Author Topic: Spohr's Suave SQs  (Read 2617 times)

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snyprrr

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Spohr's Suave SQs
« on: April 11, 2009, 11:34:40 AM »
My interest in trying out a Spohr quartet has really peaked, but at 36 quartets, and such great reviews out there, I am at a loss on where to risk my few dollars.

I hear he is very genial ("suave" is the word everyone seems to use with Spohr), with a melancholic streak...not too dramatic...perfect rainy afternoon music???

Apparently the quartets written right before and after the 1849 revolution mirror an expectant/resigned outlook...the ones right before eubillent (?), the ones after sad (THEE Romantic composer???)'

But also, the quartets 1822-32 have gotten good reviews.

NOTE: I am partial to minor key, sad sounding stuff from my Romantics,...wondering if certain Spohr fits the bill.

I have read the Amazon/Penguin reviews which are overwhelmingly positive...so....IS THERE A SUAVE, SAD MASTERPIECE???
« Last Edit: July 31, 2009, 08:59:55 AM by snyprrr »

snyprrr

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Re: Spohr's Suave SQs
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2009, 09:44:30 AM »
Just got my first taste of Spohr:

SQs Op.82/2-3 (1829)

well... I don't know what to say. One in G major, one in a minor. The J.Scott Morrison review on Amazon encouraged this particular purchase. He said the G-major was three up mvmts. with a serious mvmt., and the a-minor was three serious mvmts. with one up.

Huh?

I hear nothing really serious here at all. I guess I must have had some pretty high expectations. Starting with the G-major, I was greeted with a fairly attractive, mild SQ,...I guess I don't know how to describe this particular period (post-1826)...I suppose if Haydn had continued writing SQs post-Op.77, by 1829 he might have sounded like this? Probably not. This is all very civilized, friendly, genial stuff at a generally subdued dynamic.

The a-minor though was nothing like the description. You call this "serious?" I can barely tell it's in a-minor. Partly cloudy?...Overcast?...Partly sunny?... I don't know which weather to use!!!

I suppose when I would use the word "sad" or "melancoly" I would use Lekeu's Molto Adagio as an example. Spohr is a bit too suave to use those words. Ultimately, "civilized" comes to mind. It's all very nice and neat, but, yes, there does appear to be something missing in revolutionary fervor (not that's there's revolution in the air at this time).

I can get notoriously discouraged by first listenings, so I'll have to keep this around for a while, but trust me, I want to sell it right away! However, there IS "charm" here, and I could very well take to this when needing something "smooth."

I'm still ticked. When Morrison says the intro to the a-minor is in "misterioso unisons," well, no, not in my book. Look to Haydn Op.55/3 for that.

I do get the feeling I will have to try at least one more vol. in this MarcoPolo survey. Spohr certainly isn't wanting for minor key SQs, but I'm not shelling out just to try to find a hidden masterpiece here. And judging by the interest in Spohr on GMG, no one else has one of these things. If you do, I'd love to hear from you.

The survey started with the NewBupapest Quartet. On this cd (vol.10) the Moscow Philharmonic Concertino SQ play with requisite ardour. The sound is a little up front for me, just a splash, but I would have liked a little more resonance. Maybe the sound gives the music a touch more blandness than this music needs or deserves! I was thinking, if you took the exact notes in the score, and simply PLAYED them in a more Wolf/Busoni type manner, you might have completely different music??? It just seems that EVERYTHING here is working towards a smooth, suave sheen, which, in turn, has a bit of blandness to it (oh, HOW do I say this without turning people away? It's not BAD or anything!).

And, blandness is certainly in danger of creeping in here; however, that also is part of the charm here. This is certainly perfect radio fodder, perfect background music... and you may actually catch yourself listening once in a while!

I did so want to rave about this. hey, if you need some music for your afternoon tea, this may very well be it!

Again, I don't know which period in Spohr's life produced his most profound work (if it exists...which I would hope at least once he might have plumbed the depths a bit). This cd comes after LvB's death, in a little spurt of SQ activity before a 10 year break (initiating his final phase) (1829-33). The period 1818-23 has also been lifted up (in Penguin) as fertile. I am still interested in his final, post-rev. SQs of the 1850s. Thankfully, most of these MarcoPolos are pretty cheap.

I just wish someone would have gone down this rabbit hole before me, and waded through the "so much stuff" to get to the nitty gritty. Has no one really gone here before?

DFO

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Re: Spohr's Suave SQs
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2009, 03:24:30 PM »
Well, I've 7 of his SQ. But can say nothing about it. It's classified. 8)

Online Brian

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Re: Spohr's Suave SQs
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2009, 07:40:22 AM »
snyprrr, Naxos Direct is currently selling two albums of Spohr chamber music - Quartets and Quintets - for $2.99 each. All the featured works are in major keys, but they are quite mature (written late in his life) and at that price they're worth a try. I ordered them myself as soon as they went on sale, although I had the package shipped to a different address, so haven't had the opportunity to give them a listen.

I recently reviewed a Spohr CD on MusicWeb ("Double Quartets" for 8 string players). Here are some comments I made which might be relevant:

The feeling I get is that Louis Spohr was a naturally sunny fellow who felt a little at sea writing in the minor mode, but who in his element could spin some very charming tunes....Spohr’s chamber music is always enjoyable and often superb; the Second Double Quartet would be a great backdrop for a sunny morning. A wonderful bargain and a good advertisement for the music of Louis Spohr. His fans already know that he wrote a huge quantity of vastly underrated chamber music; newcomers can now very cheaply let themselves in on the secret.

My impression corroborated yours, ie, an urbane, suave crafter of charming and cheery salon music.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2009, 07:43:04 AM by Brian »

Bulldog

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Re: Spohr's Suave SQs
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2009, 07:50:21 AM »

Again, I don't know which period in Spohr's life produced his most profound work (if it exists...which I would hope at least once he might have plumbed the depths a bit).

Spohr and "profound" don't go together, so you might be best off looking elsewhere for what you want.

snyprrr

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Re: Spohr's Suave SQs
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2009, 01:14:12 PM »
Spohr and "profound" don't go together, so you might be best off looking elsewhere for what you want.

 ;D...

snyprrr

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Re: Spohr's Suave SQs
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2009, 01:16:30 PM »
Well, I've 7 of his SQ. But can say nothing about it. It's classified. 8)

Nooooo... you just can't do that to me! :'(

Offline Gabriel

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Re: Spohr's Suave SQs
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2009, 01:25:08 PM »
Spohr and "profound" don't go together, so you might be best off looking elsewhere for what you want.

However, I think I can perfectly associate Spohr's Die Letzte Dinge and "profound".