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Thread: Weekly quartet. Just a music lover perspective.

  1. #16
    Senior Member D Smith's Avatar
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    ^^ What ACB said My listening time is precious and I try and get as much variety during the week as possible. I did listen to Quartteto Italiano do op.131 earlier this week (once) and it only reaffirmed my opinion as it being one of the greatest quartets ever. I love the dark fugue, variations and then the scherzo which never fails to delight me.
    Last edited by D Smith; Feb-29-2020 at 17:45. Reason: clarity

  2. #17
    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    If next week's quartet has not been chosen yet I would like to nominate one: String Quartet No.3 by Benjamin Britten. I haven't heard it yet and this will give me an excuse to explore it in-depth. Of course, let's pick something we agree on.

    Anyway I'm about to listen to op.131 for the third and likely final time this week.

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    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    If next week's quartet has not been chosen yet I would like to nominate one: String Quartet No.3 by Benjamin Britten. I haven't heard it yet and this will give me an excuse to explore it in-depth. Of course, let's pick something we agree on.

    Anyway I'm about to listen to op.131 for the third and likely final time this week.
    Two others I would be really happy with: Robert Schumann's String Quartet No.3 in A major, op.41 no.3; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's String Quartet No.19 in C major, K465, the "Dissonance" quartet. Does anyone have any thoughts on dedicating a week to any of these works? Any other suggestions?

  5. #19
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    Could you put me on the list, too? I'd like to participate (hopefully, I'll have the time). You seem to be following my suggestion on Selby's piano sonata thread, that each person on the list gets their turn to pick a different string quartet each week. I like that format, and have found from past experience that it works well--so long as people stay aware of when it's their turn to pick. (A weekly reminder isn't a bad idea-- "so & so, you're up next week...") It also helps to keep an ongoing list of people's choices that is updated & posted weekly, not only to serve as reference for the group, but also to help people see when their turn is coming back up again.

    I should add that, in my opinion, we shouldn't have to justify our choices or make sure that they're accepted by the whole group beforehand, but rather feel free to pick whatever SQ interests us. In other words, not everyone is going to like everything that we listen to each week, & that's a good thing! Otherwise, the choices of repertory might become too uniform and familiar, & what's the fun in that? Plus, I expect it will become unnecessarily time consuming (& possibly a drag) for each of us to make sure that our choices are accepted by the whole group every week. We just have to accept that some listeners will inevitably say "I didn't like that SQ", and it shouldn't be taken personally, but is be expected. Of course, at the same time, you have to hope that people will do their best to pick a SQ that strongly interests them, and that they believe will interest others.

    Then, once the thread is established, at some point in the future, if the SQ repertory becomes largely exhausted, we could easily switch over to piano trios, or violin sonatas, or quintets, etc.

    How does that sound? Though of course it's your thread, you certainly don't have to listen to me.

    flamencosketches--If you don't pick Mozart's "Dissonance" Quartet, don't worry, I'm sure I'll choose it at some point, since it's one of my top five favorite SQs. But feel free, it's a great choice.
    Last edited by Josquin13; Feb-29-2020 at 23:47.

  6. #20
    Senior Member Selby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    Two others I would be really happy with: Robert Schumann's String Quartet No.3 in A major, op.41 no.3; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's String Quartet No.19 in C major, K465, the "Dissonance" quartet. Does anyone have any thoughts on dedicating a week to any of these works? Any other suggestions?
    Of your choices my vote would be for Schumann
    "I propose to create a heroic, monumental style of composition simple enough to inspire all people; completely free from fads, artificial mannerisms and false sophistications; direct, forceful, sincere, always original but never unnatural." -Alan Hovhaness

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    Be careful of something if you choose the Schumann. Schumann revised and pruned back all of his op 41 set after Mendelssohn gave him feedback. The abridged revised versions are the ones which have been most often recorded. As far as I know, only The Leipzig Quartet have recorded the originals - it’s quite a revelation. You will need to be sure that you’re all talking about the same thing if there are any discussions.

    I’d be very keen to know if anyone else has recorded the first versions.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Mar-01-2020 at 10:33.

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  9. #22
    Senior Member Eramire156's Avatar
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    You can count me in, I've been listening to quartets a lot recently, what this weeks quartet?

  10. #23
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    The OP seems to have disappeared, but he did give this week’s choice to Flamencosketches, who indicated that his top choice would be Britten’s No. 3. There also seems to be some enthusiasm for Schumann. Shall we roll with either of those? If no one else will, I will gladly volunteer to step in for Vicente and “run” this thread. I’ve also been in a quartet phase lately.
    Last edited by Allegro Con Brio; Mar-03-2020 at 14:10.

  11. #24
    Senior Member Eramire156's Avatar
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    Thanks for stepping in, I vote Britten.

  12. #25
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    Since Britten was Flamenco's first pick, let's go with it. After all, this is supposed to be an activity to open our ears up and expand our musical minds. I'll chime in with my initial thoughts tomorrow after I listen to the Amadeus Quartet recording (the quartet that the work was originally written for). I am not very acquainted with Britten's music, and I haven't been a fan of what I've heard; but I'm excited about the possibilities! (though I can't say I'll be listening to the whole thing daily, I will definitely return to it frequently throughout the week).

    So, just to keep track:

    Week of 02/22: Beethoven - String Quartet No. 14 (Vicente)
    Week of 03/02: Britten - String Quartet No. 3 (flamencosketches)

    I'm not sure what the process will be for choosing the "choosers" of each week's work. Also, I think we should just keep all the weekly thoughts in this same thread for the sake of continuity, unless people prefer separate threads for each week's quartet.
    Last edited by Allegro Con Brio; Mar-04-2020 at 02:37.

  13. #26
    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    I say we keep it all in this thread. Thanks for taking over, ACB. Britten 3 it is! I'll give it a listen later on today and write back with my thoughts.

    I nominate you, Allegro Con Brio, to pick the next work. Perhaps whoever choses the work also nominates the elector for the next week...?
    Last edited by flamencosketches; Mar-04-2020 at 16:28.

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  15. #27
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    Flamenco, I think that works as a method for nominations. That is, if we get enough participants in this activity (which I'd like to extend for as long as possible); otherwise the list of those willing to make choices will soon dwindle Thanks for offering me the nomination, I will decide by tomorrow.

    Benjamin Britten's 3rd Quartet is layed out in five movements, each with somewhat unusual descriptive titles:
    I. Duets
    II. Ostinato
    III. Solo
    IV. Burlesque
    V. Recitative and Passacaglia


    Here is an interesting Wikipedia article that features a brief analysis, and some interesting quotes from critics.

    After a cursory listen to a live recording from the Amadeus Quartet, I can give some initial thoughts. Holy smokes. This is very dense, opaque music. I had no idea that Britten was so radical. This was his last published composition before his death in 1976, and this is a very contemporary piece of music. My mind drew initial comparisons to Berg's Lyric Suite and the quartets of Bartok, but there is no doubt that despite the very contemporary feeling here, Britten is using a very distinct and personal compositional voice. To my ears, this is atonal, but I have not seen any indication that it technically is. I do not have any strong feelings about the music yet except that it is very different from what I typically enjoy. It seems to wander around in its own sense of stasis, not really reaching any destinations, reveling in the wondrous sounds and bizarre colors and ideas that Britten draws from the quartet. If nothing else, this definitely stretches what four string instruments can do to the breaking point. I will be listening again tomorrow, after I refresh my mind with some more familiar-sounding music

  16. #28
    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    What does it matter if we ‘sign up’, rather than just post in the threads

  17. #29
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bwv 1080 View Post
    What does it matter if we ‘sign up’, rather than just post in the threads
    There's no need to formally "sign up." Just participate if you're up for it! However, unless you indicate so, I will consider you a candidate for a future quartet nomination if you participate in this thread. For example, if you post your thoughts on the Britten this week, I could nominate you to choose a work down the road.
    Last edited by Allegro Con Brio; Mar-04-2020 at 19:52.

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  19. #30
    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    First impression of the Britten 3:

    Wow, I love what I'm hearing. It's an explosion of color in motion. I hear a motif of a major 7th that has been present in all movements. The sonorities he gets out of these strings, especially in the way they contrast between movements, ie. the sharpness of the second movement and the quietude of the third, are amazing. I knew I would like it, because I liked the first two string quartets a lot, but I think this might be his best yet. I don't find it terribly spiky and I wouldn't call it atonal by any means, there is much emphasis on common practice harmony. I found it very lyrical and shimmering, and actually quite inviting. There are some crunchy chords and harmonic implications here and there, but nothing like what you encounter in Berg or Bartók. Hearing this makes me wonder why Britten is not better known for his string quartets.

    I'll be spending my time with the Maggini Quartet recording on Naxos:



    There are others out there that are supposed to be very good, including the Amadeus Quartet, which Allegro Con Brio mentioned; the Britten Quartet, who I imagine have some sort of idea about how this music should be played, on Brilliant Classics; and the Emperor Quartet, on BIS. For the streamers in our ranks, it might be rewarding to explore multiple interpretations.

    Anyway, I'll be listening again tomorrow, maybe take a day off, then again over the weekend. I would love to get my hands on a score to pore over while listening, but I don't think it's on IMSLP on account of Britten having died in the last half century.

    Ah, that passacaglia finale is just gorgeous.
    Last edited by flamencosketches; Mar-04-2020 at 21:55.

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