Monday, 14 January 2019
I have almost no knowledge of music technology so what I write here must rely, perhaps more interestingly, on my own naive descriptions.
I have enjoyed Shostakovich for many years but never quite got round seriously to his quartets. I put the Borodin Quartet version on my Christmas wish list. I would add that I have read The Noise of Time, Julian Barnes, and am well acquainted with S’s background. That is a book that I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone regardless of taste in music.
Tonight, after a drop of red and and shot (or two) of Aberdour, in a darkened room, I listened to disc number three. I had earlier listened to number four. If you hanker after something more modern than the Beethoven quartets or similar, for which I have great affection,, and you can’t stand the really modern stuff that sounds like a mixture of squeaky chalk on the blackboard and people hurling pots and pans in the kitchen go for Shosta. The music is endlessly inventive, and in the more orchestral works many instruments rarely heard with other composers get a good “blow.” There is nearly always melody or at least a hint of that, and mostly there is an appealing beat, often reminiscent of the swinging Basie. There are wild passages where I found myself imagining the patterns on my tartan carpet merging, synching, and interacting, and others where I felt as though I was pleasantly inside my fast revolving tumble dryer. All that is mixed with slow movements of delicious romantic quartet stuff and moving solos. You may think I was on something harder than a drop of single malt?
I have not researched interpretation of the individual works - to me that doesn’t seem to matter, and I am not particularly interested in pretentious guesswork from so called experts, but I suppose that is my loss and I know I am missing subtleties that would be more apparent to those with technical knowledge, but sometimes less knowledge can leave one with a more valuable sense of wonderment.