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Thread: Weekly quartet. Just a music lover perspective.

  1. #3676
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    Next week’s honors will go to Portamento...

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    "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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    Senior Member StevehamNY's Avatar
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    I haven't said anything about the Ferneyhough quartet yet, but I will say that it's growing on me with each listen. I'm no stranger to "adventurous" music (or as my wife would say, "What in God's name is that, please turn that off before I get a migraine"), but I often find myself looking for some piece of solid ground, no matter how small, to stand on when I'm listening to it. I don't have the musical vocabulary to describe what I mean, but I can give you an example: I've been in love with Bargielski's quartets lately, and if you listen to his first, there's this underlying, almost sing-song, almost droning kind of through-line that constantly runs under everything else that's happening. Often just the cello, sometimes more than one instrument, but it's always there. On top of that line, the first violin in particular just cuts loose, just absolutely shreds. It would give my wife just as big of a headache, and yet for me that one difference between the Ferneyhough and the Bargielski is a game-changer.

    SO FAR. Because this is *NOT* to say that this through-line is absent from the Ferneyhough. I would never say that, ever. All I would say is that, at this time in my life I'm having a hard time accessing it. There was a time when I wouldn't have heard it in the Bargielski, either, but now I do and it's opened up the whole piece for me. I'd like to think that I'll find it in the Ferneyhough if I keep listening. Like I said, I'm liking it more and more, so maybe I'm close.

    Does this make any sense at all?

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  4. #3678
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    I eagerly await your review of the cover art, Steve.

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  6. #3679
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    Next week’s honors will go to Portamento...
    Give me a few hours!
    Last edited by Portamento; Jul-24-2021 at 22:12.

  7. #3680
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Portamento View Post
    Give me a few hours!
    No worries, Sunday is the day when we switch over
    "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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  9. #3681
    Senior Member StevehamNY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merl View Post
    I eagerly await your review of the cover art, Steve.
    Another week without many covers to consider, but I think Mandryka had it right when he zeroed in on the "raft of security in a turbulent ocean viz the image on the cover here." Overall, I think this image fits the music very well.

    Ferneyhough 1.jpg

    Meanwhile, I continue to hate these blah blah covers that are way too cool for school to bother with appeal or invitation or memorability:

    Ferneyhough 2.jpg

    (But maybe that's just me!)

  10. #3682
    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Like to thank everyone for a great discussion this week, particularly those who weren’t familiar with the music and gave it an open minded listen.

  11. #3683
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    This week's quartet is Scott Wollschleger - String Quartet #2 "White Wall" (2013/14)



    The reasoning behind my pick is pretty simple. I figured that most won't be familiar with Wollschleger - a youngish guy - and I've been really impressed by the few pieces that I've heard. His works are typically (from what I can tell) sparse and kaleidoscopic, running the gamut of extended techniques and cool timbral effects while maintaining this "time-standing-still" quality that I find highly appealing. Feldman is an obvious and acknowledged influence, and so are some aspects of minimalism (perhaps even Lachenmann), but I don't want to overstate any similarities; the music feels very current.

    White Wall quickly lives up to its title, beginning with, well, a wall of wispy string harmonics and odd scratchy sounds - essentially instrumental white noise. From there, this white wall is increasingly punctured in seemingly random (yet extremely calculated) ways by fragments of the melodic gesture heard during the first few seconds. It's hard for me to discern a clear structure to it all, but that doesn't matter because every sonic event seems so well-placed; there's also a contrast of "spacey parts" to sections of more rhythmic regularity which keeps things interesting. Then we have the second movement, which is sort of a dance... or at least it starts that way before slowly disintegrating back into white noise. Explain yourself, Mr. Wollschleger:

    I think there's a kind of emptied quality to the string quartet, and those pieces I wrote at that time. I think the white noise signified that sort of complete emptiness that's at the very end of something. But to have that be the actual starting spot was the idea. [White Wall] definitely represented a break in my own work, or in myself, or in my approach to art, where I wanted to see how you could start from nothing, and pull from within itself something.... If you were to drain music from itself, what would be left over?

    Again, this notion of unfolding from within itself was the goal - utopian chimera, Adorno's [keep it civil!] dream. But I think ending it with a dance was my way of saying this isn't going to happen.... That's why I think I had to add that second movement.

    I always think of the white noise as the bleached out remains of a human. Which I think is kind of beautiful idea: when nothing is left, that's all that's left, that white noise.... And after history, and after Brahms, and after all our feelings, what would there be? The white noise points to that language which might be left for us.

    Dreary.

    I know that Wollschleger is very involved with the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, so I thought it might be interesting to mention that "White Wall" may also refer to the "white walls, black holes" model of identification. I was going to get into that with this post, but then I decided to save myself from a massive headache and leave it for later.

    Sorry Steve, but you'll have to suffer another week of less-than-fulfilling "cover coverage." I suppose that's the consequence of picking a more recent work as there's only 1 recording by the Mivos Quartet:


    Still, I hope everyone can get something out of this piece! I love it and am excited to see what you guys think (yes, even if it's a "I really didn't like this" post). Happy listening!
    Last edited by Portamento; Jul-25-2021 at 11:46.

  12. #3684
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Just listened to this and it's an engaging piece. I particularly like from 12 minutes on, where the composer brings a more evident element of rhythm into proceedings. Yeah, this was much easier on my ears than Ferneyhough and I'll definitely give this more time this week (but perhaps without any animals or other humans in the room) . Thanks for an interesting pick, Portamento.

    PS. Mrs Merl was less enthusiastic when she caught me listening to it ("OMG what is that godawful noise").
    PPS. Do not try to listen on headphones with a 13 week old kitten sat next to you. My wires were chewed to death until I finally put it on through the speakers.

    IMG_20210725_122011.jpg
    ^ Zappa. The wire-chewing culprit.
    Last edited by Merl; Jul-25-2021 at 13:43.

  13. #3685
    Senior Member Enthusiast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carmina Banana View Post
    If you don’t let it wash over you, but try to be hyper-conscious of everything, it can be very rewarding.
    At least, that is what I am thinking right now.
    I read this with interest as, with music that is very new to me, allowing it to wash over me is part of how I become familiar and engaged with it. But this tends to involve a substantial gap (weeks, months) between that listening and later remembering something about it and wanting to really engage with it. I had done that preliminary wash-over-me listening some time before this became our weekly quartet but my listening this time around was because of this thread rather than because I felt it calling me back. Perhaps it was premature.

    Much of what we have discussed this week - aside from headphones and tinnitus - has been rather more technical than I can relate to. Even to the minimal extent that I can relate to the technical side of music I tend not to do so. It is the experience of listening that engages me. As someone said above, Ferneyhough is a very abstract - as opposed to emotional - composer so I can see how the message can be thought of as technical (I think someone even suggested that the musicians might get more from it than the audience). But what I can hear is an attractive and varied soundscape that involves some sort of animated discussion - often with agreement - between the instruments. And the music does seem to go somewhere: there is a "story". But I sense I will get more out of it over time. Right now I enjoy the experience, recognise moments that seem inspired (some very much so) and find the time passing easily. But I am not pulled in yet and I know there is more for me to discover, here.

    The similarities and contrasts with Wollschleger are going to be intriguing.
    Last edited by Enthusiast; Jul-25-2021 at 15:26.

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  15. #3686
    Senior Member StevehamNY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Portamento View Post
    Sorry Steve, but you'll have to suffer another week of less-than-fulfilling "cover coverage." I suppose that's the consequence of picking a more recent work as there's only 1 recording by the Mivos Quartet:

    All good! I'm very much looking forward to giving this piece a try. Always love it when I check on Sunday and see something I've never even heard of before...

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  17. #3687
    Senior Member BlackAdderLXX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merl View Post
    Just listened to this and it's an engaging piece. I particularly like from 12 minutes on, where the composer brings a more evident element of rhythm into proceedings. Yeah, this was much easier on my ears than Ferneyhough and I'll definitely give this more time this week (but perhaps without any animals or other humans in the room) . Thanks for an interesting pick, Portamento.

    PS. Mrs Merl was less enthusiastic when she caught me listening to it ("OMG what is that godawful noise").
    PPS. Do not try to listen on headphones with a 13 week old kitten sat next to you. My wires were chewed to death until I finally put it on through the speakers.

    IMG_20210725_122011.jpg
    ^ Zappa. The wire-chewing culprit.
    Cool cat. GREAT name.
    I'm realizing that my answer to the "favorite recording" question is usually Bruno Walter.

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  19. #3688
    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    I always think of the white noise as the bleached out remains of a human. Which I think is kind of beautiful idea: when nothing is left, that's all that's left, that white noise.... And after history, and after Brahms, and after all our feelings, what would there be? The white noise points to that language which might be left for us.
    This is perfect for the way my day is going! My house was burglarized in the middle of the night while the wife and I were fast asleep. A slip through the kitchen window job to swipe my wallet and key fob and drive off with my car. I do feel like a bleached out human right now. In a way I'm glad it's Sunday. The day started at 4:30am and I'm too tired to do all the recovery legwork in one day. Anybody got an extra beer?
    "In the beginning there was noise. And the noise begat rhythm. And the rhythm begat everything else." - Mickey Hart

  20. #3689
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Jeez, ST, that's crap. I'm having an extra gin and tonic to say sorry for your losses. Being burgled does strange things to your head. I got scammed a while back and it still hurts.
    Last edited by Merl; Jul-25-2021 at 21:23.

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  22. #3690
    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    I hope you made that a strong one, Merl! On the positive side the cops found my car two miles away driven into a tree stump on a dead end lot. They didn't steal any of my CDs. Who wants those things anymore? Hurts to lose the wallet, though. A major pain to get all that replaced. Okay, I don't want to derail things here so back to Wollschleger.
    "In the beginning there was noise. And the noise begat rhythm. And the rhythm begat everything else." - Mickey Hart

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