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Thread: Weekly quartet. Just a music lover perspective.

  1. #3376
    Senior Member HenryPenfold's Avatar
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    I want to say that I really got a lot from this quartet, one that I'd neglected. I'm grateful for the choice because it's going to be a work that I'm going to return to and, without it being chosen, it would have remained neglected. Big thank you to Allegro Con Brio.

    I am out of synch with most board members in that I really like the first movement very much and think it contains some really interesting music. For me, it doesn't drag and it never feels too long. I'm very happy with my Quatuor Joachim CD, despite having some initial reservations about the energy level in the scherzo.

    All in all, a very good week of listening.
    Last edited by HenryPenfold; Jul-02-2021 at 21:50. Reason: forgot who nominated it!

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  3. #3377
    Senior Member BlackAdderLXX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    The reaction to this pick was about what I supposed it would be. Some loved it, some struggled with its length and “indulgence,” but I’m glad that everyone seems to have at least got something from it. My opinion remains that it is a flawed but towering masterpiece of late-Romantic chamber music that reveals new felicities with each listen.
    For all its characteristics that I didn't immediately enjoy, I'm really glad to have heard it. And that scherzo is really great.
    I'm realizing that my answer to the "favorite recording" question is usually Bruno Walter.

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    Senior Member Kjetil Heggelund's Avatar
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    Hello people,
    I've been a little out of quartet time for a while. Listening to the Fitzwilliams now, since I always like hearing them and didn't know the others that popped up on Spotify. I also liked the first mvt. and thought the shift to 2nd mvt. was awesome! The larghetto is fantastically beautiful <3 I never heard much by Franck so I'm wondering where to place him...What about comparing him with Grieg and his harmonic force? Just without the Norwegian thing...

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    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    Took a listen today, Petersen Quartet. As I thought I remembered, I felt like the first movement left me little to write home about.

    But I was won over this time by those terrific inner movements and an excellent finale⁠—glad I gave this another chance! It was a very long time ago, and who knows whether I was remembering correctly anyway.

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  9. #3380
    Senior Member HenryPenfold's Avatar
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    Could the outer/inner movements dichotomy be an Apollonian and Dionysian Nietzsche-type thing?

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  11. #3381
    Senior Member allaroundmusicenthusiast's Avatar
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    Listened to the Petersen's and the Fitzwilliam's recordings and I still think that the Danel's are the best at it. I don't think that the best part of this quartet is the first movement, it definitely holds great riches in its other 3 movements, without whom the 1st movement would be nothing much really.

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  13. #3382
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HenryPenfold View Post
    Could the outer/inner movements dichotomy be an Apollonian and Dionysian Nietzsche-type thing?
    No it's definitely Franck.

  14. #3383
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    I first listened to The London String Quartet's recording from 1928, and I liked it, well enough, despite that the old recorded sound became a bit warbly at times. But their use of violin slides had the subtle effect of overly sweetening the music in spots, which wasn't to my tastes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9CsSPK2T5g. I then moved on to the Pro Arte String Quartet from 1933, which piqued my curiosity because they bring the quartet in at a lengthy 47:51 minutes! I don't know this music well enough to be able to say if that was due to their taking repeats or not? but it's nearly 8 minutes slower than the Petersons. The 1st movement was played quite broadly, which I thought worked well; however, their use of violin slides was also noticeable, and there was again an element of sweetness to the Pro Arte's playing. It made me wonder if this is how Cesar Franck would have expected to hear his quartet?, or if the violin slides were more due to a post-romantic performance style that emerged during the early 20th century?

    After the first movement, I found that my mind began to wander between the 1st and 4th movements. I didn't become as intently focused on the music again until the spirited, final movement, which I thought was well composed. I wondered if this could be partly due to the Pro Arte Quartet drawing out the four movements to lengthier proportions?



    After the Pro Arte's recording, I then listened to the Quatour Danel on CPO (a recording that I own, but I had only ever listened to for the Piano Quintet coupling). This was a completely different experience!, as the Danels offered a more dynamic and unified, & at times more incisive 'modern' performance. I felt myself more easily drawn into the music, and started to become fascinated by the structure of the whole quartet, including the two inner movements. There was nothing maudlin or overly sweetened about the Danel's playing (no violin slides or scooping into notes), which I appreciated: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHvU...bhYHcxdn-lUyzk

    I now see why ACB chose this quartet, and thanks for your pick. I ended up enjoying the work, after a bit of a rough start. I haven't heard the Peterson SQ recording yet, but expect it's going to be hard to beat the Danels in this music. Their performance is so beautifully judged and cohesive in all four movements. I also found it interesting that the Danels apparently see Franck's Piano Quintet as the more full blown romantic work, in contrast to the string quartet, where the romantic elements are more tempered in their reading. (Although I can imagine that other groups will play this quartet in a more full blown late romantic style throughout, which I'm not sure that I would like.) For me, the Danels balanced the classical and romantic elements in this quartet just right.

    I should also point out how extremely difficult it is, from my experience, to come up with a 1st rate string quartet deriving from the French "Impressionist" era, or Belle Époque, that can be mentioned in the same sentence with the two great quartets by Debussy and Ravel (though obviously not in preference to those two masterworks). Granted, there are many good to very good quartets from the French period, but finding a quartet that is better than that is quite difficult from my listening experience.

    With my choice coming up again in the next couple of weeks, I had lately been focused on and determined to find another lesser known French or French influenced quartet that I could present to the group. It's a question that has occupied my thoughts & continued to fascinate me for some time now: Are there any other great French or French influenced quartets that derive from the Debussy, Ravel era, other than the two by Debussy & Ravel? (This would be a fascinating tangent for our thread to explore, and try to answer more definitely...)

    As some of you may recall, my last pick on this thread was Charles Koechlin's String Quartet No. 1, and I thought that was a worthy candidate, in answer to this question. Not that it closely rivals the Debussy & Ravel string quartets, as it doesn't, but nevertheless, it's a very fine quartet, in my view. The Faure String Quartet also comes to mind, which we've already covered, and we also listened to Milhaud's first SQ. However, recently, I've been listening to a bunch of other French & French influenced quartets: such as those by the two Breton composers, Ropartz & Cras, as well as the Belgian composers, Jongen, Devreese, & van Eechaute. I've also listened to quartets by the French composers Roussel, Magnard, Witkowski, Durosoir, Lekeu, Rogister, D'Indy, Saint-Saens, and Bonnal. & while I have probably most liked Jongen's 3rd SQ, Ropartz's 3rd, 5th, & 6th SQs, Magnard's SQ, Devreese's SQ, and maybe van Eachute's SQ (which interestingly is composed in a homage to Ravel), I have to admit that none of these string quartets are quite as good as Franck's String Quartet, at least, not on my first impression (with the possible exception of Devreese's SQ, which is very short, at only 14 minutes). In addition, I've even been listening to Vaughan Williams' 1st SQ and the two quartets by Enescu, since they are arguably French influenced. So, my hats off to you, ACB, for finding this quartet! For me, obviously that was no easy feat!

    (To better clarify, I'm not claiming that the Franck SQ is in the same league with Debussy & Ravel, but I do believe that it belongs in the conversation as a potential candidate for a Belle Époque quartet that is better than very good, along with Koechlin & Faure's. Out of curiosity, does anyone have any other candidates, especially one that I've not already mentioned?)

    All of which has me now alternatively exploring and re-listening to various Scandinavian composers for a suitable quartet pick for the week after next. Or, possibly I'll go with an American or Swiss or Italian SQ... but not likely a French, Belgian, or Breton quartet, as I had previously hoped.
    Last edited by Josquin13; Jul-03-2021 at 20:11.

  15. #3384
    Moderator Art Rock's Avatar
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    I did not have time to go for comparisons this week, but I dusted off my CD of the Dante, and thoroughly enjoyed this quartet (as well as the Fauré one it is coupled with). Good choice as far as I'm concerned.

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  17. #3385
    Senior Member Carmina Banana's Avatar
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    As expected, this quartet is a big slab of emotional gratification for me. There is a special type of satisfaction that only a long-winded composer can deliver. Bruckner fans and Wagnerites can attest to this, I’m sure. To some degree, I think the late romantic era is all about prolonging, extending and (as others have said) wallowing in emotions. Franck could do that with the best of them. I also want to stress his uniqueness. Franck was enjoying the chromatic free-for-all like other composers but used it to make his own voice. It is hard to explain, but when I hear his little twists and turns it is like a fingerprint. That's got to be Franck!
    In every large-scale Franck piece there is a potent mixture of human desire and religious fervor that eventually culminate in ecstasy. How could you not like that? But you have to be in it for the long haul.
    I know Franck claimed to be studying late Beethoven, but I don’t hear the connection. Late Beethoven for me is about philosophical quandaries, irony, existentialism. This is about good old fashioned surging emotions and delayed gratification. Where I do see a connection is with Hollywood. All of those film scores from the 30s, 40s, etc. have the same sense of constantly shifting emotional turmoil.

    I enjoyed the Peterson Quartet. Beautiful sound overall and the scherzo is magical.
    I listened to the Fine Arts Quartet from 2008 because I have a weird connection with some of the members from this era. This is also excellent. There is an intensity and momentum to their playing throughout, but I was spoiled by the Peterson’s scherzo. This one was not quite magical.

  18. #3386
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    Josquin13: If you want another top French or French-inspired quartet from that era, you should give the Chausson a spin. It's actually one of the quartets I'm considering when my turn comes in about four months (ouch!). Of course, we've all been waiting on a couple of big ones, and I don't know what will still be around in four months, so if you or anyone else want to nominate the Chausson, which I'm quite fond of, feel free to go ahead. If you think think the Franck is chromatic as hell, wait till you get to the Chausson.
    Last edited by SearsPoncho; Jul-03-2021 at 21:30.
    "It should have worked." - Arthur Carlson

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  20. #3387
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    Quote Originally Posted by SearsPoncho View Post
    Josquin13: If you want another top French or French-inspired quartet from that era, you should give the Chausson a spin. It's actually one of the quartets I'm considering when my turn comes in about four months (ouch!). Of course, we've all been waiting on a couple of big ones, and I don't know what will still be around in four months, so if you or anyone else want to nominate the Chausson, which I'm quite fond of, feel free to go ahead. If you think think the Franck is chromatic as hell, wait till you get to the Chausson.
    Yes, I know the Chausson string quartet, & that's a very good suggestion (as I'm a fan of Chausson's music, generally). However, I always feel a bit let down by the way that his student D'Indy finished the quartet. It's not that I don't think what D'Indy composed is very good, but nevertheless, it feels oddly disconnected from what Chausson wrote in the first three movements. If only he'd been able to finish his quartet, I believe it would definitely fit the bill. So, d-mn Chausson's bicycle! (although it may have been a deliberate and therefore emotionally desperate, even suicidal crash...)
    Last edited by Josquin13; Jul-04-2021 at 00:36.

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  22. #3388
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    I wanted to comment this already when the Hyperion cover was posted. I rather dislike the "impressionism" label in music. Even for a few pieces by Debussy where it fits somewhat (Faun, Sirenes etc.), it fits not very well (I don't think it fits Debussy's SQ at all). But Fauré and especially Franck are totally different. The Franck quartet (like his piano quintet) might tend towards a too orchestral sound but there is no dominance of "color" or "mood". One might find a fusion of German and French tradition, but in any case it is "solidly late romantic", almost obsessively dominated by the cyclically employed motives etc. (not by mood, color, texture).
    Not saying that anyone here claimed that it was an "impressionistic" piece but I found that hyperion cover rather inappropriate

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  24. #3389
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    I just got an email to say I have the honour of next weeks choice. In fact it’s easy, for selfish reasons - there’s a string quartet which I’m interested in and I’m curious about different approaches on record.


    Haydn op 50/4

    Last edited by Mandryka; Jul-04-2021 at 15:00.

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  26. #3390
    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    A later Qt with a fugal ending

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