Label: VoxBox - CDX 5143 Format: 2x, CD Country: US Genre: Classical Style: Post-Modern
A second group of post-modern composers is made up of revisionists. The gestures are simple, the contemplations profound. The German-born Hindemith who emigrated in to Switzerland and the United States was a professional quartet player, both as a violist and second violinist, and also a neo-classical theorist. They are the benchmark. This is music distilled. This material is copyright.
I would place the following composers in the second rank of the quartet writers who carried national traditions into the twentieth century. The two pieces are, understandably, championed by American performers, but I cannot say I like the music much.
This piece has become a warhorse and is one of the few quartets that one hears too often in concert. Still, it is a splendid and — more to the point, perhaps, in explaining its popularity — an entertaining piece. Despite his periods of neo-classicism, Stravinsky did not attempt a full string quartet. It is vintage Stravinsky: The seventeen quartets written over forty-two years by the great Brazilian composer combined modal modernism with folk melodies and rhythms.
They are only recently gaining much attention from North American performers and listeners. The young Mexican ensemble Cuarteto Latinoamericano, for example, is now recording the cycle. They skimp disappointingly on the exhilarating wildness of his piano works, but they are delightful nevertheless. The second, with its Tatar folk elements, is the better piece. The German-born Hindemith who emigrated in to Switzerland and the United States was a professional quartet player, both as a violist and second violinist, and also a neo-classical theorist.
Only some of his music deserves its reputation for a too-cold formalism. The third quartet, which combines elegant string-writing and late-Romantic chromaticism, is a beautiful piece. The Modern Period: The Second Viennese School and its Followers. Most classical audiences have heard that Arnold Schoenberg was the inventor of atonal music and the leading apostle of musical modernism, but rather few people have actually heard his music.
Nevertheless he was one of the greatest of composers, as his four numbered quartets attest. The extremes of chromaticism characterize the first quartet. By the final movement of the second quartet, Schoenberg has almost entirely committed himself to the logical step of treating all twelve tones of the chromatic scale equally.
No note stands as the tonic, and there are no more keys. This is atonalism. Musical reality has been reconstructed; Romanticism has become Expressionism. The third and fourth quartets are entirely atonal, but, in mood, less unsettling than the second.
Because Schoenberg does not abandon traditional rhythms, the emotional content of the pieces remains accessible, despite the lack of harmony and key, and despite the resulting rootlessness of the melodies. Both pieces are approachable, likable, and beautiful — not at all scary. Once you elbow your way past their formidable reputation, you will find great music. Early in his career Schoenberg wrote one of the outstanding chamber works of the late Romantic period: More so than any other composer, including his teacher, Berg managed to employ atonalism as a medium for emotional expressiveness.
If you are one of the many listeners who have never been able to stand atonal music for more than a minute or two, try this fine piece. I will not attempt to list here a selection of the many works for string quartet that have been written in an atonal or an almost-atonal style.
Yet more important are the works of Elliott Carter, who belongs in any history of the string quartet. In his quartets, Carter deconstructs not only melody and harmony, but also rhythm. That is to say, the listener cannot identify a tune, a key, or a beat. With the composers of the Second Viennese School, there is always a sense of rhythm, even when melody and harmony seem absent, and so the music can still express feeling.
Listening to them is rather like visiting an exhibit of the geometric paintings of Piet Mondrian. Both artists are interesting, challenging, and in their aesthetic integrity and virtuosity altogether admirable, but the works lack the means to convey warmth or to inspire it.
Carter is comparable to Bach, it seems to me, in that — just as Bach brought Baroque music to perfection after the Baroque period had ended and younger musicians had moved onward — Carter has brought modernism to its logical conclusion while post-modern aesthetics have already begun to flourish all around him.
Guiding a listener through the vital profusion of contemporary quartet-writing is rather like guiding a group of hikers through a redwood forest: I can do no more than guess which post-modern quartets will last, and the only way to guess is to say which I like. Both paths aim toward the audience. All these composers want to repair the breakdown in communication between classical musicians and their audience that was occasioned by the uncompromising difficulties of modernist music.
What distinguishes the syncretists is their attempt, in one way or another, to combine the various discoveries of modernism with the communicative power of Romanticism. They are unwilling to return to the straightforward scales, keys, and harmonies of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but in other ways they have embraced the Romantic aesthetic — its direct appeals to emotion, its story-telling, its dramatic journeys, its philosophical meditations.
A second group of post-modern composers is made up of revisionists. To them, modernism has reached a dead end, and the only way for music to find its bearings again is to start over. These composers have turned to the musics of much earlier times — including the traditional musics of Asia.
They have also embraced popular music and jazz. In this group are minimalists, composers in the world music movement, jazz and pop crossover composers, neo-romantics, and neo-medievalists.
Perhaps the most distinguished quartet-writer among the post-modern syncretists is the Canadian Murray Schafer. Of his eight string quartets to date, the first five quartets have been recorded by the Orford Quartet, and the first seven more recently by the Molinari Quartet.
Anyone curious to explore post-modern syncretism will do well to begin with these excellent pieces, which, in their theatricality and their uninhibited wit and inventiveness, remind one of Haydn. They deserve a much wider currency in the United States like his compatriots, indeed like Canada itself, Schafer is much better known in Europe than in America. No doubt there are many others whose music I will like when I hear it.
They are as dramatic and moving, as full of beautiful sounds and melodies, as the best quartets of the nineteenth-century national schools, without resembling them at all. As a performer, he improvises on saxophone and keyboard. Jazz, Indian music, and story-telling based on Native American myths inform his compositions. As did the composers of the Middle Ages, he sees music primarily as a medium for spiritual awakening. In his words: His radical revisionism has not endeared him to critics and to most performers, who — unfortunately for listeners — continue to ignore him.
However, my best guess is that, when the dust has settled, he will be included among the great quartet composers. Riley is sometimes credited as the initiator of minimalism, but he does not consider himself a minimalist.
He does not use the radical harmonic simplicity and the static pacing of two better known American minimalists:. This remarkable work, for string quartet, pre-recorded train-whistles, and fragments of spoken voice, evokes memories of American passenger trains in contrast with recollections of the trains that transported victims of the Holocaust.
It is a superb example of quartet story-telling and of the collaboration of electronic and acoustic instruments. The works of Riley, Glass, and Reich have helped establish the first true American quartet style. The foregoing list of great quartets is a long one. The following summary is offered for listeners who want more guidance and fewer choices in getting started with quartet listening.
The summary below includes representative great quartets from each historical period. All the works listed are available on recordings. David Rounds Writings, translations, music. Please note: This material is copyright.
Mozart No. Ludwig van Beethoven Opus 18, Nos. Franz Schubert No. Robert Schumann Opus 41, Nos. Johannes Brahms Opus 51, No. The Bohemians Bedrich Smetana No. Claude Debussy String Quartet, Opus 10 For quartets, the twentieth century begins in , with Debussy. Dmitri Shostakovich No. Benjamin Britten No.
Sylvia Capova. Leichte Kavallerie. New Philharmonia Orchestra London. The Valkyrie: Ride of the Valkyries. Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. The Birds Remastered Version: Prelude Bernardo Pasquini.
Joshua Bell. Recuerdos de la Alhambra. String Quartet in F major, Op. Haydn - Andante cantabile. Stuttgarter Kammerorchester. United States Language: String Quartet No. Variations on "Canon in D Major, P. Affetuoso — YouTube". Allegro — YouTube". Vivace — YouTube".
A thematic catalog of the instrumental music of Florian Leopold Gassmann. Archived from the original on CS1 maint: Unlikely but possible.
Retrieved 13 November Margarete Depner — ".
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