Great String Quartets?

There was a great 4 piece string classical piece i heard several months ago on the radio but sadly i can’t remember the first thing about it. “Somebody’s” 2nd in “Something” minor; i dont know. How can i find it if i can’t remember anything about it? :)

So i thought i’d ask for some recommendations from anyone with knowledge of some good string quartets off hand. It was very “autumny” and brisk but with that hint of orange somberness violas always seem to impart on music. It was also, i think, some kind of “experimental” piece, and somewhat unconventional, and not straightfowardly boring like Bach. It might have been written by Beethoven.

Based on your extraordinary detailed description ;) I found this:

  1. Quartet for Strings no 2 in G major, Op. 18 no 2
    Composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827)
    Genre Quartet
    Date Written 1800
    Ensemble Kodaly String Quartet
    Period Classical
    Country Vienna, Austria
    Recording Studio

The CD listing is here.

That is…not enough information.

If you think it was written by Beethoven, get a list of all his string quartets and see if any of them ring a bell. Otherwise…well…there’s lots of other good music out there, and maybe you’ll happen to hear this piece again at some point.

I can’t even begin to guess what piece you heard so thought I’d recommend my favourite quartet.

Almost anything by The Kronos Quartet is amazing (even their version of Purple Haze).

Not to hijack, BUT …

Do you have Steve Reich’s masterpiece ‘Different Trains’? That is a brilliant composition that is some of Kronos’ best work, IMO.


No more wine tastings for j00!

straightfowardly boring like Bach.

weeping smiley

I don’t know the piece you are talking about, but if you like string quartets you might check out Schubert as well. The “Death and the Maiden” quartet is well known and has a wonderful melancholy, and the first movement of the Quartet #15 in G (D.887) is a knockout, though it’s rather aggressive and scary music. Woody Allen featured it in “Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

Beethoven’s late string quartets, and the Grosse Fugue, are considered to be quite challenging and experimental for their time. That’s well past #2 however.

Philip Glass did a “new” soundtrack to the movie Dracula (old B&W version) using the Kronos Quartet that kicks several but not all kinds of ass. 4 asses kicked out of a possible 5.


Apocalyptica kicks serious ass.

Beethoven’s string quartets are uniformly gorgeous. You pretty much can’t go wrong with any of them.

Some of my other faves:

Dvorak’s “American” quartet. Lyrical and melodic. The #2 movement is absolutely sublime.

Any of Bartok’s 1st through 6th. By turns playful and violent, melodic and atonal. It’s amazing how fresh these still sound today.

Vaughan Williams string quartets #1-2 and Phantasy Quintet. It’s just about what you’d expect from Vaughan Williams, but I love the hell out of the guy. There’s a good recording on Naxos that can be had cheaply.

Not to derail the thread, but I’ve got to put in a good word for Mstislav Rostropovich. I adore his cello work in Saint-Saens Cello Concerto No. 1 (also Han-Na Chang performed it with him conducting).

One of the best cellists our generation has seen. Also single-handedly smuggled the score for Babi Yar (Shostakovich, Symphony No. 13) out of the former USSR.

Since we are all gamers here …

I love the string quartet work done on Arcanum, and I know that the music was downloadable for a while - actually I just found it again here!


Hey, thanks for all the suggestions!

I wasn’t really looking for the mysterious missing quartet :), but i did want some ideas about good quartets.

It will take me awhile though to get to checking all these suggestions out. Thanks for the insights!