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The String Quartets

J. Zorn Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

Price: $16.78 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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 : Includes FREE MP3 version of this album.
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MP3 Music, 16 Songs, 1999 $9.49  
Audio CD, 1999 $16.78  

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Samples
Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Cat O'nine Tails13:56Album Only
listen  2. The Dead Man - Variations 1:04Album Only
listen  3. The Dead Man - Sonatas0:41Album Only
listen  4. The Dead Man - Manifesto0:49Album Only
listen  5. The Dead Man - Fanfare0:56Album Only
listen  6. The Dead Man - Meditation0:53Album Only
listen  7. The Dead Man - Rondo0:48Album Only
listen  8. The Dead Man - Romance0:30Album Only
listen  9. The Dead Man - Blossoms 1:07Album Only
listen10. The Dead Man - Fantasy0:52Album Only
listen11. The Dead Man - Folio 1:15Album Only
listen12. The Dead Man - Nocturne 1:38Album Only
listen13. The Dead Man - Etude0:40Album Only
listen14. The Dead Man - Prelude 1:22Album Only
listen15. Memento Mori29:22Album Only
listen16. Kol Nidre 8:22Album Only


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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 20, 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Tzadik
  • ASIN: B00000JIQH
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,731 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

The music of composer-saxophonist John Zorn has never been predictable, and this collection of the maverick's string-quartet work is certainly no different. Cat O'Nine Tails starts the set off: a 13-minute exploration of jump cuts and lifted melodies; it's filled with the most perfectly deceptive ways that Zorn can confuse, trick, and humor his listeners. The piece never settles down, owing as much debt to (Carl) Stalling as Stravinsky. The Dead Man, a piece Zorn thinks of as his imagined "soundtrack" to "necessarily short S/M scenes," consists of 13 jarring suites of note-bending meditations and string shrieks. But things do get serious. Memento Mori--a 1992 piece that Zorn admits is a challenge for most listeners--transitions synapse-delicate passages to melodious bars with alarming beauty. On the achingly gorgeous Kol Nidre, Zorn infuses a near-minimalist composition with Jewish melodies to powerful effect. This is Zorn's ode to the music of Arvo Pärt (and late Beethoven)--a highlight. While Zorn's best-known chamber music has been played by the Kronos Quartet, the jazz lineup on this disc is no less impressive: Joyce Hammann and Mark Feldman on violins, Lois Martin on viola, and Erik Friedlander on cello. --Jason Verlinde

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating microcosm of the Zorn universe. November 6, 2003
Format:Audio CD
"I don't think of myself as a jazz or rock artist. I think of myself as someone who's using all of these different elements to create something else. But if I had to pick one line where I came from, it would be more classical than anything else." -- John Zorn
_The String Quartets_ is a collection of his best pieces for, well, string quartets, culled from an eight year span. These are the definitive versions of each, conducted by Zorn and performed by the emphatic Quartet DeSade (that's Joyce Hammann and Mark Feldman on violin, Lois Martinon on viola, and Erik Friedlander on cello). Their performances are uniformly stunning. An interest in Zorn and post-modernist 'classical' is a helpful quality before checking out this album.
"Cat o' Nine Tails" is lots of fun, a humorous piece emphasizing very fast, clean changes between styles from cartoon music to rhythmically energetic Eastern European & Russian informed sections to familiar melodies quoted from a variety of sources. It's almost like flipping through television channels and hearing the musical accompaniment to all sorts of different things, with some very jarring clashes in between. If fun genre-hopping isn't your cup of tea, this might not do much for you.
"The Dead Man" is basically a collection of hardcore miniatures arranged for string quartet -- very herky-jerky, violent, and spasmodic, a la Naked City. There are thirteen of them, averaging somewhere around a minute in length. Most people wouldn't like this kind of thing -- but I like dark, torturous, and savage music like this. "Nocturne", the eleventh piece, is particularly harrowing to me.
The next two pieces are by far my favorites.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Four superb compositions. December 19, 2005
Format:Audio CD
"The String Quartets" contains (not uncoicidentally) four string quartets composed by John Zorn in the late 80s and early 90s. Three of the pieces ("Cat O'Nine Tails", "The Dead Man" and "Momento Mori") were composed at the behest of the Kronos Quartet between 1988 and 1992 while the fourth ("Kol Nidre") was composed in 1996 without commission. All four are performe by a quartet of Joyce Hammann (violin), Mark Feldman (violin), Lois Martin (viola) and Erik Friedlander (cello).

"Cat O'Nine Tails", from 1988, finds Zorn in a frantic mode. The piece is full of excitement, subtle quotations and energy, presaging the Naked City approach of drifting beteween one style and another, seemingly at random though seemlessly fitting together whilst weaving Zorn's tributes to composers he loves. It is sometimes delicate and beautiful, sometimes playful and exciting, and sometimes frantic and explosive. At all times, it's intriguing and entertaining. "The Dead Man", composed around the same time as Naked City's early records, is related to that band's "Torture Garden", and the audible similarities are clear. Composed of thirteen miniatures, not unlike the tracks on "Torture Garden", ranging in length from thirty seconds to about ninety seconds, each movement is of its own style, but like "Torture Garden", there's a distinct sense of unity to these tracks. They flow together, and they sometimes feel less than whole without the others.

"Memento Mori", dedicated to musician Ikue Mori and composed in 1992, is described by Zorn as "an intensely emotional and complexly hermetic work that continues to defy comprehension by most listeners". Zorn further states that the piece is autobiographical and "largely about lost love and the loneliness of a scholar's existence".
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars john zorn/elliott sharp- string quartets January 1, 2009
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
well, i got the zorn and elliott sharp quartets at the same time, to get an understanding of the downtown nyc scene.

the cat o nine tales has been reviewed just fine...no need to add. i mean, it seems to be the definition of post modern- snippets of this, snippets of that, put em in a pot and stir....

the dead man "suite" seems to perfect the scraping sounds that allude to zorn's fascination with s/m. it has a bit of the kagel quartets in it, and so far...zorn strikes two home runs in the extremist camp....

still...compare ANY outre quartet against what i consider the behemoth gigantor of experimental quartets, the one by heinz holliger of 1973.

i think i was starting to get too obsessed by the lachenmann, sciarrino, penderecki, kagel, glokobar type NOISE...and all of these composers have worked very hard to make musical sense of brute sound....mixing and matching

the other reviewers expressed a question mark concerning memento mori...and i feel flattered that it posed no difficulties for me, there are a lot of grey dreary dope-sick chords punctuated by various violent outbursts....half way through there is a break followed by a very long elegiac chord punctuated by nine plucks...and then it continues...
it does have that nono/feldman feel with splatters of violent tense scraping and hysterical outburst, but overall the 30min. quartet poses no real listening problems to the seeker. in all, this seems to be the kind of statement that came out of the eighties, especially in nyc....just watch one of the andy warhol bios when listening to this and it might all make sense...basquiat...dope....gritty nyc 1970s-80s art sense....this seems no different than john cale to me, velvet underground...midnight cowboy...
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