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Discussion Starter · #181 ·
#69
Dance of the Seven Veils, from the opera Salome, Op. 54
Richard Strauss
1905


Ah, lucky #69.

Strauss's seductive heroine, Salome, performs a strip tease at this point in the opera, dancing for King Herod so he will grant her wishes. More risque productions involve the singer slowly removing each of her seven veils one by one, ending the song naked on stage. More conservative productions may have a dancer stand in. Others merely hint at nakedness.

The libretto is Hedwig Lachmann's German translation of the French play Salome by Oscar Wilde, edited by the composer.

Salome's Dance of the Seven Veils; Nausicaa Policicchio

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Perhaps I'll post the whole opera somewhere down the line . . . there's nothing quite like a soprano singing an aria to a severed head.
 

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Discussion Starter · #182 · (Edited)
#70
Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, for violin, cello and piano, Op. 67
Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich
1944


1944. Well, for classical music, that's actually pretty recent.

Shostakovich, one of the major composers of the 20th century, was a Russian composer and pianist.

His music is characterized by sharp contrasts, elements of the grotesque, and ambivalent tonality; Shostakovich was also heavily influenced by the neo-classical style pioneered by Igor Stravinsky, and (especially in his symphonies) by the late Romanticism of Gustav Mahler. He was also heavily influenced by the brutal communist regime running the USSR at the time: He was born in 1906 in St. Petersburg, one year after the Revolution of 1905 began there, spreading rapidly into the provinces.

In 1914, after the outbreak of World War I, the Imperial government renamed St. Petersburg Petrograd, and in 1917, during the February Revolution, Nicholas II abdicated, ending the Russian monarchy.

In the winter of 1917, the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, stormed the Winter Palace in an event known thereafter as the October Revolution, which led to the end of the post-Tsarist provisional government, the transfer of all political power to the Soviets, and the rise of the Communist Party.

On 26 January 1924, five days after Lenin's death, Petrograd was renamed Leningrad.

In 1927 the Soviet Union was established.

In 1934 began the Great Purge (aka the Great Terror), where Stalin executed 40,000 or more (some estimates are as high as 1.2 million) a large-scale purge of the Communist Party and government officials, repression of wealthy landlords and the Red Army leadership, with widespread police surveillance, suspicion of saboteurs, counter-revolutionaries, imprisonment, and arbitrary executions, lasting through 1938 (Nevertheless, the practice of mass arrest and exile continued until Stalin's death in 1953.).

And in 1939 Germany and the USSR invaded Poland, dividing up the spoils, and the following year the USSR occupied and illegally annexed Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, and started mass deportations shortly after that. They also annexed a portion of Romania.

Everything changed in 1941 when Hitler abruptly broke the non-aggression pact and invaded the USSR.

Even before the Stalinist anti-Semitic campaigns in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Shostakovich showed an interest in Jewish themes. He was intrigued by Jewish music's "ability to build a jolly melody on sad intonations". The Fourth movement of this Piano Trio in E minor is an excellent example of him deliberately including Jewish themes.

This is a wartime work (the death camps of Majdanek and Treblinka had recently been discovered in the wake of the Nazis' retreat from the eastern front), and its macabre aspects surely evoke the extremes of joy and bitterness that must have been juxtaposed in daily life at such a time.

World War II resulted in enormous destruction of infrastructure and populations throughout Eurasia, from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans, with almost no country left unscathed. The Soviet Union was especially devastated due to the mass destruction of the industrial base that it had built up in the 1930s. The USSR also experienced a major famine in 1946-48 due to war devastation that cost an estimated 1 to 1.5 million lives as well as secondary population losses due to reduced fertility.

Anyway, enough history.

;)

The trio consists of four movements, with a complete performance running 25 to 27 minutes.

I. Andante
II. Allegro con brio
III. Largo
IV. Allegretto


The opening Andante is highly dissonant, and begins with an extremely difficult passage in the cello, using all harmonics. The rest of the movement continues with canonic material, but then develops into a sonata form, requiring incredible amounts of technical prowess from all three instruments.

The 2nd movement, an Allegro con brio, is a frenzied dance that never really settles down.

The slow movement, Largo, the violin and cello trade off dark, slow, and somber melodic lines against a repeated background of piano chords. It fades into the last movement with hardly a break.

The final movement, Allegretto, is often considered a "Dance of Death" (danse macabre) movement; staccato repeated notes begin, which introduces a Jewish-style melody, and revisits the thematic content of the previous three movements. It ends in a tortured and almost inaudible E major chord.

So, here's the thing . . . this 4th movement really brings out emotions and passions in people you'd not expect. For instance here's part of an analysis by Mimi Lee, from a review for B3LLA back in 2012:

The fourth movement begins when you hear the violin begin "plucking" a sinister (and recognizable) theme, which seems to represent a shifty-eyed, and untrustworthy sheister of a character. Although Shostakovich was not Jewish, it is in this work (and only this movement really) that he first uses Jewish folk music as the subject.

Now, how he got his point across regarding what was happening to the people of Russia (perhaps especially those that were Jewish) thus far in his life without using their folk music is beyond us.

However, seeing what he does in this movement when he actually casts the oppressed subject as the main character, may help us understand why he didn't use it in every piece. Suffice it to say, it is painful to witness.

For example, in one particularly powerfully gruesome scene it sounds as though this 'Jewish melody' is literally ripping the hair out of it's scalp, while music symbolizing dictator communism pounds mercilessly away in the background, faceless, heartless and lethal.

It is this blood-splattered section in particular that makes this trio without a doubt the most intense piece of music in our repertoire and perhaps in all of the chamber music repertoire ever written.

As the music finally subsides, accepting it's fate, the last words of the piece are given to that sadistic, sheister character that has antagonized this entire finale. It is perhaps a depressing way to leave the audience, but by giving the last laugh to the oppressive powers, Shostakovich seems to send a clear message:

Nobody won that war. We now look back on it in history, but we can only do so because we are here and alive; and with regard to each and every innocent life that was lost, and those who had to bury their loved one's body, it was really Stalin, Hitler and evil who won.

Shostakovich seems to be reminding us of that here- and painfully so... perhaps in desperate hope that we living in the future will never allow ourselves to become so near-sighted that we hand 'ignorance' and 'fear' the reigns of our world ever again.

The first performance in 1944 was for a long time the last; almost at once it was forbidden to perform the Trio. Even now, seventy years after its completion, the work evokes tragedy and sorrow through artistic means. Just before the recapitulation in the last movement, there is a hint of the opening fugato, and the final hushed coda combines the passacaglia chords in the piano with broken statements of the movement's main theme in the violin and cello-and the rest is silence.

If you only have time for one movement, listen to the last. It starts at 18:07


Dmitri Shostakovich Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, Op. 67

 

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Discussion Starter · #184 · (Edited)
#71
String Quartet in G, Op. 10
Claude Debussy
1893


Debussy wrote only one string quartet.

The work is in four movements:

I. Animé et très décidé
II. Assez vif et bien rythmé
III. Andantino, doucement expressif
IV. Très modéré - En animant peu à peu - Très mouvementé et avec passion


In fact, this is Debussy's first important work. Additionally, it's the only work to which he attached a key designation or Opus number

Kai Christiansen said:
"Outwardly, the quartet assumes the mold of a traditional string quartet comprising four movements: a first movement sonata, a rhythmic scherzo, a slow, lyrical movement and an energetic finale. But within this unremarkable template, the music sounds completely new. Debussy expanded the sound of the string quartet with a variety of novel textures and tonal effects ranging from delicate subtlety to ravishing grandeur. With exotic scales, unconventional chords, progressions and key changes, the music features melodies and harmonies unique for their time. Especially striking is the quartet's rhythmic vitality, spontaneous agility and poetic subtlety. With swiftly changing tempi, a wealth of dazzling figurations, cross-rhythms and the special shimmering or hovering pulsations typical of his music, Debussy captures a nuanced experience of time. With the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to see many elements of Debussy's signature style within this early work.

"Debussy's quartet is equally fascinating for its cyclic design. Cesar Franck based several of his compositions on a cyclic principle where a signature musical theme recurs in every movement. Earlier, Hector Berlioz featured his idee fixe, a signal leitmotif in every movement of the Symphonie fantastique. Debussy applied the same concept: the opening theme of his quartet recurs in all four movements. But unlike earlier designs where the theme appears, essentially unchanged, within each movement as an isolated, nearly extraneous element, Debussy uses his theme to generate the majority of the quartet's intrinsic music. Using ingenious transformations of melody, harmony, texture and rhythm, Debussy creates a diversity of music that clearly derives from the initial theme. The first and second movements together contain at least seven variations. The last movement supplies its own new variations as well as a cyclic reprisal of the previous movements in reverse order, leading the quartet right back to the beginning. That such an apparently rigid thematic unity is unobtrusively disguised within a rich variety of music is testament to Debussy's fertile imagination and his remarkable skill as a composer.

"Initial reactions to his quartet ranged from praise, to bewilderment and scorn including such wonderfully revealing sneers as "orgies of modulation" and "rotten with talent". Debussy shortly set to work on another quartet, but abandoned the project, turning instead to the orchestra, a more potent vehicle for his visionary music. Debussy wrote very little additional chamber music, returning to the genre only at the end of his life to complete three of six planned sonatas. It is amazing to consider the many first rate composers who labored over numerous string quartets, destroyed early works or cautiously approached the genre for the first time as mature artists, while Debussy, merely thirty-one, wrote a single quartet, a brilliant work of stunning originality, now a masterwork secure in the chamber music repertory."

© Kai Christiansen; earsense.org
Kai Christiansen is a musicologist, multi-instrumentalist, radio host, writer, lecturer and general chamber music fanatic. Kai has been a professional software engineer for over 25 years working as a web developer, programmer, teacher and writer for some of the most progressive companies including NeXT and Apple. earsense represents the fusion of two worlds-musicology and web technology-that combine to create a unique educational, reference, artistic and experiential resource. earsense is a music appreciation portal first launched in 1997. It continues to occupy the majority of Kai's technical and creative endeavors like tending a garden each day until it bears fruit and flowers, becoming a giant forest. Mr. Christiansen will no doubt spend the rest of his life gardening. https://www.earsense.org/about/

Choosing a video link was more difficult than usual.

I look for excellent sound quality, video technique and quality, but, in this case, I chose to take into account the actual affect of the players; that is, whether there is a sense of passion on their faces and in their body movements. Dead eyes on the players' faces can spoil it, as we all tend to listen with our eyes, perhaps even more so than with our ears. For some quartets, the playing is technically superb, but it is dry of emotion. Their faces show nothing.

I passed up one quartet's performance for this reason, even though they played STANDING UP, which is fairly unique.

So here's the Quatuor Cavatine
11th Banff International String Quartet Competition

01:06 Animé et très decide
08:00 Assez vif et bien rythmé
12:21 Andantino, doucement expressif
20:42 Très modéré -- Très mouvementé et avec passion


BISQC 2013 - Quatuor Cavatine - Claude Debussy Quartet in G minor

 

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Discussion Starter · #185 · (Edited)
#72
Appalachian Spring
Aaron Copland
1944


And just like Shostakovich's Piano Trio, Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copland was also produced in 1944.

So Appalachian Spring exists as both an orchestral suite (1945) and in its original incarnation as a ballet, commissioned in 1942.

The original scoring called for a chamber ensemble of thirteen instruments. The orchestral suite for symphony orchestra was made by the composer in the Spring of 1945. It is a condensed version of the ballet, retaining all essential features but omitting those sections in which the interest is primarily choreographic.

Copland was awarded the 1945 Pulitzer Prize for Music for his achievement.

The orchestral suite is divided into eight sections. Copland describes each scene thus:

1. Very slowly. Introduction of the characters, one by one, in a suffused light.
2. Fast/Allegro. Sudden burst of unison strings in A major arpeggios starts the action. A sentiment both elated and religious gives the keynote to this scene.
3. Moderate/Moderato. Duo for the Bride and her Intended - scene of tenderness and passion.
4. Quite fast. The Revivalist and his flock. Folksy feeling - suggestions of square dances and country fiddlers.
5. Still faster/Subito Allegro. Solo dance of the Bride - presentiment of motherhood. Extremes of joy and fear and wonder.
6. Very slowly (as at first). Transition scene to music reminiscent of the introduction.
7. Calm and flowing/Doppio Movimento. Scenes of daily activity for the Bride and her Farmer husband. There are five variations on a Shaker theme. The theme, sung by a solo clarinet, was taken from a collection of Shaker melodies compiled by Edward D. Andrews, and published under the title "The Gift to Be Simple." The melody borrowed and used almost literally is called "Simple Gifts."
8. Moderate. Coda/Moderato - Coda. The Bride takes her place among her neighbors. At the end the couple are left "quiet and strong in their new house." Muted strings intone a hushed prayerlike chorale passage. The close is reminiscent of the opening music.


But in a larger sense, Appalachian Spring captures the essence of an ideal America, one of open fields and endless possibilities.

Aaron Copland: Appalachian Spring - orchestral suite (1945)

 

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Discussion Starter · #186 ·
#73
Miroirs, No. 5 "La vallee des cloches" ("The Valley of Bells")
Maurice Ravel (1875 - 1937)
1904-1905


So here's something a bit different. "Mirrors" is a 5 movement suite for solo piano, with each movement dedicated to a different member of the French avant-garde artist group Les Apaches. This movement, the last of of the five, was dedicated to Maurice Delage, a French composer/pianist.

Ravel also orchestrated the 3rd and 4th movements, and others have completed orchestrations of the others.

This movement evokes the sounds of various bells through its use of sonorous harmonies.

Here's a recording of Maurice Ravel himself playing La vallee des cloches.

And how is it we have such a 'clean' recording by a composer who died in 1937?

Piano rolls!

Maurice Ravel plays La vallée des cloches from Miroirs


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In contrast, here's an orchestrated version of the same piece arranged by Percy Grainger (a typical Grainger ensemble with multiple pianos and percussion, plus strings) by Yakov Kreizberg conducting the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra Amsterdam.

All paintings (except the first) are made by French post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin (1848-1903).

Maurice Ravel - La vallee des cloches (orchestral version)


 

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Discussion Starter · #187 · (Edited)
#74
String Quartet in F
Maurice Ravel
1903


What - more Ravel?

Well, Ravel composed only one string quartet

I. Allegro moderato - tres doux
II. Assez vif - tres rythme
III. Tres lent
IV. Vif et agite


Ravel dedicated it to his teacher, Gabriel Faure.

And while it may seem tame, even quaint, back in 1905 it created quite the controversy for its disruptive nature and revolutionary impressionism. The quartet was rejected by both the Prix de Rome (four times) and the Conservatoire de Paris, a harsh condemnation from the ruling musical establishment. In fact, the conservatory expelled him. Even Faure thought it was "a failure". It transcended the established rules of harmony and form, drawing on jazz and Asian Gamelan influences.

At least Debussy recognized the value of Ravel's palette, writing to him, "In the name of the gods of music and in my own, do not touch a single note you have written in your Quartet."

Here's the Sacconi Quartet performing live in 2015.

If you have time for only one movement, I suggest the 4th, which starts at 24:38. But, this quartet is best swallowed whole, as there is a great deal of unity within the movements to be enjoyed.

Maurice Ravel: String Quartet in F major

 

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Discussion Starter · #188 ·
#75
1/3
Well-Tempered Clavier
JS Bach
1722


"Beethoven tells you what it's like to be Beethoven and Mozart tells you what it's like to be human. Bach tells you what it's like to be the universe."
Douglas Adams

The Well-tempered Clavier consists of two collections (Books I & II) of Preludes and Fugues, each book going through all "tones and semitones", thus climbing the 12 semitones from C to B, and presenting a set of a prelude and a fugue for each tone in both major and minor key, making it 24 sets per book, and in total "the 48".

From all the works written in the Baroque era, no other work has been so well-cherished, frequently performed and thoroughly studied than this work of Bach's.

I've performed several of them from Book 1.

So, to listen to both books would take well over 4 hours. And it's worth it. But who has that kind of time these days?

So here I am again . . . selections, or the entire shebang?

Well, fine; Let's start with some of my favorites from Book 1 (I've performed most of these):

Prelude and Fugue #1 in C major
The Prelude is perhaps the best known of the entire set, probably because it was later reworked by Charles Gounod into a rather popular Ave Maria in 1853.

Tzvi Erez plays Bach: Prelude 1 in C Major BWV 846 from the Well-Tempered Clavier


Bach, Fugue in C major, WTC I, BWV 846


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Prelude and Fugue #2 in C minor

J.S. Bach - Prelude & Fugue BWV 847 in c minor by Nathalie Matthys


.
 

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Discussion Starter · #189 · (Edited)
#75
2/3
Well-Tempered Clavier
JS Bach
1722


Prelude and Fugue #3 in C# major

Natalie Schwamova

J.S. Bach Prelude and Fugue No. 3 BWV 848


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Prelude and Fugue #5 in D major,

Kenneth Gilbert, Harpsichord

J. S. Bach - Prelude and Fugue n.5 in D Major BWV 850 (WTC I)


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Prelude and Fugue #6 in D minor

If you're a fan of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, you'll recognize this one, as Keith Emerson appropriated the beginning of the Prelude for a bridge in The Only Way on Side Two of the LP Tarkus.

Nakyung Rhim

J. Bach - Prelude and Fugue in D minor, BWV 851


To be honest, I've almost always heard this Prelude played faster than this. Much faster. But all of these Preludes and Fugues seem to work regardless of the speed they're taken.

Here's the legendary pianist Glenn Gould's interpretation. Fasten your seat belt.

 

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Discussion Starter · #190 ·
Here's Emerson using the D minor Prelude as a bridge in a larger piece they titled The Only Way (Hymn)/Infinite Space

The Prelude starts at 2:23.

You might also recognize Bach's Toccata and Fugue in F major, BWV 540, which he uses to start the piece.


 

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Discussion Starter · #191 · (Edited)
#75
3/3
Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I
JS Bach
1722


Prelude and Fugue #11 in F major

Bach - Prelude & Fugue in F Major, WTK I, BWV 856 - Diego Alonso, piano


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Prelude and Fugue #15 in G major

Bach Prelude and Fugue No. 15 in G Major, BWV 860


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Prelude and Fugue #21 in Bb major

JS. Bach, Prelude and Fugue No. 21 in B flat major BWV 866 (WTC I).

 

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Discussion Starter · #192 ·
#76
Sonata No. 28 in A major, Op. 101
Ludwig van Beethoven
1816


This sonata marks the beginning of what is generally regarded as Beethoven's final period, where the forms are more complex, ideas more wide-ranging, textures more polyphonic, and the treatment of the themes and motifs even more sophisticated than before. Op. 101 well exemplified this new style, and Beethoven exploits the newly expanded keyboard compass of the day.

This piano sonata consists of four movements:

I. Etwas lebhaft, und mit der innigsten Empfindung (Somewhat lively, and with innermost sensibility). Allegretto, ma non troppo
II. Lebhaft, marschmäßig (Lively, march-like). Vivace alla marcia
III. Langsam und sehnsuchtsvoll (Slow and longingly). Adagio, ma non troppo, con affetto
IV. Geschwind, doch nicht zu sehr, und mit Entschlossenheit (Swiftly, but not overly, and with determination). Allegro

Here's Daniel Barenboim at the piano. He's the current general music director of the Berlin State Opera and the Staatskapelle Berlin, Barenboim previously served as Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre de Paris and La Scala in Milan.

Beethoven Sonata N° 28 Daniel Barenboim

 

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Discussion Starter · #193 ·
#77
String Quintet in C major (D. 956, Op. posth. 163)
Franz Schubert
1828


This is Schubert's final chamber work. It's basically a string quartet with an extra cello.

It has been praised as "sublime" and as possessing "bottomless pathos," and is generally regarded as Schubert's finest chamber work as well as one of the greatest compositions in all chamber music.

Sadly, this wasn't performed until 1850, as his publisher at the time did not take him seriously as a composer of chamber works (even though he'd already written 15 string quartets). At the time he was thought of more as a composer of vocal works and piano music.

The 2nd movement has been used in several films and television shows.

Here are two performances.

The first is performed by The Afiara Quartet with Joel Krosnick in 2012. This is especially nice as the guest cellist Krosnick gives a wonderful introduction (lasting about 8 minutes) from a well educated perspective (the beginning of the piece is at 8:19_). His words may help increase your appreciation and understanding of this quintet, particularly the second movement._

Schubert's String Quintet in C Major, performed by The Afiara Quartet with Joel Krosnick


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I also like this very high quality stereo performance by the Emerson Quartet with guest cellist David Finckel in 2018.

Sometimes it is difficult to choose. So you get two. Which quartet gives a better performance?

Emerson Quartet & cellist David Finckel: Schubert's String Quintet in C, D. 956, Op.Posth 163


 

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Discussion Starter · #194 ·
#78
Vltava from Ma vlast
Bedrich Smetana
1874


Bedrich Smetana composed Ma vlast ("My Homeland"), a set of six symphonic poems, between 1874 and 1879.

The six pieces were conceived as individual works.

Except for Vltava (sometimes referred to as The Moldau), which seems to be the most popular of the six. It's seen a few recordings as a stand-alone work.

In this piece, Smetana uses tone painting to evoke the sounds of one of Bohemia's great rivers. In his own words:

"The composition describes the course of the Vltava, starting from the two small springs, the Cold and Warm Vltava, to the unification of both streams into a single current, the course of the Vltava through woods and meadows, through landscapes where a farmer's wedding is celebrated, the round dance of the mermaids in the night's moonshine: on the nearby rocks loom proud castles, palaces and ruins aloft. The Vltava swirls into the St John's Rapids; then it widens and flows toward Prague, past the Vysehrad, and then majestically vanishes into the distance, ending at the Labe (or Elbe)." (Smetena, in a letter to Franz Liszt)

The Cold and Warm Vltava, the sources of the Vltava River, are in the mountains of the Bohemian Forest.

Vltava contains Smetana's most famous tune, an adaptation of the melody La Mantovana, attributed to the Italian renaissance tenor, Giuseppe Cenci, which, in a borrowed Romanian form, was also the basis for the Israeli national anthem, Hatikvah. The tune also appears in an old Czech folk song, Kocka leze dirou ("The Cat Crawls Through the Hole"); Hanns Eisler used it for his "Song of the Moldau"; and Stan Getz performed it as "Dear old Stockholm" (probably through another derivative of the original tune, "Ack Varmeland du skona").

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Smetana: Vltava (The Moldau) - Stunning Performance
Gimnazija Kranj Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Nejc Bečan. 2015.


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Of course, the six pieces are also often presented as an entire collection, usually lasting around 90 minutes. If you liked Vltava, you'll likely enjoy the whole set as well.

NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg,
Thomas Hengelbrock

Bedřich Smetana: Má vlast / My Country - Prague Spring 2015 Opening Concert

 

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Discussion Starter · #195 ·
#79
Requiem (Messa da Requiem)
Giuseppi Verdi
1874


Like Smetana's Vitava, Verdi's Requiem, a musical setting of the Catholic funeral mass for four soloists, double choir and orchestra, was also composed in 1874.

Throughout the work, Verdi uses athletic rhythms, gorgeous melodies, and dramatic contrasts (much as he did in his operas) to express the powerful emotions in the text. The terrifying (and instantly recognizable) Dies irae that introduces the traditional sequence of the Latin funeral rite is repeated throughout. Trumpets surround the stage to produce a call to judgement in the Tuba mirum, and the almost oppressive atmosphere of the Rex tremendæ creates a sense of unworthiness before the King of Tremendous Majesty. Still, the well-known tenor solo Ingemisco radiates hope for the sinner who asks for the Lord's mercy.

The Sanctus (a complicated eight-part fugue scored for double chorus) begins with a brassy fanfare to announce him "who comes in the name of the Lord". Finally the Libera me, the oldest music by Verdi in the Requiem, interrupts. Here the soprano cries out, begging, "Deliver me, Lord, from eternal death ... when you will come to judge the world by fire."

When the Requiem was composed, female singers were not permitted to perform in Catholic Church rituals (such as a requiem mass). However, from the beginning Verdi intended to use female singers in the work. In his open letter proposing the Requiem project (when it was still conceived as a multi-author Requiem for Rossini), Verdi wrote: "If I were in the good graces of the Holy Father-Pope Pius IX-I would beg him to permit-if only for this one time-that women take part in the performance of this music; but since I am not, it will fall to someone else better suited to obtain this decree." In the event, when Verdi composed the Requiem alone, two of the four soloists were sopranos, and the chorus included female voices. This may have slowed the work's acceptance in Italy.

At the time of its premiere, the Requiem was criticized by some as being too operatic in style for the religious subject matter. According to Gundula Kreuzer, "Most critics did perceive a schism between the religious text (with all its musical implications) and Verdi's setting." Some viewed it negatively as "an opera in ecclesiastical robes," or alternatively, as a religious work, but one in "dubious musical costume." While the majority of critics agreed that the music was "dramatic," some felt that such treatment of the text was appropriate, or at least permissible. The critical consensus agreed that the work displayed "fluent invention, beautiful sound effects and charming vocal writing." Critics were divided between praise and condemnation with respect to Verdi's willingness to break standard compositional rules for musical effect, such as his use of consecutive fifths.

1. Introit and Kyrie (chorus, soloists)
2. Dies irae
...Dies irae (chorus)
...Tuba mirum (chorus)
...Mors stupebit (bass)
...Liber scriptus (mezzo-soprano, chorus - chorus only in original version)
...Quid sum miser (soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor)
...Rex tremendae (soloists, chorus)
...Recordare (soprano, mezzo-soprano)
...Ingemisco (tenor)
...Confutatis Maledictis (bass, chorus)
...Lacrymosa (soloists, chorus)
3. Offertory
...Domine Jesu Christe (soloists)
...Hostias (soloists)
4. Sanctus (double chorus)
5. Agnus Dei (soprano, mezzo-soprano, chorus)
6. Lux æterna (mezzo-soprano, tenor, bass)
7. Libera me (soprano, chorus)
...Libera me
...Dies irae
...Requiem æternam
...Libera me

Marin Alsop leads the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Proms Youth Choir. Featuring soprano Tamara Wilson, mezzo-soprano Alisa Kolosolva, tenor Dimitri Pittas, and bass Morris Robinson. Recorded live at the Royal Albert Hall on September 9th 2016

The Dies irae starts about 8:20 and lasts a little over 20 minutes. So, sure, you can skip to it if you like.

Proms 2016 - Verdi - Requiem [Marin Alsop, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment]


 

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Discussion Starter · #196 ·
#80
Music for 18 Musicians
Steve Reich
1976


I do believe this is the first work on this list composed later than 1950. I find it's pretty hard to assess recent music . . .

Music for 18 Musicians is a work of musical minimalism composed by Steve Reich during 1974-1976. Its world premiere was on April 24, 1976, at The Town Hall in New York City.

It's important to note that Reich scores this "Music" not for 18 instruments, but for 18 musicians. Many of the parts require doubling, where a musician is required to play more than one instrument during the performance.

Reviewing the 1978 LP in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981), Robert Christgau wrote of Music for 18 Musicians: "In which pulsing modules of high-register acoustic sound-the ensemble comprises violin, cello, clarinet, piano, marimbas, xylophone, metallophone, and women's voices-evolve harmonically toward themselves. Very mathematical, yet also very, well, organic-the duration of particular note-pulses is determined by the natural breath rhythms of the musicians-this sounds great in the evening near the sea. I find it uplifting at best, calming at normal, and Muzaky at worst, but as a rock and roller I often get off on repetitions that drive other people crazy."

In 2003, David Bowie included it in a list of 25 of his favorite albums, "Confessions of a Vinyl Junkie", calling it "Balinese gamelan music cross-dressing as minimalism."

The piece is based on a cycle of eleven chords. A small piece of music is based on each chord, and the piece returns to the original cycle at the end. The sections are named "Pulses", numbered I-XI. This was Reich's first attempt at writing for larger ensembles, and the extension of performers resulted in a growth of "psycho-acoustic" effects, which fascinated Reich, and he noted that he would like to "explore this idea further". A prominent factor in this work is the augmentation of the harmonies and melodies and the way that they develop this piece. Another important factor in the piece is the use of human breath, used in the clarinets and voices, which help structure and bring a pulse to the piece. The player plays the pulsing note for as long as he can hold it, while each chord is melodically deconstructed by the ensemble, along with augmentation of the notes held. The metallophone (an unplugged vibraphone), is used to cue the ensemble to change patterns or sections.

Some sections of the piece have a chiastic ABCDCBA structure (that is, sections repeated in reverse order), and Reich noted that this one work contained more harmonic movement in the first five minutes than any other work he had previously written.

Steve Reich, "Music for 18 Musicians" - FULL PERFORMANCE with eighth blackbird

 

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Discussion Starter · #197 · (Edited)
#81
Gesang der Jünglinge (Gesang der Jünglinge im Feuerofen -- Song of the Youths in the Furnace)
Karlheinz Stockhausen
1956


Often referred to as the first masterpiece of electronic music, it's significant in that it seamlessly integrates electronic sounds with the human voice by means of matching voice resonances with pitch and creating sounds of phonemes electronically. In this way, for the first time ever it successfully brought together the two opposing worlds of the purely electronically generated German elektronische Musik and the French musique concrete, which transforms recordings of acoustical events.

Needless to say, the derivations of all aspects of the piece are long and well detailed, and if you like this sort of stuff you can find it here: http://stockhausenspace.blogspot.com/2015/01/opus-8-gesang-der-junglinge.html . Oddly enough, it's all actually pretty fascinating.

The text of Gesang der Junglinge is from a Biblical story in The Book of Daniel where Nebuchadnezzar throws Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into a fiery furnace but miraculously they are unharmed and begin to sing praises to God. This text is presented in a carefully devised scale of seven degrees of altered comprehensibility.

This is also the music that inspired Paul McCartney to begin experimenting with tape loops, first used by the Beatles on Tomorrow Never Knows on their Revolver LP. Eventually John and George jumped onboard the electronic music craze, with George Harrison actually releasing an entire album of synthesized sounds, Electronic Sound, in May 1969.

Now, I'm well aware that this sort of music is not everyone's cup of tea, but it's here in all its unsettling glory. Enjoy. It's thirteen minutes long; well, actually, 13 minutes and 14 seconds long.

Then you can roll tape on Revolution No. 9 if you like.

Oh, here's the technical crap on this:

There are three basic types of material used:

1) electronically generated sine tones,
2) electronically generated pulses (clicks), and
3) filtered white noise.

4) the recorded voice of a boy soprano, which incorporates: harmonic spectra of vowels,; fricatives and sibilants; and plosives.

Whether you enjoy it or not, it certainly ripped the envelope of acceptable music wide open.

Karlheinz Stockhausen: Gesang der Jünglinge (1955/1956)


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And, of course, for comparison's sake, and as a measure of the work's influence on even popular musicians, here is The Beatles and their track Revolution No. 9, which can be found on their album The Beatles (aka The White Album).

 

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Discussion Starter · #198 · (Edited)
#82
Symphony No 2 in C minor"Resurrection"
Gustav Mahler
1895


OK . . . let's revisit the word "epic", shall we?

The Resurrection Symphony is an all-embracing work, the first of the Austrian composer's symphonies to make use of voices and words as well as the orchestra, and the piece that set Mahler decisively on the path toward the grandly scaled, high individualist and confessional style of symphony that was to become his legacy.

Symphony No. 2 is the work with which Mahler answered the metaphysical challenge of Beethoven's Ninth. There are a lot of similarities; the turbulent beginning, the vast exploration of musical territory in the middle of the work and a triumphant conclusion. In the final movement, all 38 minutes of it, the ramparts are being climbed and the noise and confusion of battle surround you. Using off-stage instruments to explode the musical space was one of Mahler's favorite devices, and trumpets sound from different sides of the stage in this movement. He engulfs the listener in something beyond the reaches of the concert hall.

And Mahler was keen to emphasize life and death in all its terrifying, mortally buttock-clenching splendor.

Anyway, it's scored for a pretty large orchestra.

The following program was written by Mahler for a performance of his 2nd symphony that took place in Dresden 1901.

First Movement: Allegro maestoso
"We are standing near the grave of a well loved man. His whole life, his struggles, his sufferings and his accomplishments on earth pass before us. And now, in this solemn and deeply stirring moment, when the confusion and distractions of everyday life are lifted like a hood from our eyes, a voice of awe-inspiring solemnity chills our heart, a voice that, blinded by the mirage of everyday life, we usually ignore: "What next?" it says. "What is life and what is death? Will we live on eternally? Is it all an empty dream or do our life and death have a meaning?" And we must answer this question, if we are to go on living. The next three movements are conceived as intermezzi.

Second Movement: Andante
"A blissful moment in the dear departed's life and a sad recollection of his youth and lost innocence."

Third Movement: Scherzo
A spirit of disbelief and negation has seized him. He is bewildered by the bustle of appearances and he loses his perception of childhood and the profound strength that love alone can give. He despairs both of himself and of God. The world and life begin to seem unreal. Utter disgust for every form of existence and evolution seizes him in an iron grasp, torments him until he utters a cry of despair.

Fourth Movement: Alto solo. 'Urlicht' (Primeval Light) - from the Knaben Wunderhorn
The stirring words of simple faith sound in his ears: "I come from God and I will return to God!"

Fifth Movement: Aufersteh'n
Once more we must confront terrifying questions, and the atmosphere is the same as at the end of the third movement. The voice of the Caller is heard. The end of every living thing has come, the last judgment is at hand and the horror of the day of days has come upon us. The earth trembles, the graves burst open, the dead arise and march forth in endless procession. The great and the small of this earth, the kings and the beggars, the just and the godless all press forward. The cry for mercy and forgiveness sounds fearful in our ears. The wailing becomes gradually more terrible. Our senses desert us, all consciousness dies as the Eternal Judge approaches. The last trump sounds; the trumpets of the Apocalypse ring out. In the eerie silence that follows, we can just barely make out a distant nightingale, a last tremulous echo of earthly life. The gentle sound of a chorus of saints and heavenly hosts is then heard: "Rise again, yes, rise again thou wilt!" Then God in all His glory comes into sight. A wondrous light strikes us to the heart. All is quiet and blissful. Lo and behold: there is no judgment, no sinners, no just men, no great and no small; there is no punishment and no reward. A feeling of overwhelming love fills us with blissful knowledge and illuminates our existence."​

Here's the legendary Leonard Bernstein conducting the London Symphony Orchestra. Notice that at no time do his hands leave his arms. Notice also that he does not have the music in front of him.

Oh, and if you want to dispense with waiting through the entrance and applause, it starts at 1:30.

Mahler - Symphony No. 2 "Resurrection" (Bernstein, VPO) FULL VIDEO

 

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I'm nowhere near to being caught up with you, but am enjoying this immensely. I'm learning a lot, as well. Stravinsky was surprising to me in how much I enjoyed it - I had heard the Firebird and Rites of Spring before in the Fantasia movies, but they didn't make much of a lasting impression on me. But going and listening to them, I found they were great, while not fitting in with my normal preferred repertoire. With the rate you are adding, though, I wonder if I'll ever be caught up!
 

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Discussion Starter · #200 ·
I'm nowhere near to being caught up with you, but am enjoying this immensely. I'm learning a lot, as well. Stravinsky was surprising to me in how much I enjoyed it - I had heard the Firebird and Rites of Spring before in the Fantasia movies, but they didn't make much of a lasting impression on me. But going and listening to them, I found they were great, while not fitting in with my normal preferred repertoire. With the rate you are adding, though, I wonder if I'll ever be caught up!
I've been attempting to post almost daily, but eventually that will slow down.

Glad you're enjoying my take on 'must hear' Classical works.

I'm assuming that not ALL of the works will be well loved by all. For instance, the Stockhausen and Reich are difficult listens for me, but I'd be remiss to not include them in a music appreciation thread like this.
 
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