Day 267: Miscellaneous Vocal Works

BeethovenCD72There are 14 tracks on today’s CD. And about that many credits – maybe more – for performers.

In addition, all of the compositions appear to be a dozen words long, in German.

So I shan’t be listing either side of the equation; otherwise, I’d be spending all of my time writing down the specifics rather than listening to the music and/or getting on with my life, which I am wont to do.

That written, I will point out that the first track (“Meersstille und gluckliche Fahrt Cantata Op. 112″). Now, if this blog was an episode of, say, South Park, the kids in that series would snigger themselves silly over the word “Fahrt.” The German pronunciation is quite similar to the English word “fart,” only with a slightly different enunciation of the “ar.” The German “Fahrt” is pronounced more like “f-ah-rt.” The English pronunciation of the word “fart” is more like “f-are-t.”

Still, those South Park kids would have a field day with that one, just on sight alone.

For the record, the German word “Fahrt” is a verb that means to Continue reading

Day 224: Cello Sonatas I

BeethovenCD29Just two musicians are making all of this beautiful music!

They are:

Timora Rosler cello
Klara Wurtz piano

The level of musicianship is outstanding. The full, rich, dynamic sounds emanating from this duo need to be heard to be believed. I realize the lion’s share of credit goes to Ludwig himself who composed these sonatas. But, still, they’re played with extraordinary skill.

Cello Sonata in F Op. 5 No. 1 (composed 1796; Beethoven was 26)

Cello Sonata in G Minor Op. 5 No. 2 (composed 1796; Beethoven was 26)

Cello Sonata in A Op. 69 (composed in 1808; Beethoven was 38)

Of the last sonata, its entry on Wikipedia says this:

The Sonata No. 3 dates from Beethoven’s most productive compositional period. Composed in the same year were the Violin Concerto and the two piano trios of Op. 70; the same year also saw the completion and publication of the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies.

Day 198: Beethoven Symphonies 5 & 6

BeethovenCD3So famous is Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony that people around the world can identify it by its initial four notes.

In fact, an entire book has been written about that quartet of notes: The First Four Notes: Beethoven’s Fifth and the Human Imagination by Matthew Guerrieri.

From Guerrieri’s exceptional book:

The pitches of the opening phrase produce their own ambiguity, albeit one that, given the symphony’s familiarity is, again, well-nigh impossible to recapture. The Fifth is in C minor, a key forever associated with Beethoven in his most heaven-storming moods. But, strictly speaking, C minor is not actually established until the seventh measure of the first movement. Beethoven exploits a quirk of music theory concerning the triad, one of the basic building blocks of Western music: a stack of three notes, the first, third, and fifth notes of the major or minor scale. If you take away one of the notes of a triad, it starts to, in effect, gesture in two directions at once. So the first two pitches of the Fifth Symphony, G and E-flat, might be two-thirds of a C-minor triad, or they may be two-thirds of an E-flat major triad. The second pair of pitches, F and D, could be part of a dominant-seventh chord built on G (the most basic harmonic antecedent of a C minor), or part of one built on B-flat (the most basic harmonic antecedent of E-flat major). From a music theory standpoint, the opening passage is playing fast and loose with the symphony’s key: until the cellos and bassoons anchor the motive with a sustained middle C in the seventh bar, there’s no way to tell whether the piece is in a major or a minor key. (From pages 12, 13.)

That’s fascinating. I had no idea. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I suggest you buy this book.

Back to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.

Arguably, this symphony is so famous that it’s become infamous. By that I mean it’s almost a caricature of itself, a parody. People rarely know it past those iconic first four notes.

And that’s a shame because Symphony No. 5 in C. Minor Op. 67 is Continue reading