Day 245: Piano Sonatas Op. 2 No. 1, Op. 79, Op. 10 Nos. 1 & 2, Op. 14 No. 1

BeethovenCD50jpgMore Alfred Brendel from 1962-64.

More Beethoven piano sonatas, circa late 1700s/early 1800s.

These are introspective, less flamboyant. They seem more melancholy than joyful.

Piano Sonata No. 1 in F Minor Op. 2 No. 1

From its entry on Wikipedia:

Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 2, No. 1, was written in 1795 and dedicated to Joseph Haydn. A typical performance of the entire work lasts about 17–20 minutes.

Beethoven was 25.

Piano Sonata No. 25 in G Op. 79

From its entry on Wiki:

The Piano Sonata No. 25 in G major, Op. 79, was written by Ludwig van Beethoven in 1809. It consists of three movements…

It is one of Beethoven’s shorter sonatas with an approximate performance time of only eleven minutes, if Beethoven’s prescribed repeats are all observed. It is also the shortest of his sonatas with more than two movements.

Beethoven was 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

Day 49: The Creation (Part Two)

HaydnCD49This is the second part of Haydn’s “masterpiece” Die Schopfung (The Creation). It covers parts 2 & 3.

I don’t have much to add to what I posted yesterday. The performances are remarkable. It sounds like it took a master craftsman 2-3 years to compose this impressive oratorio. (By the way, if you do listen to The Creation, be prepared to get an earful of rolling Rs. This is opera, after all.)

Because it’s probably best appreciated in totality, I’ve offered another full performance of Haydn’s The Creation, courtesy of someone posting it to YouTube.

NOTE: This isn’t the performance to which I was listening today.

The clip below features Sally Matthews, soprano, Ian Bostridge, tenor, Dietrich Henschel, bass, and the London Symphony, conducted by Colin Davis.

Day 48: The Creation (Part One)

HaydnCD48Today’s musical selection is an oratorio titled Die Schopfung (“The Creation”), which — according to its entry on Wiki — is considered Haydn’s masterpiece…and a test of both his stamina and his faith in God.

Haydn was inspired to write a large oratorio during his visits to England in 1791–1792 and 1794–1795, when he heard oratorios of Handel performed by large forces. Israel in Egypt is believed to have been one of these. It is likely that Haydn wanted to try to achieve results of comparable weight, using the musical language of the mature classical style.

The work on the oratorio lasted from October 1796 to April 1798. It was also a profound act of faith for this deeply religious man, who appended the words “Praise to God” at the end of every completed composition. He later remarked, “I was never so devout as when I was at work on The Creation; I fell on my knees each day and begged God to give me the strength to finish the work.” Haydn composed much of the work while at his residence in the Mariahilf suburb of Vienna, which is now the Haydnhaus. It was the longest time he had ever spent on a single composition. Explaining this, he wrote, “I spent much time over it because I expect it to last for a long time.” In fact, he worked on the project to the point of exhaustion, and collapsed into a period of illness after conducting its premiere performance.

Haydn was between 64 and 66 when he composed this Continue reading