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Thread: Weekly quartet. Just a music lover perspective.

  1. #1186
    Senior Member Malx's Avatar
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    I have listened three times to the Dusapin - twice without due attention, but it helps get it into whats left of my brain, and once with more concentration.
    I didn't read the booklet that Mandryka kindly posted mainly because I don't really like to know what I'm listening for, I prefer to listen 'blind' if you catch my drift.
    Anyway - the piece is very interesting, but I struggle to hear a 'theme' as such and variations as I would normally imagine them. I think that the links may be in the sound types used rather than in a scheme as such. The middle variations worked better for me but I might have enjoyed it more if I had approached listening to it as a collection of short movements rather than searching for variations.
    Thats probably more down to a deficiency it my ability to hear a structure in modern music. I have added the quartet to my favourites in Qobuz so I will return to it at sometime.
    Last edited by Malx; Aug-29-2020 at 19:35.

  2. #1187
    Senior Member annaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malx View Post
    I have listened three times to the Dusapin - twice without due attention, but it helps get it into whats left of my brain, and once with more concentration.
    I didn't read the booklet that Mandryka kindly posted mainly because I don't really like to know what I'm listening for, I prefer to listen 'blind' if you catch my drift.
    Anyway - the piece is very interesting, but I struggle to hear a 'theme' as such and variations as I would normally imagine them. I think that the links may be in the sound types used rather than in a scheme as such. The middle variations worked better for me but I might have enjoyed it more if I had approached listening to it as a collection of short movements rather than searching for variations.
    Thats probably more down to a deficiency it my ability to hear a structure in modern music. I have added the quartet to my favourites in Qobuz so I will return to it at sometime.
    Just to give you a taste of what you are missing out on :

    "Micro-tonality immediately imposes itself as it is with Dusapin: neither temperaments equal to variable scales, nor natural intonation or transposition of acoustic models, but visceral expression listening to ‘bare life’ (to evoke Agamben), outside of prefabricated grids."

    And this very long sentence: "The anacruses and other little notes belonging to the same in-calculated time, reappear here and there amongst rhythmic iterations that are their obverse and which sometimes panic like broken-down machines or, a contrario, amongst very high tenuti, smooth as ice, and amidst a panoply of further sound possibilities, ranging from sinuous melodic inflections to silences of a few seconds, by way of salvoes of pizzicati creating the effect of a giant mandolin, for example."
    Last edited by annaw; Aug-29-2020 at 20:10.

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  4. #1188
    Senior Member adriesba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by annaw View Post
    Just to give you a taste of what you are missing out on :

    "Micro-tonality immediately imposes itself as it is with Dusapin: neither temperaments equal to variable scales, nor natural intonation or transposition of acoustic models, but visceral expression listening to ‘bare life’ (to evoke Agamben), outside of prefabricated grids."

    And this very long sentence: "The anacruses and other little notes belonging to the same in-calculated time, reappear here and there amongst rhythmic iterations that are their obverse and which sometimes panic like broken-down machines or, a contrario, amongst very high tenuti, smooth as ice, and amidst a panoply of further sound possibilities, ranging from sinuous melodic inflections to silences of a few seconds, by way of salvoes of pizzicati creating the effect of a giant mandolin, for example."
    Oh my goodness! Someone actually wrote that? I'll pass.

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    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    I quite liked the Dusapin. The listener should think of it more as a set of transformations of a sound object: one which ventures pretty far afield in multiple sonic directions compared to a classical theme and variations. The original gesture/idea becomes gradually unrecognizable. What makes or breaks variation form, in my opinion, is the accumulation and release of tension, whether linear, in waves, or in a series of greater and lesser peaks. I found the piece successful in holding my interest in this regard, although the transformation process struck me as fairly linear, because so many of the sounds and gestures are very striking. I can see myself returning to listen to this; I'm quite sure there's much that I missed and it easily engaged my interest to wonder about that.
    Last edited by Knorf; Aug-29-2020 at 21:13.

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  8. #1190
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    It’s a shame we can’t see the score, the booklet suggests this anacrusis is clearly marked. Obviously a set of variations do not have to be based on a melody in the theme, there’s a very canonical precedent for that. That being said, it was a gorgeous cello melody in the theme or the first variation which first caught my imagination in this quartet.

    I wonder why it’s called open time. Musical time is clearly a big area for composers but I’ve not come across the idea of open time before.

    Quote Originally Posted by annaw View Post
    Just to give you a taste of what you are missing out on :

    "The anacruses and other little notes . . . which sometimes panic like broken-down machines or, a contrario, amongst very high tenuti, smooth as ice, and amidst a panoply of further sound possibilities, ranging from sinuous melodic inflections to silences of a few seconds, by way of salvoes of pizzicati creating the effect of a giant mandolin, for example."
    This seems to me rather well put.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Aug-29-2020 at 21:58.

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  10. #1191
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knorf View Post
    I quite liked the Dusapin. The listener should think of it more as a set of transformations of a sound object: one which ventures pretty far afield in multiple sonic directions compared to a classical theme and variations. The original gesture/idea becomes gradually unrecognizable. What makes or breaks variation form, in my opinion, is the accumulation and release of tension, whether linear, in waves, or in a series of greater and lesser peaks. I found the piece successful in holding my interest in this regard, although the transformation process struck me as fairly linear, because so many of the sounds and gestures are very striking. I can see myself returning to listen to this; I'm quite sure there's much that I missed and it easily engaged my interest to wonder about that.
    Can you think of any other recent big sets of variations? I mean written this century.

    I’d be interested to hear what you make of Dusapin’s string trio.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Aug-29-2020 at 22:02.

  11. #1192
    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    Variation form really does seem to have fallen out of fashion, except by very conservative composers like Lowell Liebermann (who is very good, just really conservative.)

    But then, Variations for Orchestra by Elliott Carter remains one of my pieces of his! Not at all recent, though.

    In terms of recent big sets of variations, you've got me a bit stumped. How recent?I think there are or might be plenty of examples that are variation form in all but name. I'll have to think about it.

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    Senior Member annaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knorf View Post
    I quite liked the Dusapin. The listener should think of it more as a set of transformations of a sound object: one which ventures pretty far afield in multiple sonic directions compared to a classical theme and variations. The original gesture/idea becomes gradually unrecognizable. What makes or breaks variation form, in my opinion, is the accumulation and release of tension, whether linear, in waves, or in a series of greater and lesser peaks. I found the piece successful in holding my interest in this regard, although the transformation process struck me as fairly linear, because so many of the sounds and gestures are very striking. I can see myself returning to listen to this; I'm quite sure there's much that I missed and it easily engaged my interest to wonder about that.
    Thanks for this insightful overview. I think I might have to listen to it again while keeping in mind what you wrote. I feel I slowly start understanding what works as the main “theme”.
    Last edited by annaw; Aug-29-2020 at 22:20.

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  14. #1194
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knorf View Post
    Variation form really does seem to have fallen out of fashion, except by very conservative composers like Lowell Liebermann (who is very good, just really conservative.)

    But then, Variations for Orchestra by Elliott Carter remains one of my pieces of his! Not at all recent, though.

    In terms of recent big sets of variations, you've got me a bit stumped. How recent?I think there are or might be plenty of examples that are variation form in all but name. I'll have to think about it.
    Yes I can think of ones from the 70s and 80s -- I've been listening to Ralph Shapey's Fromm Variations for example. But not much after that, over the past 30 years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by annaw View Post
    Thanks for this insightful overview. I think I might have to listen to it again while keeping in mind what you wrote. I feel I slowly start understanding what works as the main “theme”.
    Is so interesting the way different people listen. I wasn't at all bothered about identifying a theme, I just lay back and enjoyed the music, and I found it stood up to repeated listening. And people accuse me of being over intellectual!
    Last edited by Mandryka; Aug-29-2020 at 22:42.

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  18. #1196
    Senior Member annaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    Is so interesting the way different people listen. I wasn't at all bothered about identifying a theme, I just lay back and enjoyed the music, and I found it stood up to repeated listening. And people accuse me of being over intellectual!
    Heh, heh, indeed! I can sometimes be a bit of an analysing addict. With pieces like the Dusapin, the underlying musical ideas can remain somewhat abstract to me because of my limited knowledge of music theory but it’s great to have significantly more knowledgeable people here. I wasn’t initially that disturbed by the lack of main theme but rather the lack of something that would unify the work. I assumed (and I think rightly so) that there has to be something that connects the variations but I wasn’t able to identify what this mysterious “theme” is. Now I have a bit better idea of what it could be thanks to this discussion .
    Last edited by annaw; Aug-29-2020 at 23:17.

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  20. #1197
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knorf View Post
    Variation form really does seem to have fallen out of fashion, except by very conservative composers like Lowell Liebermann (who is very good, just really conservative.)

    But then, Variations for Orchestra by Elliott Carter remains one of my pieces of his! Not at all recent, though.

    In terms of recent big sets of variations, you've got me a bit stumped. How recent?I think there are or might be plenty of examples that are variation form in all but name. I'll have to think about it.
    Some recent variations, here



    And here

    8BC47FB8-B109-45AE-B0F6-292D2BE26895.png

    And here

    989619BC-2A01-4F75-8FE4-C92332270D68.jpeg

    https://www.subrosa.net/en/catalogue...tal-music.html

    And in Veräderungen here

    76C80EE4-7097-4FA0-8335-AF37154C5136.png
    Last edited by Mandryka; Aug-30-2020 at 06:09.

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  22. #1198
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    My choice for the coming week is the Latvian composer Peteris Vasks' String Quartet No. 4 in five movements. Born in 1946, Vasks is now 74 years old. His 4th String Quartet was composed in 1999, & was written for the Kronos Quartet, who gave the work its premiere recording in 2003. Vasks has composed 5 string quartets to date.

    I see this quartet as a modern masterpiece. There are five movements: Elegy, Toccata 1, Chorale, Toccata 2, and Meditation.

    Here are the recordings that are available to listen to on You Tube, and they're all excellent, in my view:

    1. Navaara String Quartet, live at Lincoln Center, February 7, 2019:


    2. Prezioso String Quartet:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7-l...6gOU8&index=12
    https://www.amazon.com/Prezioso-Stri...s=music&sr=1-4

    3. Kronos Quartet, the premiere recording:

    Elegy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gwKJXbGjww
    Toccata 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxsGcZrM5wE
    Chorale: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTlgw7gq0Hw
    Toccata 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ff-ORnFcoes
    Meditation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5uN7erFDKs

    4. Spikeru Quartet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jzav...PFlK8YPT4KQyaQ

    5. Borusan Quartet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPt1...1FnlA&index=10
    https://www.amazon.com/Company-Works...c&sr=1-2-fkmr0

    In Vasks' own words, drawn from the liner notes to the Kronos Quartet's recording:

    “When I think about contemporary life, it's impossible not to realize that we are balanced on the edge of time's end. It's frighteningly close. But is there any point to composing a piece that only mirrors our being one step away from extinction? To my mind, every honest composer searches for a way out of his time's crises. Towards affirmation, towards faith. He shows how humanity can overcome this passion for self-annihilation that flares up in a column of black smoke from time to time. And if I can find this way out, a reason for hope, the outline of a perspective, then I offer it as my model.”

    Here too is an AllMusic review by Blair Sanderson:

    "Peteris Vasks has contemplated the passing of the twentieth century -- its violence and tragedy balanced against its more benign aspects -- and made his String Quartet No. 4 a spiritual summary of the times. Yet the work's success can be judged without relying too much on the composer's subjective program. As pure music, the quartet is effective and striking in its contrasts. The Elegy, a pensive and austere opening, bears a strong resemblance to John Tavener's Last Sleep of the Virgin, especially in its chains of trills and subdued ambience. Toccata I is an aggressive blast of sharp chords and insistent staccato notes that struggle to break free of restraints. The changing textures and rising chromatic modulations of the Chorale make it the most fascinating movement since there are no overt clues to its ultimate resolution. Toccata II resumes the acid harmonies and fierce rhythms of the second movement, but the most interesting device is a sweeping group glissando in the penultimate measures, a startling gesture that is nonetheless perfect in its placement. The closing Meditation returns to the first movement's dark mood, but continues its reverie in a more openly lyrical manner. The sympathetic performance by Kronos is a significant factor in this recording's coherence and appeal."

    Finally, here a brief review by Jens F. Laurson of the recording by the Spikeru Quartet on the Wergo label: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jenslau.../#21bbf53d18aa

    Arvo Pärt and Dmitri Shostakovich have also been suggested as influences on Vasks in this quartet.

    For those that wish to explore Vasks' other four quartets, the Spikeru String Quartet has recorded all five quartets for the Wergo label: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-A04aJ-vHQ

    https://www.amazon.com/Spikeru-Strin...s=music&sr=1-2
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B016Z8K9CY...s=music&sr=1-3

    There's also an excellent disc of String Quartets 1-3 by the Navaara Quartet on Challenge Classics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6Bl...C_MSacY-6czisY, and a recording that I've not heard by the Riga String Quartet of Quartets nos. 2 & 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cd7z...zB_oJNb0QxAPtu.

    If you wish to explore other works by Vasks, I'd recommend his Violin Concerto, "Tala gaisma" or "Distant Light" as a good place to start. It has received multiple recordings, from violinists Gidon Kremer, Alina Pogostkina, Katarina Andreasson, Renaud Capuçon, Sebastian Bohren, John Storgårds, Hugo Ticciati, etc.:

    --Kremer:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Q_9-rHqTzM
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxHenj22GvI
    --Andreasson: https://www.amazon.com/Violin-Concer...s=music&sr=1-1
    --Pogostkina: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFkLZu0nZ0g
    --Capuçon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coRS...TFrsJI&index=7
    --Storgårds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4A-9LetBIYA
    --Ticciati: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xg5tgKa7Hws
    --Bohren: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67m5N53Pph4

    I hope people enjoy getting to know Vasks' 4th String Quartet this week, if they don't already know it, or revisiting it, whichever the case may be. If anyone listens to all of the above recordings, I'll be interested to know which was your favorite, or favorites...
    Last edited by Josquin13; Aug-30-2020 at 08:30.

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  24. #1199
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    ^ phew, Jos didn't choose my next pick. Haha. Seriously I don't know this quartet at all so another new one for me. Looking forward to digging in.
    Last edited by Merl; Aug-30-2020 at 10:00.

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    Senior Member HenryPenfold's Avatar
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    It's frustrating. My joint favourite genres are string quartets and orchestral. I have, for quite some time, enjoyed the stqts of Vanks and Dusapin. But every time I see this thread, my listening preference is elsewhere! I'm completely out of synch with this thread!

    I wonder if my listening whim, and this thread, will ever be serendipitously resolved.
    Last edited by HenryPenfold; Aug-30-2020 at 10:26.

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