Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Belcea Quartet play Beethoven Op 18/2, 59/2 and 131

Here is is: the eagerly awaited next installment of the Belcea quartet's Beethoven series. This one includes the Mount Everest of the chamber music repertoire – the C sharp minor quartet Op 131. And this is live music making, so the quartet has already played the taxing second Rasumovsky quartet. Holding together a work like Op 131 calls on the ensemble to sustain an incredible musical concentration for what must seem like an eternity. And they do it. And you cannot replicate this in a studio. This is live, on air, no retakes possible, so the tension mustn't ever be lost, not even between movements. 

And it isn't. This is a quartet on the top of their game, playing what I think is destined to become one of the great Beethoven quartet cycles. 

String Quartet in G Op. 18 No. 2
String Quartet in E minor Op. 59 No. 2 'Razumovsky'
String Quartet in C# minor Op. 131

Wigmore Hall, Broadcast Sunday 5th Feb 2012

Belcea Quartet
BBC3 HD Internet stream, tracked, normalised and tagged

Download from Rapidshare


  1. Op. 131 - I
    Op. 18 No. 2 - I

    "Error m4a audio file is corrupt"
    Please, can you reupload?

  2. Excuse me: now I'v use Itunes and is ok
    Good music - Jkd

  3. I have to say that iTunes is probably the best thing for these files, since they are tagged etc with iTunes in mind.

  4. Lots of thanks! These are wonderful interpretations indeed. Unfortunately, there is a problem with Quartet in C Minor Op 131, IV mov. The name and path exceed 260 characters. Could you rename and reupload, please?
    This is what WinRar says:
    ! C:\Program Files\JDownloader\downloads\ No se puede crear Belcea_Quartet_Beethoven_3\Quartet in C# minor Op. 131 - IV. Andante ma non troppo e molto cantabile — Più mosso — Andante moderato e lusinghiero — Adagio — Allegretto — Adagio, ma non troppo e semplice — Allegretto.m4a
    El nombre y la ruta no pueden exceder 260 carácteres
    ! The system cannot find the path specified.
    ! C:\Program Files\JDownloader\downloads\ No se puede crear Belcea_Quartet_Beethoven_3\Quartet in E minor Op. 59 No. 2 'Razumovsky' - III. Allegretto ("Maggiore - Theme russe").m4a
    ! The filename, directory name, or volume label syntax is incorrect.
    ! C:\Program Files\JDownloader\downloads\ Intentando corregir el nombre de fichero no válido
    ! C:\Program Files\JDownloader\downloads\ Renombrando Belcea_Quartet_Beethoven_3\Quartet in E minor Op. 59 No. 2 'Razumovsky' - III. Allegretto ("Maggiore - Theme russe").m4a a Belcea_Quartet_Beethoven_3\Quartet in E minor Op. 59 No. 2 'Razumovsky' - III. Allegretto (_Maggiore - Theme russe_).m4a

  5. The solution is to extract the archive in a folder where the total length of the path will be shorter than whatever restriction your operating system places on you. I'm afraid I have a Mac, which doesn't have this kind of problem, but my PC friends tell me that extracting onto the desktop can fix the problem.
    You could also try some other sort of extraction software that allows you to rename the file. This concert has been downloaded almost 200 times, so there must be a way of extracting the archive.

  6. The files Op.131 - I and Op.18 No.2 - I are not playable in foobar but do play in vlc and mpxplay (in case you don't know, an excellent DOS-windows command line player and file splitter). Here is how I converted them losslessly to mp4 files which do play in foobar:
    1. Put each file in turn in the mpxplay directory and rename it "test.m4a".
    2. Find its playing time in mpxplay.
    3. Run a batch file consisting of the line
    "mpxplay test.m4a test1.aac -o -obs -pst 00:00.000 -pet 06:55.000"
    (with suitable adjustments to the playing time, in this case 6'55" is the playing time of test.m4a plus 2 seconds to make sure the whole aac file is extracted).
    4. Use Yamb to put the resulting test1.aac file into an mp4 envelope.
    5. Use mp3tag to copy the tags from the original files to the new ones, using copy and paste.

    BBC iplayer listen again has really messed up on the fourth concert on 21 March, which I attended (it was out of this world). The first half overran, but 20 minutes is not available to listen to again, so the last two movements of Op.59/3 are missing from i-player. However there is a BBC 320kb wma alternative which does have all three parts of the broadcast. The sound is identical to the aac iplayer files, so far as I can tell, but the BBC recording quality leaves something to be desired - the first violin sounds unnaturally harsh at times when playing high notes loudly (this was not apparent at the concert).

  7. I'm sorry to hear you had to go to all this trouble. I use a Mac and iTunes seems to have no problem with the files.