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  • Gloria Coates: String Quartets Nos 1, 5 & 6
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Gloria Coates: String Quartets Nos 1, 5 & 6 CD

2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Composer: Gloria Coates
  • Audio CD (4 Feb. 2002)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B00005Y0MR
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 241,453 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bernard Davis on 27 Feb. 2006
Format: Audio CD
A first listen to the music of Gloria Coates is a breath of fresh air. Here is a genuinely contemporary sound, one that emerges naturally from our time and culture. Here are sounds to express our sense of time, space, movement and activity. There is no sense of is referentiallism. What a relief! There is no rehashing of someone else's style , whether from 10 or 500 years ago. There is no wilful difficulty to this music or the collaging of disparate influences. This music emerges fully formed with its own confident voice, it means to communicate and it does so, while being a language unto itself.

Gloria Coates primary musical means is glissando, the blending of one note into another. She uses this continually to create a music of incredible spaciousness where the four instruments of a quartet can create a whole orchestra, or perhaps in this case, buzzing beehive, of sound.

String Quartet No 5 is something of a musical summation for the composer as she explores the possibilities of her chosen means. The first movement 'Through Time' searches a way out of nothingness with increasingly surety, from the vaguest tonal probings to the makings of an icy melody. The second movement 'Through Space' is an exploration of the experience of modern travel. It is something of a classical version of Kraftwerk's 'Autobahn', but far more elemental as the strings summon up something like the sounds of Jet Engines, passing cars, trains and high velocity elevators. The final movement 'In the Fifth Dimension' warps this into a revolving flux of sound that is genuinely unsettling. While listening to it I experience a kind of sonic sea sickness. Composers often talk of wanting to create an unsettling music for a violent and uncertain age. Gloria Coates actually delivers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Philip H on 3 Aug. 2011
Format: Audio CD
Having been a fan of the Naxos recordings over the years I was interested in hearing some American composers. I heard some of the tracks thanks to the Naxos website which allows you to listen to each track briefly.
This is nothing like Bach or any of the older composers so this may be a shock to the system to anyone that may think this is full of melody. The album has more sounds than harmony and will not be to everyone's taste.
I would compare this music to a modern painting which is full of abstract colours and makes little sense to the eye.
However, there is something that makes me drawn to the sounds of this recording, and is much more appealing than senseless, abstract sounds.
The first 3 tracks are my personal favourites and although there are many glissandos in them they are played wonderfully throughout by the quartet.
This is not something I would play on a regular basis but is definitely something I would play from time to time.
This recording has started something off with me now, wanting to hear more from Gloria Coates. Oh, and the abstact painting on the front cover of the cd is one painted by the composer herself, who also paints when not composing. Please listen to something different, you may well like it too!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Glorious Sounds 17 Mar. 2003
By Corinne Marshall - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I was astounded when I first played this CD. The sounds were so unusual, so much like a full orchestra that I checked the cover to be sure I had the recording I had ordered. Careful listening revealed only four instruments, but what a variety of timbres! Who could guess that stringed instruments were capable of such music? The performers are superb. They master challenges of pitch, rhythm and harmonics that would make lesser performers quail.Coates's music is her own, unlike that of any other composer. It expands one's listening skills as melodies repeat themselves in different voices at different speeds. Listen for the lines. This is contemporary music that is comprehensible because of the standard, even old-fashioned, forms it follows. But the real joy comes in hearing the exploitation of the capabilities of instrument and performer. Now I listen every night to one of the quartets before I fall asleep.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Do people listen to this? 15 Mar. 2003
By André Chaudron - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Do people listen to this?
Yes I do. And as far as I read in Billboard Magazine, quite a few have (just to mention one of the extremely positive reviews I have read): The CD sold over 9000 copies in the first year of its release. (...) In fact this CD has been one of the highlights of 2002 to me. I can hardly wait for Vol.2.
If one opens the ears, without prejudice or expectations, there is a wonderful new spectrum and soundworld there, nothing like Beethoven or Saint-Saens, but masterworks in it's own right, using other techniques and other harmonies. I love it and would encourage everyone to try and enjoy it too.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
String quartets that sound like Feldman crossed with Xenakis 20 Jun. 2012
By Autonomeus - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Gloria Coates (b. 1938) is known, not unfairly, as "the glissando composer." As Kyle Gann says in the liner notes, "Coates is the master of the specifically notated glissando." Born in Wisconsin, she has lived for many years in Germany. Coates has written a large body of unconventional symphonies and string quartets. Here we have String Quartets No. 1, 5 and 6, written in 1966, 1988 and 1999, performed spectacularly by the Kreutzer Quartet.

String Quartet No. 1 (Protestation Quartet) from 1966 is less than six minutes long. It is a a striking piece, based on a mirror canon, which signals what is to come...

String Quartet No. 5 is 31 minutes long, in three movements: Through Time, Through Space, and In the Fifth Dimension. Here we have Coates's soundworld realized, with slow-moving glissandos and microtonal dissonance that remind me of Feldman crossed with Xenakis. My problem with the 5th Quartet is the final movement. The Fifth Dimension is apparently an ocean of some sort, and we travel across it riding up and down its swells, a sine-wave shaped glissando that persists for the entire 9-minute duration, trying my patience.

String Quartet No. 6 (22'13) is the best work here, again in three movements: Still, Meditation, and Evanescence. The Kreutzers sound magnificent, and this piece certainly recommends Coates as a distinctive voice with a vision and something to say. The slow waves of sound are anchored and given shape by underlying symmetries such as canons and palindromes.

The recording is from St. John's Church in Loughton, Essex, U.K., on September 14th and 15th, 2000. The cover painting is by the composer.

(verified purchase from a large brick-and-mortar bookstore)
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Uber Postmodern Sensory Bliss 17 April 2003
By mxr54321 - Published on
Format: Audio CD
If you are seeking a true diversion try these string quartets by Coates. The magical and unusual sounds Coates creates (I have no clue how she does this or how this music can even be written down on paper for that matter) all come together to paint an eloquent picture. Suddenly, you find yourself whisked forward and back through time and space. These are the sounds of nature from other times and places both past and future. And remarkably, these quartets are here for us to enjoy in the present!
Outer space sounds without much substance behind them 13 Sept. 2012
By Christopher Culver - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This Naxos disc is one of several documenting the string quartets of Gloria Coates as performed by the Kreutzer Quartet: Peter Sheppard Skærved and Gordon MacKay (violins), Bridget Carey (viola) and Neil Heyde (cello).

Coates's mature music is marked by two features: canons and overwhelming usage of glissandi (sometimes exclusively glissandi instead of individual fixed pitches). In the early String Quartet No. 1 "Protestation Quartet" (1966), we find only the first of these: this six-minute-long, single-movement work is built as a mirror canon. I find it the strongest of the works here, as Coates has assimilated the string quartet tradition and has something of her own to say.

That evidence of being aware of the tradition, of having anything to say really, is unfortunately lacking in the following two works on this disc. The three-movement String Quartet No. 5 (1988) represents Coates's mature style by bringing in those infamous glissandi. The first two movements, "Through Time" and "Through Space" are slow, prismatic successions of glissandi and microtones. The third movement, "In the Fifth Dimension", is of much faster tempo which, combined with the nonstop glissandi, gives the somewhat unpleasant feeling of being at sea on a rolling deck. The String Quartet No. 6 (1999) is again in three movements, titled "Still", "Meditation" and "Evanescence". It is a somber piece played at slowly and low dynamic, and it gets ever quieter as it progresses (the title of the last movement is apt).

This disc has been highly rated, so clearly it wows some people. However, I question its appeal to those with much experience with the 20th century avant-garde. Even if you like composers of similar singlemindedness (1960s Ligeti, say), you might just feel that Coates is exploiting a gimmick and there's not much substance in the music.
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