Page 4 of 290 FirstFirst 123456781454104 ... LastLast
Results 46 to 60 of 4338

Thread: Weekly quartet. Just a music lover perspective.

  1. #46
    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    the Deep South
    Posts
    6,784
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Josquin13 View Post
    I should point out that the Endellion Quartet has recorded Britten's String Quartets twice--first in 1986 for EMI, and a second time in 2013 for Warner Classics (which may be 'live' recordings?). For completists, the first EMI cycle, which is the one that I own & like, includes the quartets that Britten composed in his late teens and early twenties, in addition to his mature quartets. So, it is truly a "complete" set of Britten's SQ output. To my knowledge, no other quartet has included these early works in their Britten cycles.
    If you are referring to the Quartettino, Alla marcia, 3 Divertimenti, and the Simple Symphony, then the Maggini Quartet also has included these in their cycle.

  2. Likes TurnaboutVox liked this post
  3. #47
    Senior Member sbmonty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    British Columbia
    Posts
    862
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    CRD3395.jpg


    Listened to the Alberni yesterday and the Endellion currently. Thanks for suggesting this one. My first time listening to any Britten compositions.
    This thread is a wonderful idea!

  4. #48
    Senior Member Iota's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    299
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    As it happens I was listening to this just recently with the Belcea, not bad, though I prefer Sorrel and, most of all, Maggini.

    Fwiw, as with much of Britten's music I find it intensely psychological, often ferreting away at undercurrents of feelings, often in a sparse musical setting that allows things to burn intensely without being supernovae. Spellbinding, desolate and containing Britten's uniquely imaginative thumbprints (the middle section of the Burlesque springs to mind). I find the Passacaglia a very affecting thing indeed.

  5. Likes flamencosketches, Barbebleu liked this post
  6. #49
    Senior Member Enthusiast's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Posts
    10,374
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    In the last three days I have listened to the work several times in a number of recordings. I like the Doric and the Brodsky but think the Maggini get closer to what I love in the work. But, as I have already said, I don't think anyone I have heard does it as well as the Takacs. It is a great (and I mean great) work, no doubt, shocking in part for its simplicity. It seems both very modern and quite traditional at the same time. But there is something I always find difficult with Britten's music when there are no voices or words involved: there is a sort of abstractness to it and I tend to feel until I know the work very well that there is something missing ... . I never feel this with the greatest of Britten's songs and song cycles or operas.

    So it is to be the first Brahms quartet next? Britten, of course, was famous for having a low opinion of Brahms so it seems a particularly apt choice!

  7. #50
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    3,296
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    Excellent thoughts, everybody! Great to see a good handful of people participating in this. Even though this week was shortened due to delay in finding a work to choose, I think we should switch to the new work every Sunday, and have the next week's nomination in by Thursday. So let's spend the rest of the day with our final thoughts on Britten, and then looking forward to hearing what we all think about Brahms tomorrow! Below is just a list for future reference as to who has participated in this thread so far and could be nominated to choose future quartets:

    Enthusiast
    Iota
    sbmonty
    Josquin13
    Mandryka
    Eramire156
    Selby
    BWV 1080
    Last edited by Allegro Con Brio; Mar-07-2020 at 18:50.

  8. Likes flamencosketches liked this post
  9. #51
    Senior Member Eramire156's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    1,092
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Eramire156 View Post
    So far the Endellion holds pride of place, not a bad recording post more notes when done, in the meantime I'll share this link

    https://www.chambermusicsociety.org/...strings-op-94/

    for a live performance from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center by Escher Quartet
    Watched the the above performance, by the Escher Quartet, seeing the performers interact I think I gained a greater appreciation of the piece.
    Last edited by Eramire156; Mar-07-2020 at 20:26.

  10. #52
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Posts
    1,366
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    If you are referring to the Quartettino, Alla marcia, 3 Divertimenti, and the Simple Symphony, then the Maggini Quartet also has included these in their cycle.
    The contents of the Endellion Quartet's Britten cycle are more extensive than that, and as noted, I don't think any other quartet has recorded all of the following early Britten works together in a complete cycle:

    Rhapsody for string quartet (1929)
    Quartettino (1930)
    Elegy for unaccompanied viola (1930)
    String Quartet in D major (1931)
    Phantasy in F minor for string quintet (1932)
    Phantasy Quartet for oboe and string trio, Op. 2 (1932)
    Alla Marcia for string quartet (1933)
    Three Divertimenti for string quartet (1936)

    String Quartet No. 1 in F major, Op. 25
    String Quartet No. 2, Op. 36
    String Quartet No. 3, Op. 94

    Here's a YT link to all of the above Endellion performances: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zgG...Nb3mI&index=22

    While the Maggini String Quartet Britten cycle is comprised of 2 CDs that include the following works, as you've pointed out:

    Simply Symphony (the chamber version, which is rarely heard & not a part of the Endellion Quartet's survey)
    Quartettino (1930)
    Alla Marcia (1933)
    Three Divertimenti for string quartet (1936)
    & the three mature String Quartets

    So, for completists as well as Britten aficionados, the choice is fairly clear, unless you find the Maggini Quartet's performances considerably better than those by the Endellion Quartet, or you specifically want to have the chamber version of Britten's Simply Symphony in your collection. I can't offer an opinion here, since I've not heard the Maggini recordings.

    In regards to Britten's 1975 String Quartet No. 3, thanks for suggesting the quartet--it's a sparse masterwork. I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the connection of the last movement to the City of Venice and death--since the movement is entitled "La Serenissima" ("the most serene")--which is a centuries old nickname for the Venetian Republic, & Britten knew that he was dying when he composed the final movement in a hotel room in Venice. Indeed, there are no less than five musical quotations in this movement from Britten's final 1973 opera, "Death in Venice", which is based on the Thomas Mann novella of the same name. I also find myself wondering whether Britten might have been inspired by the 1971 film by Luchino Visconti, "Death in Venice", both for his final 1973 opera and the final movement of this quartet. It seems most likely, considering (both the popularity of the film at the time and the underlying theme of a dying homosexual man and) that the parallel here between an old composer (or writer in the novella) caught within a lonely internal dialogue and dying contemplation of the conflicting, opposing ideal of a visible Apollonian beauty, on the one hand, and the grotesqueness of a Dionysian world around him, on the other, appear to be laid out in the program of Britten's quartet. (Of course, this is essentially what Mann's novella is about.)

    For example, the "very fast" "Ostinato" second movement and the fourth "Burlesque" movement appear to evoke an ugly Dionysian world. While there is indeed a state of calm meditation and serenity in the third solo violin movement, albeit with some lingering or distant hints of the grotesque. All of which ultimately yields to a sense of beauty, resignation, and sadness in the final, slow Passacaglia; albeit one that is perhaps tinged with doubt and uncertainty, at least in the initial part of the movement, where we hear the five motifs from Britten's final opera. I expect that Britten was confronting his own imminent death in his hotel room in Venice, through the completion of this late work: where interestingly, I've read that he could hear the sound of chiming Venetian bells while he composed the end of the quartet, and we too can hear them in the seemingly distant underlying bottom musical line (or continuo line) of the movement, which is evocative of a steady, slow death knell.

    After Britten returned from Venice, two of his pupils, the composers David and Colin Matthews were the first to play the work for him in a piano duet version. However, Britten didn't live to hear the Amadeus Quartet premiere the work in December of 1976, as the recital was given just two weeks after the composer's death. (If memory serves, the Amadeus Quartet had commissioned the quartet.)

    In Brian Hogwood's "Listening to Britten - String Quartet no. 3, Op. 94, David Matthews is quoted as saying, "The two earlier quartets had been among his finest instrumental works; the Third is their equal in invention, and in range and depth of expression their superior."
    Last edited by Josquin13; Mar-07-2020 at 22:42.

  11. #53
    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    the Deep South
    Posts
    6,784
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    ^Very insightful thoughts, Josquin. I appreciate your analysis. Not having seen (or read) Death in Venice, neither Britten's opera nor the film, I certainly could not have picked up on any of that, but you've piqued my interest.

    I'm about to listen once more. I'll see if I can stream the Endellion anywhere.

  12. Likes Josquin13 liked this post
  13. #54
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    3,296
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    Josquin, I very much agree with your interpretation. It really does seem like Britten is carrying on the great tradition of using the string quartet as the most painfully personal medium for artistic and even metaphysical expression in the same way that Beethoven, Shostakovich, etc. mastered it. It seems like the farewell song of a tormented life, with the final notes fading away into oblivion. But yet, I'm inclined to believe that it's not only a spirit of grief and nihilism, just like how the Heiliger Dankgesang of Beethoven's 15th Quartet and the finale of Mahler 9 express something so much more than any of our interpretations could ever convey. Music from the last days of a composer's life has always held a morbid fascination for me, even though it's important not to stress the connection too much.

  14. Likes Josquin13, flamencosketches liked this post
  15. #55
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Posts
    9,072
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    ^Very insightful thoughts, Josquin. I appreciate your analysis. Not having seen (or read) Death in Venice, neither Britten's opera nor the film, I certainly could not have picked up on any of that, but you've piqued my interest.

    I'm about to listen once more. I'll see if I can stream the Endellion anywhere.
    The film certainly is very good. I can’t remember much about the novella and I recall not enjoying the opera much.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Mar-08-2020 at 05:57.

  16. #56
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Posts
    9,072
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    . Music from the last days of a composer's life has always held a morbid fascination for me, even though it's important not to stress the connection too much.
    Then you need to hear Feldman’s Piano Violin Viola ans Cello.

    The last offerings of performers who knew they were about to die is also interesting to explore, for example the Schubert D960 and WTC 2 of Dina Ugorskaja.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Mar-08-2020 at 10:46.

  17. #57
    Senior Member Eramire156's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    1,092
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Josquin13 View Post
    The contents of the Endellion Quartet's Britten cycle are more extensive than that, and as noted, I don't think any other quartet has recorded all of the following early Britten works together in a complete cycle:

    Rhapsody for string quartet (1929)
    Quartettino (1930)
    Elegy for unaccompanied viola (1930)
    String Quartet in D major (1931)
    Phantasy in F minor for string quintet (1932)
    Phantasy Quartet for oboe and string trio, Op. 2 (1932)
    Alla Marcia for string quartet (1933)
    Three Divertimenti for string quartet (1936)

    String Quartet No. 1 in F major, Op. 25
    String Quartet No. 2, Op. 36
    String Quartet No. 3, Op. 94

    Here's a YT link to all of the above Endellion performances: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zgG...Nb3mI&index=22

    While the Maggini String Quartet Britten cycle is comprised of 2 CDs that include the following works, as you've pointed out:

    Simply Symphony (the chamber version, which is rarely heard & not a part of the Endellion Quartet's survey)
    Quartettino (1930)
    Alla Marcia (1933)
    Three Divertimenti for string quartet (1936)
    & the three mature String Quartets

    So, for completists as well as Britten aficionados, the choice is fairly clear, unless you find the Maggini Quartet's performances considerably better than those by the Endellion Quartet, or you specifically want to have the chamber version of Britten's Simply Symphony in your collection. I can't offer an opinion here, since I've not heard the Maggini recordings.

    In regards to Britten's 1975 String Quartet No. 3, thanks for suggesting the quartet--it's a sparse masterwork. I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the connection of the last movement to the City of Venice and death--since the movement is entitled "La Serenissima" ("the most serene")--which is a centuries old nickname for the Venetian Republic, & Britten knew that he was dying when he composed the final movement in a hotel room in Venice. Indeed, there are no less than five musical quotations in this movement from Britten's final 1973 opera, "Death in Venice", which is based on the Thomas Mann novella of the same name. I also find myself wondering whether Britten might have been inspired by the 1971 film by Luchino Visconti, "Death in Venice", both for his final 1973 opera and the final movement of this quartet. It seems most likely, considering (both the popularity of the film at the time and the underlying theme of a dying homosexual man and) that the parallel here between an old composer (or writer in the novella) caught within a lonely internal dialogue and dying contemplation of the conflicting, opposing ideal of a visible Apollonian beauty, on the one hand, and the grotesqueness of a Dionysian world around him, on the other, appear to be laid out in the program of Britten's quartet. (Of course, this is essentially what Mann's novella is about.)

    For example, the "very fast" "Ostinato" second movement and the fourth "Burlesque" movement appear to evoke an ugly Dionysian world. While there is indeed a state of calm meditation and serenity in the third solo violin movement, albeit with some lingering or distant hints of the grotesque. All of which ultimately yields to a sense of beauty, resignation, and sadness in the final, slow Passacaglia; albeit one that is perhaps tinged with doubt and uncertainty, at least in the initial part of the movement, where we hear the five motifs from Britten's final opera. I expect that Britten was confronting his own imminent death in his hotel room in Venice, through the completion of this late work: where interestingly, I've read that he could hear the sound of chiming Venetian bells while he composed the end of the quartet, and we too can hear them in the seemingly distant underlying bottom musical line (or continuo line) of the movement, which is evocative of a steady, slow death knell.

    After Britten returned from Venice, two of his pupils, the composers David and Colin Matthews were the first to play the work for him in a piano duet version. However, Britten didn't live to hear the Amadeus Quartet premiere the work in December of 1976, as the recital was given just two weeks after the composer's death. (If memory serves, the Amadeus Quartet had commissioned the quartet.)

    In Brian Hogwood's "Listening to Britten - String Quartet no. 3, Op. 94, David Matthews is quoted as saying, "The two earlier quartets had been among his finest instrumental works; the Third is their equal in invention, and in range and depth of expression their superior."
    Great notes Josquin13, Britten is reported to have said that the quartet ends on unanswered question. I too was thinking of Venice when listening to the quartet, the burlesque as sort of grotesque Carnival music and for me not only was he contemplating his own death, the greatest unanswered question, but the death of this magnificent city, which has been slowly sinking into the sea for hundreds of years.

    Now Venice faces challenges that Britten had no idea the would face, global warming, over tourism, an aging population as young people leave and now the coronavirus. Are we watching the death of a city in real time or will it like the city's opera house La Fenice rise again.

    The following YouTube video is of the Quartetto Dafne, performance in a empty La Fenice because of the Coronavirus, but I digress.

    IMG_1747.jpg



    Last edited by Eramire156; Mar-08-2020 at 13:10.

  18. Likes Josquin13 liked this post
  19. #58
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    3,296
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    ...and it's time now to move onto the Weekly Quartet for the week of 03/08-03/15:

    Brahms - String Quartet No. 1 in C Minor

    The quartet is cast in a traditional four-movement form, but with one exception: the third movement, rather than a scherzo, is a uniquely Brahmsian "intermezzo", a favorite technique of his in his symphonies and chamber music. These movements are usually relatively straightforward and lyrical in ABA form.

    I. Allegro
    II. Romanze - Poco Adagio
    III. Allegretto molto moderato e comodo
    IV. Allegro


    Some introductory notes: I assume that most of us are, at the very least, acquainted with the music of Brahms. I think most of us know too that the string quartet is not exactly a genre that we associate with him. Compared to other Romantic quartets, his three are shockingly under-performed and recorded. Many seem to think that they constitute some of his least accessible works - overly austere and serious without that contrasting florid lyricism that delineates his greatest music (with the notable exception of the much later 3rd Quartet, which is one of his most lighthearted works). It is also paramount to note that, like the symphony which he toiled for 20 years to write, Brahms was haunted by the spectre of Beethoven, who was considered the untouchable god of the quartet. He claimed to have destroyed up to 20 previous attempts at writing one. When he finally did publish one, he did so in a pair as his Op. 51 alongside one other quartet in A minor. Here is the (somewhat disappointing) Wikipedia article for this opus, but we would be amiss without linking to the greatest source for the music of Brahms on the Internet - Kelly Dean Hansen's extremely in-depth analysis and listening guide. Those who have the time/inclination may want to consider following along with this guide during one of their weekly listens! (I certainly will be.) He claims that the Op.51/1 quartet may be the most intricate and complex work that Brahms ever wrote. Regardless of the stereotypes, I trust we will all be listening with an open mind! I will post my initial thoughts within the next day, and will be comparing several recordings this week, beginning with the 2007 recording of the Emerson Quartet.
    Last edited by Allegro Con Brio; Mar-08-2020 at 22:52.

  20. #59
    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    the Deep South
    Posts
    6,784
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default



    Listening now to the Alban Berg Quartett recording on Teldec. This is not my first time with this work, I've heard it a couple of times. I enjoy this quartet quite a bit. I like the "perpetuum mobile" feel of the first movement. Personally, I don't think it's fair to say that

    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    they constitute some of his least accessible works - overly austere and serious without that contrasting florid lyricism that delineates his greatest music
    ... though this is hardly the first time I've heard such sentiment. I was taken aback when I first heard this work on account of how accessible and enjoyable I thought it was, considering the bad rap that Brahms' quartets tend to get. I wasn't as much of a Brahms fan at that time and I found it more enjoyable than other, more well-liked chamber music of his that had then failed to hook me: the string sextets, the piano quartets & trios, etc... I think what I like is the sense of rhythmic drive that it has to it. Having said all that, I do not (yet) think that it is up to par with the best of Beethoven's quartets. But we'll see if my opinion changes on that.

    Anyway, I'll be looking forward to exploring this Brahms quartet this week. Thanks ACB for the link to that listening guide, I will have to check it out. The wikipedia link that you shared for whatever reason did not work for me, so if anyone else encounters the same problem, maybe try this one...?...:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String...p._51_(Brahms)

    Currently listening to the slow movement. It's given a very lyrical and affecting performance from the ABQ.

  21. Likes Allegro Con Brio liked this post
  22. #60
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    3,296
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    ^Thanks for the real link...no idea why the original one doesn't work. I'll definitely add the Alban Berg to my list of recordings to hear this week. I appreciate their lyrical warmth in works that may not immediately appear such.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •