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American String Quartets, 1950-1970 [Import]

4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 60.95
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Product Details

Disc: 1
1. String Quartet: 92
2. String Quartet: 144
3. String Quartet
4. String Quartet In Four Parts: Quietly Flowing Along
5. String Quartet In Four Parts: Slowly Rocking
6. String Quartet In Four Parts: Nearly Stationary
7. String Quartet In Four Parts: Quodlibet
8. Quartet No. 3 For String Quartet And Electronic Tape
9. Summer
Disc: 2
1. Black Angels (Images) For Electric String Quartet: Departure: Tutti, Threnody I - Night Of The Electric Insects; Trio, Sounds Of Bones And Flutes; Duo, Lost Bells; Solo, Cadenza accompagnata Devi-Music; Duo, Dance Macabre (Due Alternative: Dies Irae)
2. Black Angles (Images) For Electric String Quartet: Absence (Crumb)
3. Black Angles (Images) For Electric String Quartet: Return (Crumb)
4. String Quartet No 5: Theme I (Hiller)
5. String Quartet No 5: Variations (Hiller)
6. String Quartet No 5: Theme II (Hiller)
7. String Quartet No 5: Varitaions (Hiller)
8. String Quartet No 5: Theme III (Hiller)
9. String Quartet No 5: Variations (Hiller)
10. String Quartet No 5: Theme IV (Hiller)
See all 12 tracks on this disc

Customer Reviews

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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Many Undiscovered Treasures Jan. 7 2003
Format:Audio CD
It's almost laughable not to pick up this disc. The price alone makes the set worth it. Added to that the fact that many of these works are not available in other forms and this disc is a no-brainer for fans of the late 20th century string quartet. The sampling transcends styles, from the almost improvisatory sonic canvas of Earle Brown, to the surprisingly beautiful almost minimal quartet of Cage, the horrific depiction of war in Crumb's justly famous Black Angels, or the almost traditional sounding Schonbergisms of Stepan Wolpe, this is an eclectic collection and well worth the modest investment.
I won't review everything on the album, as there is just too much. Highlights for me include the Earle Brown quartet, which is one of Brown's strongest early works. Since Brown is poorly represented on CD, every release of his is worth having, but the Second Quartet is a masterwork of tonal subtlety. Cage's Quartet was written just before he moved into his more aleatoric phase. It is highly modal and almost a precusor to minimlism, a very pleasing work that should be more widely known. Christian Wolff is also a composer who is underrepresented on CD (though Mode is quickly redressing the imbalance.) Summer is also a protominimalist work, based on stark 5ths. The reading of Black Angels is good, though not anything to supplant the Kronos reading, which is still my favorite. Also interesting are Quartets by Wolpe and Leon Kirchner.
So if you have any interest in American string work of the late 20th century, you need this disc. It is indispensible and very beautifully played. And the Vox Box price is unbeatable.
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5.0 out of 5 stars compendium of the richness of American innovation April 5 2000
Format:Audio CD
This is a great showcase of the American string quartet,innovation,vision,iconoclasm,all elements which we often overlook and forget easily.But only Elliot Carter is missing, and that's because he has what! Five Quartets now.Inclusion of the First Carter would have rounded things out. The Earle Brown here is a neglected masterwork. Based on graphic notation the performers don't improvise so much as are given entrance freedoms within a prescribed range. The affect can be mysterious,haunting,also innovative with a wide pallette of extended techniques, at the bridge, sul ponticello,plucking. We often forget the traditional beauty Cage engaged the early part of his career, the Forties. This Quartet is a fine consummate example of that,with soft,gentle lines, very sparce, and transparent,also he limits himself to a few tones,tossed around the various voices. Structures by Feldman is an early work here, the Quartet is treated as one monolith sound,indistinguishable voices playing harmonics,cello playing where the violin plays, same range. All of Feldman's floating gentleness is here as well,perhaps too much at times,like it overspends its welcome. Crumb's Black Angels is another classic, The Kronos has takened this around the block many times, Crumb always works well with a programmatic agenda in place, and here he transforms the Quartets introspective consititution to more a drammatic focus. Druckman as well also works well with a program but here there is none. He has a fine imagination for sonoric structures,balance,but its doesn't seem to amount to much. The Wolpe is one of his best works. His creativity was uneven, here the violence and charged motives he is found of are in place to jump, and reiterate, toss around in an environment of high energy. Read more ›
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3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting sampling of a musical dead end. June 17 1999
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
Superb analog transfers and excellent playing, I suppose. (I mean, how can you tell with music like this?) OK, I'm not a fan of this kind of music, but at this price I thought the collection was worth chancing. So far, I've found that the best way to listen to this recording is to let the music wash over you while you enjoy the sheer variety of sounds that the composers and players create. And there are some pleasant surprises, particularly the Cage quartet (from 1950) which contains genuine emotion and ends with a brief movement chock full of--gasp!--sprightly tunes. Makes me wonder what might have been had these composers shown more interest in music and less interest in mathematical gymnastics designed to impress their colleagues at the academy. At any rate, I recommend this album as an interesting sonic experience and a good sampling of the dead-end serialist/avant-garde genre that is now being supplanted by a return to music that recognizes tonality. (If you really want great 20th century quartets, incidentally, buy the 6 by Bartok).
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Format:Audio CD
Excellent performances all around, from the quietude of Feldman and Cage to the hair-raising chill of Crumb's "Black Angels." This "Black Angels" recording is particulaly significant as it has the difficult portion where the participating string players start to go out of tune during the "Death and the Maiden" section, which, as far as I know, is unique in all the recordings of this piece. Great pioneer recordings which will take a long time to better.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Collection March 24 1999
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
This set is a must if you have the slightest interest in avant-garde music from the 50s and 60s. Not a single weak piece, excellent sound and performances, and the price can't be beat!
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