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Quartet Choreography

String Quartets : Stravinsky 3 pieces 1914; Lutoslawski 1964; Ligeti No 2 1968;
Finnissy No 2 2007

Metier DVD msvdx101
[double sided PAL/NTSC]

This is a very important Kreutzer Quartet production, prompted by a little known statement by Stravinsky in a lecture c.1940:







Music is multimedia, claimed Igor Stravinsky. His brief but seminal quartet pieces require actions for which there may be little or no sonic result, e.g. brief inversion of instruments in his second piece Excentrique [2'31" R].

In the works filmed here each composer's "sensitivity to the visual dimension of music is absolutely explicit" [Neil Heyde] and conveyed on film by skilful editing strategies which achieved a balance which satisfied everyone and which we endorse as ideal.

All these issues are traversed in cellist Neil Heyde's comprehensive and fully documented Notes, supplemented by generous action photos in the booklet cover (above) and on the back of the box [above R], in which can be seen Director Colin Still and musicologist Amanda Bayley, whose analysis and ethnographical study of Michael Finnissy’s Second String Quartet in an interactive DVD [L] created by Amanda Bayley with Michael Clarke can be recommended strongly to those who would dig deeper. *

The performances of all this music, filmed by Colin Still at London's Royal Academy of Music, are riveting and have captivated listeners who would normally find engagement with some of this music far from easy.

This all accords well with the policy of Musical Pointers, which over the years has increasingly reviewed DVDs, often recommending them over CD versions of the same music - and in our reviews we have also moved towards shorter texts and more illustrations.

What do readers think?

Recommended for essential purchase - c. £14 from amazon/uk

Peter Grahame Woolf

* The complexities of the composition and analysis of Finnissy's 2nd quartet are embraced in this mind-boggling Wolverhapmton University DVD, which is available free from <a.bayley@wlv.ac.uk>.

Most readers will not be able to penetrate as deeply as this makes possible, but I was pleased to come across a novice-friendly You-Tube overview video created by Jane Clegg which gives an insight into how musical ethnography is developing during our technologically wonderful new century. Do click and enjoy...

Ordinary listeners to modern music might be greatly helped by a similar approach taken with more "normal" music? ** Perhaps a worthwhile project for a younger graduate to consider in collaboration with a young string quartet.

Meanwhile, I fear that for many of us oldies, the magnificent achievement of Amanda Bayley [L] and colleagues may leave us feeling like Moses - viewing the "promised land" which he was not allowed to enter...

The associated CD recording of Finnissy's 2nd and 3rd quartets [NMCD180] redoubles my problems, and - I guess - those of many lovers of string quartet music will be equally bewildered.

Since Michael Finnissy's expansive Mahler-based string trio, enjoyed and well remembered from its 1986 premiere, I have really been unable to get on with this prolific cult composer [Judith Weir regards Finnissy as "the most important living British composer"].

Maybe returning to the analysis and discussions of No. 2 may help, but I think that the 30-mins allegedly Brucknerian No. 3 really is beyond the pale, with the music invaded by bird song transcriptions, eventually giving over to early morning bird song recordings from Finnissy's garden "because I like to listen to it very much"... [q.v. Andrew Clements in The Guardian].







See Kreutzer Quartet resident at Wilton's Music Hall: