Academic journal article ARSC Journal

EMI Classics

Academic journal article ARSC Journal

EMI Classics

Article excerpt

EMI Classics has remastered the Busch Quartet's benchmark recordings of the complete late String Quartets of Beethoven, along with the Op. 95 "Serioso" (5 09656 2, 3 CDs; www.emiclassics.com). There are no more serious and probing readings of these difficult and profound works on record, and EMI is to be applauded for keeping them in their active catalog throughout the LP and CD era. The one performance that doesn't quite measure up to the remainder is that of the Grosse Fuge, Op. 133, where Busch led a chamber orchestra in the Felix Weingartner arrangement. The orchestra is not particularly polished, with difficulties in both ensemble and intonation. The Quartet in B-flat, Op. 130 and Grosse Fuge were recorded by American Columbia in 1941 in Liederkranz Hall, New York City on 16-inch lacquer masters. Typical of American Columbia's work throughout the 1940s, the dubbings to 78-rpm matrices paled in comparison to the sound of the original masters, with Columbia's noisy 78-rpm surfaces only compounding the sonic deficiencies. EMI licensed access to the original lacquer masters and hired Seth Winner to perform new transfers especially for this release. …

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