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Simaku - String Quartets, Nos 2 & 3 CD

2 customer reviews

Price: £7.49 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
Includes FREE MP3 version of this album.
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Product details

  • Orchestra: Kreutzer Quartet
  • Conductor: n/a
  • Composer: Thomas Simaku
  • Audio CD (28 April 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B001716IY8
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 543,235 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)


Product Description

Product Description

Following my studies at the Tirana Conservatoire in 1982, I worked for three years as Music Director in a remote town in Southern Albania near the border with Greece. The first-hand experience I had from working with folk musicians and listening to ancient songs seems to have had a lasting effect on my creative conscience. There are no quotations from folk-music here or in any other work of mine, but resonances of that sound-world [...] are now subconsciously becoming part of my own music. These qualities are incorporated in the overall musical idiom and can be clearly heard in these works. -Thomas Simaku

Review

The Kreutzer Quartet play with extraordinary control and beauty of tone. --The Sunday Times

The British Kreutzer Quartet plays these hair-raisingly difficult pieces with provocative virtuosity. --BBC Music Magazine

Customer Reviews

2.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jim Shine on 27 May 2008
Format: Audio CD
This was hard work, but it was worth it. Thomas Simaku, 50 this year, is an Albanian now based in the University of York, U.K., and he writes music in a style that many listeners would not call accessible. If you absolutely must have "tunes" or rhythmic hooks to latch onto, then his music isn't for you. There's a quote from Simaku on the back of the box: "There are no quotations from folk-music here or in any other work of mine, but resonances of that sound-world are now subconsciously becoming part of my own music". On reading this one might still have the impression that folk music is somehow to be heard here, but really it isn't - it's like looking for Gregorian chant in Vivaldi. Now, I hope by this stage I've dissuaded the nervous and intrigued the curious, because for anyone prepared to put in the effort this is a really fine disc. But for me, at least, it was an effort. I admit that contemporary music can be hit-or-miss with me, and with some works repeated listening adds nothing to my understanding or enjoyment. The first piece on this album, Voci Celesti, made a good first impression though. It's an atmospheric work, a sound world that you can feel immersed in. With static passages, drones, and shimmering effects it's an intriguing listen, although I haven't yet decided whether the celestial voices are angels, aliens, or atmospheric phenomena.
The other quartet has the title Radius, and Simaku's notes tell us "On a purely musical level, Radius could be described as a textural kaleidoscope with a predominantly heterophonic discourse that unfolds around one single sound-object (ison) possessing the gravitational power".
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2 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Barry on 12 Nov. 2008
Format: Audio CD
Well, I thought, Naxos are usually so reliable and 'safe'. Now, I am at a loss to know what to do with this odd CD, having invested in it.
If your starting point is that all music is sound, then this is certainly sound: lots of it and in a stunning variety of 'effects' : no doubt, fiendish to play. Try track 4 :soliloquy II for solo cello and you will see what I mean.
If, however, you reverse the saying, above, that all sound is music, then that is certainly much more contraversial, and would be hotly disputed by most music lovers. I would rather say that a disc like this (and many more avant-garde composers and works) maybe fun to experiment with but not to take up serious air time, when there is so much gorgeous music out there waiting to be experienced and discovered and savoured.
Our lives are short enough without wasting much time on the musically barren. We could have been listening to the indisputably greats or even to the second division composers who wrote frankly enjoyable stuff, even if, in the last analysis, they may not represent imperishable masterpieces.
So, where to fit a disc like this? And how to rate a composer like Thomas Simaku? It probably will be decided by your expectations as well as your musical taste. For me, a huge disappointment and a definite thumbs down.
Sorry. Life is simply too short as it is. One star for a useful plastic box and a pretty arty picture. 'Nul points' for the contents.
A message to Naxos: you may be big and powerful in the world of recorded sound, but such discs as these should surely carry a government health warning on the box to avoid massive disappointment for loyal followers and brave dabblers into esoteric byways and comtemporary 'unknowns'.
And let's face it: not all modern music has to be like this: look at much of John Tavener or Arvo Part or Henryk Gorecki, or Michael Nyman or John Adams and many others.....
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A tough nut worth cracking 27 May 2008
By Jim Shine - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This was hard work, but it was worth it. Thomas Simaku, 50 this year, is an Albanian now based in the University of York, U.K., and he writes music in a style that many listeners would not call accessible. If you absolutely must have "tunes" or rhythmic hooks to latch onto, then his music isn't for you. There's a quote from Simaku on the back of the box: "There are no quotations from folk-music here or in any other work of mine, but resonances of that sound-world are now subconsciously becoming part of my own music". On reading this one might still have the impression that folk music is somehow to be heard here, but really it isn't - it's like looking for Gregorian chant in Vivaldi. Now, I hope by this stage I've dissuaded the nervous and intrigued the curious, because for anyone prepared to put in the effort this is a really fine disc. But for me, at least, it was an effort. I admit that contemporary music can be hit-or-miss with me, and with some works repeated listening adds nothing to my understanding or enjoyment. The first piece on this album, Voci Celesti, made a good first impression though. It's an atmospheric work, a sound world that you can feel immersed in. With static passages, drones, and shimmering effects it's an intriguing listen, although I haven't yet decided whether the celestial voices are angels, aliens, or atmospheric phenomena.
The other quartet has the title Radius, and Simaku's notes tell us "On a purely musical level, Radius could be described as a textural kaleidoscope with a predominantly heterophonic discourse that unfolds around one single sound-object (ison) possessing the gravitational power". This may very well be the case but it's not the sort of information that makes me want to listen, as such structural conceits are not always easy for the listener to grasp. In fact a lot of the sounds in the quartet made me think of insects; if Simaku had tried to pass it off as an entomological fantasy I'd be more inclined to believe him.
The three Soliloquies also have somewhat esoteric concepts, and again for the uninitiated they can be tough going. They're for solo violin, cello, and viola, and are similar in design and mood. The notes I took while listening are full of terms like swirling, sawing, long notes, high registers, plucking, and droning. None of them is conventionally lovely, or indeed unconventionally so, but the sense of a journey is present - like (if I may yet again reach for the natural world for a simile) being in a deep-sea trench, where many mysterious and strange things drift or rush past, and occasionally there's something you half-recognise.
Best of all is Due Sotto-Voci, in which a lament-like passage alternates with more vigorous music, the two merging to some extent toward the end. Like the other pieces, this one requires considerable skill from the soloist, though with its more straightforward structure and greater emotional directness I think this one has the best chance of entering the repertoire.
I didn't enjoy much of this album when I first listened, but I'm glad I perserved and I can confidently recommend it to anyone not afraid of modern music.
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