Brahms' second string sextet

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camaron wrote: I would be

camaron wrote:

I would be happy if the whole thing gets settled in her head as just “one of my things”. 

Yes, that would be the best approach. It is hard, though. When you love something, it is difficult not to want others to love it, too. And when they don't, the disappointment can sometimes look like a verdict. 

I wouldn't want to overstate any of this, however. It has never been anything but a very minor issue in my relationships, but it has clouded the odd moment and I have sometimes made an ass of myself........

Now seriously, I think my

Now seriously, I think my personal experience has been a bit more positive. It is clear that sooner or later I have always oversaturated my partners. And they’ve possibly seen me as being a bit of a geek. But they’ve genuinely opened up too, because the music is there for all to enjoy, after all. My previous partner fell in love with Glenn Gould, for instance. Not with Bach, but with Glenn Gould. There was something in his playing that she immediately connected with, and she often requested I played him. When we departed ways she asked me to leave names of composers and works, so she could keep listening to them.

Now it is somehow similar. There is a real enjoyment going on there. Some things she is very clear she doesn’t like. Some others she feels properly transported by. I try new things and I often fail, but when I get I hit, a new link has developed there.

camaron wrote:

camaron wrote:

When we departed ways she asked me to leave names of composers and works, so she could keep listening to them........

That's amicable! 

Yes, sure!

Yes, sure!

Raphael v. Prazak.

Camaron, if you listen to Prazak+Zemlinsky members recording, you might see "where I gather my conclusions from" as for Raphael recording. I say "might" because the Prazak recording can be fully appreciated in its SACD format with an approrpiate equipment. You may also try the Talich, for instance.

The Raphael Ensemble might enjoy "a mythic status" in UK (Hyperion, you see), but there is a sort of lukewarm reception in th rest of Europe. In any case, even in UK, the Nash Ensemble (on Onyx) is now the "mythic" one, not so deservedly so either. However, for performances, personal perception plays a significant role. So, if the Raphael is fine for you, so be it.

I do not know if you are aware of the Piano Trio arrangement of the Second Sextet by Theodor Kirchner. It is fascinating and very well brought for this medium. There are few recordings. I prefer an old one,on the Japanese Camerata label.

Parla

 

I’m indeed interested in that

I’m indeed interested in that Prazak recording. To get pointers was one of the main aims of my first post, after all. I’m working on it.

You are right that there is, in the UK, a strong bias towards home-grown sutff, which can be, at times, a little bit embarrassing. It is not all mildly nationalistic bias, of course, an much is explained by a particular shared sensitivity between British public and British performers. And British composers too, of course. This is perfectly natural and understandable.

The Raphael recordings of the sextets are very fine by any standards, regardless of who theoretically takes the top prize. If there is any other version at least as good, or even better I’m indeed interested in that.

Yes, I’m aware of that trio arrangement, but I haven't listened to it (yet). There is a rich variety of this sort of stuff with Brahms. Schoenberg added time ago his famous orchestration of the first piano quartet, but Brahms himself started it all, with things like the previous version of his piano quintet, for piano 4 hands (or was it two pianos?). Then someone else created a reconstructed first and original version for string quintet with two cellos.

Then things like the orchestration into a symphony of his first piano trio, in his second version! or the clarinete music with a viola instead, these by Brahms himself (or authorized by him).

I’m sure you know the series for piano 4 hands of most of his chamber and orchestral works, by Silke-Thora Matthies and Christian Köhn. There are plenty jewels there. Some of his densest orchestral works, like his symphonies sound beautifully in these piano versions. Or the string quartets.

non-SACD alternative

My only recording of Brahms 2nd Sextet is from the Marlboro Festival, coupled with the Horn Trio, on Sony. The six players are an ad hoc group led by Pina Carmirelli; though it's pretty ancient, other versions would have to go some to improve on it IMO.

Marlboro Music Festival.

Indeed, the Marlboro Music Festival has provided some quite interesting and good recordings of fine chamber music. I remember, in my LP years, I had a then Columbia LP with Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht (in the Sextet form) with another "ad hoc group" of what the cover sleeve called "professional musicians" (Mr. Currentzis does not have a very good view about the word "professional" for musicians, but I guess we can get over it). It has left me a lasting memorable experience, although, in the CD era, I found some alternatives who could compete with them quite effectively, of course, in different and various ways, like the Prazak, the Talich or the Leipzig Quartet.

Parla

Parla

Reply to #17.

Camaron, if you wish to trace or obtain rather easily a good recording of both String Sextets in the Piano Trio arrangement by T. Kirchner, you may try the recent CD by Avi-music with the fine Trio Jean Paul. Although I am satisfied with my old already out of print recording on Camerata, I think I must get it too.

As for the Piano Quintet, the Piano arrangement by Brahms himself was for two Pianos. The original version with two cellos by the composer himself, apparently, was never published. There are two recordings of the work in this form: a) one on Cello Classics, based on a 1964 reconstruction by Sebastian Brown, performed by a group called Divertimenti. It is well performed and it is pleasant and revealing listening. b) More recently, Toccata Classics released another reconstruction by cellist Anssi Kattunen along with the Clarinet Quintet in the version for two Violas, as arranged by the composer. The latter exists in some other better recordings, like the one with Maxim Rysanov (on Onyx) or David Aaron Carpenter (on Ondine).

On another note, very recently, Cappriccio reissued a very interesting recording of the great Second String Quintet in the arrangement for String Orchestra (along with Schoenbeg's Verklärte Nacht) with the Camerata Accademica of Mozarteum in Salzburg under Sandor Vegh. That's a kind of "must" for Brahms loyals.

Finally, I forgot to mention a quite good recording of the Second String Sextet with Isabelle Faust and some other fine soloists, which is unfortunately overlooked, since it is coupled with the Violin Concerto. I just received it in the Japanese SACD transfer by King International and it sounds impressively convinving.

Parla

My only recording by the

My only recording by the Marlboro Festival Orchestra is an old one of Mendelssohn’s 4th symphony, conducted by Pablo Casals. The version is really luminous and full of joy.

 

To round things up, maybe, worth mentioning some other recordings. The venerable Berlin Philharmonic Octet (1966) has very good versions of both sextets, the first I knew and liked. The second I’ve been listening too and it is very nice as well, very swift tempo, the music flows very naturally.

 

There is Yo-Yo Ma, Isaac Stern, etc. I’ve not listened to this but good things can be expected.

 

Menuhin, Aronovitz, etc (1963) is, again, very good. They way he sings the first theme on the violin is quite poignant.

 

I’ve managed to listen to a recording by the old Budapest Quartet (1937!), which sounds amazingly well and is, actually, quite fantastic. It just sounds right, from beginning to end.

Finally, I’ve also listened to the Talich performance, of both sextets. I kind of hold final judgment on this one. There are lots to really like, the sound is beautiful, lush, and the textures have been revealing at times. They play with much intensity (sometimes too much? First sextet, second movement…). But I also find them quite manierist, as if imposing too much of them in the music. The beginning of the second sextet sound tense and threatening, instead of mysterious and soothing. The second theme does not sound so luminous as it could, and articulation is strange…. But it does feel like a grower

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