Day 150: Good Bye, Haydn…

HaydnCD150Today’s CD is the pianoforte version of Haydn’s symphony Die Sieben Letzten Worte (the Seven Last Words of Christ), which was composed in 1787. Haydn was 55 years old.

The pianoforte version is played by Bart van Oort.

Originally commissioned for a full orchestra, Die Sieben Letzten is composed of nine movements, described this way:

The seven main meditative sections — labelled “sonatas” and all slow — are framed by an Introduction and a speedy “Earthquake” conclusion, for a total of nine movements…The seven meditations on the Last Words are excerpted from all four gospels. The “Earthquake” movement derives from Matthew 27:51ff. Much of the work is consolatory, but the “Earthquake” brings a contrasting element of supernatural intervention — the orchestra is asked to play presto e con tutta la forza — and closes with the only fortississimo (triple forte) in the piece.

Today’s CD marks the end of my exploration of Haydn’s music. Thanks to the incredible Brilliant Classics record label, I was able to listen to Haydn’s entire creative output.

If you want to hear great music at an affordable price, you cannot go wrong with the Brilliant Classics label. If you want your own 150-CD Haydn Edition, visit Amazon. As of today’s date (February 27, 2014), the Hayden Edition is just $130 for 150 CDs. I’m no math wizard. But according to my calculations that’s less than $1 per disc.

Unheard of. Buy it. You won’t regret it.

So, good bye, Haydn.

Good bye, also to the people from seven countries who visited this blog since the beginning.

Here’s what I listened to today:

Frankly, I prefer van Oort’s pianoforte version over the full orchestra. I think it’s because the pianoforte – along with van Oort’s exceptional talent playing it – helps bring out the emotion of Haydn’s composition.

Piano is often a very melancholy instrument for me., anyway. When it plays Die Sieben it’s a perfect fit.

Favorite!

NOTE: If you’re interested in Woody Allen, stick around. Tomorrow, I start watching everything Woody directed, in chronological order.

Day 149: One Day Left!

HaydnCD149Today’s CD contains Klavierstücke (German for “Piano Pieces”) – or Arrangements for all of us English-speaking dudes.

There are 18 Klavierstücke on this disc, all played with excellence by Bart van Oort on fortepiano.

And these are all wonderful arrangements, too.

I actually recognized the melody of one of them from another Haydn piece. Track 4 is an arrangement from Symphony HOB I:85/III.

I like this CD. In fact, I think I can classify it as FAVORITE!

These arrangements seem to be grouped into five sections:

Arrangement From a Musical Clock
- one track

Arrangements From Symphonies
- eight tracks

Arrangements From the Opera “La Vera Constanza”
- three tracks

Arrangements From String Quartets
- two tracks

Arrangements From Piano Trios
- four tracks

I provided the first track for your listening enjoyment. If you want the rest, I suggest you visit YouTube. They’re probably there.

NOTE: Tomorrow is my last day with Franz Joseph Haydn. Starting Friday, February 28, I begin watching all of Woody Allen’s movies – at least, all of the ones he directed. I believe there are some 46 of them.

Day 148: Bart’s Smorgasbord

HaydnCD148I called yesterday’s musical selection a hodgepodge.

I’m not sure what to call today’s CD.

Perhaps smorgasbord is an accurate description of what I’m faced (eared?) with this morning. There are so many different styles and genres represented on this disc that I’m not even sure where to begin to describe what I’m hearing.

All I know for sure is this: the incomparable Bart van Oort, on fortepiano, is elevating these snippets to a higher level.

Like yesterday’s CD, today’s is (more or less) divided into four sections.

The first section is comprised of three compositions, each with its own Hoboken designation.

Section One

Fantasy in C HOB XVII: 4

Adagio in F HOB XVII: 9

Capriccio in G HOB XVII: 1

Section Two

Piano Sonata in D HOB XVII: D1

Section Three

Piano Sonata in F HOB XVII: A/1

Section Four

Eighteen Menuets and Aria HOB IX: 20 and HOB XVII: F1

Here’s the first composition on today’s CD. I like it a lot.

Fantasy in C HOB XVII: 4

I’m sure all the other compositions can be found on YouTube. Go look.

NOTE: Only two days left of my exploration of Haydn’s music! To be honest, I’m exhausted from 148 straight days of listening to Haydn. I’m ready for a break.

Day 147: Hodgepodge a la van Oort

HaydnCD147Today’s CD is another hodgepodge of short pieces of music.

And when I write “short,” I mean short.

There are 51 tracks on this disc. The total of all music is 75 minutes, 12 seconds, which means the average length for each track is about a minute and a half.

The incomparable Bart van Oort, on fortepiano, plays his heart out on those tiny tracks.

The CD is divided into four sections, each featuring 13 tracks:

Twelve Menuets HOB IX: 8
13 tracks

Twelve Menuets HOB IX: 3
13 tracks

Twelve Menuets HOB IX: 11
13 tracks

Twelve German Dances HOT IX: 12
13 tracks

I provided the YouTube clip for the first section of the four on this CD. If you’re interested, seek out the rest yourself on YouTube.

Bottom line: Although some of these tracks are bouncy, lively, full of Baroque-like trills and verve, a great deal of this CD sounds the same. Each individual menuet or dance is great. Lots in there to digest and enjoy. But 51 tracks of such music wears me down, sort of like Chinese water torture – one drip at a time.

Day 146: Back to Bart

HaydnCD146jpgToday’s CD is an odd duck.

It’s just six compositions on solo piano – three of which are lengthy (over 14 minutes), three of which are relatively short (under seven minutes and thirty-one seconds).

If you ever wanted to hear what Haydn would sound like as Chopin or Bach, this CD is for you.

What I find most interesting about these pieces is that they allow for great expressiveness, a sort of meandering quality that allows for Bart van Oort to demonstrate why he’s one of the world’s best fortepiano players.

These are compositions that would play well as background for writing as well as foreground for active listening.

Highly recommended. FAVORITE!

What I listened to:

1. Arietta No. 1 in E flat with twelve variations HOB XVII: 3

2. Variations (Fantasy) in F minor HOB XVII: 6
3. Arietta No. 2 in A with twenty variations HOB XVII: 2
4. Four Variations on “Gott erhalte” in G HOB XVII: Anhang
5. Five Variations in D HOB XVII: 7
6. Six Variations in C HOB XVII: 5

I provided the first selection from YouTube. The rest are likely there. If you want to hear them, get thee to YouTube.

Day 111: Would You Believe…Jazz?

HaydnCD111Today’s CD is a bittersweet one for me: It’s the last of Haydn’s piano trios.

I’ve grown accustomed to Haydn’s trios. At first, I wasn’t sure I’d like them. They seemed rudimentary and shallow. But his Later Trios period contains awe-inspiring compositions; like today’s selection, for example.

I was totally blown away by Movement III (“Presto”) of Piano trio in C HOB XV:27. What an astonishing piece of work, especially for pianist Bart van Oort, whose fingers must have been exhausted by the time the movement ended.

The performance on this piece reminds me of famed pianist Glenn Gould. When Gould’s fingers get flying it’s Glenn_Gould_1something to behold.

Three of today’s trios (Nos. 27–29) are nicknamed “Bartolozzi Trios” and are dedicated to Theresa Jansen (Bartolozzi). From the Wiki article:

Therese Jansen Bartolozzi (ca. 1770 – 1843) was an eminent pianist whose career flourished in London around the end of the 18th century. She was the dedicatee of piano works by a number of famous composers.

That explains why these piano trios are heavy on the piano. They were written for someone who has extraordinary skill. They could be played by no other.

Another standout trio: Movement II (“Allegretto”) from Piano Trio in E HOB XV:28. I swear I’m listening to jazz. The phrasing, the seeming random placement of notes (as if improvised). This is jazz, dudes and dudettes. Haydn created jazz some two centuries before it was supposedly invented in America.

I’ve never heard a piece of Classical music like this Continue reading

Day 110: Of Love Affairs and Gypsies

HaydnCD110Today’s collection of Haydn Piano Trios is uneven and hard to get into.

But there are delights awaiting those who stick with it.

Haydn Piano Trio in D HOB XV:24 opens with an Allegro Movement I that sounds less like an Allegro than anything I’ve ever heard. It’s lugubrious – until about 3/4 through when Bart van Ooort cuts loose on the piano and the notes start flying. Until that point, I was ready to doze off.

Movement II (“Andante”) is a snooze fest from start to finish, as is Movement III (“Allegro ma dolce”), which contrary to its name, is definitely no sweeter.

Haydn Piano Trio in G HOB XV:25 immediately sounds different from what preceded it. And it ends with a totally kick-ass Movement III that earns this trio its nickname “Gypsy.”

Haydn Piano Trio in F Sharp Minor HOB XV:26 is interesting. But not especially compelling. The instruments blend well together, effortlessly climbing, intertwining, and flowing from start to finish. It’s a brilliant composition. Just not one of my favorites.

Piano Trio in G HOB XV:32 consists of just two movements. Even at that, it seems long. It’s great music. But it’s not grabbing my lapels and shaking me.

As were the previous selections, these compositions (except as noted) are brilliantly performed by the Van Swieten Trio, which – on this CD – consists of:

Bart van Oort fortepiano
Franc Polman violin
Job ter Haar cello

Here’s a list of Haydn’s piano trios. The are referred to by their Hoboken catalog names, and their date of composition is not always certain. So I’ll Continue reading

Day 109: Haydn, the Astute Diplomat

HaydnCD109I got to Panera Bread this morning, settled in, prepared the background info on today’s Haydn Piano Trios, stuck in my earbuds, and looked for Disc 109 in iTunes.

And couldn’t find it.

Somehow, when I was ripping and scanning Haydn Edition CDs a few nights ago, I missed ripping CD 109.

Fear not!

Luckily, I remembered the chap on YouTube who has been uploading these CDs. So I just listened to his (her?) YouTube clips, which wasn’t easy given the spotty Internet connection at Panera. But I soldiered through.

Although these Piano Trios were not as immediately wonderful as I thought previous compositions were, I think I have to classify today’s Piano Trios as…

FAVORITES!

As were the previous selections, these compositions (except as noted) are brilliantly performed by the Van Swieten Trio, which – on this CD – consists of:

Bart van Oort fortepiano
Franc Polman violin
Jaap ter Linden cello

Here’s a list of Haydn’s piano trios. The are referred to by their Hoboken catalog names, and their date of composition is not always certain. So I’ll Continue reading

Day 108: Flute Not Included

HaydnCD108More FAVORITES!

Haydn CD 108 features another fantastic collection of Piano Trios…

…despite the fact that the flute is no longer one of the trio. (See yesterday’s post to know what that means.)

These compositions are lively, intricate, clever, nuanced, and brilliantly performed by the Van Swieten Trio, which consists of:

Bart van Oort fortepiano
Remy Baudet violin
Jaap ter Linden cello

Here’s a list of Haydn’s piano trios. The are referred to by their Hoboken catalog names, and their date of composition is not always certain. So I’ll Continue reading

Day 107: And Now…a Flute!

HaydnCD107Another great CD of Haydn’s Piano Trios, this time with a distinct and immediately noticeable difference: the introduction of a flute.

In other words, a change in players: flautist Marion Moonen in, violinist Remy Baudet out.

It’s still a trio – the Van Swieten Trio, in point of fact – but now the music takes on a different sound.

I’m a big fan of the flute. That’s why I like Jethro Tull. And Red Priest.

Add a flute to a song – especially a rock/metal song – and you have my undivided attention.

And so it was wheimagesn I pushed Play on today’s CD. “A flute!” I said to myself. “Am I listening to the right CD?”

I looked at it and realized it was, indeed, Haydn CD 107: Piano Trios HOB XV:15-17.

But a flute! Now, you’re talkin’, Joseph!

Now would be a good time to introduce all of the players. So…

Providing the music for these wonderful Piano Trios is the Van Swieten Trio, which consists of:

Bart van Oort fortepiano
Marion Moonen flute
Jaap ter Linden cello

A brief bio of Marion Moonen from the web site The Bach Players:

Marion Moonen studied flute at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague with Paul Verhey and Frans Vester, and Baroque flute with Wilbert Hazelzet. She is a member of various ensembles and orchestras, including the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, the Kleine Konzert of the Rheinische Kantorei with Hermann Max, the Van Swieten Society, and Concerto d’Amsterdam. Since the formation of the ensemble Musica ad Rhenum in 1992 she has performed and recorded much of the repertoire for two Baroque flutes with flautist Jed Wentz. She features on recent recordings with Wilbert Hazelzet, the Van Swieten Society, the Attaignant Consort, and other chamber groups.

Here’s a list of Haydn’s piano trios. The are referred to by their Hoboken catalog names, and their date of composition is not always certain. So I’ll Continue reading