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Thread: Weekly quartet. Just a music lover perspective.

  1. #3631
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    Maybe there are two types of people, those who like other-ness, the alien, the strange. And those who like the familiar, the predictable.
    Or two types of situations? I find that whole areas of music are opened up for me once I have got into a, for me, key work. So I also find the 6th quartet immediately appealing but that is probably down to getting to know some other works by Ferneyhough earlier. I think the first time I heard any of his music I didn't know how to start.

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    Quote Originally Posted by allaroundmusicenthusiast View Post
    A couple of years ago I read a study (I wish I could give some sort of link to it, but it's just there in my memory) that claimed that the music that people like is somewhere down the middle between familiarity and surprise, or something like: a wave of surprise in a sea of familiarity
    There is a lot of truth in this. I think the most interesting music is something that retains much of its innate unpredictability, even after becoming somewhat familiar. This may be why I prefer polyphonic music, which one can listen to in so many ways.

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    Quote Originally Posted by allaroundmusicenthusiast View Post
    A couple of years ago I read a study (I wish I could give some sort of link to it, but it's just there in my memory) that claimed that the music that people like is somewhere down the middle between familiarity and surprise, or something like: a wave of surprise in a sea of familiarity
    Or a raft of security in a turbulent ocean viz the image on the cover here

    711l10NLe9L._AC_SL1200_.jpg

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    A raft doesn't offer much security in a turbulent ocean like this.

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    Senior Member Malx's Avatar
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    I as a general rule find listening to something new to me as something that is a challenge that can manifest itself in different ways but I never dismiss anything too quickly.
    I try not to read too much, if anything, about how compositions are put together - frankly because 90% of the information will go straight over my head - what inspired them, if anything, so I can listen with as open a mind and ear as I can.

    I had to struggle with putting a lot of anti-Ferneyhough writings that I had seen over the years firmly to the back of my mind. Having done the best I could to achieve that I have listened to the quartet three times now.

    I am not anti-atonal music but have to find something that I can relate to. Something like the Gerhard Quartet I proposed a while back I enjoy, this one I am not really getting anything to grab on to. The first three minutes or so are difficult for me to understand whats happening, from about 3.30 - 6.30 I hear a bit more of what I will, perhaps erroneously, describe as some kind of rhythmic pulse occuring. At various times there are little bits that threaten to become tunes but then divert away - in summary I find this piece to be, for my sensibilities, a bit too dry and academic. I am sure there is plenty to discuss and analyse in technical terms but it lacks that something that makes it speak to me.
    Last edited by Malx; Jul-20-2021 at 17:51.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Malx View Post
    I as a general rule find listening to something new to me as something that is a challenge that can manifest itself in different ways but I never dismiss anything too quickly.
    I try not to read too much, if anything, about how compositions are put together - frankly because 90% of the information will go straight over my head - what inspired them, if anything, so I can listen with as open a mind and ear as I can.

    I had to struggle with putting a lot of anti-Ferneyhough writings that I had seen over the years firmly to the back of my mind. Having done the best I could to achieve that I have listened to the quartet three times now.

    I am not anti-atonal music but have to find something that I can relate to. Something like the Gerhard Quartet I proposed a while back I enjoy, this one I am not really getting anything to grab on to. The first three minutes or so are difficult for me to understand whats happening, from about 3.30 - 6.30 I hear a bit more of what I will, perhaps erroneously, describe as some kind of rhythmic pulse occuring. At various times there are little bits that threaten to become tunes but then divert away - in summary I find this piece to be, for my sensibilities, a bit too dry and academic. I am sure there is plenty to discuss and analyse in technical terms but it lacks that something that makes it speak to me.

    This afternoon I was listening to Art of Fugue, a work which many people would also say is dry and academic. I was listening to Matteo Messori play it, and it is very expressive indeed. The problem with the Ferneyhough is that we only have an interpretation from one group, Arditti. Arditti do what they do well, but there may be other ways, who knows.

    In the Arditti performances there are unexpected string effects and there are thrills. Ferneyhough takes the quartet beyond anything Webern dreamt of, and that's an achievement.

    Is this quartet just a sort of virtuoso piece? Does it express only the structural elements of the material, or is there more to be said?

    The photo on the cover of the studio set of quartets is evocative. I wonder if the music lives up to the pic.

    The 6th quartet is relatively late, he was an established master. Is it too stable, too coherent, too structured, too limited, too predictable, too must like the previous four quartets, too much following a sclerotic way of thinking, too safe? Too much trying to be a masterpiece?

    I wonder if anyone prefers his earlier music? The sonatas for string quartet for example

    Last edited by Mandryka; Jul-20-2021 at 20:32.

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    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Sometime I will dedicate some time to the Sonatas (the 1st String Quartet in his output). Am only familiar with 2-6. Would recommend #4 as the next SQ to check out. The piece was modelled after Schoenberg's 2nd and includes a soprano

    Last edited by Bwv 1080; Jul-20-2021 at 20:52.

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    To give you an idea of the stature of the sonatas, there are four recordings - two from Arditti, one from Berne (which I would love to hear -- does anyone have a transfer) and one from the Gaudeamus quartet. In addition Diotima performed them for broadcast by the BBC (does anyone have a recording of it?)
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jul-20-2021 at 22:18.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    To give you an idea of the stature of the sonatas, there are four recordings
    Perhaps it simple means they are too easy to play

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bwv 1080 View Post
    Here is the outline of the form, which contains something like 100 individual sections




    It’s interesting to have this, where is it from? I wonder if the sections are connected more than, e.g. the sonatas.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bwv 1080 View Post
    Sometime I will dedicate some time to the Sonatas (the 1st String Quartet in his output).
    The first Arditti is more impressive than the second I think.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jul-21-2021 at 08:40.

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    For those so inclined: there is a great resource by Paul Archbold which includes an analytical overview of the piece, some strageties the Ardittis employed in learning it, and transcripts of interviews with Ferneyhough + Irvine Arditti. You can download it here.

    The harmonic language is actually not so complicated from a bird's-eye view, being largely centered around a Bb-D-F# augmented triad with various microtonal embellishments. In the "Climbing a Mountain" documentary, Ferneyhough describes a part of the piece where this triad is heard particularly clearly as the "wet dreams of Mahler" (which, I must admit, had me dying laughing).
    Last edited by Portamento; Jul-21-2021 at 16:41.

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    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    New Complexity. What is it? Is it the Yang to Minimalism’s Yin? What is it trying to do? Does it have an ironic side or is it dead serious? Should performers strive for complete accuracy in all the details of the incredibly dense scores? Just trying to start a discussion.

    BTW, another huge thanks to Steve for setting up the links on all the quartets. I have immensely enjoyed going back and revisiting everyone’s insights. And I forgot just how funny this thread can be. I literally laughed out loud at several points looking back. Y’all are a bunch of real rib-ticklers!
    "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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  18. #3643
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    New Complexity. What is it? Is it the Yang to Minimalism’s Yin? What is it trying to do? Does it have an ironic side or is it dead serious? Should performers strive for complete accuracy in all the details of the incredibly dense scores? Just trying to start a discussion.

    BTW, another huge thanks to Steve for setting up the links on all the quartets. I have immensely enjoyed going back and revisiting everyone’s insights. And I forgot just how funny this thread can be. I literally laughed out loud at several points looking back. Y’all are a bunch of real rib-ticklers!
    How you enjoying the quartet?
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jul-22-2021 at 05:06.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    New Complexity. What is it? Is it the Yang to Minimalism’s Yin? What is it trying to do? Does it have an ironic side or is it dead serious? Should performers strive for complete accuracy in all the details of the incredibly dense scores? Just trying to start a discussion.
    These are loaded questions. I will try to make a long post addressing them tomorrow, but some can be answered quickly.

    Does it have an ironic side or is it dead serious?

    There's definitely an ironic side. Ferneyhough can have a wicked sense of humor.

    Should performers strive for complete accuracy in all the details of the incredibly dense scores?

    Yes, and the performer's inevitable failure to do so is where much of the interest lies. In a good Ferneyhough performance, you can hear people attempting to scale what is like a musical Mt. Everest; there's a real physicality to it that can only be achieved by the score's "too-muchness" and players' subsequent efforts to make sense of (what is certainly) alien terrain.
    Last edited by Portamento; Jul-22-2021 at 07:00.

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  21. #3645
    Senior Member HenryPenfold's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    How you enjoying the quartet?
    I'm struggling. Always have done, with Ferneyhough. I am accustomed to listening to the music of composers such as Lachenmann, Birtwistle, Cage, Crumb, Boulez et al, and I always find something appealing and captivating. But somehow Ferneyhough leaves me cold.

    As a serious music fan, I of course have approached his music with an open, enquiring and curious mind and a number of years ago, before streaming and when little or nothing was available on YouTube etc, I bought a CD (see below) of his music and spent a fair amount of time listening to it. But, I'm afraid his art eludes me.





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