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Thread: Weekly quartet. Just a music lover perspective.

  1. #3151
    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Find the Bruch quartet kind of dull, but FWIW felt the same about the Schubert and Dvorak. Been listening to Zemlinsky's other quartets, which I like quite alot

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    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by allaroundmusicenthusiast View Post
    I don't know why I didn't jump in on this thread earlier. The discussion seems wonderful and I know/like most of the works that were previously nominated. I don't know if I'll be able to contribute in such an insightful way as most of the participants here do, but I'd definitely like to join in. I'll try to keep up with the weekly nomination, and if there's a slot open I'd also like to nominate works
    Added! Your spot will be in two weeks after Kreisler jr picks. Welcome to the gang (in the most positive sense of that term, of course!)
    "If we understood the world, we would realize that there is a logic of harmony underlying its manifold apparent dissonances." - Jean Sibelius

    "Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere." - G.K. Chesterton

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

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  5. #3153
    Member StevehamNY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    Added! Your spot will be in two weeks after Kreisler jr picks. Welcome to the gang (in the most positive sense of that term, of course!)
    Yes, welcome!

    Now Merl will tell you about the initiation video...

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  7. #3154
    Senior Member allaroundmusicenthusiast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    Added! Your spot will be in two weeks after Kreisler jr picks. Welcome to the gang (in the most positive sense of that term, of course!)
    Great! Thank you!

    Now Merl will tell you about the initiation video...
    sounds fun...

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  9. #3155
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StevehamNY View Post
    Yes, welcome!

    Now Merl will tell you about the initiation video...
    I'll save it as a surprise.

    Listening to the Bruch 2 recordings again today the Academicas have definitely risen in my estimation a bit more but they're still behind the Diogenes and Mannheimer accounts. For me the Mannheimer is my favourite recording as it has a perfect mix of everything I like in there. The Diogenes quartet are similarly fine but they seem to be just a little forced in places. It's an excellent recorded sound but I really do appreciate the extra rhythmic push of the Mannheimers and the fluidity with which they play. Apart from some dodgy intonation in places and odd bits of sloppy ensemble the Academicas are also convincing. Therefore the order is as below.

    1000x1000bb_edit_55581155874331.jpg

    1. Mannheimer - superb pacing
    2. Diogenes - exciting and beautully engineered
    3. Academica - decent but not spectacular enough to trouble the other 2 in my book.
    Last edited by Merl; Jun-10-2021 at 08:27.

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  11. #3156
    Senior Member Enthusiast's Avatar
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    Well, I did listen to the Bruch work (the Mannheimer recording) and, like some others, was pleasantly surprised: it is a cheery work on the whole and has quite a lot of life in it. It isn't really my thing and I doubt I would search out opportunities to hear it but I certainly wouldn't avoid it.

  12. #3157
    Member Carmina Banana's Avatar
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    After reading a few things about Bruch, I am relieved to see that I am right where I should be as a typical listener: I have heard the first violin concerto, the Scottish Fantasy and Kol Nidre many, many times, but rarely listen to anything else by this composer.
    Like Brahms, Bruch can come up with the big tear-jerking melody and moments of exhilaration. I don’t think he did as consistently as Brahms which may account for his lower stature on the favorites poll.
    I am enjoying all of the cozy good feelings of this quartet. It is always refreshing to come back to pure 19th century sincerity once in a while. The only movement I have a problem with right now is the vivace. This is the sort of thing Schumann would do—give us a glimpse of the goblins chasing him, but in this case, I can’t help thinking of Polly tied up on the railroad tracks. I think the Academica does the best job giving this movement some dignity and making it seem more artistic than silly-sounding.
    Having said that, the Mannheim quartet have seem magical moments such as the very opening which is sets the stage perfectly for a quintessential romantic piece.
    I haven’t quite found my favorite performance yet.

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  14. #3158
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Edited list :

    I got to listen to the long deleted Isos Quartet recording today. Whilst it's decent enough, it's a bit 'old fashioned' and festooned with too much vibrato for my tastes. Hence I've dropped it down to the bottom of the list. I stand by my previous comments on the other recordings but must say that the Academica account is catching up to the Diogenes more and more with each listen.

    1000x1000bb_edit_55581155874331.jpg

    1. Mannheimer - superb pacing
    2. Diogenes - exciting and beautully engineered
    3. Academica - decent but not spectacular enough to trouble the other 2 in my book. Definitely a grower though.
    4. Isos - long-deleted and with a bit too much vibrato and not enough fire for my tastes.
    Last edited by Merl; Jun-10-2021 at 18:50.

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  16. #3159
    Member Clloydster's Avatar
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    I have really enjoyed this week's selection - while the first movement has not left a lasting impression on me, the subsequent movements have been very enjoyable. I listened the the Mannheimer recording, and liked it a lot. I was not familiar with Bruch prior to this, but will definitely give this quartet another hearing.

  17. #3160
    Senior Member Malx's Avatar
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    Although not greatly inspired by this weeks selection of Bruch's second quartet - my problem, pre-judging is a major failing and something I'm not prone to - however I did push on and listened to the Mannheimer, Diogenes and Academia recordings via streaming.
    My overall impression was of a skilled composer but one not overly inspired in this quartet. I found little to excite me as I listened and found myself thinking of this as being similar to but less engaging than a number of romantic composers - hearing a little Mendelssohn and perhaps Schubertian influences.
    Of the three recordings I tried I preferred the Diogenes as they seemed to give the work a bit more life.
    Last edited by Malx; Jun-10-2021 at 19:59.

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  19. #3161
    Member StevehamNY's Avatar
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    Not much to complain about on the covers this week, although I could have sworn this was a foursome getting ready for a golf outing when I first saw the photo on this Academia cover:

    Bruch - Adademica.jpg

    At least in this Italian edition, the foursome of golfers/musicians has been transformed into, um...

    Bruch - Academica 2.jpg

    four kinda dodgy-looking bon-bon things I'm not sure I'd eat?

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  21. #3162
    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StevehamNY View Post
    Bruch - Academica 2.jpg

    four kinda dodgy-looking bon-bon things I'm not sure I'd eat?
    A fair metaphor for Bruch's music then?

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  23. #3163
    Member StevehamNY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bwv 1080 View Post
    A fair metaphor for Bruch's music then?
    Ouch!

    (He said it, not me!)

  24. #3164
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    It's Friday, so here. It's a little late, and probably littered with typos, grumpiness etc, but it's not my fault the vaccine disagrees with my knees, so you'll just have to put up with it.

    The Cambridge Companion to the String Quartet has more to say about Marcel Proust than it has to say about Max Bruch, which seems surprising and hardly fair. But then Bruch (the second Capricorn in our survey so far), was destined from birth, if the astrologers are to be believed, to share a planetary life-path with such musical luminaries as Josef Stalin and Yoko Ono, so perhaps the less said the better.

    For me, Bruch is “Kol Nidrei”, a Bloch-filler found on a few thoughtful disks, that I do, sometimes, enjoy. I know there’s a violin concerto, but I’ve never bothered with it. It’s so often bundled with the Mendelssohn, which once bored me to death at a Mullova concert, or gets served up alongside one of Schumann’s dull little symphonies which, for reasons, I wouldn’t pay to hear. Maybe I’m just an unforgiving type but, in the revolutionary world of Liszt and Berlioz, Germany’s response was as thrilling as chintz.

    String quartets are something different, though, and through them even talents like Schumann and Mendelssohn can shine, so I was looking forward to this challenge. I was dimly aware Bruch had written quartets, but I’d never listened to them, so this was a challenge I was happy to rise to. Not that it’s difficult. On word-count alone, I’ve already left Cambridge dead in the water.

    Back to 1860. Or, just for fun, 1858, two years before the 2nd quartet, when Bruch finished his formal education, rounding off his formative years with an opera called “Scherz, List und Rache”*, his actual Opus 1. That was based on a second-hand libretto that had been circulating for the best part of a century and, like the handful of singspiels that preceded it, has deftly avoided the glare of posterity. After that, Bruch was released from his studies and ventured into the wild, where he started his career as a professional musician in the traditional manner, through a wide variety of short-lived and unrewarding teaching positions that would take him into the drawing rooms of the gentry where, then as now, a diligent exertion of the diplomatic arts might open the doors of concert halls, the pocket-books of patrons and any number of opportunities for the diligent marital prospector.

    By 1860, the plan seemed to be working for Bruch who, judging by his catalogue, had forged some connections. Another seven opuses had gone by, including a string quartet, a piano duet, a piano trio, sixteen songs, a whole cantata and something for a church choir, which suggests a mixture of achingly-respectable private and public employment.

    One such connection was a Hungarian composer, the simultaneous Comte Louis de Stanlein and Grafen Ludwig von Stanlein, a Moravian Cuirassier who’d somehow acquired titles in Hungarian, German and French, married a Nagelmaker, and acquired a Stradivarius cello. Given the Nagelmakers were (and may still be for all anyone knows) the famousest family of Belgian bankers, the uncharitable might wonder about cause and effect. But, as this is a thread that seethes with charity, I won’t.

    Bruch’s second quartet was, unlike the first, dedicated to this Comte/Grafen. And, presumably coincidentally, Bruch’s next project was to be the apparently unmemorable “Lorelei”, an opera based on another second-hand libretto, reluctantly recycled from Mendelssohn (who’d unhelpfully died) by its author, who seems to have met Bruch on the urging of Stanlein, thus paving the way for Bruch’s second glitteringly forgotten opera.

    I don’t think Bruch will have written the quartet solely as a bribe. Rather as an addition to his portfolio that, having a respectable dedication, might get more attention than his first. A quartet was likely to appeal to Stanlein, and might even get played to potential patrons. As a portfolio piece, it’s very nicely crafted, with compactish movements that nicely compliment each other, demonstrating that Bruch had studied conscientiously. It’s an entertaining piece, too, that sounds a lot of fun to play.

    Unusually, I’ve been listening to a few recordings this week. The Academica does a competent job, and the Diogenes have a good go, but I think the Mannheimers make it fractionally more interesting, but there’s not a lot in it, in both senses.


    *Which might be translated as “Pranks, Plots and Payback”, but is usually rendered as “Joke, Cunning and Revenge”, presumably to deter anyone from trying to revive it.

  25. #3165
    Senior Member allaroundmusicenthusiast's Avatar
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    Before listening to the Mannheim recording of the 2 string quartets, the only thing I'd listened by Bruch was his renowned violin concerto, a very enjoyable work for me -and many others, of course.

    I know this week's focus is his 2nd SQ, but given that the Mannheim recorded both on the same disc I listened to the first one also. I think the main thing I'm taking away from these compositions and this performance is their warmth. I'd wager that that has more to do with how they were recorded than anything else, but still it holds. In some way it's also a very soothing warmth that goes very well with the expansive nature of the 1st movement of the 2nd quartet -there are some very beautiful chords in there, and although it's much more homophonic than the first movement of the 1st quartet, I think it's better constructed- or the 2nd and 3rd movements of the first, 2 very beautiful sections.

    The 2nd movement of the 2nd quartet is also quite beautiful, but a certain dramatic edge is added to it, some of it has to do with this movement being an andante and not an adagio like in the 1st quartet, but there's also a bit more nuance in the harmony, not everything's so clear. This is clearly a more ambitious work, even if the style is very similar to the 1st one.

    The 3rd movement of the 2nd fails to convince me, though. I think that here a more ambitious approach ends up coming short with that series of gestures and chords that goes through a few variations in moods and dynamics, but never says anything really.
    I much prefered the natural beauty of the 1st quartet's 3rd movement, even if it wasn't anything otherwordly.

    Lastly, the 4th movement of the 2nd succeeds where the 4th of the 1st quartet failed. That is, the 1st one tried to go out in a bang, paying no mind to substance. I think Bruch rectified this in the 2nd quartet and tried to sprinkle some very pretty passages while trying to come to a hasty end. In both quartets I think this final movement works as an appendix or a continuation to the 1st movement.

    All in all these were enjoyable works for me, even with all of their shortcomings.

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