Jump to content

Jean Szulc - String Octet


Jean Szulc
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hey everyone!

It's been a really long time since I don't post my music here. I thought I'd might share something I've finished quite recently. It's a string octet which hasn't been performed yet, but that hopefully will be later this year.

I won't say much about it, besides that it is divided in three movements with a Fast-Slow-Fast general scheme.

All feedback is encouraged, and I thank you for listening in advance !

MP3
0:00
0:00
PDF
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well.

This is quite an accomplished work, with each movement its own particular pallette of color, texture, and emotion. I'm already a fan of quartal harmony (and your works in particular), and you deliver here with uber-satisfying pizzazz and finesse. It's not because quartal harmonies are inherently edgy and fresh; it's because you understand how music "fits together." The writing for the string parts was exquisite and thoughtful. Despite the smattering of triple- and quarter-stops throughout, the piece is quite playable thanks to your careful attention to fingering and open strings.

But what love most about this are the rhythms. Maybe it's owing to your Brazilian heritage — or a spillover of Villa-Lobos' influence in your music — whatever the reason, this work contains a South American flavor that is oh, so rich! It is still quite "classical," of course: a marvelous blending of culture into fine art.

Hats off to you, Jean! I hope you're able to have this performed.

Best,

Jörfi

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for your thougths, @Tónskáld! It's great to hear that it pleases you :)

It's interesting that you mention some South Americaness in it, because I honestly didn't consider it for a second. It's certainly impossible to not be influenced by one's heritage though, so I guess some of it might be at play here indeed!

Thank you once again for your thoughts, it's always great to listen the words of someone you admire ;)

Best,

Jean.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

An amazing piece. Energy abounds; lyrical in the Fugue. A wonderful contrast. I may look further at the fugue which on first approach was difficult to follow. It looked almost like a giant double fugue but the interweaving lines gave it initially a plaintiff mood and led to fluid emotions, at times uneasy at other times relaxed. I intend to listen again so I’ll see if my impression changes.

About the rhythmic complexity, Tónskáld spoke of Villa-Lobos but you seem to have taken primitivism a little further. I know nothing about quartal harmony so can’t comment on whether it’s present or not but) looking at the opening of the third movement, the density and harmonic layout emphasise the percussive nature of the attack. Certainly is percussive and rhythmically complex. 

In the first movement it hints more at carnival particularly at bar 38 and on and in the brief times it comes with a sustained underlying theme (bar 146?), and in the closing bars.

The score was difficult to follow in that one has to be a very fast page-turner! The detail and care put into it did not go unnoticed. Skilled string writing if ever!

A brilliant, enlivening work altogether. Music I'm very happy to listen to. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I particularly liked the first movement.  The score is particularly hard to follow with the main leading line being constantly passed between different instruments.  I really enjoyed the pizzicato parts of the first movement (is there any Bartok pizz. in there?).  The third movement sounds really rushed and frantic which has it's own charm and the textures you weave with the constant canonic imitation are really exquisite.  Great endings to all the movements - they sound like they're definitely finished with an attitude.  I like the pizzicato ostinato quirkyness of the first movement with bombastic accents sprinkled in.  I am not a big fan of slow movements in general so it's no surprise that I prefer your first and third movements here.  Thanks for the music!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Markus Boyd Thank you very much! I'm grateful you enjoyed the work and I thank you for subscribing. I hope to post a lot more soon ;)

 

@Quinn Thank you very much for you comment! 

About the fugue, I used a single theme, however I came up with a scheme to use all 8 instruments in a contrapunctal setting: Each pair of instruments (Violins 1 and 3, 2 and 4, Violas and Cellos) enter and stick together. That is, the 2nd violin introduces the subject, and the the 4th violin the answer. After they both had it's appearance, they start playing in a sort of free canon. In a way, they become intertwined into a single voice. Then, the violin 1 and 3 do the same thing, then de cellos, then the violas. That's the exposition. Ultimately, I end up with a four voice cointerpoint that is doubled canonically, which allows me to have the sound of an 8-voice counterpoint without necessarily having to write an 8-voice fugue.

About the rhythms, I guess this is one the main aspects that drive my music. I feel like you can almost get away with anything if the notes that are being played are being played at the right time. Emphasis on right time. Rhythm is just so powerful in driving music forward!

Thanks once again for your very thoughtful comment! All your thoughts were really insightful to me :)

 

@PeterthePapercomPoser Thanks for your thoughts and comment! It's always great to read that someone enjoyed your music :)

I haven't notated any Bartok Pizz, but there are quite a few FF and FFF passages that might give off a close result. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

I really enjoyed this octet. The first movement almost reminded me of Britten's Playful Pizzicato. Each movement had its own character, but they fit together into a single piece well, as has been said. The first movement probably had my favorite character of the three.

I found the second movement just a little tricky to follow in terms of the fugue. The music itself was wonderful, but I thought the subject blended almost too well into the surrounding counterpoint in several places. Perhaps it was just the dynamics of the rendering; several times the subject was in the foreground and glorious to hear! This isn't necessarily bad, but I do enjoy being able to follow the counterpoint in pieces like this. The rhythmic variability and unpredictability served you very well in the first movement, and also well here in the fugue. In terms of musical content, this was definitely my favorite movement.

The third movement's frantic writing was very well executed and fit well with the other movements. I also enjoyed how the pizzicato connected the first and third movements a bit. The ending of this movement (and the piece) was perfect! 

I don't really have any specific comments (i.e., feedback about certain measures or sections) since the way the voices in the octet fit together plus the tempo made the score hard to follow. 

Congratulations on such a well-put-together work! 

Jacob

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Impressive work!

Just wanted to ask a quick question about your use of artificial harmonic notation.

I wondered if the scoring software can work this out for you, based on the note you want to achieve in the piano roll?

Or do you have to know how to write artificial harmonics by hand?

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

Thank you very much @JWNewton for your feedback! It's lovely to hear your appreciation :)

 

Hey there, @Alex Weidmann! Thank you for your feedback :)

Well, the way I did it you'd have to know how to notate harmonics by hand. I used solely Sibelius and NotePerformer 3 to produce this, so I don't think there would be another way around it. That being said, it's not hard to do it at all. You would just have to follow a table like this one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Artificial_harmonic.png 

Good luck!

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What a marvellous piece of art this is! I learn about the effective use of pizzicato, harmonics, quintal harmony in this piece. I woulf definitely try use them effectively in my own piece of compositions. But most important is how you build up tension using tiny seeds in a minimalistic fashion, for example im both the first and third movements you build up tension with just a small seed of minor second.

Your rhythmic sense is so advanced, which results in the vivacity of the first and third movement. I particularly like the ending of the third movement on how you build up climax using strong accents and compressed rhythm. I think your rhythmic and motivic treatment is quite Stravinskian: montage-like, clear cut, different elements juxtaposing each othet directly. So effective and fascinating. I wish I can learn these too!

Your second movement is a fugue. I find it particularly hard to compose modern counterpoint not under tonality, since for me it's hard to develop fluently and reasonably, which is what you did here.

What an amazing work it is! My favourite movement is the third movement, since for me ot has a clearer sense of development. Overall it is so fascinating! I hope my composition can absorb some of your elements!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...