I’ve been sitting here trying to think of a way to explain why Casals’s interpretation of Beethoven’s String Quartets is great without sounding like a complete fucking douchebag. I finally concluded that the task is impossible. No matter what, this shit comes out greasy as fuck. So instead, I’m going to present a crash course in how to be your own classical douchebag. That way, when you hear this shit for yourself, you can sound like an entitled prick all on your own! Sounds fun? Good. Now, let’s get this started (this works best if you click the links as you read along).
First, some history.
When Beethoven’s Late String Quartet first came out people did not like it. Just wasn’t their jam. They didn’t even consider it music. Now of days, it’s considered the best shit ever fucking written. And remember, Beethoven was deaf as a white cat when he wrote this shit, so phrases like “ahead of its time” and “genius” make a fuckton of sense. Schubert said after hearing it: “After this, what is there left for us to write?” In other words, this shit is fire.
Stuff to know: Beethoven didn’t put metronome marks on his late shit so it’s all left to interpretation. How fast or slow it goes is totally up to the quartet. No pressure, right? Some quartets make it so slow it gets boring as fuck. Other Quartets make it sound rushed. Also, the faster something goes the harder it is to understand. But, if it’s too slow it sounds pandering. But, how fast something should go is totally up to you motherfuckers.
How to be a Classical Cunt: The Beethoven (Late String) Quartet Edition
Up first is the Quartetto Italiano which disbanded in 1980. It’s up first because this shit is off the fucking hook. It’s so fucking slick and everything just flows like warm milk down a naked greased up backside on a summer’s day. The song you’re listening to is called “String Quartet No. 12 in E Flat, Op. 127: 1. Maestoso – Allegro.” The title fucking sucks. But that’s just how shit was named back in the day. These motherfuckers just play it together and as is. They aren’t too heavy on the vibrato and they just own it. It’s kind of the industry standard as far as things go.
You’ve heard this shit once, now you’ll hear it again. That’s the entire point. You listen to a bunch of renditions of the same shit and make your own fucking decision. So, right off the bat you can hear the fat bass on this bitch. Some say this could be a fault of the recording, some say it’s not. Either way, who fucking cares. It’s fucking there. Other motherfuckers think the tonal beauty of this quartet isn’t there compared to Italiano. You might think this is fucking nuts. And good for you if you do. Means you’re already well on your way to becoming a classical cunt. As for my opinion, shit doesn’t feel as happy and bright compared to our Italiano motherfuckers. But that’s just me. We are comparing the best of the fucking game so don’t worry if it sounds similar to you. Generally, violinist love this rendition. I have no clue why.
Hear that shit? That’s what motherfuckers mean when they say “this quartet has a modern sound” or a “febrility” (shit just means “fever-like and classical fucks say it to sound confusing). The reason for this is that the Emerson Quartet is fucking modern. So far, this is my fucking jam. Some people try and train you on hearing how shit is played and not the recording or style, but that takes time and training. And, like I said, this is a fucking crash course. All I’m doing is helping you see the differences of styles so you can be on your way to becoming a classical douchebag. I can’t teach full douchebag lessons this quickly.
Tokyo String Quartet (Skip to 5:07:38 for same song)
You hear that? Does that shit seem like it has more air? And somehow that viola is easier to hear. What the fuck, right? It’s easier to hear the separate parts on this recording. Don’t ask me why. I’ve heard these guys do other recordings, but something about them and Beethoven just fucking clicks. It feels less structured in its own way. This shit flows like a river instead of being static and mechanical notes on a page. I love their fucking rendition of it. It has a “modern sound” (now, as a quasi-classical douche, you understand what that shit means).
Alban Berg Quartet (Skip to 19:36 on this shit)
The Alban Berg Quartet is a fucking classic. It’s the kind of shit that you might have heard before without ever knowing it. But, now that you’ve heard some interpretations, you can figure out for yourself whether or not you like it. There’s nothing “muddy” (Meaning the instruments don’t sound like a giant mess of sound. You can hear all four of them bitches playing). There’s minimal vibrato so you can hear what’s on the page, not some interpretation. And that quartet works together like a single machine. It’s a classic of a classic. Though, by now, you might not like the perfect “classical sound” and prefer some stank on that ass.
(If you want to try more of this shit, BBC makes it easy in a single fucking recording [https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/play/p01sgkhs])
Cuarteto Casals Shit
So, this is Casals Quartet. Why is this shit good? First off, I love that clarity of tone that’s not trying to fuck me in the face. It’s clear without being pushy. This quartet allows the music to speak for itself while also sounding clear and modern. This doesn’t happen every day and it’s really difficult to do. It doesn’t sound at all douchey to me. Which, for a quartet, sounds almost impossible. I’ve heard this shit so many fucking times. But, somehow, I “rehear” the beauty of this composition when Casals Quartet plays it. That’s right, I’m like fucking Madonna with these Beethoven String Quartets; touched for the very first time. The tone is pure, the vibrato doesn’t sound like it’s riding on a derailed train going through a gravel pit. It’s pure. It’s clear. It’s clean. And it makes me want to jam the fuck out to some of my favourite music ever made. But, now that you are your own entitled douchebag, how about you listen to it and make your own decision?