Anyone interested in Chamber Music?

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Anyone interested in Chamber Music?

I see a lot of topics on the "bold" subjects of orchestral and Opera recordings along with some (rather few) on instrumental music. I wonder if there is anyone interested in defending, discussing, analyzing and indulging in Chamber Music.

In my view, after have listened to all forms of the so called classical music (Bernstein used to call it "precise music") for more than 30 years, I strongly believe that Chamber Music constitutes the ultimate, most intimate and utterly expressive form of it. Most of the greatest composers have mastered their art in Chamber Music leaving masterpeices, sometimes greater than their orchestral, operatic or choral masterworks (Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Bartok, Franck, Faure, etc).

Besides, as for me, I found the chamber soloists and ensembles more solid, more consistent in their artistry and commitment, serious and more modest than their counterparts in the solo instruments, conductors and singers, who, quite often show some volatility, manierisms, pretentiousnes and so on.

So, the floor is open...

Parla

RE: Anyone interested in Chamber Music?

Hi Parla,

I guess chamber music is the quiet relation. It often seems to get less exposure than orchestral or vocal music. I love Classical chamber music, but Romantic chamber music doesn't always grab me in quite the same way as larger scale music.

I recently enjoyed listening to Murray Perahia and members of the Amadeus quartet playing Brahms's 1st piano quartet though.

Best wishes,

P

RE: Anyone interested in Chamber Music?

Hi "P",

You may be right about the "quiet relation", however, if you really indulge in Chamber Music, even the late romantic, you'll find the matter "too hot" and very exciting.

Since you seem to like, or to be interested in, Brahms' 1st Piano Quartet, go further and listen to the other two as well. They are all magnificent works, second to none in the big output of this great composer. Later, study his Great Piano Quintet in f minor, op. 34, an amazing work, by any standard. His Clarinet Quintet is a very late and intimate work that needs a very high level of listening. His String Quintets are marvels, particularly the op.111 in G major. A jewel! Then, there are the wonderful Piano Trios, the esoteric Violin Sonatas and the impressive Cello Sonatas, all worth repeated listening. Don't be mislead by the heavy (and often impressive)orchestration of Romanticism. The Chamber Music, even of this period, is the same thing, but in pure form, where music and form matters more than colours and dynamics.

So, have some good listening,

Parla

 

 

RE: Anyone interested in Chamber Music?

Over the years chamber music has become almost my exclusive listening. I find that large scale orhcestral music, and especially Romantic orchestral music, simply has too much going on. Too many instruments, too many notes, too much music...

BUt oddly enough I think as well as being a matter of taste this has something to do with physical causes too. I suffer from tinnitus and find it quite hard to 'disentangle' orchestral music (as I do multiple conversations and background noise, for instance) and chamber music -- string quartets, for instance -- to me offer not just 'purer' music on a more personal and human scale but music I can hear more readily.

RE: Anyone interested in Chamber Music?

I think that some chamber music, eg Haydn's string quartets is for those of us who are really turned on by the beauty and drama of abstract patterns moving through space and time. So much so that we can concentrate over quite long periods of time: those darnn patterns are just totally engrossing!
But we are a tiny minority, and most music lovers, who are looking for more obvious rewards, will just not see either the drama or the outrageous fun, simply because they are not following the detail of the concentrated musical play. 

I am in no way putting down that majority, who clearly listen to and adore a good deal of music. Perhaps ee should recognise that we are the freaks, and they are the norm'

 David

David

RE: Anyone interested in Chamber Music?

You couldn't describe it better, David. Unfortunately, we look like the "poor freaks", but the "norm" forgets that some of the greatest music ever composed of most of the universally regocnised composers (they love to listen) is in the field of Chamber Music. The most striking cases are those of Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms and Bartok, while in the cases of Haydn, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Dvorak and Shostakovich, their chamber music's output is equally important as their other compositions.

Particularly, for the String Quartets of Beethoven (and not only), we could have a heated debate not only on the performances, but also on their significance, role in music, etc.

I hope the Grammophone (on line) may follow this thread, so that it may realize what kind of readers it has and, possibly, do something to defend the arguably optimum form of the Music the magazine is all about and not simply promote what is in the (popular) "norm". (Unfortunately, the Award for the Best Chamber recording is too little).

So long, David,

Parla

RE: Anyone interested in Chamber Music?

I love listening to chamber music, especially string quartets. At the time of writing this I am listening to the Takacs Quartet playing Beethoven`s String Quartet No 14 - the Andante is absolutely beautiful in my opinion. I have the complete set with the Hungarian Quartet and again with the Amadeus Quartet, along with a few with The Lindsays. I find them so relaxing. Bob

RE: Anyone interested in Chamber Music?

No.

Not big enough. For wimps.

RE: Anyone interested in Chamber Music?

No wonder, Troyen1. I'm not surprised at all.

If you cannot see that the chamber music (not only the String Quartets) of Beethoven, Brahms and Bartok (for instance) is quite often more progressive, innovative and creative (in an elusive but very pure form) than the rest of their output, then, I'm afraid you are the...wimp (since you prefer the more "obvious" stuff).

By the way, in the broader sense of chamber music, the instrumental music (Piano, Violin, Cello, etc solo works) is also included, since it is much closer to it rather than the orchestral or choral. So, "wimps" welcome!

Parla

 

RE: Anyone interested in Chamber Music?

"Chamber music is where intelligence shows"...and not only, Carl. In Chamber music you may find the most sublime (e.g. Beethoven's String Quartet in a-moll, op. 132, slow movement), the most refine (Mozart String Quintets), the deeply emotional (e.g. Piano Quintet of Brahms) and so on.

You are also quite right that quite a few composers, who managed to establish a "big" name in other fields, without any considerable output in chamber music, they make us at least wonder...Wagner and Mahler are two strong cases, since they are "great", by any standard; they left an enormous and amazing work that, in no way, can be ignored or dismissed, but there is always a question mark how they will sound in chamber music. At least, Mahler wrote a one-movement Piano Quartet, worth listening for once or twice; in any case, it's not at the level of his Symphonies and Songs. However, Verdi and Rossini managed with a minimum work in this field to prove masters of writing even chamber music. Verdi's String Quartet in e-moll is a masterpiece of a true genious and Rossini's Sonate a quattro show how the Maestro knew his subject of having great fun in brilliant music.

The Sibelius case is a little bit more of controversy, since he composed a great deal of chamber works, but except for his masterwork (the "Voces Intimae") and -to a certain degree- his Piano Quintet, he didn't manage to convince he could thrive there. Bruckner's String Quintet and String Quartet are more or less his Symphonic writing without the colours of the orchestra. That's why, though bright, the look so..."naked" (contrary to the immensely original and extremely suvbstantive work of Brahms or Dvorak, for example).

Parla

RE: Anyone interested in Chamber Music?

Parla, I couldn't agree more. Particularly in the case of the Bruckner chamber works you mention, they do sound like dehydrated versions of his symphonies. The fact is that not all composers, no matter how great, have an affinity for this kind of music. Chopin is another example of this phenomenon: he was one of the fantastic geniuses in musical history, and yet his cello sonata is clearly below his own usual standard attained in his more famous works (scherzos, ballades, etudes, etc.). Genius is elusive and cannot be contained or labeled.    

RE: Anyone interested in Chamber Music?

"Slush for the simple minded", "Grand Opera really is for wimps", "Chamber music is where the intelligence shows". Whose intelligence? Yours? Grow up will you. It's this type of superiority complex that really gets up my nose. You seem to be suggesting that it takes more intelligence for a composer to write a chamber piece and that appreciation of such in some way makes you more intelligent. What's that? Intelligence by proxy? This is musical snobbery of the worst kind in my book.

RE: Anyone interested in Chamber Music?

So, Troyen1, you got it (and me) wrong, once more.

I simply return the "name" you called me (and not only) :"whimps" back to you, with a respective argumentation, mostly defending my views (and those who may share them) on chamber music, but, in no way, I implied that those who listen to any other kind of classical music are "less intelligent".

Since you don't know me, you cannot claim "my world" as a "little closed" one. If you read more carefully my interventions, you may understand that what I represent as "my views" are the product of a lifetime, having lived in many different places, in almost all the continents of this world and having friends, etc. almost everywhere. Besides, after having listened consistently and extensively to classical music for more than 30 years and having built a collection of much more than 30.000 CDs and SACDs (and having more than 20 versions of the String Quartets, the Piano Trios, Cello and Violin Sonatas but also the Symphonies, Concertos, etc. of Beethoven only), I think my world may be called a little bit more than a "little closed" one. After all, by defending Chamber Music, I never meant you miss something important; I simply said, if yhou give some more time and attention, you may find  something important there, which might be more significant than you could ever thought.

To make  myself, once more, clear, when I initiated this topic, I simply wanted to raise the awareness of those who visit these forums to a form of music, which is much more important than the way it is treated by almost anyone. I never meant to dimiss any other form of music, since, as an avid collector, I listened to everything and I can find plenty of merits everywhere, even in Italian Opera (Verdi was a genius par excellence and Rossini's music is just brilliant in his collours and musical fun). So, Caballe, it's not the intelligence in music that matters, but how far you wish to go in the different forms of classical music and how many things you may find in every listening.

As for the "Bloom" comment, I leave it to for the appropriate topic (if you wish to visit it, Troyen1). However, I have to attach your attention to the whole and exact wording there, before and mostly the way you attribute "words and phrases" to me.

Parla

RE: Anyone interested in Chamber Music?

Oh dear, we seem to be getting into the subjectivity v objectivity debate - I like /hate this therefore it's good/bad.  It doesn't really work like that.  I hate Szymanowski's music but I recognize him as a great composer - probably greater than most people allow - whereas I adore the music of Moscheles but I'm never going to pretend he's anything but a lightweight.  I grew up in the Sixties and there's a section of my ipod containing the likes of the Beatles and, God help me, the Monkees - they're my childhood, I love them, but, come on, Bach they ain't.

Most people love a cross-section of the great, the good, the dodgy and the downright terrible - what's important is to be aware which is which.  Unless, like Stephen Pinker, you simply regard music as ear candy, which I don't really think will do.  And, Caballe, I do believe that it takes more intelligence to write some music than others - Op 133 takes more intelligence than Baa Baa Black Sheep.  On the other hand, Sibelius 4 takes more intelligence than Donizetti's lovely little quartets; it doesn't always work one way.  But it's a lot more difficult to hide in chamber music - no grand gestures or lush orchestration to hide a lack of inspiration - so composers have to work harder and as usually happens when you work harder the results are often better.

Incidentally liking late Beethoven quartets doesn't make me more intelligent than anyone else - but it has taught me things about life, the universe and everything I don't think I'd have learned from La Boheme.

carlboardman

 

RE: Anyone interested in Chamber Music?

carl boardman wrote:

Oh dear, we seem to be getting into the subjectivity v objectivity debate - I like /hate this therefore it's good/bad.  It doesn't really work like that.  I hate Szymanowski's music but I recognize him as a great composer - probably greater than most people allow - whereas I adore the music of Moscheles but I'm never going to pretend he's anything but a lightweight.  I grew up in the Sixties and there's a section of my ipod containing the likes of the Beatles and, God help me, the Monkees - they're my childhood, I love them, but, come on, Bach they ain't.

Most people love a cross-section of the great, the good, the dodgy and the downright terrible - what's important is to be aware which is which.  Unless, like Stephen Pinker, you simply regard music as ear candy, which I don't really think will do.  And, Caballe, I do believe that it takes more intelligence to write some music than others - Op 133 takes more intelligence than Baa Baa Black Sheep.  On the other hand, Sibelius 4 takes more intelligence than Donizetti's lovely little quartets; it doesn't always work one way.  But it's a lot more difficult to hide in chamber music - no grand gestures or lush orchestration to hide a lack of inspiration - so composers have to work harder and as usually happens when you work harder the results are often better.

Incidentally liking late Beethoven quartets doesn't make me more intelligent than anyone else - but it has taught me things about life, the universe and everything I don't think I'd have learned from La Boheme.

Excuses, excuses, excuses.

Next you will be telling us you like what you know or have this sentimental attachment to the sixties that only the Monkees and the Beatles can evoke and not La Boheme as that did not form a part of you early life experiences.

Having said that, your back pedalling is to be admired.

RE: Anyone interested in Chamber Music?

I never anticipated that a topic like this one could ignite such hostility and entertain such animosity. (Interesting!)

It's pity to destroy (with words) what we love, admire and appreciate most in music, just to defend irrelevant issues (who is more "intelligent" (or whimp), or about "excuses" in triple time, or even about "back pedalling").

Fortunately, great music defies the words.

Parla

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