Thursday, November 16, 2017

Wenzel Heinrich Veit String Quartets, Vol. 1 - an individual voice

Robert Schumann had this to say of Wenzel Heinrich Veit's music:

The form of this quartet contains nothing unusual, there is no boldness or originality, but it is proper and shows a well-trained hand. Both the harmony and the individual voices are worthy of high praise.

I think the first part of that assessment's a little harsh, but I do agree with the second.

This initial installment of Veit string quartet recordings starts at the beginning, with quartets Nos. 1 and 2.

Wenzel Heinrich Weit (1806-1864) was a Czech composer heavily influenced by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Schubert. His music laid the foundation for the next generation of Czech composers, which would include Dvorak and Smetana.

The 1834 String Quartet No. 1 in D minor was completed when Veit was 28 and is a relatively early work. Stylistically, it reminded me of the Op. 18 quartets of Beethoven with a dash of Schubertian harmonies. The third movement features the melody "God Save the Tzar.;" a nod, perhaps, to Russia's alliance with Czechoslovakia during the Napoleonic Wars.

Veit's second string quartet completed a year later, shows some growth. This is a much more dramatic work, with a thicker texture and darker character. To me, it sounds somewhat closer to Schumann's quartets. Perhaps that's what appealed to Schumann in his review.

I wouldn't say these works aren't original. True, Veit doesn't stray far from Haydn's string quartet model. But his melodies are interesting and the overall sound of the quartets is quite appealing.

Also appealing are the performances by the Kertész String Quartet. This period-instrument quartet has a wonderfully rich, warm ensemble sound. I am very much looking forward to volume two.

Wenzel Heinrich Veit: Complete String Quartets, Volume One
String Quartet No. 1 in D minor, Op. 3; String Quartet No. 2 in E major, Op. 5
Kertész String Quartet
Toccata Classics TOCC 0335

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Clementi Monferrinas offer a selection of galant confections

A monferrina is an uptempo Italian folk dance in 6/8 time. Two collections of them are featured in this collection of Clementi piano music.

Clementi's monferrinas are lively little diversions, each less than two minutes long. Nevertheless, within the confines of the form, Clementi manages a great deal of variety. That's good since this album has eighteen of them.

In addition to the monferrinas and several other short works, the album includes Clementi's unpublished 1765 keyboard sonata in A flat. The sonata owes much to the galant style of Johann Christian Bach, though it hints at the more substantial sonatas to come. There's a lot going on in this work -- pretty impressive output for a thirteen-year-old boy.

Domenic Cheli is a young pianist who performs these works with an easy assurance. These are not major works, but Cheli gives them the attention they deserve. His light touch at times seems light-hearted as well.

You don't have to be a Clementi completist to enjoy this release. It's simply a pleasant listening experience for anyone who enjoys piano music.

Muzio Clementi
Harpsichord Sonata in A flat major, WoO 13, Allegro and Finale in E flat major, WoO 22-23; Rondo in B flat major, WoO 8; Canon ad diapason in C major, WoO11; Tarantella in A minor, WoO 21; Six Monferrinas, WoO 15-20; Twelve Monferrinas, Op. 49; Fourteen Melodies of Different Nations, WoO 9: No. 5, Air russe
Dominic Cheli, piano
Naxos 8.573711

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Collecting -- and Collecting Information Part 31

Shioji and Coke

A new offering came available on eBay recently. It was yet another variation of the Shioji friction toy truck.

This one was a Coca-Cola delivery truck. And as often happens with items that appeal to more than one collecting interest, the bidding soon sailed past my maximum offer. Those Coke collectors can be ruthless!

Sometimes photos are enough

Still, the photos provided were detailed enough for me to place this vehicle in the evolution of Shioji's line. (See Part 28 for more details).

I own five of the known variations. Here they're arranged in chronological order.
The basic time line goes like this:
  • First generation: Rivet head hubcaps, flat chassis bottom, six securing tabs.
  • Second generation: Solid hubcaps (cheaper to make and install), rounded chassis bottom
  • Third generation: Four securing tabs instead of six

Dialing in the date

The Coke truck has solid hubcaps and a rounded chassis. That makes it either second or third generation. 

The solid hubcaps help date the vehicle.

The use of just four tabs to secure the truck bed mark this a third generation vehicle.

It also has four tabs securing the truck body to the frame. And that makes it third generation. So I'm guessing this vehicle was probably made around 1961-63. 

An unusual work-around

I also found the overall construction interesting. Coke trucks have payloads that sit low over the wheels. Rather than create a new chassis for their version, Shioji simply worked with what they had.

The tabs in the middle of the chassis secure a flat bracket. The ones in the back hold an extension. It's those pieces that the truck body is secured to.

All of the previous examples of this Shioji truck I've found have
 the truck bed resting on top of the chassis.

Otherwise, the truck bed would sit too high, as it does on Shioji's express van and cattle truck (above).

Are there more variations out there? Perhaps. I'll only know if they come onto the market.