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String Quartets Nos. 1,5 and 6

Gloria Coates , Kreutzer Quartet Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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1. Through Time
2. Through Space
3. In The Fifth Dimension
4. Protestation Quartet
5. Still
6. Meditation
7. Evanescence

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Uber Postmodern Sensory Bliss April 17 2003
Format:Audio CD
If you are seeking a true diversion try these string quartets by Coates. The magical and unusual sounds Coates creates (I have no clue how she does this or how this music can even be written down on paper for that matter) all come together to paint an eloquent picture. Suddenly, you find yourself whisked forward and back through time and space. These are the sounds of nature from other times and places both past and future. And remarkably, these quartets are here for us to enjoy in the present!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious Sounds March 17 2003
Format:Audio CD
I was astounded when I first played this CD. The sounds were so unusual, so much like a full orchestra that I checked the cover to be sure I had the recording I had ordered. Careful listening revealed only four instruments, but what a variety of timbres! Who could guess that stringed instruments were capable of such music? The performers are superb. They master challenges of pitch, rhythm and harmonics that would make lesser performers quail.Coates's music is her own, unlike that of any other composer. It expands one's listening skills as melodies repeat themselves in different voices at different speeds. Listen for the lines. This is contemporary music that is comprehensible because of the standard, even old-fashioned, forms it follows. But the real joy comes in hearing the exploitation of the capabilities of instrument and performer. Now I listen every night to one of the quartets before I fall asleep.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Do people listen to this? March 15 2003
Format:Audio CD
Do people listen to this?
Yes I do. And as far as I read in Billboard Magazine, quite a few have (just to mention one of the extremely positive reviews I have read): The CD sold over 9000 copies in the first year of its release. (...) In fact this CD has been one of the highlights of 2002 to me. I can hardly wait for Vol.2.
If one opens the ears, without prejudice or expectations, there is a wonderful new spectrum and soundworld there, nothing like Beethoven or Saint-Saens, but masterworks in it's own right, using other techniques and other harmonies. I love it and would encourage everyone to try and enjoy it too.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious Sounds March 16 2003
By Corinne Marshall - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I was astounded when I first played this CD. The sounds were so unusual, so much like a full orchestra that I checked the cover to be sure I had the recording I had ordered. Careful listening revealed only four instruments, but what a variety of timbres! Who could guess that stringed instruments were capable of such music? The performers are superb. They master challenges of pitch, rhythm and harmonics that would make lesser performers quail.Coates's music is her own, unlike that of any other composer. It expands one's listening skills as melodies repeat themselves in different voices at different speeds. Listen for the lines. This is contemporary music that is comprehensible because of the standard, even old-fashioned, forms it follows. But the real joy comes in hearing the exploitation of the capabilities of instrument and performer. Now I listen every night to one of the quartets before I fall asleep.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do people listen to this? March 15 2003
By André Chaudron - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Do people listen to this?
Yes I do. And as far as I read in Billboard Magazine, quite a few have (just to mention one of the extremely positive reviews I have read): The CD sold over 9000 copies in the first year of its release. (...) In fact this CD has been one of the highlights of 2002 to me. I can hardly wait for Vol.2.
If one opens the ears, without prejudice or expectations, there is a wonderful new spectrum and soundworld there, nothing like Beethoven or Saint-Saens, but masterworks in it's own right, using other techniques and other harmonies. I love it and would encourage everyone to try and enjoy it too.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars String quartets that sound like Feldman crossed with Xenakis June 20 2012
By Autonomeus - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Gloria Coates (b. 1938) is known, not unfairly, as "the glissando composer." As Kyle Gann says in the liner notes, "Coates is the master of the specifically notated glissando." Born in Wisconsin, she has lived for many years in Germany. Coates has written a large body of unconventional symphonies and string quartets. Here we have String Quartets No. 1, 5 and 6, written in 1966, 1988 and 1999, performed spectacularly by the Kreutzer Quartet.

String Quartet No. 1 (Protestation Quartet) from 1966 is less than six minutes long. It is a a striking piece, based on a mirror canon, which signals what is to come...

String Quartet No. 5 is 31 minutes long, in three movements: Through Time, Through Space, and In the Fifth Dimension. Here we have Coates's soundworld realized, with slow-moving glissandos and microtonal dissonance that remind me of Feldman crossed with Xenakis. My problem with the 5th Quartet is the final movement. The Fifth Dimension is apparently an ocean of some sort, and we travel across it riding up and down its swells, a sine-wave shaped glissando that persists for the entire 9-minute duration, trying my patience.

String Quartet No. 6 (22'13) is the best work here, again in three movements: Still, Meditation, and Evanescence. The Kreutzers sound magnificent, and this piece certainly recommends Coates as a distinctive voice with a vision and something to say. The slow waves of sound are anchored and given shape by underlying symmetries such as canons and palindromes.

The recording is from St. John's Church in Loughton, Essex, U.K., on September 14th and 15th, 2000. The cover painting is by the composer.

(verified purchase from a large brick-and-mortar bookstore)
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uber Postmodern Sensory Bliss April 17 2003
By mxr54321 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
If you are seeking a true diversion try these string quartets by Coates. The magical and unusual sounds Coates creates (I have no clue how she does this or how this music can even be written down on paper for that matter) all come together to paint an eloquent picture. Suddenly, you find yourself whisked forward and back through time and space. These are the sounds of nature from other times and places both past and future. And remarkably, these quartets are here for us to enjoy in the present!
2.0 out of 5 stars Outer space sounds without much substance behind them Sept. 12 2012
By Christopher Culver - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This Naxos disc is one of several documenting the string quartets of Gloria Coates as performed by the Kreutzer Quartet: Peter Sheppard Skærved and Gordon MacKay (violins), Bridget Carey (viola) and Neil Heyde (cello).

Coates's mature music is marked by two features: canons and overwhelming usage of glissandi (sometimes exclusively glissandi instead of individual fixed pitches). In the early String Quartet No. 1 "Protestation Quartet" (1966), we find only the first of these: this six-minute-long, single-movement work is built as a mirror canon. I find it the strongest of the works here, as Coates has assimilated the string quartet tradition and has something of her own to say.

That evidence of being aware of the tradition, of having anything to say really, is unfortunately lacking in the following two works on this disc. The three-movement String Quartet No. 5 (1988) represents Coates's mature style by bringing in those infamous glissandi. The first two movements, "Through Time" and "Through Space" are slow, prismatic successions of glissandi and microtones. The third movement, "In the Fifth Dimension", is of much faster tempo which, combined with the nonstop glissandi, gives the somewhat unpleasant feeling of being at sea on a rolling deck. The String Quartet No. 6 (1999) is again in three movements, titled "Still", "Meditation" and "Evanescence". It is a somber piece played at slowly and low dynamic, and it gets ever quieter as it progresses (the title of the last movement is apt).

This disc has been highly rated, so clearly it wows some people. However, I question its appeal to those with much experience with the 20th century avant-garde. Even if you like composers of similar singlemindedness (1960s Ligeti, say), you might just feel that Coates is exploiting a gimmick and there's not much substance in the music.
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