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

Day 2: Sunrise

Haydn2There’s something about the opening of Haydn’s Symphony No. 6 in D “Le Matin” that reminds me of a sunrise, which is fitting since I’m sitting here watching one as I type this.

That’s not to say this piece remains idyllic and pastoral as Debussy or a Chopin nocturne. After easing into it for nearly a minute, Symphony No. 6 bursts forth (around the :56 second mark) like the sun over the horizon, throwing color everywhere.

I knew nothing about this composition before listening to it this morning. However, I just discovered that “Le Matin” means “the morning.” According to its entry on Wikipedia:

The nickname (not Haydn’s own, but quickly adopted) derives from the opening slow introduction of the opening movement, which clearly depicts sunrise. The remainder of the work is abstract, as, indeed, are the other two symphonies in the series. Because of the initial association, however, the remaining were quickly and complimentarily named “noon” and “evening”.

Do I know my Classical music, or what?

Haydn wrote Symphony No. 6 in D in 1761. He was Continue reading