View Poll Results: Your choice for the deserted island?

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  • String Quartets

    10 38.46%
  • Piano Sonatas

    16 61.54%
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Thread: [Desert Island] Beethoven's 16 v 32

  1. #1
    Senior Member opus67's Avatar
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    Default [Desert Island] Beethoven's 16 v 32

    You know the drill: you're on a deserted island blah blah blah...

    Please vote. You can even choose different artists for each of the sonata or quartet, but you are left with only one set of works.

    Me? I have just begun exploring the early and some middle sonatas, so it'll be a long time before my vote is in.
    Regards,
    Navneeth

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    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    The sonatas have left a huge impression, but I still haven't warmed to the timbres of string quartets. I might have chosen them if they could all be arranged for string orchestra as someone has done for the late quartets - Bernstein maybe?

    No - I 'd still pick the sonatas.
    Last edited by Weston; Feb-08-2009 at 03:19. Reason: I had a visitor and rushed before proofreading.

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    Sonatas.I feel only through his sonatas you can touch his soul.

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    The sonatas or quartets...or, for me: Opus No. 95 vs. Opus No. 109. Really a tough choice, but the sonatas have a slight edge.

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    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    I chose the sonatas because 1) he wrote more of them, 2) I don't know them at all except isolated movements my school friends play occasionally, and 3) I think the instrument does not get in the way of his emotions as do a whole orchestra or a string quartet. So there you go. I'm a traitor.
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by World Violist View Post
    3) I think the instrument does not get in the way of his emotions as do a whole orchestra or a string quartet.
    I think I may agree. I'm just not sure I'm following you here. How does a piano get less in the way of emotions? Because it is (usually) a solo instrument?

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    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weston View Post
    I think I may agree. I'm just not sure I'm following you here. How does a piano get less in the way of emotions? Because it is (usually) a solo instrument?
    Because writing for four instruments with infinitely more limitations than a single piano is a lot harder than writing for solo piano. So Beethoven, being a pianist, could probably be more free with his emotions in the sonatas, if only because of the comparative lack of complexities.
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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    Senior Member opus67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weston View Post
    I might have chosen them if they could all be arranged for string orchestra as someone has done for the late quartets - Bernstein maybe?
    Hm. I wonder why anyone would do that? Orchestrating a chamber piece, especially something like a string quartet by Beethoven, would completely rid the piece of the intimacy it offers. I'd be interested in listening to those, nevertheless, just out of curiosity.
    Regards,
    Navneeth

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    Quote Originally Posted by opus67 View Post
    Hm. I wonder why anyone would do that? Orchestrating a chamber piece, especially something like a string quartet by Beethoven, would completely rid the piece of the intimacy it offers. I'd be interested in listening to those, nevertheless, just out of curiosity.
    Quite different than the reverse: transposing from orchestral to chamber (i.e. Liszt). This is the start to an entirely different (although very interesting) discussion (however, the best forum discussions are rarely linear). Which is better: "orchestral to chamber," or "chamber to orchestral?" My opinion is that transposing from 'large to small' is much more effective than vis versa. I'm not sure what I could gain from listening to, for example, an orchestration of the string quartets, or sonatas for that matter.

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    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    I imagine going from bigger to smaller is better for realizing the various lines in the music, because there are less of the same parts going at the same time and therefore there is much more clarity in the lines.

    Going from smaller to bigger may well add more sheer scale to the work, but I certainly wouldn't do that sort of thing anyway, because most composers actually have the sense to know the medium they're working in; chamber works are by nature more intimate than concertante/symphonic works. At least for the most part. And most of the time clarity is actually needed in these works anyway.
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    Senior Member opus67's Avatar
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    [Taking the thread farther away from the island,] I listened for the first time to Webern's transcription of Bach's six-part fugue from The Musical Offering, yesterday. It was a case of going from smaller to bigger (and moving forward in time by almost 200 years), but I did not find it to be the run-of-the-mill modern orchestration of Bach. It is beautifully done keeping everything "small," but at the same time exploiting a lot of things a (smallish) modern orchestra has to offer.

    Here's a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qV0U-lB45RY

    P.S.: I'd love to see a dedicated thread being created for this topic, if enough members are interested.
    Regards,
    Navneeth

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    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by opus67 View Post
    Hm. I wonder why anyone would do that? Orchestrating a chamber piece, especially something like a string quartet by Beethoven, would completely rid the piece of the intimacy it offers. I'd be interested in listening to those, nevertheless, just out of curiosity.
    The Opp. 131 and 135 late string quartets were arranged by Bernstein for string orchestra. His reasoning in the liner notes have something to do with the inner voices of these two quartets lending themselves to string orchestra -- but not the cadenzas! I found the CD now. It's a DG disc, D 100867, Weiner Philharmoniker / Leanoard Bernstein.

    I like it only because of the different timbre. Sometimes solo strings can come across as scratchy-screechy sounding to the uninitated. I am better about this these days, but still like the string orchestra sonorities. I'd guess it's like the age old argument about playing baroque keyboard pieces on a piano. (But we're in the territory of 3 or 4 other threads now.)

    Back on topic - looks like the sonatas are winning by a landslide! Aren't we glad we never really have to make these decisions?

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    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by opus67 View Post
    P.S.: I'd love to see a dedicated thread being created for this topic, if enough members are interested.
    Yes -- could it also be about transcriptions in general? I've heard a Bach piece played on ukelele (no joke) that is a stunning effect.

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    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weston View Post
    Back on topic - looks like the sonatas are winning by a landslide! Aren't we glad we never really have to make these decisions?
    Hey, if we did the record companies would be out of their minds trying to figure out the massive orders for the Beethoven piano sonatas. Or something like that.
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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    Senior Member opus67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weston View Post
    The Opp. 131 and 135 late string quartets were arranged by Bernstein for string orchestra. His reasoning in the liner notes have something to do with the inner voices of these two quartets lending themselves to string orchestra -- but not the cadenzas! I found the CD now. It's a DG disc, D 100867, Weiner Philharmoniker / Leanoard Bernstein.
    Thanks for the info, Weston. Much appreciated.


    Back on topic - looks like the sonatas are winning by a landslide!
    That's quite a surprise compared to what I thought while posting the poll. I thought things would be neck and neck.
    Regards,
    Navneeth

    Want a piece of classical music identified? Post a link or upload a clip here. Someone might have an answer.


    A quick and gentle introduction to audio formats and compression

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