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Thread: Weekly quartet. Just a music lover perspective.

  1. #706
    Senior Member Shosty's Avatar
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    By now I've listened to recordings by Jupiter Quartet, The Playground Ensemble, Pellegrini Quartet, Pacifica Quartet and members of the Schoenberg Ensemble, in that order. Didn't really dislike any, but I lean towards the last three I named, especially the Pacifica. About the quartet itself, I'd listened to it several years ago as part of a (then unsuccessful) attempt to get into "modernist" music, but I don't remember liking it particularly. So, it seems like time and more exposure to modernist compositions were what I needed to connect with this quartet. I might like the second half of the quartet slightly more than the first half.

    This remains the only Ruth Crawford piece I've listened to, though, and I'd like to explore her music some more so I'd really appreciate any pointers as to what pieces I should start with.

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    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    Recommended Ruth Crawford for further listening:

    Sonata for Violin and Piano, 1926
    Preludes for piano, especially Nos. 6-9, 1928
    Piano Study in Mixed Accents, 1930
    Three Songs to Poems by Carl Sandburg, for contralto, piano, oboe, percussion, 1932
    Rissolty, Rossolty for orchestra, 1941
    Suite for Wind Quintet, 1952

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  4. #708
    Senior Member Shosty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knorf View Post
    Recommended Ruth Crawford for further listening:

    Sonata for Violin and Piano, 1926
    Preludes for piano, especially Nos. 6-9, 1928
    Piano Study in Mixed Accents, 1930
    Three Songs to Poems by Carl Sandburg, for contralto, piano, oboe, percussion, 1932
    Rissolty, Rossolty for orchestra, 1941
    Suite for Wind Quintet, 1952
    Thanks Knorf. I'll start exploring!

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    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    A word about Ruth Crawford's name. She was born Ruth Porter Crawford. Almost all of her early to middle, most notable work, was published with her name as "Ruth Crawford."

    After the completion of her String Quartet 1931 and spending time in Europe with a Guggenheim Fellowship, she returned to the U.S.A. and married Charles Seeger, her former composition teacher (in composition, she easily surpassed him in her fame and impact on the musical world.) She then changed her name, as per tradition, to Ruth Seeger. Together, she and her husband famously did a significant amount of culturally important musicological work in American folk music, but she composed very little beyond creating a number of charming arrangements of folk music for piano. She returned to serious composition in the 1950s, completing the Suite for Wind Quintet in 1952, one of her masterpieces. It was published with her name as "Ruth Seeger."

    She actually wasn't ever named "Ruth Crawford Seeger" in her lifetime; this was done as a much more recent attempt to acknowledge her "maiden" name, which was also her professional name until she married. Similar issues apply to someone like Fanny Mendelssohn or Clara Schumann. Inconsistencies abound.

    It doesn't matter to me how one writes those three names, "Ruth", "Crawford", or "Seeger." But I don't refer to her only as "Seeger," because he husband was a notable composer himself, albeit eclipsed by her ability, and of course there's her much more popularly well-known adopted son, Pete Seeger.

    So one is left with with "Crawford," "Ruth Crawford," or "[Ruth] Crawford Seeger," even if the latter wasn't used by her in her lifetime.

    I usually just write "Ruth Crawford" since it's correct until 1931, and because I'm lazy. Or I write "RC." But also I think the tradition of the wife taking her husband's name, and discarding her father's, should just go away, along with all of the unfortunate patriarchal associations that go with it (women as commodities for men.)

    In case anyone was wondering.

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    Senior Member Simplicissimus's Avatar
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    Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) – String Quartet No. 4, Op. 22

    Hindemith wrote this work in November and December of 1921. It premiered on November 4, 1922 at Donaueschingen in a performance by the newly-formed Amar Quartet of which Hindemith was the violist. He wrote of the work, “Es klingt fein und ist ganz einfach zu hören und zu spielen, worauf ich äußerst stolz bin… Ich konstatiere mit Befriedigung, dass meine Sachen besser und einfacher werden (wird auch Zeit).” (‘It sounds nice and is quite easy to listen to and play, of which I am extremely proud… I perceive with satisfaction that my works are becoming better and simpler (it’s about time).’) The theme of simplicity is this work’s most salient characteristic within the context of Hindemith’s development as a composer at this time. The String Quartet No. 4 has over time become the most performed of Hindemith’s seven string quartets.

    Critical assessments of Hindemith the composer generally note his earliest phase as neo-Romantic, a second phase in which he explored die neue Sachlichkeit (‘New Objectivity’), and a mature third phase from about 1930 to his death in which he developed and worked within his distinctive, highly contrapuntal and chromatic composition system which he described in his treatise, Unterweisung im Tonsatz (‘The Craft of Musical Composition’). The clearest musical expression of this system is found in his solo piano work first performed in 1943, Ludus Tonalis. The String Quartet No. 4 falls within Hindemith’s second phase, and shows an early application of the contrapuntal and tonal ideas that characterize his later work.

    The quartet is in five movements that take the listener on a journey through calm and tender, energetic and wild, melancholy, virtuosic, and graceful parts of Hindemith’s sound world. The third movement, marked by Hindemith to be played “Mit wenig Ausdruck” (‘with little expression’), is a fine example of die neue Sachlichkeit and is considered by many Hindemith fans as one of his most beautiful expressions.

    My reference CD recording is by the Amar Quartet from 2009 on Naxos. Here is a Youtube video with score performed by the Los Angeles Quartet. Happy listening!

    Last edited by Simplicissimus; May-30-2020 at 15:32.

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  9. #711
    Senior Member Iota's Avatar
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    Great choice, Simplicissimus! I recently listened through all the Hindemith Quartets in succession with the Amar, which are indeed excellent, and look forward to going back to No.4.

    On the Ruth Crawford quartet - I think she fashions some very memorable phrases within the texture. The slow movement came across to me like a speculation on the vale of tears. Not sure if the whole thing has yet come together as greater than the sum of its parts for me, though this could easily change. Overall it's brevity and directness seem vey much part of its character, and added to its impact.

    Very glad of the introduction to this work/composer though and will be returning.

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    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    Another fine choice for this week! There are so many composers that I keep saying to myself that I want to get into, but keep ignoring. Hindemith is one of those; I reckon I have not heard a note of his music outside the Ludus Tonalis. Shall look forward to this one.
    "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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  12. #713
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    Nice choice. I've owned this set for awhile, but this is an opportunity to get to know them further.

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    Senior Member Enthusiast's Avatar
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    I need to write something to sum up my experience with the Ruth Crawford - perhaps tomorrow - but, meanwhile, just want to welcome Hindemith's 4th quartet. It's a fine work. I have this one, which is certainly pretty good:

    bartokhindemith.jpg

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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    I'm not familiar with Hindemith's SQs so this will be a new experience for me. Really looking forward to this. Nice choice Simply!

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  18. #716
    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    Nice choice! I, too, have meant to do more with getting to know Hindemith's String Quartets. Looking forward!

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    What a nice quartet! I've heard all seven of Hindemith's quartets before, but at the time, the fourth did not make a lasting impression on me (his seventh is what I liked most). But I'm glad I have the opportunity to revisit this one, since I believe it's his most famous of the bunch. I just listened to Simplicissimus's recording above, and it reminded me a lot of Bartok's first two string quartets, so much so that I had to go back and re-listen to Bartok's second to compare. The violent stomping, the chromatic step-wise melodies and the ever-shifting beats that you hear in Bartok can be heard here in several places.

    I'll now join Sbmonty and listen to the Danish SQ recording, which I own.

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  21. #718
    Senior Member Simplicissimus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by calvinpv View Post
    What a nice quartet! I've heard all seven of Hindemith's quartets before, but at the time, the fourth did not make a lasting impression on me (his seventh is what I liked most). But I'm glad I have the opportunity to revisit this one, since I believe it's his most famous of the bunch. I just listened to Simplicissimus's recording above, and it reminded me a lot of Bartok's first two string quartets, so much so that I had to go back and re-listen to Bartok's second to compare. The violent stomping, the chromatic step-wise melodies and the ever-shifting beats that you hear in Bartok can be heard here in several places.

    I'll now join Sbmonty and listen to the Danish SQ recording, which I own.
    I’ll be interested to hear everyone’s thoughts on the various recordings of this SQ, especially the Danish, which is supposed to be superb. Yes, I hear the Bartók here as well in just the ways you mentioned. I thought a lot about which of the seven SQs I should put forward this week. No. 3 (1920) was his breakthrough and I’ve always liked it; No. 6 (1943) is acclaimed as his fully mature statement in the form; and No. 7 is a short and sweet beauty with a beguiling simplicity. But after listening to all seven, I felt like I understood why No. 4 has been the most popular. I figured that all things considered, it would be the best bet.

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    Senior Member BlackAdderLXX's Avatar
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    I listened to the Amar last night and then again this morning. At first I didn't know what to think. It's very different from anything I've heard. I wish I had better words to describe what I'm hearing, but I don't, so let me say my first impression is that I like it. It's definitely well performed and well recorded by the Amar Quartet. The energy of the second movement is fantastic. The Rondo is very passionate and lively and I love the ending.

    All of this is new to me. I'm glad of it too, as the more traditional ensemble music while it has the songlike melodies my brain seems to look for, many times I can wander off while listening. Like many more modern works this lacks the songlike melodies of the older forms, but I'm enjoying the melodic ideas presented. I'm trying to get my musical brain around the concept of not expecting so much forward movement to the inevitable V > I cadence but to appreciate the individual movements like looking at pictures of something beautiful. At any rate, this was a pleasant listen and I'm looking forward to repeated listening throughout the week.

    16d3d6cbb27566082197fcbdf88a7a4fde5df766e0056b4411d2b8b1f6fbe469_256x256.jpg
    If I had a time machine I'd go back and warn these artists about their album covers

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  25. #720
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    I've listened to the Amar, Juilliard and the Pacifica up to now. I love the 2nd, 3rd and 5th movements the best, especially the 3rd movement. I liked all of them but the Juilliard and Amars were better, for me. The Amar, with their slower tempo absolutely nail the 3rd movement best but overall I slightly prefer the Juilliards in movements 2&5. I'll listen again soon. Really enjoying this one and I have a few more recordings to listen to.

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