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Thread: Exploring Contemporary Composers

  1. #76
    Senior Member Art Rock's Avatar
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    I have 2 Abrahamsen CD's:

    Schnee - 8 canons and 3 intermezzos (Ensemble Recherche)
    String quartets 1-4 (Arditti String Quartet)

    I found the music OK, but not sufficiently interesting to explore him further. I'll be looking at recommendations in this thread.

    I also noticed this CD on sale right now (anyone recommend it or not?)

    Allüberall und ewig blauen licht die Fernen! Ewig ... ewig ...

  2. #77
    Senior Member Art Rock's Avatar
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    Bump? There must be more people wanting to share their experience with this composer.
    Allüberall und ewig blauen licht die Fernen! Ewig ... ewig ...

  3. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by Art Rock View Post
    I also noticed this CD on sale right now (anyone recommend it or not?)

    I don't have the Cd, but I've listened to it on the Naxos Music Library. I love Marchenbilder especially the last movement. I also enjoy Lied in Fall and Winternacht to a lesser extent.

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  5. #79
    Senior Member Trout's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mmsbls View Post
    The first work I ever heard from Abrahamsen (#200 on our TC Top 200 Recommended Post-1950 Works List) is Schnee. Schnee seems quite different from everything else I’ve heard from Abrahamsen, and I’ve yet to appreciate it. TC members seem to point to this work more than others from Abrahamsen. I’d love to hear others thought on Schnee.
    I love Schnee, definitely one of my favorite pieces of the 21st century. Its timbres and textures are so wispy, bare, even alien at times, yet they are utterly enchanting. From the beginning, the piano is what really draws me in, acting as both a tonal and percussive instrument that drives the piece rhythmically. In later sections, the pizzicato strings and the woodwinds assume this role with a sort of nervous energy. Some of the sections might outstay their welcome just a tad for me personally, but I find the piece to be haunting and thrilling as well as masterful in its epic conception. It has minimalist elements like Feldman and percussive sonorities like Ligeti or Furrer, but I think the piece is sui generis. However, I can completely understand people not necessarily liking it as I found it completely bizarre and even alienating upon my first listen.

    Let me tell you is probably a lot more accessible since it is similarly replete with gorgeous timbres, but there's not much unapologetic dissonance. And having Barbara Hannigan's sumptuous voice doesn't hurt much either!
    Last edited by Trout; Jan-10-2018 at 06:07.

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  7. #80
    Tulse
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    I've heard Schnee and Let Me Tell You a few times already, and playing them again I like them some more.

    The Double Concerto mentioned by Member Melvin is really good too, so I'll try some more works.

    Here are the YT links for Schnee:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKuV6NO_f08&t=1016s

    and the Double Concerto:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kA6jZ8SBIBU

    As an aside, I'm enjoying the paintings that have been coming up on my tele when playing both Gubaidulina and Abrahamsen through YT. Pleasing on the eye, they are deceptively simple but draw me in, especially since I am a captive for the length of the piece.
    Last edited by Tulse; Jan-10-2018 at 16:57.

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  9. #81
    Senior Member Melvin's Avatar
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    Abrahamsen has a lot of good chamber music

    Wald is one of my favorites so far
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqRO5OdAx4A

    I finally got the chance to listen to the longer pieces Schnee and LMTY yesterday

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  11. #82
    Senior Member Melvin's Avatar
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    Quoting Grove dictionary:

    "The composer’s first works adhered to the style of the Danish ‘new simplicity’ movement of the mid-1960s. For Abrahamsen and other composers such as Gudmundsen-Holmgren, Christiansen and Ole Buck, this stylistic attitude, which marked a break with serial music, was a Danish response to the complexity emanating from central Europe, particularly the circle around the Darmstadt School. In Abrahamsen this aesthetic anchorage came to mean an almost naive simplicity in musical expression, as exemplified in his orchestral piece Skum (‘Foam’, 1970). During the 1970s and 80s he developed an entirely personal style, in which a modernist stringency and economy are incorporated into an individual musical universe. The mature Abrahamsen emerged as early as in the first string quartet, ‘Ten Preludes’ (1973), which combines an assured sense of structure with clarity of expression. With later works such as the orchestral Stratifications (1973–5) and Nacht und Trompeten (1981), the ensemble works Winternacht (1976–8), Märchenbilder (1984), Lied in Fall (1987) and the wind quintet Walden (1978), the composer developed a multi-layered texture, both stylistically and emotionally."

    "As Abrahamsen has written: ‘My imagination works well within a fixed structure. … The more stringent it is, the more freedom I have to go down into detail. Form and freedom: perhaps much of my music has been an attempt to bring the two worlds together’. His compositions are relatively small in number, and mainly instrumental. Often of short duration, his pieces are nevertheless highly concentrated in expression, balancing dramatic gestures and structural finesse."

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  13. #83
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    I’ve heard Abrahamsen’s 3rd and 4th string quartets. The 4th string quartet moves back and forth between slow, sparse, controlled movements and faster freely flowing ones. The first movement consists solely of ethereal harmonics. The second movement, probably my favorite, includes harmonics coupled with a bouncy counterpoint. The third movement mirrors the first but uses heavy pizzicato. The fourth movement feels like a joyful dance. Abrahamsen says the quartet has become “a serene and cool piece.”

    String Quartet 4

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  15. #84
    Senior Member Melvin's Avatar
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    I've really enjoyed the 4th string quartet, I've returned to it a couple of times so far this week. On the whole I've really been enjoying this composer. I find his music to be unpretentious and sincere, and it connects easily.

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  17. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by mmsbls View Post
    I’ve heard Abrahamsen’s 3rd and 4th string quartets. The 4th string quartet moves back and forth between slow, sparse, controlled movements and faster freely flowing ones. The first movement consists solely of ethereal harmonics. The second movement, probably my favorite, includes harmonics coupled with a bouncy counterpoint. The third movement mirrors the first but uses heavy pizzicato. The fourth movement feels like a joyful dance. Abrahamsen says the quartet has become “a serene and cool piece.”

    String Quartet 4
    The 5:4's review linked in the youtube page is quite negative, but I like No. 4 the most among his string quartets. The expressive SQ No. 2 (1981) was the first Abrahamsen work I heard some time ago, and I didn't know that his earlier works were associated with New Simplicity. I want to hear Skum (1970, "adopting an almost naive simplicity of expression" - Wikipedia) and Symphony in C (1974, "whose puerile three-note theme heralded a new simplicity and placed him among the early minimalists" - Lebrecht). Are there any recordings?

    This is a concise, well-written bio of Abrahamsen by Paul Griffiths. it is interesting to know that "Ligeti, briefly his teacher, had been one of his first heroes, for exactness and beauty, along with Steve Reich."
    http://www.musicsalesclassical.com/c...ans-Abrahamsen

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  19. #86
    Senior Member Melvin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tortkis View Post
    I want to hear Skum (1970) and Symphony in C (1974) Are there any recordings?

    I can't seem to find any recordings anywhere of Skum, but there does exist an out of print slightly expensive ($20-$25) CD with the 1974 Symphony
    https://www.amazon.com/Danish-Orches...rds=abrahamsen

    But it also looks like this composer has had some revived attention recently after the acclaim and press for the 2015-16 concerts and recording of LMTY; for it appears there have been several new CDs of his released just in 2016 and 2017. So we may hope for more discs yet to come from this Dane.
    Last edited by Melvin; Jan-14-2018 at 12:06.

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  21. #87
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    Actually, that "Double Concerto" is a really nice piece. At first listen, it seemed a little bit unstructured to me, but coming back a couple of times, I can somehow navigate those meanders now...

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  23. #88
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    Quote Originally Posted by Melvin View Post
    I can't seem to find any recordings anywhere of Skum, but there does exist an out of print slightly expensive ($20-$25) CD with the 1974 Symphony
    https://www.amazon.com/Danish-Orches...rds=abrahamsen

    But it also looks like this composer has had some revived attention recently after the acclaim and press for the 2015-16 concerts and recording of LMTY; for it appears there have been several new CDs of his released just in 2016 and 2017. So we may hope for more discs yet to come from this Dane.
    Thank you, I just ordered it.

    I am finding his music more and more interesting, especially the 21st c. works. They are difficult to describe - mixture of modernism, simplicity/minimalism, Feldman, sentimentalism, folk, ... I liked Piano Concerto, Left, Alone, and let me tell you.

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  25. #89
    Senior Member PeterFromLA's Avatar
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    I'm a fan of the Piano Concerto, Schnee, LMTY, Nacht und Trompeten, and other pieces. I don't think I've heard anything by him that didn't grow on me. His music is well-crafted, imaginative, and penetrating.

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  27. #90
    Senior Member Melvin's Avatar
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    Here's a playlist of one of the CDs I posted
    118+8b1IVqL._SS500.jpg
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQV5...HumQGPd2-oHFmf

    Six pieces for Horn Trio (1984)

    Ten Preludes for String Quartet (1973)

    Although he did not compose anything throughout the entire decade of the 1990s, he did work on several chamber arrangements of pieces by nielsen, ravel, satie and others, some of which are featured on this cd


    Here's the other
    11WubvZ3toL._SS500.jpg
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eavw...GPr38N9v_l03aj

    "Landscapes" (Wind Quintet no. 1) (1972)

    "Walden" (Wind Quintet no. 2) (1978)

    Plus wind quintet transcriptions of Schumann's Op. 15 and of Ravel's Tombeau de couperin
    Last edited by Melvin; Jan-18-2018 at 07:41.

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