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Thread: Ensemble with Different Instrumentation?

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    Question Ensemble with Different Instrumentation?

    Hello,
    Mozart's string quintet had an extra viola, while Schubert's string quintet had an extra cello. This variety tells that composers are willing to be flexible with how they assemble a quintet, and yet I have not come across a string quartet which was other than the standard 2 violins, 1 viola, 1 cello.
     
    I thought perhaps an interesting voicing might be 1 violin 2 violas and 1 cello. Instead of the violin leading, the violas could be the main voice with the cello adding the usual warmth and weight, and the violin only there to give a brightness and lightness to the voices of the violas.
     
    Have you found a string quartet written for an alternative instrument compliment?
     
    I thank you, Brian

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    No, but I've heard a kazoo quartet.

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    Explore John Cage's Quartets I - VIII. Only four instruments from a large ensemble play at any given time. The database here will give you info and recordings

    https://johncage.org/

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    Senior Member Heliogabo's Avatar
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    You can explore Edgard Meyer's quintet for string quartet & double bass.
    Here the composer plays w/ Emerson SQ:

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    Senior Member elgars ghost's Avatar
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    I've heard of a quartet work for three violins and one viola but I can't recall who the composer was or when it was composed - can't be overly famous, I assume.
    '...a violator of his word, a libertine over head and ears in debt and disgrace, a despiser of domestic ties, the companion of gamblers and demireps, a man who has just closed half a century without a single claim on the gratitude of his country or the respect of posterity...' - Leigh Hunt on the Prince Regent (later George IV).

    ὃν οἱ θεοὶ φιλοῦσιν ἀποθνῄσκει νέος [Those whom the gods love die young] - Menander

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    I thank you all for the responses.
    It seems that the conventional format is not one the composers wish to depart from.

    Brian

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    I today found the Schubert - Quintet for Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass and Piano in A-Dur, Op. 114 D. 667.
    An interesting coloration. But thin or sparse. Perhaps that was the way he deliberately wrote it, and someone with other intent could get a richer sound. Still, when someone wants to write something with an extra measure of clarity, this may be a useful ensemble.

    elgars ghost -

    "I sing the Georges Four,
    For Providence could stand no more.
    Some say that far the worst
    Of all the Four was George the First.
    But still by some 'tis reckon'd
    That worser still was George the Second.
    No mortal ever said one word
    Of good or bad of George the Third.
    When George the Fourth from Earth descended,
    Thank God the line of Georges ended."
    - Walter Savage Landor
     
    "Demirep" I had to look up in the dictionary.
     

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    Senior Member elgars ghost's Avatar
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    ^
    ^

    Yes, I've always liked that poem - a flawed lot, the Hanoverians. Then again, so was every other dynasty.
    '...a violator of his word, a libertine over head and ears in debt and disgrace, a despiser of domestic ties, the companion of gamblers and demireps, a man who has just closed half a century without a single claim on the gratitude of his country or the respect of posterity...' - Leigh Hunt on the Prince Regent (later George IV).

    ὃν οἱ θεοὶ φιλοῦσιν ἀποθνῄσκει νέος [Those whom the gods love die young] - Menander

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    Senior Member Art Rock's Avatar
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    That quintet is of course very well known (Trout quintet).
    I treat my music like I treat my pets. It’s something to own, care about and curate with attention to detail. From a blog by hjr.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Albin View Post
    I thought perhaps an interesting voicing might be 1 violin 2 violas and 1 cello. Instead of the violin leading, the violas could be the main voice with the cello adding the usual warmth and weight, and the violin only there to give a brightness and lightness to the voices of the violas.
    Carl Stamitz wrote 12 quartets for this combination (very underrated composer!), but the violas are mainly inner voices with the violin dominating. Pleyel also wrote a cracking quartet with 2 violas.

    You might enjoy Hoffmeister's double bass quartets -- these are for bass/violin/viola/cello with the bass replacing the first violin as lead instrument.

    I have a nice CD of quartets for four cellos, Romantic pieces by Offenbach and some less known cellist-composers like Wilhelm Fitzenhagen and Julius Klengel.

    In modern music there are several non-standard string quartets, Jay Sydeman wrote a couple and Rzewski wrote one for 4 violas (8 voices though since the musicians also talk).

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    Michael Haydn wrote a rather nice trio for viola, cello and double bass. I combo I would like to hear is a low quartet: 2 violas, cello and double bass.

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    I than you, Euler for the education!
    I have listened to music for many years, but I have never studied it. As I visit this forum, I am becoming aware of how much I do not know.

    Brian

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