Music of the Day: Rued Langgaard – String Quartet No.1

Today’s music is String Quartet No.1 by Rued Langgaard (1893-1952) who is Danish composer.

Many people might think that Langgaard’s chamber music is better in his early works. This “String Quartet No.1” is one from when he was 21-22 years old, so it is still not avant-garde. This music is in a fresh style, and it is easy to listen to because it sounds gentle to anyone’s ears.

There are many wonderful points in this performance, for me, the harmonies of the parts played with non-vibrato (such as major chord before the small pause) are unusually beautiful. It was a bit of a surprise as I had never heard this kind of performance/recording before. One reason may be that the recording is extremely good.

Denmark may be a small country, but it has been producing extremely unique artists, especially in art and music, since the 19th century.

Rued Langgaard – String Quartet No.1, BVN68 (1914-1915/1936)
Nightingale String Quartet


Music of the Day: Kassia – Byzantine Hymns

Today’s Music is Kassia’s Byzantine Hymns.

St. Kassia (c.805-865), born in Constantinople, was an Byzantine abbess, poet, composer, and hymnographer. She is one of the first medieval composers whose scores are both extant and able to be interpreted by modern scholars and musicians.

Because the German ensemble of VocaMe’s performance is so good, I was surprised that the music from the early Middle Ages could be so vividly conveyed.
Of course, there is considerable freedom regarding interpretation and arrangement, but when compared to the playing of Hildegard von Bingen’s works that performed by the same ensemble, the difference in musicality is stark.

Hildegard’s music is a monophony, and there doesn’t seem to be anything noteworthy in the melody from what I heard. Although, I do not mean to negate the spiritual aspect of Hildegard at all.
After all (from my point of view), the essence of music exists in the flow of time on this earth, and it exists only in the dimension and time of the earth.

On the other hand, Kassia’s aura is sexy, if I had to say. For some reason, there seems to be a great sense of physical existance conveyed through the music.

Well, Kassia, known for her extraordinary beauty, once entered a contest to choose an empress when she was young.
However, the Byzantine Emperor Theophilos (Θεόφιλος: 800-805 – 842), hurt by her words in return, reluctantly chose another woman. Still, for him, it is hard to forget her. It might be a little smiling to hear about a following anecdote:
When Theophilos came up to the convent wanting to see her one more time before he died, Kassia secretly hid in a closet to peek him.