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Thread: Weekly quartet. Just a music lover perspective.

  1. #76
    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    I had accidentally bid on the Melos Quartett Brahms and Schumann quartets 3CD, and won. So I'll be exploring that one when it comes...

    81b4DJX8vlL._SS500_.jpg

    ... but it'll be a few days at least. For the rest of the week it will likely be the ABQ. Listening now. The first movement is a real tour de force, the second is songful and peaceful in its sad clarity, the fourth movement is electric. I feel like the work is growing on me a lot, to the point of becoming one of my favorites of Brahms' chamber works. It holds many secrets, I think. Somehow—perhaps the shared key has something to do with it—it reminds me of the first symphony. There is still one problem, and it appears Allegro Con Brio will agree with me at least on this point if nothing else...: the third movement. I just do not understand what Brahms was trying to tell us, there. It seems to go on and on and on without really going anywhere. It sticks out like a sore thumb from the incisive drama that is the rest of the quartet, and yet it is the longest movement. Trusting Brahms' skill and maturity as a composer by this point to know that he would not insert a bad movement into a great work, I will just concede that I don't understand it yet, and that it will probably take a lot more than one week (and more recordings) for me to understand this movement.

    One additional note, the music does not seem to be wearing on me with repeated listens over a short timespan in a way that other Brahms works have a tendency to in my listening experience. If anything, I enjoy it more each time.

    @Enthusiast, that Borodin recording looks great. It can actually be had cheaply in digital format on Amazon, so that's an option. Going to sample it later. By the way, do you accept Allegro Con Brio's nomination of you as the quartet-picker for next week? I'll be looking forward to exploring whichever one you choose.

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  3. #77
    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    (interesting that Brahms would take this direction after he wrote one of the greatest finales to date in his 1st Symphony).
    Just to nitpick a little here, but this quartet came before the first symphony, not after. Also, I would not characterize the finale of either the 2nd or 3rd of Chopin's piano sonatas as a "diabolical, bravura finish". They are so much more than that, even in as minuscule a package as the finale of the 2nd piano sonata. And I would argue the same for this quartet's finale.
    Last edited by flamencosketches; Mar-13-2020 at 01:40.

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    Senior Member Enthusiast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    @Enthusiast, that Borodin recording looks great. It can actually be had cheaply in digital format on Amazon, so that's an option. Going to sample it later. By the way, do you accept Allegro Con Brio's nomination of you as the quartet-picker for next week? I'll be looking forward to exploring whichever one you choose.
    I think I would choose Schubert's last quartet - #15, D887 - as I would like to get to know it better. Alternatives could be one of Martinu's (6th?) or the Debussy or something a little more modern like the 1st Ligeti (which has fairly instant appeal). Which way would others like to go?

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    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthusiast View Post
    I think I would choose Schubert's last quartet - #15, D887 - as I would like to get to know it better. Alternatives could be one of Martinu's (6th?) or the Debussy or something a little more modern like the 1st Ligeti (which has fairly instant appeal). Which way would others like to go?
    My vote would go to the Martinu, but it's ultimately your call. I too would like to explore the Schubert further but I only complain that it's probably the longest string quartet in my collection (unfortunately I don't have Morton Feldman's String Quartet No.2 in my library...!)—but if Schubert is the way you want to go, we can all gladly deal.

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    Senior Member Enthusiast's Avatar
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    ^ OK but I'm not sure how many of us like 20th century music (although the Martinu is a relatively benign example of the period). Any other views out there?

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    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthusiast View Post
    ^ OK but I'm not sure how many of us like 20th century music (although the Martinu is a relatively benign example of the period). Any other views out there?
    My view is that the nominee should choose whatever they want regardless of outside opinion I think a big part of this exercise is communally listening to a work that many of us may not appreciate immediately, but which we can perhaps understand better through discussion and commentary. I would be good with all of those ideas. Despite the length of the Schubert, I still like it a lot (more than the famous "Death and the Maiden," actually) and would look forward to diving deep into it. It's all up to Enthusiast!

    Just to nitpick a little here, but this quartet came before the first symphony, not after. Also, I would not characterize the finale of either the 2nd or 3rd of Chopin's piano sonatas as a "diabolical, bravura finish". They are so much more than that, even in as minuscule a package as the finale of the 2nd piano sonata. And I would argue the same for this quartet's finale.
    Thanks, Flamenco, for the correction - I suppose I should check my history before making such statements And I do think that the aforementioned finales are very effective, just very different from the idea of a finale as a weighty, involved journey to sum up the work.

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  9. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthusiast View Post
    I think I would choose Schubert's last quartet - #15, D887 - as I would like to get to know it better. Alternatives could be one of Martinu's (6th?) or the Debussy or something a little more modern like the 1st Ligeti (which has fairly instant appeal). Which way would others like to go?
    Then I think you must specify whether you want people to listen with or without first movement repeats.

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    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    Then I think you must specify whether you want people to listen with or without first movement repeats.
    I disagree. I think people should listen to multiple recordings, including those who might play it one way and those who might play it the other. That would only add value to the exercise.

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    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    I disagree. I think people should listen to multiple recordings, including those who might play it one way and those who might play it the other. That would only add value to the exercise.
    Well I don't care, I just listened to the first movement and I decided I hate it. There's just nothing to it except a bunch of annoying earworm tunes being repeated over and over again. What's the point of that?!!!!!!!

    The only good thing about it is Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Mar-13-2020 at 20:15.

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    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    If the Schubert remains Enthusiast’s preferred choice, he should not let others' opinions persuade him from going with it. Awaiting confirmation. I sincerely hope that this activity can help us all foster appreciation for a wide variety of styles and eras, and perhaps be a communal respite from the often-vitriolic aesthetic debates that tend to be pretty prolific on this forum right now. For me, things like this are what communities of music listeners are all about. I like to envision us all sitting in a room hearing the music, and then having a nice discussion afterwards about it means to us. Of course that doesn't mean we can't have negative criticism, but I do think we should expect respect and open-mindedness.

  14. #86
    Senior Member Enthusiast's Avatar
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    Let's go with the Schubert - No. 15 in G major, D. 887. After all we are already discussing it!

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    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthusiast View Post
    Let's go with the Schubert - No. 15 in G major, D. 887. After all we are already discussing it!
    Great! Really looking forward to this one. We'll switch over tomorrow after we get in our final listens/thoughts on Brahms. So far we've done:

    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)

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    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Final, very brief, thoughts on the Brahms: an interesting work with something lurking beneath the surface, especially in the last two movements, that I haven't quite figured out. It will take a lot more time living with it than a week, for sure, and I will try and periodically return to it throughout the rest of my life. But for now I need a break.

    Beginning now with the Schubert. I have two recordings, I believe. The Chilingirian on Nimbus, and the Italiano on Philips. I will be beginning this odyssey with the Chilingirian recording, simply because it is so much shorter: 44 minutes versus the Italiano's 55. I take this to mean that the Chilingirians omit the first movement repeats...? But I am not familiar enough with the work to comment on that.

    Listening now to the aforementioned Chilingirian, from this set:

    Clipboard (64).jpg

    Will write back with thoughts soon.

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  19. #89
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    This week centers around the final quartet of Franz Schubert - his huge, forward-looking, and somewhat underappreciated 15th, published posthumously 25 years after his death. I've always seen this work as a spiritual brother to Schubert's other late, great masterpieces - the D959 Sonata, Winterreise, the String Quintet, the "Great" Symphony, the E Flat Mass. It is dramatically extended, marrying structure and beauty in fascinating harmony. But the only previous time I listened to this, my first impression was that this sounds like Schubert entering a new phase of his compositional life. This is already evident in the aforementioned work, but I think that this quartet, more than any other of his compositions, gives us the most tantalizing taste of what may have lied ahead for the man whose life was taken far, far too soon. There seems to be a real maturity of style and expression. It will be interesting to see how my and our perceptions will change throughout the week.

    Right now I am getting more acquainted with the work through the Chilingirian recording (the same one Flamenco mentioned above) and plan to listen all the way through tomorrow. One recording that I think needs to be on everyone's radar is the Busch Quartet from 1938 - a great opportunity to hear performance practice from a different era applied to such a sprawling quartet. The Alban Berg and Juilliard are also high on my list to hear. Happy quartet-ing!

    Note: For some weird reason Wikipedia links won't work when I try to link them, so if someone else wants to do so feel free. They do have a basic but nice little listening guide for this work. Anyway, just type the name of the work into your search engine and the Wiki entry will be the first thing that comes up.

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  21. #90
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    The first movement is prescient of Bruckner. I bet Bruckner studied it.

    I’m quite interested in the way some quartets make interesting harmonies by slightly adjusting their notes by microtones, and I think (but I’m not sure) that the Wihan quartet do that here on this rather successful performance. They take the repeats and it’s listenable, no mean achievement

    3A1AEDE5-C2B0-47BF-AD07-29A4D3FBCE1E.jpeg

    The Quartettsatz is also good - again another piece of music which normally leaves me cold, but Wihan make me listen.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Mar-15-2020 at 23:41.

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