Poll

Which is it?

Carter
12 (26.7%)
Schnittke
4 (8.9%)
Simpson
2 (4.4%)
Rochberg
1 (2.2%)
Rihm
1 (2.2%)
Johnston
2 (4.4%)
Norgard
0 (0%)
Someone else
23 (51.1%)

Total Members Voted: 36

Author Topic: Best Post-1950 String Quartet Cycle  (Read 17126 times)

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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Best Post-1950 String Quartet Cycle
« Reply #20 on: September 15, 2016, 04:07:37 AM »
(So, for fun, I have voted Someone Else.)
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Re: Best Post-1950 String Quartet Cycle
« Reply #21 on: September 15, 2016, 04:17:55 AM »
(Disclaimer: as a former student, I am clearly an interested party.)

While I don't know that I would propose them for The Best (although, again, this remains rather a squishy pursuit), I find all four of Wuorinen's quartets excellent.
Your disclaimer honors you, Karl, but I am definitely not a former student, and also consider Wuorinen an excellent composer (must explore his SQs, though).

« Last Edit: September 15, 2016, 09:41:27 AM by ritter »
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Offline nathanb

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Re: Best Post-1950 String Quartet Cycle
« Reply #22 on: September 15, 2016, 10:57:45 AM »
Just to add some more amazing cycles not yet mentioned:

Scelsi

Gubaidulina

Sciarrino

Anyway my top choice would probably be Carter

I had thought about Sciarrino but I can't decide if he has 8 quartets or 3 quartets. Yes, 3 is allowed, but 8 is a much cooler number.

While we're mentioning things even if they aren't our top choices, I haven't seen anyone mention Dusapin yet.

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Re: Best Post-1950 String Quartet Cycle
« Reply #23 on: September 15, 2016, 12:14:21 PM »
I had thought about Sciarrino but I can't decide if he has 8 quartets or 3 quartets. Yes, 3 is allowed, but 8 is a much cooler number.

While we're mentioning things even if they aren't our top choices, I haven't seen anyone mention Dusapin yet.
I like Dusapin based on the few works that I've heard. I haven't listened to his string quartets yet! Something I'll have to investigate :)

Offline Androcles

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Re: Best Post-1950 String Quartet Cycle
« Reply #24 on: September 17, 2016, 11:55:56 AM »
I've spent some time listening to the perhaps musically conservative and therefore unfashionable Simpson cycle, and I'm now really convinced that it is excellent. It is gritty and doesn't reveal its riches very quickly, but the power of something like the 7th Quartet could march just about anyone. The 5th, 8th and 9th quartets are also awesome.

Among more conservative composers I suspect Simpson and Holmboe have the most significant cycles.

For the record I'm also a dan of Elliott Carter (particularly for some reason the odd numbered quartets), and was recently quite impressed by a couple of the Ferneyhough quartets. Simpson's musical language is obviously far more conservative, but probably not easier in some ways. Like the other two it has a complexity of structure that can be a little daunting (the 9th quartet is an hour long set of 32 palindromic variations plus fugue on a palindromic theme by Haydn). I mean I think all three of these composers are similar in putting structure and complexity in the foreground rather than emotion/humanity - but that doesn't mean they are unemotional when you spend time wit them. That is a contrast with someone like Shosty or even Schnittke (both of whom I also love), who let it all hang out, so to speak.

Whether I want atonal or not, obviously emotional or not, depends what mood I'm in. Perhaps that makes me weird - hey, ho.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2016, 01:56:13 PM by Androcles »
And, moreover, it is art in its most general and comprehensive form that is here discussed, for the dialogue embraces everything connected with it, from its greatest object, the state, to its least, the embellishment of sensuous existence.

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Best Post-1950 String Quartet Cycle
« Reply #25 on: September 17, 2016, 12:46:44 PM »
I've spent some rime listening to the perhaps musically conservative and therefore unfashionable Simpson cycle, and I'm now really convinced that it is excellent. It is gritty and doesn't reveal its riches very quickly, but the power of something like the 7th Quartet could march just about anyone. The 5th, 8th and 9th quartets are also awesome.

I liked Simpson's symphonies more than his quartets initially, but I like his quartets more as time goes on. I started with the disc of 10/11 and didn't much like it, but the 9th is an awesome achievement, and the two "Razumovsky" rewrites that I know (nos. 4 and 6) are excellent too. Don't know the later quartets at all.

Although I am grateful to Hyperion for recording him, I think his work would really benefit from multiple and competing recordings. Some of the Hyperion recordings sound rather tentative to me.
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Offline Androcles

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Re: Best Post-1950 String Quartet Cycle
« Reply #26 on: September 17, 2016, 01:46:17 PM »
I liked Simpson's symphonies more than his quartets initially, but I like his quartets more as time goes on. I started with the disc of 10/11 and didn't much like it, but the 9th is an awesome achievement, and the two "Razumovsky" rewrites that I know (nos. 4 and 6) are excellent too. Don't know the later quartets at all.

Although I am grateful to Hyperion for recording him, I think his work would really benefit from multiple and competing recordings. Some of the Hyperion recordings sound rather tentative to me.

Yes - I think I can second that. I quite like at least some of the Simpson symphonies, but on closer acquaintance with the Quartets I think they are the more impressive works. Their appeal is less obvious - they are not as big and noisy - but I'm not sure they are less powerful. Simpson's symphonies for me stand alongside Brian, Rubbra, and Bax as music thats worth hearing and rewarding, often powerful and dramatic, with a  personal voice, but ultimately not quite premier league. Simpson's Quartets are, by contrast, some of the best written in the 20th century (I think). You are right that they need more and potentially better recordings.

About the later Quartets - the 10th and 11th improve on (many) repeated hearings. The 10th in particular is an example of the quieter more conciliatory, at times somewhat ecstatic music you find in works like the 11th Symphony (which in my view is his best) and the late Flute and Cello Concertos. The 12th is probably the best of the bunch, the first movement is slow moving and extremely intense. The last three are rugged powerhouses that at times remind me of heavy metal... They are certainly worth hearing. The 13th and 14th in particular have quiet 'ecstatic' sections which contrast well with their otherwise rugged, contrapuntal natures. 

Get hold of the 5th Quartet. Its better than the 4th and 6th, although those aren't exactly pedestrian... The two Quintets are well worth a look at, too.
And, moreover, it is art in its most general and comprehensive form that is here discussed, for the dialogue embraces everything connected with it, from its greatest object, the state, to its least, the embellishment of sensuous existence.

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Best Post-1950 String Quartet Cycle
« Reply #27 on: September 17, 2016, 01:54:08 PM »

About the later Quartets - the 10th and 11th improve on (many) repeated hearings. The 10th in particular is an example of the quieter more conciliatory, at times somewhat ecstatic music you find in works like the 11th Symphony (which in my view is his best) and the late Flute and Cello Concertos. The 12th is probably the best of the bunch, the first movement is slow moving and extremely intense. The last three are rugged powerhouses that at times remind me of heavy metal... They are certainly worth hearing. The 13th and 14th in particular have quiet 'ecstatic' sections which contrast well with their otherwise rugged, contrapuntal natures. 

Thanks for this overview. I don't know the quartets past #11 at all. Do you mean to say that #12 is the best of the later quartets, or the best of all the quartets?

Also, I dig "heavy metal" sounding quartets in general, so maybe I should check out these later ones just for that reason.
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Offline Androcles

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Re: Best Post-1950 String Quartet Cycle
« Reply #28 on: September 17, 2016, 01:57:41 PM »
I think R. Murray Schafer has written quite a lot of String Quartets too. Has anyone got any opinions?
And, moreover, it is art in its most general and comprehensive form that is here discussed, for the dialogue embraces everything connected with it, from its greatest object, the state, to its least, the embellishment of sensuous existence.

Offline Androcles

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Re: Best Post-1950 String Quartet Cycle
« Reply #29 on: September 17, 2016, 02:02:47 PM »
Thanks for this overview. I don't know the quartets past #11 at all. Do you mean to say that #12 is the best of the later quartets, or the best of all the quartets?

Also, I dig "heavy metal" sounding quartets in general, so maybe I should check out these later ones just for that reason.

Sorry - writing too quickly :-) - I mean the 12th is the best of the later ones. It also comes with the first String Quintet which is very impressive - in one massive 35 minute movement - and seems to me to be musically related to the Symphony No. 9. It was certainly written at about the same time as that work. Of the Quartets, I personally think No. 7 is the best of all. Its also one of the shorter ones. The disc with 7 and 8 would be my major recommendation overall. Although for rugged, 'heavy metal' sounds, the disc with 14 and 15 would be a pretty good place to go.
And, moreover, it is art in its most general and comprehensive form that is here discussed, for the dialogue embraces everything connected with it, from its greatest object, the state, to its least, the embellishment of sensuous existence.

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Re: Best Post-1950 String Quartet Cycle
« Reply #30 on: September 17, 2016, 02:03:01 PM »
I think R. Murray Schafer has written quite a lot of String Quartets too. Has anyone got any opinions?
Are they anything like Epitaph for Moonlight? 8)

Offline Ghost Sonata

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Re: Best Post-1950 String Quartet Cycle
« Reply #31 on: September 17, 2016, 02:29:25 PM »
Carter's deserve first rank, I believe, but think I will instead, at least provisionally, put forth Daniel Jones' series of eight, not merely because I like them very much but because his work deserves to be heard as something quite singular, intricate and meticulous (NB : his first was written in 1946, close enough not to disqualify him, I trust, but the others much later, 2nd in 1957 and the last in 1993).

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Re: Best Post-1950 String Quartet Cycle
« Reply #32 on: September 17, 2016, 04:19:33 PM »
Holmboe for me of course, though I freely confess to knowing very little of post-1950s chamber music besides him, Shostakovich and Vine. This thread could prove a fruitful source of inquiry!

Vine's 3rd string quartet is particularly good by the way.
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Best Post-1950 String Quartet Cycle
« Reply #33 on: September 17, 2016, 04:37:52 PM »
Well, the Holmboe cycle is mighty strong.
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Offline Androcles

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Re: Best Post-1950 String Quartet Cycle
« Reply #34 on: September 18, 2016, 10:35:59 AM »
Holmboe for me of course, though I freely confess to knowing very little of post-1950s chamber music besides him, Shostakovich and Vine. This thread could prove a fruitful source of inquiry!

Vine's 3rd string quartet is particularly good by the way.

Well if you like Holmboe, you should definitely try Simpson. Musically they have a lot in common. Holmboe was himself one of the founding members of the Robert Simpson Society.Personally I think Holmboe's symphonies are marginally better, but Simpson's Quartets are marginally better. That might be just personal taste - Simpson seems perhaps more autumnal than Holmboe. Both composers are 'conservative', but not easy going. With Simpson, start with 7th and 8th Quartets... :-)
And, moreover, it is art in its most general and comprehensive form that is here discussed, for the dialogue embraces everything connected with it, from its greatest object, the state, to its least, the embellishment of sensuous existence.

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Re: Best Post-1950 String Quartet Cycle
« Reply #35 on: September 18, 2016, 11:12:39 AM »
I voted for Carter (obviously) but would also like to mention the Sallinen string quartets which no one has mentioned yet. 
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Re: Best Post-1950 String Quartet Cycle
« Reply #36 on: September 18, 2016, 12:09:28 PM »
Well if you like Holmboe, you should definitely try Simpson. Musically they have a lot in common. Holmboe was himself one of the founding members of the Robert Simpson Society.Personally I think Holmboe's symphonies are marginally better, but Simpson's Quartets are marginally better. That might be just personal taste - Simpson seems perhaps more autumnal than Holmboe. Both composers are 'conservative', but not easy going. With Simpson, start with 7th and 8th Quartets... :-)

Simpson's chamber music is on the to do list. I have his symphonies, but as performed on Hyperion they are lacking something for me.
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Offline Androcles

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Re: Best Post-1950 String Quartet Cycle
« Reply #37 on: September 18, 2016, 12:31:26 PM »
Carter's deserve first rank, I believe, but think I will instead, at least provisionally, put forth Daniel Jones' series of eight, not merely because I like them very much but because his work deserves to be heard as something quite singular, intricate and meticulous (NB : his first was written in 1946, close enough not to disqualify him, I trust, but the others much later, 2nd in 1957 and the last in 1993).



Very interesting. I am tempted to investigate. On the subject of fine Welsh music, I see Alun Hoddinott also wrote five string quartets, so potentially could count, but I have to confess I have never heard any of them.
And, moreover, it is art in its most general and comprehensive form that is here discussed, for the dialogue embraces everything connected with it, from its greatest object, the state, to its least, the embellishment of sensuous existence.

Offline Androcles

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Re: Best Post-1950 String Quartet Cycle
« Reply #38 on: September 18, 2016, 01:40:13 PM »
Simpson's chamber music is on the to do list. I have his symphonies, but as performed on Hyperion they are lacking something for me.

Yes - I have mixed feelings about the Simpson symphonies. For raw power, nothing really matches the 5th and 8th Symphonies. But to me the orchestration seems a bit unconvincing, and at times they're just a bit too noisy. The 9th and 10th are large pieces that have a sort of massive architectural appeal, but I don't like the Scherzo section of Symphony No. 9 and the second two movements of Symphony No. 10 are more interesting than the first two. 7 is better than 6, but a bit lacking in melodic interest. Of the earlier symphonies 1 and 2 sound a bit derivative to me and 3 and 4 feel like a composer starting to get a symphonic voice. The only unqualified masterpiece for me here is Symphony No. 11, which is a fantastic work worthy to stand alongside other greats of the Nordic symphonic tradition. Although it may be that they need more recordings and interpretation to plumb their depths.

The Quartets are harder to get into, but ultimately better (in my opinion). Its a pity that they're starting to get deleted.
And, moreover, it is art in its most general and comprehensive form that is here discussed, for the dialogue embraces everything connected with it, from its greatest object, the state, to its least, the embellishment of sensuous existence.

Online Daverz

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Re: Best Post-1950 String Quartet Cycle
« Reply #39 on: September 18, 2016, 01:42:56 PM »
Another vote for Bloch 2-5. i really wish a group like the Pacifica would do these.

I'd also recommend David Post's very enjoyable quartets.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2016, 01:47:32 PM by Daverz »