Day 136: Is “Awesome” Too Lame a Word For This?

HaydnCD136Today’s CD features five exquisite Piano Sonatas performed by Burt van Oort on fortepiano.

I really don’t have much to say about these pieces other than “FAVORITE!” and “Do yourself a favor and listen to them!”

These are remarkable.

Standout tracks for me: #1, #4, #11 (astounding!).

Performer:
Burt van Oort fortepiano

What I listened to: Continue reading

Day 128: One Track to Rule Them All

HaydnCD128I listened to Haydn CD 128 three times today, not paying attention to which trios were playing.

I just let the music play as I went about my business.

Without fail, my mind took note of one particular track each time, and I wrote its number down on a piece of paper, chuckling aloud the third time I wrote the number “8″ on the notepad beside me.

Track Eight is Movement II (“Menuet: Allegretto”) of Trio No. 121 in A.

Why did my mind flag that particular track each time?

I don’t know. It just did.

And that’s really the point about music – or any type of art, for that matter. There’s no objective reason why art resonates with someone. Its beauty is in the eye or ear of the beholder.

The rest of today’s trios were okay. Two other tracks Continue reading

Day 127: How to Know Haydn

HaydnCD127The upside of these self-imposed explorations of the complete works of famous composers is that I get to experience something very few ever do.

The downside, especially after a number of months (in this case over four…and counting!), is:

1. I run the risk of getting bored with a composer’s works (baryton trios, for example),

2. I discover that everything a composer did is not golden (in other words, he’s human),

3. I discover the flaws and foibles of a composer heretofore elevated to god-like status (see #2),

4. I find it difficult to write about each day’s audio fare without being repetitious or boring

Take today’s baryton trios, for example.

They’re actually quite good.

Tracks 7 and 8 (both from Baryton Trio No. 113 in D) are quite superb, indeed. Both tracks jumped out at me as I wrote this morning’s blog.

Most of today’s trios are what I’d consider excellent. In fact, I’d regard No. 113 as a “FAVORITE!” among Haydn’s baryton trios.

But what does that mean? What is favorite? What is not-favorite?

Ultimately, the hell difference does it make what I think of Haydn’s compositions?

Let me share something with you.

Zen is a practice that concerns itself with direct experience of what is, moment after moment after moment. If one wants to know what a Continue reading

Day 126: Like An Ant Hill With Fewer Legs

HaydnCD126What a difference a day makes.

Haydn CD 126 starts off with more life than I found in 3/4 of Haydn CD 125.

Or, maybe I’m just in a better mood because I’m sitting beside the fire at Panera, listening to two older ladies behind me talk about the Bible, and watching some guy in front of me play with his Samsung Note and his smaller Samnsung somethingorother.

I have a blast watching (and listening to) people. There are so many of them, of all shapes, sizes, colors, personalities, backgrounds, and goals, coming and going. Teaming.

It’s like watching an ant hill. With fewer legs.

I like Haydn Trio No. 107 for some reason. Each of the three movements is unique, differing in tempo and construction. Movement III (“Finale: Presto”) was a nice presto. Quite lively. Still, not a “favorite.” Sorry, Joseph.

Trio No. 105, as a whole, wasn’t a worthy follow up to the more clever and lively No. 104. Movement III, however (another “Finale: Presto”), was vibrant. More gusto than usual. I like that. Still, not a “favorite.”

No. 106, as a whole, was not a favorite, either – despite the fact that Movement III (“Finale: Presto assai”) was a lot of fun to listen to.

No. 107, Movement I (“Andantino”) featured some fun interplay between Continue reading

Day 125: An Odd One

HaydnCD125To say that Baryton Trio No. No 96 in B Minor starts this CD off slowly is a tremendous understatement.

The lugubrious low tones of the baryton – combined with an unusually slow tempo – make Movement I (“Largo”) one of the most uninspiring first movements I’ve yet heard.

Movement II (“Allegro”) and Movement III (“Menuet”) don’t sweeten the deal any.

No. 96 isn’t one of my faves.

No. 97 in D, despite having seven(!) movements is only better because it has seven movements. It’s odd. And, therefore, intriguing. I was fascinated by this trio.

According to a CD description on the AllMusic web site, No. 97 offers an “…odd but confident seven-movement structure (including a fugue).”

Movement VII (“Finale: Fuga presto”) was lively and fun. Plus, Continue reading

Day 124: Happy 1st of February!

HaydnCD124Another cold, snowy day.

The weather team from a local station reported that there were only four days in January in which it didn’t snow.

Four days.

All of you who live in warmer climes, wrap your noggins around that tidbit.

I wonder what Haydn was doing on this day around 1770 as he composed these god-awful baryton trios. Was he freezing his arse off? Were his fingers cold? Was he huddled by a fire? Was he depressed because the days were too short, and there wasn’t enough sun to buoy him?

Hey. Wait a minute.

The first trio (No. 88 in A) is capturing (and holding) my attention. Movement I (“Adagio”) was slow, but not painfully so, and it featured a mournful-but-interesting ask-and-answer part around the 5:10 mark. I found myself drawn into it. Movement II (“Allegro”) was just allegro enough to keep me entertained. Even though Movement III (“Menuet”) isn’t as peppy as a movement three ought to be, there was something about this one that sounded so wondrously composed that I was enthralled. Dare I say it? FAVORITE!

Groovy.

No. 89 in G was also quite nice. Another FAVORITE!

Methinks I Continue reading

Day 123: Twenty-One Tracks of Meh

HaydnCD123I really wish I could say that what I listened to today profoundly moved me.

Alas.

I just listened to 21 tracks of music that passed through me without leaving any impression at all.

That’s not good.

Oh, Track 20 (Movement II – “Allegro di molto” – of Haydn Baryton Trio No. 87 in A Minor) raised an eyebrow. But only slightly. In Spock fashion.

The rest of these trios sounded the same to me.

Yawn.

Now, if you’ll excuse me I have to Continue reading

Day 122: Ballykissangel Incidental Music?

HaydnCD122One song from today’s baryton trios really jumped out at me: Movement III (“Finale: Scherzo Presto”) from Haydn Baryton Trio No. 76 in C.

I would bet dollars to donuts (what does that mean, anyway?) I’ve heard that before, possibly on one of my favorite BBC TV shows, Ballykissangel.

It’s not the theme song. That much I know.

But it sounds remarkably like snippets of incidental music I’ve heard in that wonderful series.

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 10.54.46 AMAt least, I think I’ve heard those sounds in Ballykissangel. Or was it Doc Martin? No. Must have been Ballykissangel.

Yet, if that’s true, then why can’t I find mention of it when I Google the name of the baryton trio and the name of the TV show?

I’ll keep digging.

Hey, something else of interest. I just discovered the pdf booklet that comes with the Brilliant Classics Haydn Edition:

The baryton’s technical limitations meant that the vast majority are in the keys of A (the easiest of all for the baryton), D and G, with a correspondingly narrow range of modulation within movements. The dark, husky instrumental palette lends itself particularly well to stately slow movements, something of a speciality in these trios.

See? Even I – a chap without a degree in musicology – knew that the baryton trios were mostly in the key of A, and were mostly slow in tempo.

Yeah. You with your Ph.D. in Musicology and your room-temperature brie and ever-so-slightly chilled Pinot Grigio. Yeah. Who’s laughing Continue reading

Day 121: Mr. Presto

HaydnCD120I did today what I’ve done for the past couple of days: I just let the music play as I worked on other things.

When a track stood out, I’d note it.

Otherwise, I just let the music wash over me.

It was all fairly pleasant. Nothing terrible wrong with it. It was…nice.

However, three tracks stood out:

Track 3, which is Haydn Baryton Trio No. 60 in A Movement III (“Menuet”).

Track 15, which is Haydn Baryton Trio No. 64 in D Movement III (“Finale: Presto”).

Track 17, which is Haydn Baryton Trio No. 65 in G Movement II (“Menuet”).

I’ve found that I’m usually a Movement III kinda guy. Just call me Mr. Presto. Continue reading

Day 120: Cold, Cold, Cold, Cold…

HaydnCD120The perfect follow-up to yesterday’s snow: a temperature this morning of 0 degress with a “feels like” temperature of -14F.

Yeah, baby!

Now that’s Pure Michigan.

For anyone not living in or near Michigan, that’s an inside joke.

Pure Michigan is the name of an ad campaign designed to get people to consider vacationing in Michigan – or not move out of the state quicker than rats from a sinking ship. Can’t tell which.

January28TempAnyway, they’re syrupy, fictitious ads that paint a picture quite unlike what the reality of living here actually is.

As I did yesterday, I let the CD play this morning while I did other things (mostly sip Light Roast coffee, watch people, and think about my life going down the shitter).

The CD began slowly, with compositions that sounded like droning, ambient music.

Ahh, the baryton. It’s no wonder you’ve been relegated to period-piece music fests.

It wasn’t until Track Seven, which is Movement I (“Allegro”) of Baryton Trio No. 62 in G that my sonic taste buds started munching on something sweet.

Then Track Eight, which is Continue reading