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String Quartet No.5
Score of the
String Quartet No.5

Steve's Bedroom Band plays Raff String Quartets

The International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP) is an extensive online repositery of scans of scores in the public domain, freely downloadable in PDF format. It has a very extensive collection of Raff scores. IMSLP also features public domain recordings of some of the works in the library and three of Raff's String Quartets have been recorded by Steve's Bedroom Band.

Steve Jones' Bedroom band is, in fact just Jones himself. As he explains in the IMSLP Journal: "There’s only one player involved and the “cello” is a really a viola in digital drag, these are intended to be realizations in sound of just a few of the previously unrecorded scores that proliferate daily on this amazing site.

"The printed notes are one thing, but how many of us are really able to 'hear' scores in our head? A sound picture is surely worth a thousand blobs on the page. Having got my head round the basics of the Audacity program and learnt how to play the viola in a variety of clefs (just the one for the violin), I couldn’t resist the temptation to 'realize' some of the pieces that seemed to have little or no chance of performance, let alone recording, by professional musicians.

"It took me a while to learn the tricks, but I always start with a click track, usually at constant tempo although sometimes put together in sections. After roughly recording every part to get a feel for the piece (usually starting with the first violin, the cello mostly recorded an octave higher on the viola and dropped 12 semitones using the pitch change option of Audacity) I go through it altering the tempo at constant pitch wherever it’s dictated by the music. I then mute each track one at a time and re-record everything from the cello up with many many stops and starts to get everything more or less note-correct. Very nasty passages may go down almost one note at a time! Then I go through it again making patches and tweaking the dynamics by a few dB to correct the balance. If the whole thing sounds a bit tired I find I can get away with boosting the tempo by up to about 8% without it sounding too artificial. Finally I mix it to stereo, add some reverb and convert it to mp3. The whole process takes maybe 6-12 hours for a 4-movement quartet – much quicker than creating a MIDI soundprint and possibly also more musical…

"For goodness sake don’t expect immaculate performances – just something that will give interested parties an impression of what the piece sounds like, hopefully without too many wrong notes and “train-crash” noises."

Whilst these are clearly not commercial quality recordings of perfect performances, Jones is far too modest. They are genuinely musical interpretations, conveying the spirit of each of these works.

All recordings are Public Domain.

String Quartet No.3 in E minor op.136 (1866)

Clck to listen to the music I. Allegro
Clck to listen to the music II. Allegro con moto
Clck to listen to the music III. Andante con moto (Theme & Variations)
Clck to listen to the music IV. Allegro con spirito

String Quartet No.5 in G op.138 (1867)

Clck to listen to the music I. Allegro tranquillo
Clck to listen to the music II. Allegro vivace
Clck to listen to the music III. Larghetto
Clck to listen to the music IV. Allegretto vivace

String Quartet No.8 in C op.192 no.3 "Suite in Canon-form" (1874)

Clck to listen to the music I. March: Allegro
Clck to listen to the music II. Sarabande: Andante, moderato assai
Clck to listen to the music III. Capriccio (Canon): Vivace
Clck to listen to the music IV. Aria (Double canon): Quasi Larghetto
Clck to listen to the music V. Gavotte & Musette: Allegro
Clck to listen to the music VI. Minuet: Allegro molto
Clck to listen to the music VII. Gigue: Allegro

© 1999-2016 Mark Thomas. All rights reserved.