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Thread: Weekly quartet. Just a music lover perspective.

  1. #961
    Senior Member annaw's Avatar
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    I just listened to Gerhard's 2nd SQ as well (Arditti). This quartet is very interesting to listen to (I particularly like the last "movement") and I find it fairly easily approachable even though I haven't quite warmed up to the modern sonic idiom Gerhard uses. One can even hear that he was acquainted with Schoenberg. I like such works as they help a lot with getting better acquainted with music I'm generally not so comfortable with.

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  3. #962
    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    I know Gerhard from having become enamored of his excellent symphonies a couple decades ago. He's certainly a really interesting composer! I plan to get the quartet no. 2 in for a listen tomorrow; it's new rep. for me.

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  5. #963
    Senior Member Simplicissimus's Avatar
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    I’ve listened to the Gerhard SQ No. 2 many times now and I definitely like it. Although its dissonance generally has the portentous quality that I think of as “alien spaceship landing film music,” it is not pretentious and OTT (as I find some similar contemporary music). It has a lot of surprising and interesting tone colors and I find it rhythmically very engaging, also in the sense more broadly of the temporal spacing within the whole and the relationships among the parts. Gerhard really does get me to experience some interesting sensations of the passage of time. I agree with ACB’s comparisons of this piece with aspects of Kurtág and Ginastera. What an interesting and rewarding listening experience!
    Last edited by Simplicissimus; Jul-16-2020 at 13:03.

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  7. #964
    Senior Member Iota's Avatar
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    I've heard the Gerhard a few times now, a piece that has many arresting moments and explorations of mood and momentum, and I like it and find it consistently engaging.
    But it has not yet quite formed for me into a comprehensible whole, or a set of parts that settle together in my mind, even though it radiates the strong potential of doing so, and is an example of a piece I can find engaging without the need to feel an overarching unity.

    Some pieces could of course be intended to resist piecing together, or are deliberately misfitting parts placed together for expressive purposes (though seeing that in a piece can ironically perhaps make them seem to fit together), but I've not yet quite reached any of those points with this piece so far.

    Very glad to have been introduced to it though, and will be revisiting.
    Last edited by Iota; Jul-18-2020 at 11:25.

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  9. #965
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    BlackAdder appears to be taking a brief leave of absence, so if he doesn’t show up by later today would annaw or starthrower be willing to step in with an emergency pick for next week? Thanks!
    "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

  10. #966
    Senior Member annaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    BlackAdder appears to be taking a brief leave of absence, so if he doesn’t show up by later today would annaw or starthrower be willing to step in with an emergency pick for next week? Thanks!
    I can do it, but Starthrower is before me in the original list. If he wants to go before, it’s totally okay. I have no difference at all .
    Last edited by annaw; Jul-18-2020 at 15:18.

  11. #967
    Senior Member BlackAdderLXX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    BlackAdder appears to be taking a brief leave of absence, so if he doesn’t show up by later today would annaw or starthrower be willing to step in with an emergency pick for next week? Thanks!
    Nope. I'm here. I just got your PM. For some reason I thought it was going to be a couple of weeks before it was my pick. I have a couple of ideas, but I'll need a couple of hours to get it together. Good?
    I'm realizing that my answer to the "favorite recording" question is usually Bruno Walter.

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  13. #968
    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    I listened to the Gerhard Second Quartet a few times. In terms of the trajectory of his career and style, this quartet reminds me most of his Third Symphony, which is my favorite among his four, even though it came much later, in fact early 40 years later (as all his symphonies did.) Maybe it's the single-movement design with multiple, slightly episodic subsections, although he did that often. I guess I can't quite put my finger on why, and I admit could be barking up the wrong tree entirely.

    I think it's a brilliant piece, and one I'll need to return to again later. It's a good piece to use in refuting the canard that twelve-tone music means "emotionless" music! It's clearly not as overtly Romantic as Berg and Schönberg, but it is passionate and expressive, I found, not to mention very colorful.

    For me, the form held together just fine, as someone said in Mahler 3 thread, I "can hear the end in the beginning." The single-movement form indeed borders on the episodic, but for me the overall shape and degree of interconnectedness amidst contrast is convincing.

    Bottom line: I've rated Gerhard for years on the strength of his mature symphonic output, and am gratified to hear no less quality in his much earlier chamber music!
    Last edited by Knorf; Jul-18-2020 at 17:42.

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  15. #969
    Senior Member BlackAdderLXX's Avatar
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    Picking a work was harder than I thought it would be. My first choices were likely too pedestrian for this group and a couple I was interested in lacked the variety in recordings that make this group fun for me. But after some thoughtful consideration I settled on Grieg: String Quartet in G minor, op. 27. This is a new work to me (like most CM in general) and I have lately become enamored with Grieg's music. This quartet is lovely and I look forward to listening to different recordings of it this week. Speaking of...here's Trout's list:

    1. Budapest String Quartet (1937)
    2. Emerson String Quartet (2004)
    3. New Helsinki Quartet (1997)
    4. Petersen Quartet (1993)
    5. Hagen Quartet (2011)
    6. Mørk, Sigerland, Sponberg, Tomter (2000)
    7. Oslo String Quartet (1993)
    8. Chilingirian Quartet (1998)
    9. Engegård Quartet (2015)
    10. Shanghai Quartet (1993)

    Here's the Emerson on YouTube





    Here's some background that I found on Earsense.org
    Edvard Grieg produced only one complete mature string quartet, the String Quartet in g minor, Op. 27 dating from 1878 when he was 35. The historical record indicates that it was a challenge for Grieg, a composer who was perhaps more accustomed to writing in smaller forms such as his celebrated art songs and Romantic piano miniatures. Yet his remains one of the most original and influential string quartets of the late 19th century, approximately contemporaneous with the first important quartets from Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Borodin and Dvořák. It was written in the same year as César Franck's piano quartet with which it shares some prominent elements of innovative cyclic design. Grieg's quartet even managed to impress the aloof Debussy who, fifteen years later wrote his only quartet in the same key, with more than a few striking similarities.
    Like many composers (notably Schubert, Mendelsohn and Shostakovich), Grieg borrows from his own music for the main theme of the quartet: a portion of his somber song Spillamæd (Minstrels). The icy theme is announced in unison by the quartet right at the beginning, the emphatic slow introductory andante before the bristling allegro. Almost all of the musical material in the first movement is derived from it including several creative variations of the full theme itself in a wide range of expression and affect. There are at least eight clear permutations for the listener's delightful discovery. But like the cyclic designs of Franck and, later, Debussy, the theme extends beyond the bounds of the first movement to obliquely influence the second, reappear in the third and frame the fourth including a nearly literal restatement of the quartet's beginning just before the final conclusion. Though the complete work comprises a four-movement design with a great variety of music, it is fused together with a rare artistic unity.

    One of the most striking aspects of Grieg's quartet is the distinctive way he writes for the string ensemble, an inseparable combination of texture and color resulting in a consistently unique quartet sound. On one hand, Grieg scores thick sections of unison sounds encroaching on the orchestral with double, triple and even quadruple stops simultaneously in all parts. Were this the only texture Grieg used, one might be tempted to agree with those who find the quartet rather un-quartet-like. But Grieg employs a diversity of other textures including skillful counterpoint, a fluid exchange of voice-leading across all four instruments and a variety of novel sounds that he may well have borrowed from Norwegian folk music for fiddle. If the stormy first movement emphasizes the vast orchestral unity of the strings, the middle movements highlight the delicate spaciousness of individual instruments in diverse combinations. The nimble finale and numerous sections throughout the quartet have an etched clarity of remarkable lightness and effervescence. It is precisely the juxtaposition of all these textures within one work that makes Grieg's music a revelation of new possibilities. Like Debussy, Grieg seemed to wholly re-imagine how to use a quartet. Grieg was the first to do so.

    Fresh in the way it sounds, Grieg's quartet is equally striking in the way it moves. The music is energized with astonishing rhythmic vitality and the constant impulse to dance. The second movement Romanze begins with a gently swaying waltz that accelerates into an intoxicating whirl around the dance floor with the intensity of a manic dervish. This is but a tentative warm-up for the intricate motions of the third movement Intermezzo, a scherzo with the rustic spice of a festival dance under the midnight sun. The finale sustains and ultimately surpasses this energetic frolic with its saltarello, a leaping dance of Italian origin dating back to the Middle Ages. Grieg's absorption of Nordic folk dances such as the springdans and haller is evident here along with heavy syncopations and cross-rhythms in an unbridled, lyrical frenzy framed by the sober soundposts of the motto theme on either side.

    Grieg's musical language was progressive for its time particularly within the generally conservative genre of the string quartet. Highly chromatic with rich harmonies and bold modulations, the music explores modal and pentatonic scales with an exotic folk flavor leading the vanguard of new music invading the traditions of Western Europe. Though Grieg studied in Leipzig using Mendelssohn and Schumann as his first models, he ultimately developed his own unique musical voice perhaps best illustrated by this inspired and passionate string quartet, a harbinger of musical developments towards the end of the century. Grieg would try his hand with the string quartet once more some ten years later, but his efforts produced only two movements and rough sketches for the rest of a quartet in F major. Though incomplete, these continue to demonstrate Grieg's innovative approach with many of the same characteristics. Though leaving us wanting, it is enough for us to marvel. No great cycle of quartets here, just a single finished work of great originality, historical significance and ravishing musical delight.
    Last edited by BlackAdderLXX; Jul-18-2020 at 17:57.
    I'm realizing that my answer to the "favorite recording" question is usually Bruno Walter.

  16. #970
    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    Grieg! Nice choice! I'm 95% sure I've heard it before, but it's been years and years, and I certainly don't "know it."

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  18. #971
    Senior Member Simplicissimus's Avatar
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    I’m streaming a recording by the Guarneri Quartet released in 1991 by Philips. Not on Trout’s list, but I like the Guarneris. I’m loving this work.

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  20. #972
    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    Oh, dear, I was way off about the date of Gerhard's Second Quartet! I should have paid more attention. It's 1962, just after the Third Symphony! I dug a little deeper, and I figured out more of why I heard correspondences between the Third Symphony, which I became acquainted with over twenty years ago, and the Second Quartet, which is new to me as of this week.

    First of all, while they're both in one movement, they're also both divided into seven linked sections, over which a kind of rondo principle is in effect. Listening to them back to back, there are definite correspondences of gesture and motivic ideas, concern with the sensation of passing time, and a similar overall, very personal affect.

    The Third Symphony was initially inspired by seeing a sunrise from an airplane at 30,000'. Something of this is suspended over to the Second Quartet. In digging around for words, I found I was not alone in noticing a connection. Garry Higginson wrote in his review on MusicWeb, "It’s as if these sounds were still in his head when composing the single movement Second Quartet."

    Anyway, to anyone who liked the Second Quartet, I definitely recommend investigating the Third Symphony.
    Last edited by Knorf; Jul-18-2020 at 22:46.

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  22. #973
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Nice choice with the Grieg. I'm away this week so I'll only be able to listen to a few recordings but when I get back I'll have a binge as there's stacks out there and I have a few at home.

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  24. #974
    Senior Member 20centrfuge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackAdderLXX View Post
    Picking a work was harder than I thought it would be. My first choices were likely too pedestrian for this group...
    I felt the same way when I was picking nomination. But on the other hand, I think even the most well known quartets are worth visiting, re-visiting, and discussing. For example, I was super happy to have had the opportunity to have revisited the Ravel work that was submitted recently, even though I knew the work fairly well.
    Last edited by 20centrfuge; Jul-19-2020 at 12:20.

  25. #975
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    I tried these two recordings of the Grieg yesterday but neither impressed much. Not too bad but I've heard and own way better.

    Grieg_quartets_rrc1279.jpg
    2278033.jpg

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