Kerman Week 11 – Op. 95 – The Second Half of Chapter 6
By Eric Wagner, guest blogger
This week please read sections three and four of chapter 6 (pg. 168 - 187) and listen to Op. 95 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. Thank you for the terrific comments. Kerman refers to this quartet as a “spiritual exercise” on page 169. I like that. I think of this whole reading group as a sort of spiritual exercise.
Beethoven scholar Maynard Solomon, whom Robert Anton Wilson frequently cited, co-founded Vanguard Records and signed the Weavers and Joan Baez.
Pg. 169 – mitgefühl means sympathy.
Pg. 171 – Beethoven’s doing away with “conventional bridge and cadential passages of every kind” reminds of how Ezra Pound got T. S. Eliot to eliminate transitional passages in The Waste Land.
Pg. 178 – I love the passage, “The cello is treading on razor blades, and the upper instruments are whispering through their teeth memories of the semitone lament, which, indeed, seems to be frozen into the cello line itself.” I remember the third or fourth time I read this book in 1994, sitting at the front desk at LTJ Dance Arts in Scottsdale, Arizona, feeling blown away by Kerman’s description. I always remember that moment when listening to the second movement of this quartet.
Pg. 184 – I had to look up proleptic, the adjective form of prolepsis, “the representation or assumption of a future act or development as if presently existing or accomplished,” according to Merriam-Webster.com.
Pg. 185 – The discussion of form here makes me want to reread The Laws of Form, a Wilson favorite.
I enjoyed Solomon's Beethoven and I also enjoyed his Late Beethoven.
I didn't know Goethe inspired Beethoven.
I really enjoyed the E flat Major Quartet Op. 74 the second time I heard it again sensing a feminine quality at times - shy, bashful alluring. I heard and sensed spiritual depth in it. Initially listening to the F Minor Op. 95 keeping the characterization "spiritual exercise" in mind parts of it recalled Job wrestling with the Angel while heard other passages as a soundtrack for crossing the Abyss or tiptoeing through the bardo/Chapel Perilous.
This sentence on p.178 could also suggest traveling in the astral or spaces accessed in a floatation tank: "The rupture has to be healed from the outside - by the opening cello scale, moving enharmonically through incredible, unfathomable tonal spaces." This sentence from p.177 struck me in a similar fashion: A marvelously melancholy winds downward through ambiguous chromatic steps, with a countersubject mirroring and thus intensifying the chromaticism."
This hints at guerilla ontology or maybe Beethoven's trickster proclivity: "Was Beethoven "serious" in calling a piece with such an ending "Quartetto serioso/" The seriousness seems kicked in the rear - delicately kicked, but kicked all the same.
I really like what Kerman says in the last paragraph starting on p. 186 until the end of the chapter. Aesthetic results matters more than technical details.
I think of the pun on serious/Sirius in the last couple of sentences in this chapter. "It would be pleasant to think that in entitling it Quartetto serioso, Beethoven was referring to its unmatched seriousness in insight. That quality too points to the future It is, in fact, ultimately the chief signpost to the third period." RAW had his Quartetto serioso in Cosmic Trigger and he certainly pointed to the future. " ... chief signpost" states another significant pun for me.
I have to listen to the F minor more.
I see this reading group largely an exercise in exploring the Beethoven string quartets, many of which I hadn't listened to before, to figure out which ones I want to return to again and again. I think Opus 95 is definitely one of the keepers.
Very cool, Oz. I never thought of the quartet as the Quarteto Sirioso.
I plan to spend the next 23 days or so focusing on this quartet. I had forgottenOz had called it the Quartetto Sirioso. The Starseed Signals still on the way.
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