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I certainly don't require a piece of music to be "radical" or "innovative" in order to thoroughly enjoy it, as I did this one. Rubbra has a nice Neo-Romantic voice and a keen little continuous structural conception in this quartet, and he carries it off well. The first movement starts off sounding like standard late-German-Romanic fare, but it did capture my attention and the music goes on to assume a great variety of complexions as the movement progresses. I struggled a bit more to stay engaged throughout the second movement, but part of that may have been what I perceived as a rather slack performance by the Magginis. Though it's curious that Rubbra didn't decide to include a conventional finale, ending on the scherzo-like piece lends the work a bit of quirkiness and it certainly is fun and engaging as is. Not a groundbreaking piece nor necessarily a new favorite, but it is accomplished music that goes down smoothly and has an effective compressed narrative arch.
 

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This week's selection was commissioned and premiered by the Kronos Quartet back in 1996 and has been recorded more recently by the young Korean ensemble, Esme Quartet, for Alpha Classics. ParaMetaString for string quartet and tape was composed by Unsuk Chin. The four movement work is about 20 minutes in length. This link provides the composer's notes on the quartet. Unsuk Chin - ParaMetaString (boosey.com)
You can listen to the piece on YouTube or Spotify.
 

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This week's selection was commissioned and premiered by the Kronos Quartet back in 1996 and has been recorded more recently by the young Korean ensemble, Esme Quartet, for Alpha Classics. ParaMetaString for string quartet and tape was composed by Unsuk Chin. The four movement work is about 20 minutes in length. This link provides the composer's notes on the quartet. Unsuk Chin - ParaMetaString (boosey.com)
You can listen to the piece on YouTube or Spotify.
I like this piece. What I'll say is that if you haven't got that Esme recording do yourself a favour and grab it. The award-winning Korean quartet are superb and the sound from Claves is stunning. Its worth having the disc for the brilliant account of the Beethoven 1st Quartet. Nice choice, ST. ;)

Btw, for an explanation of what it's all about this is what the composer said (it saves you clicking on ST's link above)

"ParaMetaString is a study based on string sounds. Its four movements can be characterized as follows:

The first movement uses blocks of sound from artificially condensed tremolo sounds. While these blocks are heard in alternation, a subliminal rhythmic structure is gradually established, creating an expanding time structure. Layers of sound which would be covered up by the sound of unmanipulated strings are brought into the foreground through a filtering process.
The second movement revolves around the study of the structure of harmonics. The col legno beats of the cello on the note C, which gradually become slower and heavier, are used as an ostinato bass. In contrast to this, a structure of harmonics unfolds, the rhythm of which is divided up into smaller and smaller units. These two lines develop in a complementary way – the slower the bass, the finer the division of the trebles.
The third movement focusses on the diverse micro modulations within a cello note that slowly glides downwards, and, in contrast to this, on the ‘fluctuating’ fifths within the upward modulations of the other strings. The key note is D.
The fourth movement is, in essence, the development of the first. The rhythmic patterns of the first movement are used to create the rhythm of balls falling down and bouncing back, while the tempo increases and gravitation reverses its direction.

ParaMetaString was commissioned by the Kronos Quartet. The original string sounds were recorded by Eunryung Chang (cello) and Matthias Leupold (violin). The tape recording was produced in the electronic studio of the Technical University, Berlin (under the direction of Folkmar Hein), between November 1995 and April 1996."

Unsuk Chin
 

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Sorry, there was not too much time last week for the Rubbra ... however, I appreciated this quartet very much.

Maybe it is not the most progressive and revolutionary idiom, but to my best understanding it was a unique one that I liked. The quartet encouraged to look into Rubbra's symphonies, concertos, masses and other chamber music.

Thank you for picking this one!
 

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I note the Esme is a 'World Premier Recording'. With it having only been released in 2020 am I correct in assuming there are no other recordings available for comparison - I couldn't find any after an admittedly cursory search.
 

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This week's selection was commissioned and premiered by the Kronos Quartet back in 1996 and has been recorded more recently by the young Korean ensemble, Esme Quartet, for Alpha Classics. ParaMetaString for string quartet and tape was composed by Unsuk Chin. The four movement work is about 20 minutes in length. This link provides the composer's notes on the quartet. Unsuk Chin - ParaMetaString (boosey.com)
You can listen to the piece on YouTube or Spotify.
Good choice Starthrower 👍

I don't know this piece, but it looks very interesting.
 
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I note the Esme is a 'World Premier Recording'. With it having only been released in 2020 am I correct in assuming there are no other recordings available for comparison - I couldn't find any after an admittedly cursory search.
It does seem odd that it went unrecorded for over 20 years after being premiered by Kronos. But I haven't found any details as to why Kronos or other quartets didn't record the work.
 

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I've listened to the Chin piece four times this week so far and am now going to give it a rest and hopefully come back to it later in the week.
I'm very much in two minds about the work. Listening with an open mind I hear a lot of interesting sounds put together which combine the strings with the taped elements better than I may have imagined, but and unfortunately for me its a sizeable but, I find the panning effects of the tape distracting - effects I associate more with early seventies prog rock (and even then I found it distracting unless you were trying to show off your stereo system) - this panning I found most noticeable at the start of the fourth movement.
Maybe after a break of a couple of days I'll hear it differently.
 

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The piece is not really my cup pf tea, but I'm a bit surprised there isn't more discussion of it this week. There are lots of really interesting sounds throughout and some creative yet restrained and tasteful use of electronics. It reminded me a bit of Saariaho, who uses electronics in a similar way. I don't usually listen to this kind of music anymore unless for this exercise, so it's always nice to be a bit jolted out of my comfort zone. But I did like how Chin mixed in plenty of consonances and more accessible moments, and the finale was quite captivating and fun.

SearsPoncho is up next, but he hasn't been seen in a while—I hope he's OK and is just taking a break. Henry, can you be on standby in case we don't hear from him?

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I love listening to this piece. Unlike Malx, I never tire of panning. I should really listen once on headphones and really get the full impact of that. There are beautiful sounds and effects that I want to listen to over and over.
If I were to be critical, I might say that it sounds a bit like a survey of sounds one can make with whatever setup this is rather than a "composition." This will likely change if I get to know the composer more. I'm only saying this is part of my first impression.
The tempo markings seem almost humorously traditional compared to the actual piece.
I am definitely earmarking this composer as someone to find out more about.
 

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If I were to be critical, I might say that it sounds a bit like a survey of sounds one can make with whatever setup this is rather than a "composition." This will likely change if I get to know the composer more. I'm only saying this is part of my first impression.
I had the same reaction so initially I had decided against choosing this work.. But after I listened a couple more times it seemed to hang together more coherently as a piece. For their Alpha CD I wish they had chosen another modern work instead of the Beethoven No.1. It seems like an odd grouping along with a Frank Bridge piece.
 
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I've been immersing myself in Mahler, Bruckner, Tippett and Vaughan Williams over the last weeks, not least because I've attended concerts thereof, so I have only listened to this quartet twice - but I love it and I hope I can find time to return to it in the very near future.

My thoughts - a bit random:

When I started wandering from the beaten path of classical music some years ago, it was music like this, which I call avant garde (rightly or wrongly), that really excited me. I didn't know my journey through classical music would bring me into contact with such radical (to my ears) music. It was just like that first time I came home as schoolboy with a copy of Tangerine Dream's 'Zeit' and was blown away with the possibilities of soundworlds that I never knew existed. This quartet is absolutely an example of that, and whilst my take firmly locates this work in the past, the idea of 'dated' does not enter my mind at all.

As I type, I'm now in my third listen-through and my enjoyment level is increasing enormously!

The work is, imho, beautifully balanced with two wonderfully composed inner movements that mix 'provocation' and serenity, and two rather more texturally vigorous and assertive outer movements. But I totally agree with Malx &al regarding the opening of the fourth movement. It almost ruins the movement and does rather upset the incredible mood set up by the preceding andante (the strongest movement of all, imho) and the one I enjoy most. However, as the movement progresses, I get what Chin is doing and I think it works.

My only regret is that I've been unable to throw the sort of time at it this week that I would have liked to.

I rate this work very highly and I thank Starthrower for introducing me to such a fine piece of music.

P.S. I cannot pass comment on the performance as I personally have no comparator.

P.P.S. As I finish this post, the album has moved onto the Frank Bridge Novelettes and I'll say it's a very fine performance. I understand the Beethoven is very good too - what an inspired release!

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SearsPoncho is up next, but he hasn't been seen in a while—I hope he's OK and is just taking a break. Henry, can you be on standby in case we don't hear from him?
Hi ACB

I'm afraid I'm not able to pull anything together today for this.

Henry Penfold
 
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