Modern/contemporary piece for string quartet

August 12, 2023, 6:47 AM · My quartet is planning for our next concert. So far we have settled on Haydn opus 20 no 2 and Smetana "Aus meinem leben". We would like a shorter (max 10 min) modern piece too. Hit me with your favorites!

Replies (11)

August 12, 2023, 7:12 AM · Strum by Jessie Montgomery is a popular piece.
August 12, 2023, 8:38 AM · 10 minutes is a bit of a challenge, but here are a couple of my favourites.

Aulis Sallinen - Quartet 3 'Some Aspects of Peltoniemi Hintrik's Funeral March'. Actually about 12 mins. I find a certain dark humour in this piece. Plenty of recordings on Youtube. (Composed 1969)

Hindemith -'Overture to the ‘Flying Dutchman’ as Played on Sight by a Bad Spa Orchestra by the Village Well at 7 in the Morning'. Depends on the audience - hilarious if you know Wagner's version and have played in a very amateur orchestra. Written in 1925 so maybe not 'modern' enough.

August 12, 2023, 9:08 AM · Three pieces by Javier Alvarez, each named after metro stops in Mexico City.

Metro Chabacano (1991) – string quartet 7'
Metro Taxqueña (1994) – string quartet 8'
Metro Nativitas (1999) – string quartet 8'

Composer notes from LA Phil website:

Edited: August 13, 2023, 12:08 PM · Germaine Tailleferre string quartet (there is only one as far as I know). I don't think it's longer than 10 min. Tailleferre in general kept her pieces short.

BTW, Peter, the most "modern" of Hindemith's pieces are the ones from early in his career.

Edited: August 13, 2023, 4:23 PM · I was going to suggest Metro Chabacano if it hadn't already been named.

Elliott Carter's Elegy (5') and Joaquín Turina's La Oración del torero (10') are also options. Neither piece was originally for string quartet (Carter's was for cello and piano, Turina's was for lute quartet), but both were arranged by the composers for string quartet and are most commonly played today by either string quartet or string orchestra.

The "Coqueteos" movement (3') from Gabriela Lena Frank's Leyendas is sometimes played as a stand-alone piece.

August 14, 2023, 8:04 AM · György Kurtág - 12 Microludes for String Quartet (about 10 minutes)

August 14, 2023, 8:45 PM · Why ruin the concert.
August 14, 2023, 9:57 PM · Jacob, really??

Anyone have a feel for how difficult the Alvarez quartets are? Say, compared to Mendelssohn Op. 44?

August 15, 2023, 1:07 AM · There's a recording of Metro Chabacano on YouTube that shows the score. Looks significantly more difficult than any Mendelssohn quartet. Lots of tricky double-stops.
August 15, 2023, 4:50 PM · Joe Hisaishi, of "My Neighbor Totoro" fame, has a lovely string quartet:
August 16, 2023, 10:29 AM · Thank you for the suggestions - a few were already on our radar, but some were new aquaintances.
Jacob - I think I know what you mean - We have just been at a festival where there was a good deal of modern music, some of which was very difficult for me to understand or appreciate. Some seemed to be mainly focusing on making strange sounds on the instrument without a purpose that I could percieve. I don't mind alternative techniques as effects, but when it is all there is.... We try to stay clear of that kind of music ;)

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