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Book Title: The Art of Quartet Playing|
The author of the book: David Blum
Edition: Cornell University Press
Date of issue: May 15th 1987
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 678 KB
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Reader ratings: 7.4
ISBN 13: 9780801494567
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"After all, I think most of us would like to have chances to lead in some respects while being content to follow in others. There's a harmonious balance in life when you can slip in and out of roles. Quartet playing provides that kind of variety. It requires great discipline, but there's a joy in any discipline in a creative field. There is something deeply satisfying in the economy of the quartet medium. To experience it, as a listener or as a player, brings a rare sense of wholeness."
This book offers a very stimulating read to anyone interested in the finer points of quartet playing. The Guarneri were a top American string quartet that performed for over four decades with only one personnel change. This book was put together by David Blum in 1985 when all the founding members - David Soyer, Michael Tree, John Dalley, and Arnold Steinhardt - were still there. The Guarneri had a reputation for being uncommonly transparent and experimental in their relationship with their listeners. The Art of Quartet Playing is an outgrowth of this willingness to share their deep expertise with a wider audience.
The book is cleverly laid out. The first part - Complements and Challenges - surveys the quartet's strategies to triangulate between the temperaments and artistic visions of four very keen and articulate professionals. Part II brings into relief how the group shaped their interpretations. There are detailed discussions of how the quartet dealt with dynamics, vibrato, tempo, textural clarity and more. All of this material is presented as a transcript of a roundtable discussion, with Blum pulling the conversation along with intelligent and probing questions. Next, come four face-to-face interviews with each of the quartet's members in which they reminisce about their musical development and their practice as a string player in the quartet. The final part zooms in on aspects of repertoire development. It is complemented by a blow-by-blow discussion of the ensemble's take on Beethoven's Opus 131.
Much of the discussion is very detailed and rather technical, illustrated with countless music examples. It is as if one has the privilege of sitting in at a masterclass in quartet playing. Nevertheless, even for a lay reader, such as myself, the book is a pleasure to read because of the incisiveness, intelligence and humour of all involved. The book is littered with valuable insights from true professionals who are not afraid to share their trade secrets. Musically, the book's motto theme are Beethoven's quartets. While the quartet members point to Schubert when the interviewer asks them about their top favourites in the repertoire, it is to Beethoven that the discussion returns most often. Hence, the book will serve as an excellent companion for every listener who approaches this cornerstone of the quartet literature.
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