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Thread: Weekly quartet. Just a music lover perspective.

  1. #736
    Sr. Moderator TurnaboutVox's Avatar
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    Well, musical opinions legitimately differ. I think I've given this disc multiple chances already. I dislike the Bartok coupling just as much. Perhaps I am just too imprinted on the (for me) seminal Prague City Quartet disc.

    Chacun à son goût, say I.

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  3. #737
    Senior Member Enthusiast's Avatar
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    Certainly tastes legitimately differ (and thank you for being open to exploring this a bit without feeling an attack (as some might have done!) ... but I did wonder about the possibility that you might have become slightly imprinted on an earlier much loved recording. But, now that you are saying you don't like the coupling, I am wondering if this is as a coupling or if you don't greatly like Bartok's quartets. That might also point to your not being sympathetic to the more radical approach that the Zehetmair collaborators aim for?
    Last edited by Enthusiast; Jun-04-2020 at 18:03.

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  5. #738
    Sr. Moderator TurnaboutVox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthusiast View Post
    Certainly tastes legitimately differ (and thank you for being open to exploring this a bit without feeling an attack (as some might have done!) ... but I did wonder about the possibility that you might have become slightly imprinted on an earlier much loved recording. But, now that you are saying you don't like the coupling, I am wondering if this is as a coupling or if you don't greatly like Bartok's quartets. That might also point to your not being sympathetic to the more radical approach that the Zehetmair collaborators aim for?
    I like Bartok's string quartets like no-one else's except Beethoven's. It may be that I am "imprinted" on the 1979 Tokyo SQ's cycle as I haven't found a digital set to surpass or equal it. But I like the Takacs cycle a good deal whereas the Zehetmair Bartok #5 I do not care for. I have heard most (5/6) of Bartok's string quartets live at recital on multiple occasions and have enjoyed all of them, although the Keller quartet gave a warmly lyrical performance of #5 which was quite different to my cherished Tokyo Quartet LPs.

    Musical taste is a quirky thing, though.
    Last edited by TurnaboutVox; Jun-04-2020 at 20:02.

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  7. #739
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthusiast View Post
    The 4th quartet tends not to exploit the new modernist “neoclassicism” that Hindemith was beginning to develop in the early 1920s and is more a “mature” (modernist?) example of his earlier romantic style. It is a fine work. I thought I only had one recording of it (the Zehetmair) but I found I also have it on an old Borodin Quartet CD. I knew it slightly before this week – that Zehetmair disc is one I play quite often – but it has been a real pleasure to listen to it in some sort of depth this week. In addition to the two accounts mentioned I have now also heard the Danish, Pacifica and Amar accounts. All are good and do the job well but I don't think any come close to the Zehetmair Quartet's recording. The Zehetmair find much more in the music ... a lot of light and shade along with some real excitement ... and I think the work emerges all the greater from them.

    There is so much magic music in this work. I seem always to enjoy Hindemith but find a lot of his music falls a little short of greatness through being a little dry and academic sounding. No such problem with this piece. The movements are relatively brief but that doesn’t stop the music sounding profound and serious.
    My impressions are very similar. Yesterday I listened to some more Hindemith (Symphonic Metamorphoses, Mathis der Maler symphony, and some of the miscellaneous chamber duo sonatas) and thought it was very austere and academic - well-composed, no doubt, but rather emotionally disengaged. But I don’t really hear that in this quartet. That being said it’s not a work that I’m totally gripped by - I do think it’s a tad too long for what it has to say - but the outer movements are definitely the highlights for me and give me the most enjoyment.
    "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

    "Beethoven tells you what it’s like to be Beethoven and Mozart tells you what it’s like to be human. Bach tells you what it’s like to be the universe." - Douglas Adams

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  9. #740
    Senior Member Enthusiast's Avatar
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    ^ Maybe you will be a candidate for the Zehetmair!

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    Senior Member Enthusiast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TurnaboutVox View Post
    I like Bartok's string quartets like no-one else's except Beethoven's. It may be that I am "imprinted" on the 1979 Tokyo SQ's cycle as I haven't found a digital set to surpass or equal it. But I like the Tokacs cycle a good deal whereas the Zehetmair Bartok #5 I do not care for. I have heard most (5/6) of Bartok's string quartets live at recital on multiple occasions and have enjoyed all of them, although the Keller quartet gave a warmly lyrical performance of #5 which was quite different to my cherished Tokyo Quartet LPs.

    Musical taste is a quirky thing, though.
    Ah, OK. It is the Zehetmair that distress you. I find them exciting and inspired! I have many Bartok quartet sets and records (including one of the Tokyo sets - I can't remember which one and can't get to it to check right now). I was listening earlier to a couple of the quartets from the Tatrai cycle - who seem to make a lot of sense to me in Bartok. Do you know it?

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  12. #742
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthusiast View Post
    ^ Maybe you will be a candidate for the Zehetmair!
    Well, that is the first one I heard this week and I enjoyed it much more than when I heard the Juilliard yesterday. So maybe there’s something to that...I thought Zehetmair made it into a much more Romantic-type work comparatively. I don’t know if that’s a good thing
    "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

    "Beethoven tells you what it’s like to be Beethoven and Mozart tells you what it’s like to be human. Bach tells you what it’s like to be the universe." - Douglas Adams

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  14. #743
    Senior Member BlackAdderLXX's Avatar
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    Well, a post in another thread from starthrower turned me on to the Calidore Quartet, and in my listening found out they also have recorded the Hindemith #4. So guess what I did...

    38f0316530a4177697309d4274a20fa59a3a935390631a2f511c5a99bf362a3f_256x256.jpg
    Last edited by BlackAdderLXX; Jun-05-2020 at 19:28.
    "Snobbery of any flavor...tastes terrible."

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  16. #744
    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    Apologies for being late in getting to listening to this week's quartet.

    I'm an unabashed fan of the music of Paul Hindemith, but this was my first foray into his string quartets, for some reason. I've only listened to No. 4 thus far, but I also studied the score; what can I say, it's a wonderful piece! I knew I would like it, and I do, very much. While I enjoy his music from his entire career, I always have a soft spot for the music he wrote in the 1920s, which has this uninhibited imaginative quality, like he didn't quite understand what he was doing, but was driven to it anyway. Elements of craft and discipline are there—and this comment is in no way meant to cast shade on his later works. But there's something just so charming about his compositions from this time, so unburdened by theory.

    I speculate without having done any research at all that Hindemith was knowledgeable about Anton Reicha's ideas about "modern" fugue writing. The first movement strikes me as influenced by Reicha, at a bit of a distance, sure, but definitely more of a Reichian concept of fugue than, say, Beethovenian.

    The second and fourth movements have got to be close to the earliest use I know of of complex mixed meters without using time signatures. I'm pretty sure there actually are earlier antecedents, in fact (such as Ives,) but Hindemith's execution of the idea, with various misplaced downbeats and inventive metrical games, is yet distinctively different than Stravinsky's and nonetheless really engaging and clever.

    Is there a chaconne or passacaglia-like structure to the third movement? I feel like it hints at one, but perhaps it isn't strict. I'll need to go back and study this more. Beautiful movement. Who says Hindemith didn't write emotional music?

    In the fourth movement, Hindemith uses a trick he employed similarly in the wonderful Kleine Kammermusik, Op. 24, No. 2—written very shortly after Quartet No. 4—where a short and energetic intermezzo leads straight ("folgt sofort") into the finale. In this quartet, it's all about the cello in this movement, in a breathtaking vistuosic solo, whereas in the Kleine Kammermusik each of the five winds gets a little cadenza in and around a ritornello.

    By the way, if anyone here doesn't know the Kleine Kammermusik, Op. 24, No. 2, you really should. It's one of Hindemith's undeniable masterpieces.

    Great choice! I'm glad I've heard this. And now I need to shop for more CDs to add to my collection. It never ends...

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  18. #745
    Sr. Moderator TurnaboutVox's Avatar
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    György Kurtág (1926 - ) 6 Moments Musicaux for String Quartet, Op. 44 (1999 - 2005)

    I. Invocatio (un fragment)
    II. Footfalls (...mintha valaki jonne...)
    III. Capriccio
    IV. In memoriam György Sebok
    V. Rappel des oiseaux (etude pour les harmoniques)
    VI. Les Adieux (in Janáček's manner)

    Kurtág composed his 6 Moments musicaux, Op 44 between 1999 and 2005 when he was in his mid-seventies. Dedicated to his son, they are, like their namesakes from Schubert, individual pieces in a set, each concerned with its own soundscape and programmatic suggestion. Invocatio (invocation), is a supplication to the gods, a calling of the muse before the recitation of an epic. The process is tense and fraught. Footfalls is tentative, suspenseful, sparse. The title may refer to the play by Samuel Beckett who has been an enduring influence on Kurtág’s music, but it also comes from a poem by Hungarian poet Endre Ady about the sound of footsteps, the hopeful anticipation, yet, ultimately, no one comes, leaving only loneliness. The third piece, Capriccio, is, by comparison, quirky, erratic and capricious, full of what Kurtág called “cunning pitfalls.” One detects the influence of Stravinsky here. The fourth piece is an elegy for Hungarian teacher and pianist György Sebök. Rappel des oiseaux (etude pour les harmoniques) is the memory or recall of birds expressed almost entirely in harmonics, a technique giving the stringed instruments uncanny, birdlike sounds. The influence of Messiaen is unmistakable. In the final piece, Les Adieux (in Janáček's manner), Kurtág specifically calls out the influence of Czech composer Leoš Janáček whose passion, rhythmic vitality and emphasis on the natural cadences of speech all seem to be in play in the music. The concluding fadeout vividly evokes departure and disappearance, the essence of “goodbyes.”

    Kai Christiansen, quoted in the "Earsense" website.
    My impressions:

    Each section of this string quartet is extremely brief and aphoristic, somewhat in the manner of Webern.

    A tense, explosive 'Invocacio' gives way to the hesitant "faltering heartbeats" of 'Footfalls' where brief bursts of sound are separated by equally brief pauses. This is interrupted by a mournful central slow section, before the 'footfalls' start up again, this time more urgent and insistent. In the capriccio the cello strikes eerie ringing notes amidst fluttering accompaniments from the higher instruments. A lugubrious and heavy 'In memoriam...' based on the notes B-A-C-H (Bb) follows, but this in turn quickly gives way to the ...rappel des oiseaux...with a succession of high pitched, bird-like notes on the violin above the other instruments. A lush harmonically complex 'Les Adieux' sees the quartet playing in ensemble for the final section.

    The whole is exquisite, and leaves this listener wanting much more. This is my favourite of Kurtag's works for string quartet.
    Last edited by TurnaboutVox; Jun-07-2020 at 00:46.

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  20. #746
    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    Oh, wow, Kurtág! Nice. Kurtág's string quartets are awesome. This should be an interesting conversation!

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  22. #747
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    Nice, another opportunity to get to know a contemporary composer. I heard his “Grabstein for Stephan”, a small piece for guitar and orchestra, as part of the 1980-2000 Group and my interest was piqued, so this is a good excuse to dive deeper.
    "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

    "Beethoven tells you what it’s like to be Beethoven and Mozart tells you what it’s like to be human. Bach tells you what it’s like to be the universe." - Douglas Adams

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  24. #748
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Totally new for me.....here goes!

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  26. #749
    Senior Member Enthusiast's Avatar
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    Nice choice! I have a thing for Kurtag.

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  28. #750
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    Note that apart from the Molinari and Athena Quartet, the Keller Quartet have recorded this music here

    8599057.jpg

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