Author Topic: Amédée Méreaux: String Quartet Op. 121  (Read 601 times)

Double-A

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Amédée Méreaux: String Quartet Op. 121
« on: Thursday 14 December 2017, 07:20 »
This quartet came up in this thread about a recording of the composer's etudes op. 63. 

My typeset is now finished but not completely proofread.*  For anybody who is curious it is on the Musescore.com website.  It can also be played back there for anybody to listen.  The tone quality is not good but the balance is much better than in the mp3s that I have been trying to make myself.  For best insights read along in the score.

My personal opinion:  I like the piece; it is nicely written, relaxed (as you'd expect in D-Major) and entertaining.  All four parts are nice to play.  And it is not too demanding technically (as Matesic said) though there are some passages in the first violin that make awkward fingerings unavoidable.  There are also some rhythm and ensemble problems if you have amateurs tackling it.

The andante (3rd movement) has a slow introduction, which is almost nothing but a chord progression.  There are hints of cyclic form:  Movements 1 and 3 are both in the rather rare 9/8 meter (rare especially for first movements).  Movements 2 and 4 share a crucial motif.

There will be one more round of proofreading and the extraction and formatting of parts before the whole thing can be uploaded to IMSLP.

The files are here:  1. mvmt, 2. mvmt, 3. mvmt, 4. mvmt

*  The first edition from which I am working is rather slapdash for the 1870s:  Notes that may as likely be gs as fs.  The cello part has an extra measure in the scherzo.  Dynamic markings are inconsistent between the voices at times.  Sometimes a ff or f obviously must mean sf.  Decrescendo signs (hairpins) and accents are not clearly differentiated.  Plus the engraver (or the composer?) didn't know how to spell Italian words.  Not to mention quite a few missing accidentals, numerous unnecessary courtesy accidentals and also quite a few missing ones.  This stuff costs extra time for typesetting.

matesic

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Re: Amédée Méreaux: String Quartet op. 121
« Reply #1 on: Thursday 14 December 2017, 10:51 »
I made a shot at multitracking the piece and enjoyed it, although not quite enough to immediately want to sort out all the notes. I find some his pianistic stunts hilarious (e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k57Tl7qAGFs) but happily he makes no technical demands like unstring-bowing on the first violin!

The first movement goes through some pleasantly chromatic progressions and is probably the best of the four. I agree with Double-A, the Adagio introduction to the Andante third is no more than a conventional chord progression and seems like a rather lame nod in the direction of Beethoven. Better, I think, is the finale which is unaffectedly Offenbachian.

UnsungMasterpieces

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Re: String Quartet op. 121 byt Amédée Méreaux
« Reply #2 on: Thursday 14 December 2017, 18:00 »
I will give this piece a full listen later on, but from what I hear it sounds very interesting!

Double-A

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Re: Amédée Méreaux: String Quartet op. 121
« Reply #3 on: Friday 15 December 2017, 06:58 »
That fourth movement has however an extended section titled "all fuga".  And the themes are labeled  in the parts "primo soggetto", "secondo soggetto" and "terzo soggetto".  The "terzo soggetto" BTW is a downward scale in pizzicato:  One note at the beginning of every bar (the whole piece makes more use of pizzicato than any other quartet I can remember).  This all suggests fun though maybe not quite the kind of fun we expect from Offenbach.

I do like the scherzo with its "canone" as the trio section (It is right there that the extra measure shows up in the cello part.  It took a while to sort out).  It is also quite Offenbachian.  And the andante that follows that chord progression is lovely.  BTW I think the intro should be played pretty fast:  So that the anticipation of the beginning of the andante (which does happen in the introduction) goes at the same speed as in the andante (i.e. half note = 60 for the intro and dotted quarter = 60 for the andante).

Double-A

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Re: Amédée Méreaux: String Quartet op. 121
« Reply #4 on: Sunday 07 January 2018, 07:23 »
The score and parts of op. 121 were posted on IMSLP a few minutes ago and will be available there soon if the approval is as fast as it has been.
I made my best effort to keep the parts readable while avoiding impossible page turns but compromises were unavoidable, especially since the music is heavily marked with hairpins, dynamics etc.  I do hope they are serviceable.  If anybody finds any errors please let me know!  Thanks.

matesic

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Re: Amédée Méreaux: String Quartet Op. 121
« Reply #5 on: Monday 08 January 2018, 08:59 »
The parts look great - did you change to a new software? Since I already have a read-though of the original edition to play against, error-hunting will be a pleasure.

Double-A

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Re: Amédée Méreaux: String Quartet Op. 121
« Reply #6 on: Tuesday 09 January 2018, 03:43 »
Thanks for the compliment!

I am still using Musescore.  There has been an upgrade a while ago which made some progress in presentation; otherwise I have been using the same parameters since the Emilie Mayer quartet.

In this quartet some pages are too busy for me (e.g. the andante in the viola part).  Everything too close together.  This leads to a higher probability that someone jumps a line or repeats one inadvertently.  But there is no chance for a page turn in the whole movement and I had to squeeze it on a double page.  This, combined with the numerous markings, makes the parts less than ideal for me.

matesic

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Re: Amédée Méreaux: String Quartet Op. 121
« Reply #7 on: Wednesday 10 January 2018, 16:48 »
I found just two bars with transcription errors. In the first violin, 3:101, the third beat should be crotchet A and quaver F# instead of B and G#. In the viola, 1:186, the second beat should be G# rather than natural. There are a few places where I wondered if what is printed is actually what Méreaux wanted to hear but I'm sure you're right to leave them. In 1:190 maybe the viola should be instructed to play "allargando" with the rest, rather than "slargando" all alone!

Some of the enharmonic changes in the third movement Preludio seem rather eccentric. For example in violin 1 bar 6, is it really necessary to resolve the chord with a tie from F natural to E#? I guess one could shift from the D string to the G in order to make the point. Similarly, the resolution on a B# in 3:60 reads like the work of a student anxious not to offend a pedantic professor!

My chief problem is I can't play it fast enough! The finale in particular seems lacking in musical variety and the fugue distinctly dutiful, so the best approach would be to throw it off with extreme virtuosity... But in other hands I'm sure it could make a positive effect.

Double-A

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Re: Amédée Méreaux: String Quartet Op. 121
« Reply #8 on: Thursday 11 January 2018, 06:47 »
Thanks for the corrections.  I'll fix them, they are important enough to do it.

I haven't actually tried it on my fiddle.  But it seems to me that there are some pretty awkward passages:  Not really virtuoso, it is just that there are no good fingerings, e.g. at M. 145 in the finale. 

I assume the measures at the beginning of the development are among those where it is unclear if Méreaux wanted to hear exactly this (and given the quality of the edition the doubts are real).  At any rate, fixing this--if it were incorrect--is way above my pay grade.

But I want to point out a few things I really like:

The opening of the first movement for example:  It begins with a d on the violin; then, a dotted quaver later, the other instruments complete the D-Major chord.  Then, in measure 2 there is suddenly a downward D-Major scale, unexpectedly in  unison.  Unison for 3 measures.  The fourth measure introduces the dominant seventh chord in exactly the same pattern as measure 1.  Everyone would expect unison to follow, but it does not. 

Or:  The second theme in the finale (M. 54ff):  Twice 4 measures in violin 1 in A-Major, accompanied by pizzicato.  Then a different second phrase, repeated but the repetition appears in a-minor.  Then a slight hesitation, the motif f natural-d-b (II in a-minor, VII in C-Major) first in piano, then in pp.  Follows the beginning of the theme, but now in C-Major.  Ritenuto in the fourth measure, fermata (now we know something is off).  Then a diminished 7th chord and finally the rest of the phrase "correctly" in A-Major.

These sort of details seem to me carefully worked out and show that the man tried hard to make the work as good as he could.

I don't think the finale ought to be "fixed" by a fast tempo (I think of it as crotchet = 100), rather one has to work with the contrasts that are actually there :  In textures (unisono, pizzicato, staccato vs. legato, also the sudden appearance of 3/8 measures in movement in 2/4 (not written, but demanded by accents) and different 3/8 measures in different voices (M. 48-49, 299-300).  But of course some of the passages are hard enough to play at this modest (for vivace) tempo.

matesic

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Re: Amédée Méreaux: String Quartet Op. 121
« Reply #9 on: Thursday 11 January 2018, 16:18 »
Unfortunately I found rather more glitches in the finale!

violin 2 166 should be B
viola 156 should be G#
viola 331 last note should be B
viola 346 should be 2 C#'s (wrong in the original)
cello 131 A
cello 137 first note F natural
cello 139 F natural
There seems to be something wrong with the printed harmony in 24 but I couldn't figure out what. I'm also unsure about the violin 2 F# in 181 and the cello F natural in 135

I think crotchet = 116 is a nice tempo and shouldn't be too taxing when I can be bothered to practise it a bit. Maybe you could tell me what you think of http://www.mediafire.com/file/22ihbux2ymhlt92/mereaux_m4b.mp3
as compared with
http://www.mediafire.com/file/iv8huns1x7gb1s0/mereaux_m4a.mp3

Double-A

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Re: Amédée Méreaux: String Quartet Op. 121
« Reply #10 on: Friday 12 January 2018, 06:14 »
I better wait a little while with the corrections, there may be more required it seems...

Here is the solution for M. 24:  This is a b-minor chord, following the dominant (look at the 4th upward in the bass).  In M. 22, the first step of the sequence it is A-Major, also reached from the dominant.

So I looked at the source.  And sure enough, in the second violin the dotted quarter looks as if it might be an f# or an e--the staff line crossing the note head at about 1/4 above the bottom.  And I picked e:  The wrong choice.  It is f#, tied to the quaver f# at the end of M. 23.  I should have noticed right away that the e does not fit into the chord (feeble excuse: one transcribes one voice at a time when one transcribes from parts, so one is not necessarily focussed on the chords).

Congratulations on your recordings!  I like the faster tempo, except for the fugue which seems clearer in the slower version.  Maybe one could take the fugue somewhat slower than the rest of the movement, signaling its "earnestness".  I also think one might play the end of the exposition (M. 111 - 115) with a ritenuto on top of the diminuendo--even though the score is maybe rather too full of ritards and this one is not even marked.  At M. 116 there is the marking "risvigliato", meaning "woken up again".  So why not fall asleep before that?  I think it is all about fun here:  The fugue, the falling asleep, motifs off beat etc.

If I want to be pedantic I'd also suggest:  The accents on the fugue theme (1o soggetto) are always on the crotchet, not on the semiquavers (or at least as "always" as you can expect from this source).  So the accent mostly falls on the second beat.  It'd be nice to avoid accents on the first beat on those occasions. 

Small details:  I don't think the source is wrong on M 346:  with viola playing b - c# you get e-minor - A-Major - D-Major.  Cello in M. 135 must be f natural--to my ear anyway but also considering the environment.  But violin 2 in M. 181 is certainly d (part of the 3o soggetto which goes only downhill; the harmony would be the same with f# anyway).

matesic

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Re: Amédée Méreaux: String Quartet Op. 121
« Reply #11 on: Wednesday 17 January 2018, 14:17 »
I've just posted my multitracked rendition of the quartet on IMSLP, subject to the usual apologies and excuses. It's a lively piece, fun to play. Méreaux shows a surprisingly good mastery of part writing.

eschiss1

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Re: Amédée Méreaux: String Quartet Op. 121
« Reply #12 on: Thursday 18 January 2018, 03:48 »
Thanks!!
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