Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Something Old Something New

Continuing in a Russian theme, after Arensky in last week's post, this week's Something Old comes from Alexander Borodin. His second quartet is the more popular, from my experience with what most string players know, but I think his first is better. The second quartet is really great! The first three movements of it that is.. I think the fourth is a dud (just my opinion, feel free to disagree!). As well as both coming from Russians this week's Something Old is also a Scherzo movement. It's not the scherzo part that makes me love it though, it's the harmonic bit in the middle. For non-string players out there harmonics are created by placing the finger gently on the string instead of depressing it; there are a number of natural harmonics available and one can also create artificial harmonics (click on "harmonics and modes" in this awesome link to read more about it). It's so beautiful and I've played it before and think that all the harmonics are natural ones, the first violin and cello play them and the second violin plays a moving part whilst muted, and I can't remember what the viola does.. Anyway it's really amazing and I managed to find a recording on YouTube that is actually the one I normally listen to!! Borodin String Quartet playing the Borodin String Quartets haha. I do have a bit of a pet hate with this recording and that is in this scherzo movement, right after the gorgeous ethereal harmonic section, they launch right back in with an attack and it really jolts me out of my mood. I wish they'd just ease into it a bit better and create a better link between the material of the harmonic section and that of the section following. Anyway, still amazing playing so go have a listen:

Something New is Regina Spektor. She is amazing. I saw her live at Splendour in the Grass last year and it was the best show of the whole thing. Her songs aren't just typical poppy stuff, they have such interesting moments. And it's nice to have a mix-up of instruments. I hadn't listened to much of her stuff before Splendour in the Grass and then one day I borrowed my sister's car and she had the "Begin to Hope" CD in it and I stole borrowed it and put it on my computer. The first song of this album is the one I'm sharing today. I love the line: I hear in my mind, all of these voices, I hear in my mind, all of these words, I hear in my mind, all of this music, and it breaks my heart and it breaks my heart.. This music video is excellent too:

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