The Borromeo String Quartet. For a live recording by them of this week's piece, go here. Photo by Richard Bowditch.
Kerman Week 8 – Op. 59, No. 2 – The First Half of Chapter 5
By Eric Wagner, special guest blogger
This week please read sections 1 - 3 of chapter 5 (pg. 117 - 134) and listen to Op. 59, No. 2 over and over again. Please comment on this week’s reading/quartet and continue to comment on previous weeks’ readings/quartets.
I hope all goes well. I just attended a talk by a master guitar builder from Fender. I wonder about the whole musical process – the building of instruments, the training of musicians, the recording of music with producers like Oz Fritz, the work of musicologists like Joseph Kerman, etc. I wonder how changes in the world will change the world of music, especially how the wild politcal world of America in 2018 will shape the world of the future. I have listened to this quartet a lot this week, but I have run out of time to write. I hope to write more next week. Please keep listening, reading, and commenting.
The German quoted on pg. 128 comes from the Ode to Joy.
Kerman's opening statement in this chapter seems brilliant - that Beethoven's compositions "become to a cardinal degree pointed individuals." He calls a mature Beethoven piece " a person; one meets and reacts to it with the same sort of particularity, intimacy, and concern as one does to another human being." The other metaphors Kerman suggests for the Beethoven pieces that blow him away: "an organism, an action, an epic, a spiritual exercise" also appear excellent. I have suspected for many years that songs and other musical compositions display signs of nonhuman life and entityness. Good music = teaching entities, as I see it. They seem to communicate less directly to the intellect, more to the aesthetic side of neuro-circuits 2 and 6, or in other words, the heart.
I'm a little behind with the listening but will catch up on the weekend. Last week's piece, the F major, the first one of Beethoven's heroic period, 41 opuses (opesai?) after the last quartet, definitely sounds much different, almost like it could be someone else entirely. I really like it's drama and angst and agree with the critics that it's a huge step forward. I need to listen to it much more, and I will.
Talking about the Beethoven's pieces on p. 119, Kerman favors the invocational model emphasizing his earlier metaphor of the compositions being individual people: "None of them is a work at rest; all of them are explorers and Beethoven may have been as amazed as anyone else to see where they were going."
Finally got a chance to listen to this week's piece and really liked it, particularly the second movement. I've been concentrating on performances from the Guarneri Quartet.
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