readers within striking distance of Anchorage, I hope you'll attend Philip's concert and say hello to him for us.

The incarnation of the Borodin Quartet heard playing its namesake composer's "Notturno" here is the not-quite-latest but still "late" one, in which (in 1996) Ruben Aharonian replaced Mikhail Kopelman as first violinist (and longtime violist Dmitri Shebalin retired and was replaced by Igor Naidin), in time for this 60th-anniversary CD. It was this incarnation of the Borodin that produced what I described in 2006 as the "amazing achievement" of its recording of the complete Beethoven quartets, the last major project before the retirement of the quartet's founding cellist, Valentin Berlinsky. He retired in 2007 and died in December 2008, a month short of his 84th birthday.)
Borodin Quartet (Ruben Aharonian and Andrei Abramenkov, violins; Igor Naidin, viola; Valentin Berlinsky, cello). Onyx, recorded 2005
Gabrieli Quartet (Kenneth Sillito and Brendan O'Reilly, violins; Ian Jewell, viola; Keith Harvey, cello). EMI, recorded c1970

§ § §

SHOSTAKOVICH: Two Pieces for String Quartet, Op. 36:
i. Adagio (Elegy from Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District)
ii. Allegretto (Polka from The Age of Gold)

After many years of listening compulsively to Shostakovich's string-quartet arrangement of his Polka from The Age of Gold, I've more or less forcibly listened quite a number of times to its companion, the "Elegy" arranged from Katerina's aria from the opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, and I've come around to the view that it is indeed a hauntingly beautiful piece. But then there's that amazing Polka.

Before we go any further, I think we need to hear the orchestral original of the Polka. You'll notice that the same question arises as to how far it's necessary and/or appropriate to push the parody elements. One form of pushing, of course, is just to play the thing bat-out-of-hell fast, a strategy that Maestro Järvi will be demonstrating for us. (As far as I know, by the way, the "allegretto" tempo marking applies to the orchestral version as well as the quartet arrangement.)
SHOSTAKOVICH: Polka from The Age of Gold, Op. 22a (No. 3)

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Bernard Haitink, cond. Decca, recorded November 1979
USSR State Symphony Orchestra, Maxim Shostakovich, cond. Melodiya/RCA, recorded in the late 1970s Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Neeme Järvi, cond. DG, recorded December 1989

Now here's an assortment of performances of the string-quartet arrangement.
i. Adagio (Elegy)
ii. Allegretto (Polka)
Shostakovich Quartet (Andrei Shishlov and Sergei Pishchugin, violins; Alexander Galkovsky, viola; Alexander Korchagin, cello). Melodiya/Olympia, recorded 1985
i. Adagio (Elegy)
ii. Allegretto (Polka)
Eleonora Quartet (Eleonora Yakubova and Irina Pavlikhina, violins; Anton Yaroshenko, viola; Mikhail Shumsky, cello). Etcetera, recorded c1993
i. Adagio (Elegy)
ii. Allegretto (Polka)
Emerson Quartet (Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer, violins; Lawrence Dutton, viola; David Finckel, cello). DG, recorded July 1998
i. Adagio (Elegy)
ii. Allegretto (Polka)
Medici Quartet (Paul Robertson and Ivo-Jan van der Werff, violins; David Matthews, viola; Anthony Lewis, cello). Nimbus, recorded May 9-11, 1988


Oh yes, we have just one more string-quartet encore-type piece, one with which I also have a particularly obsessive history.




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