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Gloria Coates: String Quartets Nos. 1, 5 & 6

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 19, 2002
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  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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10:59
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2
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11:07
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9:07
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4
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5:49
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5
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6
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Product Details

  • Composer: Gloria Coates
  • Audio CD (March 19, 2002)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos American Classics
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • ASIN: B00005Y0MR
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #531,948 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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.
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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.
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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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