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Das Alban Berg Quartett – The Teldec Recordings (8 CD box set, APE)

Das Alban Berg Quartett - The Teldec Recordings (8 CD box set, APE)
Das Alban Berg Quartett - The Teldec Recordings (8 CD box set, APE)

Performer: Alban Berg Quartett: Gunter Pichler, Klaus Maetzl, Gerhard Schulz, Hatto Beyerle, Valentin Erben
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 8 CD box set
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: Warner Classics
Size: 2.2 GB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: no

CD 1
Joseph Haydn

1-4. String Quartet in G minor, Op.74, No.3 “Rider”
5-8. String Quartet in C major, Op.76, No.3 “Emperor”

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

“Haydn” Quartets
9-12. String Quartet No.14 in G major, K.387 “Spring”

CD 2
1-4. String Quartet No.15 in D minor, K.421
5-8. String Quartet No.16 in E flat major, K.428
9-12. String Quartet No.17 in B flat major, K.458 “Hunt”

CD 3
1-4. String Quartet No.18 in A major, K.464
5-8. String Quartet No.19 in C major, K.465 “Dissonance”

CD 4
1-4. String Quartet No.20 in D major, K.499 “Hoffmeister”

“Prussian” Quartets
5-8. String Quartet No.21 in D major, K.575
9-12. String Quartet No.22 in B flat major, K.589

CD 5
1-4. String Quartet No.23 in F major, K.590

Franz Schubert
5-8. String Quartet in A minor, D.804 “Rosamunde”
9-12. String Quartet in G minor, D.173

CD 6
Johannes Brahms

1-4. String Quartet No.1 in C minor, Op.51, No.1
5-8. String Quartet No.2 in A minor, Op.51, No.2

CD 7
1-4. String Quartet No.3 in B flat major, Op.67

Antonin Dvorak
5-8. String Quartet in G major, Op.106

CD 8
Alban Berg

1-2. String Quartet, Op.3
3-8. Lyric Suite

Anton Webern
9-13. Five movements, Op.5
14. Six Bagatelles, Op.9
15-17. String Quartet, Op.28

Erich Urbanner
18. String Quartet No.3

Ave Atque Vale, ABQ!

As marvelous as the later Alban Berg Quartet (ABQ, for short) became, I am still partial to the early 1970s recordings made by the original ABQ members for Teldec. All those recordings are collected in this set which, sad to say, becomes another bittersweet ABQ commemorative now that the group has decided to disband. Anyway, the original ABQ immediately established itself as a technically formidable ensemble with these Teldec recordings of string quartets by Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Dvorak, Berg, Webern, and Urbanner. What becomes very apparent when you compare these recordings to later recordings by the ABQ on EMI is that the earlier ensemble produced a warmer, more typically Viennese sound. There is no lack of intellectual rigor in these Teldec performances, but the sound of the quartet, IMHO, is just more inviting. The discs in this handsome set include a complete survey of the Mozart ‘Haydn’ and ‘Prussian’ quartets and these performances can be directly compared with the later ABQ’s superb — but very different sounding — EMI offerings. While I prefer these earlier recordings, and also prefer the performances of the three Brahms quartets over the later EMI set, I intend no disrespect toward those later recordings. My point is this: if you love the ABQ of those EMI recordings, do not by any means consider these earlier Teldec CDs to be mere duplicates; they stand on their own as marvelous documents of how special the ABQ was from its beginning. Also, I am happy to report that Teldec has remastered the original analog recordings and tamed the somewhat hard and shrill sound of earlier CD releases, while the program booklet features a fine retrospective essay on the ABQ by noted British critic Tully Potter. Final note: look at the asking price for this Teldec set, which is very nice indeed. So, “Hail and farewell, ABQ!” And thanks for these and so many other special memories of great music making.

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