Sunday, July 12, 2009

hardcore romantics

Charles Ives - String Quartet 1 & 2 performed by the Blair String Quartet (listen) Really, I was looking for Mahler string quartets, mostly because I'd never heard such a thing, but all I could find at hand were the symphonies. Maybe the hardcore romantics didn't do string quartets; too dainty for the magnificent vision. I mean, I'm guessing they did and they are just overshadowed by the power and the glory of the symphonies, but still, you can do so much with two violins, a viola and a cello. Look at the density and emotional turmoil old crazy Ives conjures from such a modest crew.

Terry Riley/Kronos Quartet - Salome Dances for Peace (listen) It reminds me, not in style but in fervent spirit, to this one Terry Riley piece I used to like to slip into radio shows in my heady college music snob days.

Why this one and not any of the others on this sprawling record, I don't know. Maybe it was on a compilation, maybe I just liked the title, but I played the shit out of "Half Wolf Dances Mad in Moonlight" on late night shows where only I was listening, not unlike the situation right now.*

I think the reason that, if pressed, I'd say Riley is my favorite of the minimalists is because he is the most romantic among them, in whatever sense and capitalization you want to bring. He can go as hard and repetitive as anybody, but at any moment you feel a songbird might just light on those high tension wires and start chirping.

George Enescu - String Quartets 1 & 2 (listen) Oh this one too! I mean, I didn't play this on the radio; it was far too classical-y to fit into college radio, relatively unhinged as it was then, but I had a recording of the second from the 50's toward the end of the Father of Romanian Romanticism's life. It is one of those quartets that unfolds with dream logic; at one point about halfway through the first movement the memories, swirling like ghosts, are dispelled by a sequence that sounds like an electric doorbell, waking the song from its pleasant fancy only to allow modernity to creep under the its feet unnoticed while the it hangs out the open door, wondering who rang.

* I'm pretty sure I segued it after Bad Brains' "Pay to Cum" at least once, just to hear the gears grind. I segued everything with "Pay to Cum" at least once; I had Ideas About Things back then and was in my way a hardcore romantic. Besides, "Pay to Cum" is 1:25 of hardcore sonic perfection. Everything goes either with or against it perfectly. Maybe Kronos Quartet should do "Pay to Cum" just for kicks.

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