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Thread: Weekly quartet. Just a music lover perspective.

  1. #781
    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TurnaboutVox View Post
    One source on the internet suggests that his biggest (musical) influences are Webern and Bartok, which I can certainly identify, but also J. S. Bach, Machaut, Beethoven, Berg and Messaien. They also cite Goethe, Dostoevsky and Samuel Beckett amongst non-musical authors. I think Beckett can be seen quite clearly as an influence in the Moments Musicaux.
    I definitely hear Ligeti as well, especially from something like Ligeti's Ten Pieces for Wind Quintet.

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    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    Finally heard the Kurtag straight through and I definitely like it. I like the concision and precision of it all - lots of incident in tiny packages with a good variety of moods. Sometimes charming, sometimes witty, sometimes dark. Good stuff, methinks. I would definitely listen to this again in the future and am excited to hear what else Kurtag has to offer.
    "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 flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Really enjoying this work, Kurtág's 6 Moments Musicaux for String Quartet. I went as far as ordering the Molinari Quartet CD which is damn good. I have long been meaning to explore Kurtág's music in further depth and the choice of this work as our Weekly Quartet is just the incentive I needed. I find it a profound and rather fascinating piece. It seems to me that the composer has drawn inspiration from the late chamber music of Anton Webern, the middle string quartets of Béla Bartók and perhaps even Franz Schubert's own 6 Moments Musicaux. I find the aphoristic style of these pieces to be quite riveting. My favorite of them is probably No.2, Footfalls. Kurtág must be one of the most accessible of the non-tonal contemporary composers. There is something so simple and satisfying about his music, and yet it is still very sensual, and very concise. I am finding his style more and more fascinating the more I hear.

    To anyone who is curious where to go from here, I would highly recommend op.27 no.1, ...quasi una fantasia...

    Hey, is this our first SQ from a living composer? I wasn't around for the last couple, so pardon me if I'm missing one.

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    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    Time for a little weekly update - next week's choice will go to calvinpv. Just looking at the list of quartets we've done so far, I'm blown away by how long we have been doing this already and how much excellent discussion we've generated. Once our cycle of nominators runs out, do we want to continue with this little group? (I do!) Do you reckon we should just repeat the same order as before?

    Current schedule:

    06/14-06/21: calvinpv
    06/21-06/28: 20centrfuge
    06/28-07/05: Euler
    07/05-07/12: Iota
    07/12-07/19: DTut

    And, for reference, an updated list of quartets featured so far (in American dates):

    02/23-03/01: Beethoven - String Quartet No. 14 (Vicente)
    03/01-03/08: Britten - String Quartet No. 3 (flamencosketches)
    03/08-03/15: Brahms - String Quartet No. 1 (Allegro Con Brio)
    03/15-03/22: Schubert - String Quartet No. 15 (Enthusiast)
    03/22-03/29: Haydn - String Quartet in G Minor, Op. 20/3 (Mandryka)
    03/29-04/05: Smetana - String Quartet No. 1 "From My Life" (flamencosketches)
    04/05-04/12: Shostakovich - String Quartet No. 4 (Josquin13)
    04/12-04/19: Carter - String Quartet No. 3 (Bwv 1050)
    04/19-04/26: Schnittke - String Quartet No. 2 (Portamento)
    04/26-05/03: Lutosławski - String Quartet (Shosty)
    05/03-05/10: Schumann - String Quartet No. 1 (sbmonty)
    05/10-05/17: Korngold - String Quartet No. 2 (Merl)
    05/17-05/24: Ravel - String Quartet (Eramire156)
    05/24-05/31: Crawford Seeger - String Quartet (Knorf)
    05/31-06/07: Hindemith - String Quartet No. 4 (Simplicissimus)
    06/07-06/14: Kurtág - 6 Moments Musicaux for String Quartet (TurnaboutVox)
    "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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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    Time for a little weekly update - next week's choice will go to calvinpv. Just looking at the list of quartets we've done so far, I'm blown away by how long we have been doing this already and how much excellent discussion we've generated. Once our cycle of nominators runs out, do we want to continue with this little group? (I do!) Do you reckon we should just repeat the same order as before?
    Good to know I'm up. I'll write up a brief intro Saturday night for my choice; right now, I've got it narrowed down to four quartets, all mid/late 20th century.

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    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    To anyone who is curious where to go from here, I would highly recommend op.27 no.1, ...quasi una fantasia...

    .
    Very good, deep, psychological, disturbing - and I hadn’t heard it before, thanks.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jun-12-2020 at 06:30.

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  12. #787
    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    Just looking at the list of quartets we've done so far, I'm blown away by how long we have been doing this already and how much excellent discussion we've generated. Once our cycle of nominators runs out, do we want to continue with this little group? (I do!)
    I agree, and yes, please.

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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    Once our cycle of nominators runs out, do we want to continue with this little group? (I do!) Do you reckon we should just repeat the same order as before?
    Yes & yes..................

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    Senior Member Enthusiast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    Once our cycle of nominators runs out, do we want to continue with this little group? (I do!) Do you reckon we should just repeat the same order as before?
    The order doesn't matter to me too much but we should definitely continue - we have hardly started yet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthusiast View Post
    I have been with the Athena Quartet recording. The work is a delight. The characterisation of each short piece is so sharp. Of course, it is a brief work made up of contrasting very short pieces so there is no great profundity but its freshness is more than welcome in a day's listening.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    I’d be interested to know if you feel the same way after you’ve heard the Keller Quartet play them/it.



    Non sequitur.



    Longer than the Josquin Magnificat and Stabat Mater, or Bach’s chaconne or any of his partitas and suites (or not much in it) Or Beethoven’s . . . no, yuk, Beethoven . . . I don’t want to think about him.



    Like a partita. Or a song cycle.
    This has been on my mind (and in my ears) for a while and it is time to respond with a little substance. I suppose the objection was to my saying the work was not profound (a description that you may disagree with - although you haven't really said what you think of the work) and an implication that this is shown by the shortness of the six pieces.

    The point that shortness may not mean lacking in substance is well taken. But I didn't say that I found the piece lacking in substance. I was more concerned to say for for me the work is a delightful mix of little sound pictures, beautifully and elegantly painted. But, of course, not all short pieces are like this. A lot of Kurtag is made up of short pieces and many of Kurtag's works seem to me to have an overall more serious intent than Moments. Consider his Kafka Fragments, Messages Of The Late Miss R.V. Troussova, Homage to Mihaly Andras and many other pieces. Words like "profound" and "deep" are difficult to use in this context (and probably better avoided). Perhaps all words are - which is perhaps why you rarely tell us your own impressions?

    Thanks for the suggestion to listen to the Keller Quartet. It is a good one and quite different to the Athena. Does it go "deeper"? It is more expressionist, I think, and gives us a slightly different picture of the music.

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    One thing about Moments Musicaux, they are moments, not fragments. What I mean is, each part is a well made stand alone complete unit. I'm not sure the same is true of Kafka Fragments and Troussova, for example.

    Incomplete fragments always look deep to modern people -- like those unfinished statues by Leonardo and Sappho poems and ancient shards. Their incompleteness gives them a sense of mystery. By contrast, whole completed ideas always seem a bit phoney to modernist sensibility -- we've become suspicious of the idea of the auteur having a special perception of reality which he's sharing in the work of art.

    I've had enough of Kurtag for today. I'm going to listen to Nono -- Fragmente Stille - an Diotima. Fragments. Deep.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jun-12-2020 at 15:52.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthusiast View Post
    which is perhaps why you rarely tell us your own impressions?

    I find it quite hard just to see what's going on in a piece of music. By the time I've done that, I'm too knackered to do anything more.

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    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    I definitely liked the Molinari Quartet in this better than the live Keller which I had previously heard. Much more attuned to the various moods, more lyrical, more integrated. Mandryka, interesting thoughts on "fragments" vs. "moments." Interesting why Schubert, Rachmaninoff and Kurtag chose to title their pieces thus when "preludes" or "character pieces" or "sketches" would have worked just as well. What does "moment" signify; just a fleeting passage of abstract emotional tone sketches?
    "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 Iota's Avatar
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    Smile

    I've listened four of five times to the Molinari recording of the Kurtag now, and each time have found something substantially new to enjoy. The power of the aphoristic 'Moments' to suggest connections with some unseen wider reality, or untold backstories quite independent of the titles, was for me very strong.

    And perhaps also because of the brevity, I find the musical gestures throughout stand out very vividly. When one doesn't have a lot to go on, one certainly scrutinises closely what one does.

    Moment V. Rappel des oiseaux continues to sonically dazzle me, the strings at times sounding like wind instruments or organ stops, quite magical.

    Anyway thanks for the great choice, TurnaboutVox, very glad to have been introduced to this.

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  27. #795
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    So I was thinking long and hard about how far into the deep end I wanted to wade when it comes to everybody's comfort zone. I was considering Saariaho's Nymphea, Scelsi's 3rd, and Radulescu's 5th as difficult, but approachable, alternatives, but decided "you know what, let's go all in", so this week's quartet is:

    Lachenmann: Gran Torso (1971-1972, revised 1978)

    Helmut Lachenmann is, I’d argue, one of the most groundbreaking composers of the last 50 years, and his first string quartet Gran Torso from the early 70s is one of the first major works that exemplifies the style “musique concrète instrumentale”. In a nutshell, “musique concrète instrumentale”, a term adapted from Pierre Schaeffer’s “musique concrète” tape music, concerns itself with the physical means of producing sounds as much as the sounds themselves. Lachenmann had become disillusioned in the 60s with the serialists and Cage’s “end of history” approach to composing, in how they renounce the composer’s responsibility in making decisions for a composition, in how they unilaterally declare that all traditional forms of music have been abolished without any historical evidence to back it up. Sure, Cage and the serialists were quite radical, but according to Lachenmann, we can go much further, and the only way to do this is to first come to terms with and be aware of our musical past so that we can know precisely where improvements need to be made (in the same way, for example, that in logic, in order to refute a bad argument, one has to first reconstruct that argument in its entirety before discovering its faulty assumptions and bad inferences).

    So Lachenmann starts from the very basics and poses two fundamental, yet related, questions: 1. What are the components of a sound? 2. What are the means of producing them?

    In answer to the first question, though Lachenmann didn’t conduct any formal spectral analysis of musical sounds, he did notice that literally every pitched noise on an instrument has a shadowy doppelganger that is simultaneously essential to the pitched noise’s existence and yet repressed from our awareness. For example, listen to any note played on a violin: our ears are trained to focus on the note itself and not on the wispy, scratchy sound of the bow lying just underneath the note. Lachenmann is asking us to un-train our ears and reprogram them in such a way as to focus on all facets of a sound, not just the pretty, refined notes at the surface, and we can understand his music as an attempt to foreground all of those wispy, grating noises and place them on an equal playing field with pitched notes; giving these noises our undivided attention also has the added benefit that, over time, we will be able to develop and discover complex musical structures and relationships that are comparable to those found in traditional music – one of Lachenmann’s students, Mark Andre, has tried to do precisely that and his music tends to sound more organized and formal than his teacher’s. It should be stressed that foregrounding these noises doesn’t mean that pitched notes completely disappear from the music; all it means is that they lose their privileged, rarefied status and have to be placed into their proper relationships with their more ugly, noisy brethren (there is an underlying political dimension to Lachenmann’s music, but I won’t get into that here).

    As to the second question above, it should first be said that the mere fact Lachenmann is even raising it already places him in opposition to electronic music and some aspects of the spectralist movement, who, according to Lachenmann, only seem to care about blasting synthetic noises through loudspeakers without any concern or interest in the real-world sources of these noises. But to answer the question: though obviously, different instrumental techniques will produce different noises, one could categorize them based on superficial similarities, even if those similarities disappear on a granular level. For example, col legno battuto and Bartok pizzicatos yield different results on a string instrument, yet both of their dynamics consist of a sudden loud attack followed by a pretty rapid decay in volume. Basically, Lachenmann believes we can establish a complex network of relationships and hierarchies between techniques, which composers can use to derive formal musical structures for their works and performers can use to reevaluate their technical training as well as explore all the nooks and crannies of their instrument for hitherto unknown ways of producing sound. This last point goes back to Lachenmann’s wish that we understand our musical past in order to transcend it: our instruments are the embodiment of centuries of musical convention, of the dos and don’ts of musical playing, and by developing an exhaustive profile of our instruments as they currently stand, we will be in a better position to know what hasn’t been tried before.

    If you’re new to Lachenmann or musique concrète instrumentale in general, don’t feel overwhelmed, this music isn’t gonna bite you, so just settle into a comfy chair and relax. Personally, I highly recommend listening with headphones on a high volume – as if the quartet was playing right next to you -- because there are a lot of subtleties that the naked ear can’t catch on its own. But it’s up to you. As far as how to listen, I would recommend two things. First, come to the realization that the pitched sounds we call “notes” in traditional music make up only a tiny fraction of the entire constellation of existing sounds and that they’re all equally valid. This is more a mindset shift than anything. Second, try not to hear each sound in isolation but rather in continuous transformation and as part of a larger drama; hearing sounds in isolation tends to add silence where none exists, depriving the sounds of their multi-faceted natures.

    This piece may not be beautiful in the traditional sense, but let this piece overwhelm you with its raw intellect, raw emotion, and raw physicality. Sometimes, it's good for a piece of music to violently shake you and give you a hard jolt.

    Personally, I’m aware of four commercial recordings. Below is the Arditti Quartet, far and away the best, but the Stadler Quartet and Berner Quartet are pretty decent; the JACK Quartet recording I’m not familiar with but if their other recordings are anything to go by, it’s probably excellent.

    An article on Lachenmann's music by Tom Service in the Guardian here.

    A dissertation I found on google analyzing the work can be found here.

    Score here.

    Last edited by calvinpv; Jun-14-2020 at 04:24.

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