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Thread: Weekly quartet. Just a music lover perspective.

  1. #2926
    Senior Member GucciManeIsTheNewWebern's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helgi View Post
    Btw., I was reading this thread while balancing a smartphone, a portable amplifier and a full cup of coffee this morning, and I think I accidentally hit the "report this post" button on one of the lovely posts in this weeks' discussion. Don't know if it went through, but just so you know!
    Snitches get stitches!

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    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    Hey, youse guys! Do they say that in N. Carolina? I've heard it in Brooklyn. It's a dreary morning here in central NY so I decided to get back in to some quartets. I'm a few behind so I'm getting caught up with the Villa Lobos. Despite the lukewarm responses here this one sounds glorious to my ears. But I admit I've listened to only one other of his and that was the first quartet a few years back which I remember enjoying quite a bit. Anyhow, I find this one to be quite colorful and upbeat and the Latin American Quartet sounds superb. A rich and robust recording I find very attractive. Several years back I thought about purchasing the set but I never did. Thanks to Merl for a bit of encouragement. After two enjoyable listens to the Villa Lobos I'm going to give the Tchaikovsky a listen. This will also be a first as I have never explored any of his chamber music.
    "In the beginning there was noise. And the noise begat rhythm. And the rhythm begat everything else." - Mickey Hart

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  5. #2928
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    After listening to all the available recordings bar the Cavaleri (which I can't seem to get to hear) there's definitely 2 recordings here that stand out as being very classy. Others are recommendable but the two I like most are delightful. This quartet seems to go by in 5 minutes (but that's a sign that I'm enjoying it).

    PS. I agree with Gucci that it's a 'badass' quartet. I think Fanny M would almost have been a rock chick had she been around in this century.

    Edit: the Cavaleri recording is on Spotify. Many thanks to annaw for the link. It's in the set linked below.

    https://open.spotify.com/album/300SC...nk&dl_branch=1
    Last edited by Merl; May-10-2021 at 18:26.

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  7. #2929
    Member Clloydster's Avatar
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    I've been traveling last week and this week, but I have spent the time downloading each week's quartet - multiple recordings - and have listened to them on the road.

    I enjoyed the Tchaikovsky quartet - but I think I prefer the latter two movements over the former two. I know that the 2nd movement is fairly popular in its own right, but I don't find it moving me like the slow movement of the Beethoven Razumovsky 1 quartet. I was kind of hoping it would - I know that so much of Tchaikovsky's orchestral work, which I love, really has an emotional feel to it. I just didn't get that with this quartet.

    I'm listening now to the Quatuor Ebene recording of the Fanny Mendelssohn quartet. Upon first listening, it seems very pleasant, but I don't know that anything is standing out to me. Perhaps it was bad that my first quartet was the Beethoven - I find myself comparing all these others in my mind to it, which probably isn't fair.

    Needless to say, I'll listen to the other recordings as well, and see whether this one grows on me.

  8. #2930
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    I have the Ebene recording (which seems overall a tremendously good disc). It is an interesting piece. Starting with a slow movement is quite daring, the following scherzo is quite dramatic (not the "fairies of Midsummer night's dream), probably inspired by Beethoven's op.74, the romance as the second main? slow movement maybe the most typically romantic. The finale is again a vigorous piece with a bit of "scherzando"-character. I find all four movements interesting but have to admit that the whole thing seems a bit like a "suite". The lack of standard sonata form main movement feels like a lack to me. Apparently Felix had somewhat similar complaints and Fanny referred to late Beethoven as model for such freedoms. Granted but Beethoven always manages a rather compelling whole in spite of such freedoms.
    It also reduced the experience a bit that I listened to the whole disc. Fanny's is a good quartet but framed with highly dramatic interpretations of the two best quartets (and two of his best instrumental pieces) of her brother makes it appear slighter than it actually is.

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  10. #2931
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clloydster View Post
    I've been traveling last week and this week, but I have spent the time downloading each week's quartet - multiple recordings - and have listened to them on the road.

    I enjoyed the Tchaikovsky quartet - but I think I prefer the latter two movements over the former two. I know that the 2nd movement is fairly popular in its own right, but I don't find it moving me like the slow movement of the Beethoven Razumovsky 1 quartet. I was kind of hoping it would - I know that so much of Tchaikovsky's orchestral work, which I love, really has an emotional feel to it. I just didn't get that with this quartet.

    I'm listening now to the Quatuor Ebene recording of the Fanny Mendelssohn quartet. Upon first listening, it seems very pleasant, but I don't know that anything is standing out to me. Perhaps it was bad that my first quartet was the Beethoven - I find myself comparing all these others in my mind to it, which probably isn't fair.
    you name it. Beethoven, especially op.59/1 is an extremely high standard. I think the Tchaikovsky and Fanny M. are very good and enjoyable quartets but it is no shame at all to be dwarfed by Beethoven's masterpiece.
    (The 3rd Tchaikovsky quartet is his most emotional and overall the most ambitious, you might try that one, if you haven't yet. Still no Beethoven but closer to PITs late symphonies, I'd say)

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    Senior Member BlackAdderLXX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by starthrower View Post
    Hey, youse guys! Do they say that in N. Carolina? I've heard it in Brooklyn.
    There's a lot of Yankees in my part of NC.
    I'm realizing that my answer to the "favorite recording" question is usually Bruno Walter.

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  13. #2933
    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    The main theme of the opening movement from the Tchaikovsky quartet sounds very familiar. I must have heard it somewhere. I gave the Borodin's a couple of listens including a 2018 live performance, and the 1979 recording mentioned in Merl's wrap up. Overall I found it to be a beautiful and classic composition which is very easy to like and appreciate from the great Russian composer. Although unlike the account I read about Tolstoy, the second movement failed to elicit tears. But I'm not a Russian steeped in their folk music tradition. Apparently the great Helen Keller was deeply moved by feeling the vibrations sweeping through her fingers while this same movement was performed by the Zoellner Quartet.
    "In the beginning there was noise. And the noise begat rhythm. And the rhythm begat everything else." - Mickey Hart

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  15. #2934
    Senior Member Helgi's Avatar
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    Now this is a nice surprise! Lots to like, and lots of Beethoven (or am I missing other influences?).

    I'm listening to the Ebene on Spotify and I think I'll just put this one in a shopping cart already...

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  17. #2935
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kreisler jr View Post
    I have the Ebene recording (which seems overall a tremendously good disc). It is an interesting piece. Starting with a slow movement is quite daring, the following scherzo is quite dramatic (not the "fairies of Midsummer night's dream), probably inspired by Beethoven's op.74, the romance as the second main? slow movement maybe the most typically romantic. The finale is again a vigorous piece with a bit of "scherzando"-character. I find all four movements interesting but have to admit that the whole thing seems a bit like a "suite". The lack of standard sonata form main movement feels like a lack to me. Apparently Felix had somewhat similar complaints and Fanny referred to late Beethoven as model for such freedoms. Granted but Beethoven always manages a rather compelling whole in spite of such freedoms.
    It also reduced the experience a bit that I listened to the whole disc. Fanny's is a good quartet but framed with highly dramatic interpretations of the two best quartets (and two of his best instrumental pieces) of her brother makes it appear slighter than it actually is.
    Very good points. Indeed, what you listened to it before and after, if one does, has a tremendous impact on your listening experience. In the Nash recording, with a Piano Trio of Clara Schumann's and her own opus 11, the quartet fares much better.

    I consider starting with a slow movement one of the strong points of the piece and I also just love Felix's slow opening movements or longish introductions to opening movements like in some of the earlier quartets or the Reformation Symphony. You rightly say that Felix criticized her for that, but very gently and he makes a very telling point: He wrote that he himself was taught a painful lesson by the musical world scorning him when he had strayed too much from the accepted formal mould. It just shows how strongly he felt he had to fit in with the prevailing taste and conform to expectations. I think he was more motivated by wanting to protect his sister rather than by disdain for her talent or, worse, wanting to keep her down.
    Last edited by FastkeinBrahms; May-11-2021 at 21:11.

  18. #2936
    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Settled on the Ebene recording as well - Find this a more interesting piece than her brothers pieces that come before and after

    It hits the right note of late classical period feel, with strong counterpoint throughout, but the lack of what by that time would have been a paint-by-numbers 4 movement sonata form is a feature not a bug for me. It retains enough freedom to escape from the dead formalism that, for example, ruins Brahms qts for me.

    Too bad the score is not on IMSLP - has anyone been able to find a copy elsewhere?

  19. #2937
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    My perceptions so far are basically in line with what others have said - a wonderful Classical Period composition, not outstanding but well crafted in every regard with nothing in the way of longeurs. It sounds like a mixture of Felix’s music (the impish, quicksilver fast movements) and early Beethoven to my ears. Though the opening Adagio is a unique and wonderful formal touch and very beautiful, I think the third movement Romanze is my favorite for its more disturbed nature; it really approaches Romantic spontaneity. Maybe not beyond the “great to hear” category in my estimation but I don’t know if I would have ever listened to Fanny Mendelssohn’s music without this impetus, so thanks for that The playing of the Ebene is delightful all-around, especially their effortless energy and virtuosity where it’s demanded.
    "If we understood the world, we would realize that there is a logic of harmony underlying its manifold apparent dissonances." - Jean Sibelius

    "Art is an attempt to transport into a limited quantity of matter, modeled by man, an image of the infinite beauty of the entire universe." - Simone Weil

    "Ceaseless work, analysis, reflection, writing much, endless self-correction, that is my secret." - Johann Sebastian Bach

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  21. #2938
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    I've not much more to add to what's been said but I will say that Fanny Mendelssohn's E flat quartet is a fine work that definitely pulls you in. It's not top of the shop but it is a very interesting and surprisingly vigorous work. Here's the recordings that REALLY impressed me (others were OK but these just stood out)

    Recommended

    Merel - a little mannered but still fine
    Lafayette - slightly dreamier in outlook, glorious 4th movement, especially.
    Erato - musical and sensible account, played in a pleasantly resonant acoustic
    Cavaleri - best of this group for me. Fresher, more vivacious but lacking rhe tiniest bit of finesse


    Hugely recommended


    933637-20130205-quatuor-ebene-felix-and-fanny-mendelssohn.jpg
    Ebene - this is a terrific performance (from a fine disc containing Felix Mendelssohn's wonderful 2nd and 6th quartets, too) . Vibrant playing, plenty of meatiness and a glorious 2nd movement make this a very appealing and exciting recording and the rest of the disc is of a similar high quality.

    CDA68307.jpg
    Nash - this lovely Hyperion disc contains some equally delightful moments and is blessed with impressive recorded sound. The Nash Ensemble may not be quite as 'edgy' as the Ebene but they still play hard when needed and their emotion is engaging. They excel in the slower movements, especially. Whether you prefer this or the Ebene is subjective but my advice is to get both as the fillers on the Nash disc are equally attractive. At the moment this has a miniscule edge for me but I've been changing my mind on which I prefer all week.
    Last edited by Merl; May-12-2021 at 06:48.

  22. #2939
    Senior Member StevehamNY's Avatar
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    Thanks for the roundup, Merl! And thank you, FKB, for choosing this quartet. I think I had only heard it once previously; it's amazing how much more you can find when you go back and dedicate yourself to really listening!

    And once again, Merl, I think your best recording (Hyperion, with the Angelica Kauffman painting) also has the best album art, even if there's not a great number of competitors this week. Rule of thumb for any cover designer, I think: you can't go too far wrong if you just choose an evocative piece of fine art. It doesn't have to be from the *exact* same time period, and the subject matter doesn't have to land squarely on the nose. But somehow it should find some connection to the music. And instead of being a static landscape or cityscape or seascape, it should have some *motion* to it, some kind of forward momentum, because that's the one thing it needs to share with the music itself. Does that make any sense?

    While you think on that, here are a few albums that perhaps should have followed my sage advice:

    Fanny - Asasello.jpg
    (It's the same flock of seagulls from last week! But this time, the guy who wrote the insurance policy on the instruments is having a stroke, because one wrong step here...)

    Fanny - Various.jpg
    (Fanny's quartet is here, I promise! They just couldn't be bothered to add even a little inset portrait of sis.)

    Fanny - Women.jpg
    Record Label Executive: "So, we've got a quartet named after Fanny Mendelssohn, playing nothing but music by women composers. It's going to be a very special release, but now we need just the right album cover, something that really captures the unique feminine content!"

    Cover Designer, after working all week plus overtime: "Okay, boss, I think I finally have it! Metal plates with rivets!"*

    *If this was actually a next-level reference to Rosie the Riveter, then I stand down.
    Last edited by StevehamNY; May-12-2021 at 04:55.

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  24. #2940
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Aye, Steve, some of those album covers are dire. You really have to worry about the people who put them together. The 'Melomania' rivets cover is absolutely dreadful. I agree with you... If in doubt go with the old fine art cover. The new cover of choice for the younger quartets either seems to revive around some silly quartet formation / pose with instruments or the 'walking along a la Reservoir Dogs'.

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