Day 247: Piano Sonatas Op. 10 No. 3, Op. 2 Nos. 2 & 3

BeethovenCD52Piano Sonata No. 7 in D Op. 10 No. 3 starts off with a bang – Movement I carries the tempo “Presto” – and never lets up.

I’ve heard a lot of opening movements in my journeys through all of these composers. I don’t recall too many that began like a race horse out of the gate.

But I do believe that may be the unifying theme on today’s CD.

Each of the piano sonatas on today’s CD begin with a speedier-than-usual opening movement:

Presto
Allegro vivace
Allegro con brio

Respectively.

At least, they all sounded that way to me.

What do I know? I’m not a musicologist.

Here’s what I’m Continue reading

Day 204: Violin Concerto + Romances for Violin and Orchestra

BeethovenCD9Beethoven’s violin concertos appear to be just as dynamic and melodic as his piano concertos.

In fact, there’s a tremendous melody in Movement I (“Allegro non troppo”) of Violin Concerto in D Op. 61.

At about 5:40 or so into Movement I there’s a gentle, soft melody line. It’s repeated throughout the movement and comes back forcefully at about the 8:45 mark. That’s when the melody is so striking that it sounds contemporary. Like if John Williams or Howard Shore wrote it for a blockbuster movie. And then again at the 15:00 mark. It’s a very beautiful movement.

I love a good melody. And that’s likely why nothing from Haydn stuck with me. I didn’t grasp a single melody from Haydn’s music.

That’s not to say Haydn’s music was bad, or that I’m a dolt. It just means I notice more melody in Bethoven’s music.

Here’s are the players on today’s CD:

Christian Tetzlaff violin
Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich
David Zinman conductor

Christian Tetzlaff is superb. Very Continue reading

Day 201: Beethoven Piano Concertos No. 1 & No. 2

BeethovenCD6Some parts of Beethoven’s Piano Concert No. 1 in C Op. 15 remind me of Chopin - dreamy, ethereal, and very pretty.

Other parts, remind me of something Glenn Gould would play – a dramatic flurry of notes that astound for their speed and complexity, the musical equivalent of one of those tour buses that winds its way along narrow mountain roads with one wheel hanging over the precipice.

There’s also a bit of Rachmaninoff‘s brazen complexity in this music. It reminds me of the movie Shine in which pianist David Helfgott (played by Geoffrey Rush) suffers a mental breakdown during a competition at which he plays the “Rach 3″ (Rachmaninoff’s 3rd Concerto).

And that’s just in the first movement (“Allegro con brio”).

Now’s a good time to bring back the link to Wikipedia’s Tempo and Mood Markings entry.

Movement II (“Largo”) brings it down, retards the pace a bit, makes it more ponderous, give listeners a chance to recover from the con-brio onslaught of Movement I.

Movement III (“Rondo: Allegro scherzando”) ramps it back up again. Its tempo and mood markings indicate this is to be played briskly and playfully. And it is that. In spades.

I hate to sound like a moron. But I had no idea Beethoven was this gifted. These compositions rock me back in my chair. I’m astounded.

I keep waiting to find a favorite. But they’ve all been favorites. I’d listen to everything I’ve heard so far again. And again. It’s perfect music as Continue reading