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David Dalle
Thursday August 2nd, 2012 with David Dalle
String Quartets from Beethoven to Scelsi to Ali-zadeh

With a nod towards the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, we look at the String Quartet from three eras with Beethoven, Giacinto Scelsi, and Franghiz Ali-Zadeh. Beethoven's Op. 130, possibly his most popular late quartet, is an epic, sprawling masterpiece that nevertheless shows Beethoven's occasional willingness to compromise, something which he was most emphatically, famously, NOT known for. After a first performance of the work with the original fugue ending, his publisher suggested he write an alternate ending because the fugue was too long and difficult to play and "listen" to, and so he did. Beethoven replaced the original massive fugue with a bright and cheerful allegro half its length. The string quartet was published with this new ending, and sadly, is still performed more often. There is a staggering emotional gulf between these two endings, and the new ending, nice at it is, is insufficient in depth to be a proper finale for this great quartet. We hear the work today performed with the original fugue finale. This quartet along with Op. 127 is being performed this Sunday by the Penderecki String Quartet. More information at
String Quartet in B flat Op. 130/133
Ludwig Van Beethoven/Alban Berg Quartet - Complete String Quartets - EMI
We skip ahead 140 years or so to the unique micro-sound world of Giacinto Scelsi. His 4th quartet from 1964 was notated for 16 individual strings instead of the 4 instruments in the quartet. So despite being full of subtle and small gestures, he creates a very rich, almost orchestral texture in this short quartet. A wonderful composer, performances of his works are rare, but the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival is dedicating one full concert to his music on Monday Aug. 6 at the National Gallery at 3 p.m. More information at
String Quartet no. 4
Giacinto Scelsi/Arditti String Quartet - 5 String Quartets - Montaigne/Naive
String Quartet no. 5
Giacinto Scelsi/Arditti String Quartet - 5 String Quartets - Montaigne/Naive
Further ahead another generation or two, we hear a wonderful piece by Azerbaijani Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, in her 1993 work for string quartet largely influenced by Azeri classical music and the Mugam suite. In contrast to the near eclipse of the quartet in the 19th century after Beethoven, the string quartet has been extremely well-served by composers all over the world in the 20th and 21st century, it has proved to be an extremely flexible genre giving it one of the richest repertoires in Western classical music and giving rise to superb and popular ensembles who specialize in contemporary music such as Kronos, Arditti, Lasalle and others.
Mugam Sayagi
Franghiz Ali-Zadeh/Kronos Quartet - Mugam Sayagi - Nonesuch
Eshqin Mehebbeti
Alim and Fargana Qasimov - Music of Central Asia vol. 6 Spiritual Music of Azerbaijan - Smithsonian Folkways