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Thursday, November 19, 2009

MILHAUD: STRING QUARTET No. 7 in B-FLAT (1925)

What an unexpected pleasure this was:



Nah, not the Bartok - that's fucking wonderful, like mainlining some strange dark sour red wine n feeling it cruise round yr brain (his string quartets - particularly the odd-numbered ones: 1, 3, 5 - finally won me over; it took a while, but I'm now a convert to the cause) - nah, I'm talking about the Milhaud, innit.

It's very, errrrm, Jewish-sounding, that first movement/section/bit - overlapping polytonal cascades that sound like familiy members running up and down the stairs, voices competing for attention at the tea-table, etc. Someone runs off to fetch something from the scullery; an over-attentive mum. Fussy, shrill, then quiet. A comedy of manners. Amber light filtering through the back window. Dust hanging in the air.

It's light, but masterful. Unshowy, but unafraid to be slightly shrill when it suits it.

It's like, uh, people talking, being human. Doing stuff.

A musical conversation. Occasionally meditational. Portraiture, a micro-drama. A still life. People in action, acutely observed.

I'm surprised at how much this has impressed me. Moved me with its blend of stillness and bustle.

Yeah.

To be honest, I knew bugger-all about him until fairly recently. He was a music teacher and it's v. interesting/instructional to take note of some of the folks he taught: Steve Reich and Philip Glass, Xenakis, Subotnik and - bloody hell! - Burt Bacharach...

'Classical' splits can be pain sometimes when something cool is coupled with some toss - it's like buying an Sleep 10" and finding a Jive Bunny megamix on the other side (Jive Bunny records getting exported to Brazil lol - that cracked me up earlier this evening...) - but this one's a double whammy. And only a couple quid.

Been hoovering up some great 60s/70s releases recently on the Czech label Supraphon. Some badass modernist shit w/ sleeve-notes in Czech. No idea how they found their way to Yeovil, but they're much loved in their new home.

3 Comments:

At 7:20 am, Blogger db said...

That's an absolutely outstanding find -- I'm a huge Milhaud fan, but there's not much stuff of his I've heard. Along these lines: very strong reccomendation for Luciano Berio's "Sinfonia", which works in the same way, where it's very much a salmagundi of all his interests.

 
At 8:16 am, Blogger I am not Kek-w said...

Cheers. I'm rather fond of Berio meself.

I'll def. be checking out some more Milhaud; it's made me very curious. Apparently, his advice to Bacharach when he was his student was something along the lines of "Don't be afraid of a good melody".

 
At 6:27 am, Blogger farmer glitch said...

Does this signify some new 'tune-based' direction for ICE BIRD SONG CYCLE ??

 

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