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Discussion Starter · #161 ·
Brandenburg Concerto No. 4
in G major , BWV 1049
Concerto No. 4 a Violino Principale, due Flauti d'Echo, due Violini, una Viola e violone in Ripieno, Violoncello e Continuo.
(for solo violin and 2 recorders (or traverse flutes, or flageolet), accompanied by two violins, viola, cello, violone, and basso continuo (including harpsichord))

I. [no tempo indication] (usually performed Allegro)
II. Andante
III. Presto

Which instruments are the real soloists?

Initially, the lead is taken by the two recorders, but later it appears that the violin is the soloist. After the next refrain, the two recorders take over again, but they are soon trumped by the violin, which steals the show in a whirlwind of dizzying notes. And so it continues.

The outside movements feature exceptionally virtuosic writing for the violin, with extended passagework spanning the entire range of the instrument. For his fourth concerto in the set of Brandenburgs, Bach is especially careful with the orchestration: this creates space for the recorder sound to breathe; in addition, his compositional style flows with sparkle and wit.

The fourth Brandenburg concerto is unusual in that Bach specifically calls for "echo flutes", or "fiauti d'echo". For many years musicologists have debated what an "echo flute" exactly is, and have also uncovered a great deal of historical detail, but the work is usually performed with two alto recorders.

Here it is performed on mostly period instruments (or replicas) by the Voices of Music

Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major BWV 1049, complete; Voices of Music 4K UHD


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Discussion Starter · #162 ·
Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major
, BWV 1050
Concerto No. 5 a une traversiere, une Violina principale, une Violino e una Viola in Ripieno, Violoncello, Violone e Cembalo concertato.
(for harpsichord, violin and flute, accompanied by violin, viola, cello, violone, and harpsichord)

I. Allegro
II. Adagio; Affettuoso
III. Allegro

Formally, and technically, the fifth Brandenburg Concerto is a CONCERTO GROSSO, with a concertino consisting of three instruments (harpsichord, violin and flute), although the harpsichord seems to take the leading role of the three.

Many regard this piece as the first keyboard concerto ever written. Indeed, it is noted for the harpsichord cadenza near the end of the First Movement.

Here's APOLLO'S FIRE | The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra, Jeannette Sorrell, Artistic Director with a spectacular live performance.

That's her giving the short and interesting spoken introduction, as well as playing the double manual harpsichord, with Olivier Brault on violin and Kathie Stewart on transverse flute

BACH Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, Mvt 1 - Apollo's Fire - LIVE at Tanglewood

There are many, many wonderful versions available that you can listen to, and since this may actually be the most popular of the bunch, here's pianist Glen Gould playing the "harpsipiano".

Gould gives some opening remarks regarding Bach in general that are noteworthy, then goes into a much slower version of the 1st movement . . . at first it may seem to be lacking the "punch" you get with a brisker tempo, but once you're a few minutes into it you start to notice the wonderful subtleties and nuances he brings to the work.

Glenn Gould - Bach, Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D-major (OFFICIAL)


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Discussion Starter · #163 · (Edited)
Johann Sebastian Bach
Born March 21, 1685

BACH was born 336 years ago.

The last of the Brandenburg Concertos was completed in 1721, 300 years ago. The USA didn't even exist yet. New York City had a population of 5,000.

Brandenburg Concerto No. 6
in Bb major, BWV 1051
Concerto No. 6 a due Viole da Braccio, due Viole da Gamba, Violoncello, Violone e Cembalo.
(for two viole da braccio, two viole da bamba, cello, violone, and harpsichord)

I. [no tempo marking, although usually played Allegro or Moderato]
II. Adagio ma non tanto
III. Allegro

At last, the final concerto in the set of six, although it's considered to probably be the first written.

The absence of violins is unusual.

The "Viola da braccio" is the 'normal' viola, while the viola da gamba is the already outdated-in-1721 oddball instrument here: Unlike the violin, viola, and cello, which are all part of the violin family, the viola da gamba is part of the viol family (along with the double bass or "upright" bass, the only member of the viol family still commonly used). The most notable differences are the presence of frets, and additional strings. Other differences that you might not notice are the tunings (a 4th, rather than a 5th apart, although the middle strings are only a 3rd apart) and the shape of the sound holes - violins have "f" holes, while the viols have "c" holes. The bow is held underhand ("German"), rather than overhand (or "French"). And there are two other differences: the viols have sloped shoulders and flat backs, while the violin family of instruments have rounded shoulders and curved backs.

Oh, and one very noticeable difference: The viols are played upright, instead of under the chin.

So why does this matter? Well, as the viols have more strings with closer tunings, they become somewhat easier to play, as one doesn't need to have the left hand cover as much ground up and down the fretboard.

So . . . back to the absence of violins . . . . AND any wind instruments as well. For this final concerto Bach chose to limit the work's instrumentation to strings and continuo, meaning that the only non-bowed instrument heard is the harpsichord. Every other concerto in the set made extensive use of contrasting timbres, balancing the strings with the winds, often in unprecedented ways. This limitation of timbre is also extended to register; there are no violins - just two violas, two violas da gamba, a cello, and the violone, which is near the cello range and is from the gamba family. The overall effect of this decision is a spirit of repose and conclusion. There are no visceral contrasts in the music, though the final Allegro is faster than the other two movements; the concerto, whenever it was actually composed, makes a splendid way to end the overall set.

Bach's writing for these instruments was unconventional for the time. In the early eighteenth century the lower members of the violin family were considered orchestral instruments with supporting roles. They were given comparatively easy parts to play, while the gamba and its relatives were regarded as chamber instruments and necessarily received more difficult lines. Bach chose to reverse the level of difficulty, giving the viola and cello the tough solo parts, while the gamba players were free to cruise along in the supporting roles. In the second-movement Adagio, they are completely silent.

The form of the three-movement work is also filled with reversals. The opening movement sounds initially like a freely composed fugal arrangement, free of the stark contrasts normally associated with concerto form. Its ritornello, normally a focused bit of recurring melody, rambles along without drawing much attention to itself, while the music that is supposed to be spun out of the ritornello is concise and sharp. Compounding the irregularities further, the second movement (lovely and fluid) ends in a different key from the one it starts in. The final movement assumes the character of a fugal gigue, but reveals itself to be a set of variations based on the initial ritornello, which is a much freer demonstration than the traditional spinning-out of the initial material.

Overall, these surprises result in what in many ways is the most various and striking among the Brandenburg Concertos. Its beauty is equal to its invention.

Here are "The Sebastians" playing at St. Paul's German Lutheran Church in 2016.

You can clearly see the difference between the two "normal" violas on the left, the viola da gambas on the right (looking like cellos, but with the sloping shoulders), the cello in the middle, and the violone (looking much like a double bass) and harpsichord in the rear.

Bach - Brandenburg Concerto no. 6, BWV 1051 - the Sebastians


Viol da gamba FUN FACT: It is played between the legs (hence the name 'viola da gamba', literally 'leg-viol').

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Discussion Starter · #164 · (Edited)
Piano Trio No. 1 in B Major
Johannes Brahms
Original version 1854
Revised version 1889

The original version was completed in 1854, when Brahms was only 20 years old.

Brahms produced a revised version of the work in summer 1889 that shows significant alterations, and it is this shorter version that usually performed these days.

This is as good a time as any to give a short definition of "Piano Trio". It is NOT a trio of pianos, rather, it refers to a "chamber" work using three musicians, one of which will be a pianist. The other two other instruments will usually be a violin and a cello, although it most certainly consist of other configurations. (In Jazz, a piano trio will usually consist of piano, bass, and drums.)

This is Brahms' first appearance on this list, not because he is some sort of lesser composer, but because his music tends to be quite advanced, requiring a certain focus.

When talking about the GREAT composers of Classical Music, the Top 3 are generally considered to be Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven, but when you expand that to the TOP SIX, most lists generally add Tchaikovsky, Wagner, and Brahms.

Brahms holds a unique place in the Classical Music canon, being somewhat of a transition composer - he tended to work within what were, at the time, outdated forms and idioms, BUT added a new spiritual and lyrical dimension to them. The result is a legacy where he's snarkily regarded as "the most classical composer of the romantic period".

This Piano Trio is so well written and so . . . transcendent . . . that I actually have some difficulty in describing WHY this piece is so extraordinarily great. There are no grand flourishes, no fanfares, just these beautifully set melodies and passages that can transport you to a higher plane of existence.

TRIO GAON - Brahms Trio no. 1, opus 8 in B Major (rev. 1889)


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Discussion Starter · #167 · (Edited)
Death and the Maiden; String Quartet No. 14
Franz Schubert

Musically, this is a masterwork among quartets.

And . . . surprisingly . . . this is one of only three quartets on this list so far (the first being Beethoven's String Quartet No. 7 In F, at #50, and his "Razumovsky" Quartet No. 8 in E minor at #51). Surprising because the String Quartet has come to symbolize the loftiest form of discourse in Classical instrumental music.

Also surprising is that this is only Schubert's second appearance on this list. His Ave Maria is at #40 (and the Ave Maria was only one in a collection of six songs).

So many works, so few spots.

String Quartet No. 14 brings together two of Schubert's's extraordinary talents. Schubert had a natural instinct for melody and song. His 600 Lieder (songs) and his song cycles are among the most expressive works in all music, connecting with human emotions in a deeply profound way. It is impossible to separate Schubert's music from his own experience and this work captures his essence.

The quartet was written in 1824 when his health was a cause for concern. He wrote to a friend, 'Imagine a man whose health will never be right again, and who, in sheer despair over this, even makes things worse instead of better. Imagine a man, I say, whose most brilliant hopes have perished…'

This music, then, is a reflection of Schubert's state of mind. It's filled with that resignation he spoke off, as well as an all-pervading anguish and yearning. Not only was his body sick - so was his soul.

The second movement is responsible for the nickname of this quartet, "Death and the Maiden", since it is a set of variations on Schubert's song of the same name in which a terror-stricken maiden begs death to pass her by. But Death consoles her saying 'I am not rough, you shall sleep gently in my arms'. It's impossible to listen to all four movements of the quartet without an awareness of death's shadow stalking Schubert and emerging in the most funereal passages.

Using the theme from his original song and building variations upon it, Schubert creates a pattern where the dark and powerful opening is met by the soft lyrical reply of the maiden. Or is it the defiance and terror of the maiden, met by the gentle subverting caress of death? It's a dialogue which continues throughout the quartet, and there's little escape from the fear and the fury in the overall sombre tone of the music.

For these reasons it has often been referred to as "one of the pillars of the chamber music repertoire".

I. Allegro
II. Andante con moto
III. Scherzo. Allegro molto - Trio
IV. Presto

Here's the Alban Berg Quartett

Franz Schubert - String Quartet No.14 in D minor, D.810 (Alban Berg Quartett)


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Discussion Starter · #168 ·
I have to give a shout out to Schubert's next string quartet here, the String Quartet No. 15 in G major, Mvt I, (the Allegro molto moderato).

I find this so oddly engaging that it's difficult to find the proper words to describe the FEELING I get from it. It's also Schubert's last quartet.

Schubert transcends traditional harmonic structure, and focuses on lyricism instead.

MUSIC NERD ALERT: Analysis of this movement ahead . . . .

The first movement is based around a motive of chromatic descending fourths within alternating major and minor modes. The main lyrical theme of the movement which begins with a sixteenth note pickup to a dotted eighth note will be heard in many variations throughout the rest of the movements of the quartet. The first movement features extensive tremolo, which also leads into the repeat of the exposition. While many composers deconstruct a theme to smaller and smaller parts, Schubert is known for his lyricism and instead continually expands the theme.

This may include the use of a motive in triplets to connect the first and second main groups of this sonata form; the second group opens, exactly as happens in the later-written String Quintet and similar to the technique in some works by Beethoven - not in the dominant key but with a quiet theme in the mediant, Bb, with rhythm not quite the same as that of the lyrical theme that slowed matters down early on (bar fourteen, again), and adding to the texture with pizzicato accompaniment. There is a triplet-dominated, agitated transition and the same theme is heard, now in D, with triplet accompaniments; the triplets, not the theme, continue to the end of the exposition, and descend gradually from D down to G major for the repeat, or for the second ending and the beginning of the development, where continuity means the continued rustling of quiet strings, building for a bit by exchanging with more energetic passages, then bringing in faster versions of the dotted rhythms of the main themes. The climax of the development leads to a particularly quiet recapitulation, much varied at its opening from what we had heard originally. In the coda the opening of the quartet, both its rhythm and its major/minor exchanges, get a further chance to play themselves out.

There is a remarkably innovative harmonic passage in the first movement. Between mm. 414 and 429 Schubert prolongs G major with an equal subdivision of the octave using major thirds. Passing seventh chords in the bass provide a smooth linear progression connecting these major thirds, the result of which is a whole tone descent in the bass-voice, in this case the cello. The following major third prolongations occur: G(mm. 414-416) E-flat (mm. 417-418) B(mm. 419-420) G(mm. 421-422) E-flat(423-426). In measure 426 Schubert enharmonically reinterprets this dominant-seventh structure, resolving it as a German augmented 6th, thus proceeding bVI-V-I in mm. 427-429.[8]

These four players are not a professional quartet; they merely came together for this festival.

Yura Lee and David Bowlin, violins
Dimitri Murrath, viola
Julie Albers, cello

Schubert: String Quartet No. 15 in G major, Mvt I - ChamberFest Cleveland (2014)


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Discussion Starter · #169 ·
There's some extraordinary treats coming up . . . Coming up soon:

And more Schubert

But here's some diversions that will hold you over until then:

When Worlds Collide

Tzvi Erez plays Solfeggietto in C Minor (2012) by CPE Bach

And, with orchestra continuo . . . .

I think I played this piece when I was her age.

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Discussion Starter · #170 ·
Piano Concerto No. 21, Andante ("Elvira Madigan")
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The second movement ANDANTE was featured in the 1967 Swedish film Elvira Madigan, about a tragic tightrope walker. As a result, the piece has become widely known as the Elvira Madigan concerto.

Neil Diamond's 1972 song "Song Sung Blue" was based on a theme from the andante movement of the concerto.

I. Allegro maestoso
II. Andante
(In both the autograph score and in his personal catalog, Mozart notated the meter as alla breve.)
III. Allegro vivace assai

The concerto is scored for solo piano, flute, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns in C, two trumpets in C, timpani and strings, a fairly large orchestra at the time.

The opening movement begins quietly with a march figure, but quickly moves to a more lyrical melody interspersed with a fanfare in the winds. The music grows abruptly in volume, with the violins taking up the principal melody over the march theme, which is now played by the brass. This uplifting theme transitions to a brief, quieter interlude distinguished by a sighing motif in the brass. The march returns, eventually transitioning to the entrance of the soloist. The soloist plays a brief Eingang (a type of abbreviated cadenza) before resolving to a trill on the dominant G while the strings play the march in C major. The piano then introduces new material in C major and begins transitioning to the dominant key of G major. Immediately after an orchestral cadence finally announces the arrival of the dominant, the music abruptly shifts to G minor in a passage that is reminiscent of the main theme of the Symphony No. 40 in that key. A series of rising and falling chromatic scales then transition the music to the true second theme of the piece, an ebullient G major theme, which can also be heard in Mozart's Third Horn Concerto. The usual development and recapitulation follow. There is a cadenza at the end of the movement, although Mozart's original has been lost.

The famous Andante, in the subdominant key of F major, is in three parts. The opening section is for orchestra only and features muted strings. The first violins play with a dreamlike melody over an accompaniment consisting of second violins and violas playing repeated-note triplets and the cellos and bass playing pizzicato arpeggios. All of the main melodic material of the movement is contained in this orchestral introduction, in either F major or F minor. The second section introduces the solo piano and starts off in F major. It is not a literal repeat, though, as after the first few phrases, new material is interjected which ventures off into different keys. When familiar material returns, the music is now in the dominant keys of C minor and C major. Then it modulates to G minor, then B-flat major, then F minor, which transitions to the third section of the movement. The third section begins with the dreamlike melody again, but this time in the relative key of F major's parallel key, A-flat major. Over the course of this final section, the music makes its way back to the tonic keys of F minor and then F major and a short coda concludes the movement.

The final rondo movement begins with the full orchestra espousing a joyous "jumping" theme. After a short cadenza, the piano joins in and further elaborates. A "call and response" style is apparent, with the piano and ensemble exchanging parts fluidly. The soloist gets scale and arpeggio figurations that enhance the themes, as well as a short cadenza that leads right back to the main theme. The main theme appears one final time, leading to an upward rush of scales that ends on a triumphant note.

Piano Concerto No. 21 is among the most technically demanding of all Mozart's concerti. The composer's own father, Leopold Mozart, described it as "astonishingly difficult." The difficulty lies less in the intricacy of the notes on the page than in playing those many notes smoothly and elegantly. Mozart made the challenge look easy, as newspapers of his time attest, though his letters reveal the hard work behind those performances.

Here's Yeol Eum Son playing live in 2011.

Mozart - Piano Concerto No.21, K.467 / Yeol Eum Son


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Discussion Starter · #171 · (Edited)
Missa in Angustiis (Mass for troubled times)
aka Mass No. 11 in D minor, or "Lord Nelson Mass"
Joseph Haydn

Haydn is unarguably one of the greats of Classical music, and many regard this as Haydn's greatest single composition.

Composed at a time when the world seemed to be in chaos: Napoleon was well on his way to conquering Austria, and had invaded Egypt to destroy Britain's trade routes. However, between the mass's completion and its performance debut Napoleon had been dealt a stunning defeat in the Battle of the Nile in Egypt by Admiral Horatio Nelson.

The mass has six movements:

1. Kyrie, Allegro moderato
2. Gloria, Allegro
.....Qui tollis, Andante con moto
.....Quoniam tu solus sanctus, Allegro
3. Credo, Allegro con spirito
.....Et incarnatus est, Largo
.....Et resurrexit, Vivace
4. Sanctus, Adagio
.....Pleni sunt coeli, Allegro
5. Benedictus, Allegretto
.....Pleni sunt coeli, Allegro
6. Agnus Dei, Adagio
.....Dona nobis pacem, Vivace

Notably absent is the woodwind section. Haydn's patron, Prince Esterhazy, had dismissed the wind players to fight in the war.

The mass is also notable for the "fireworks" demanded of the soprano soloist, in the tragic, war torn Kyrie through the Gloria and beyond. While most contemporary mass settings make a clear distinction between arias and choral sections, as in the manner of opera, the solos and ensemble passages in the Nelson Mass remain closely integrated with the chorus. The "Qui tollis" section of the Gloria starts surprisingly in B-flat Major, where the bass is accompanied by some lovely scoring for the strings and organ. The soprano returns us to D Major for "Quoniam tu solus sanctus," and Part II ends with a choral fugue.

An extraordinary opening to the Credo has the sopranos and tenors competing in canon with the altos and basses to the sound of fanfaring trumpets. "Et incarnatus" begins with a gorgeous aria for the soprano soloist, before the emotional center of the piece is taken up by the chorus who lead to a glorious D Major finish once again in "Et resurrexit."

The Benedictus in Part V is a world away from the serene, prayerful setting that might be expected. This is typically presented as a quiet meditation, but Haydn's setting begins with a stormy orchestral introduction, moving through a series of exchanges between soloists and chorus, to culminate in a strikingly dissonant passage. The G Major Agnus Dei provides the chorus a little respite as the soloists take center stage, before "Dona nobis pacem" returns triumphantly to D Major in a joyous finale.

Personally, I had not particularly previously thought of Haydn as the sort that would crank out this sort of drama. But here it is. All 40 minutes.

Haydn HobXXII 11 Lord Nelson Mass Nelson-Messe Missa in Angustiis Grete Pedersen


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Discussion Starter · #172 · (Edited)
Georges Bizet

Ah. Opera.

It's pretty tough . . . I'm here again at an epic work (well, at least by rock and pop standards) that takes considerable time and effort to truly enjoy.

Carmen is a four act Opera by French composer Georges Bizet with a libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halevy, based on a novella by Prosper Merimee.

And the composer died suddenly after the 33rd performance, and never experienced the international acclaim that this work enjoyed.

Anyway, rather than present the entire opera, for the purposes of this thread, a couple of highlights will suffice.

Bizet's Carmen has everything you want from an opera: high drama, passionate characters, a love story. And what's more it's absolutely packed with great melodies - even if you don't know the opera, you'll definitely know some of the tunes.

The Habanera from Act 1, and the Toreador Song from the 2nd Act are among the best known of all operatic arias.

So, let's add a bit of context, shall we?

It is set in southern Spain and tells the story of the downfall of Don Jose, a naive soldier who is seduced by the wiles of the fiery gypsy Carmen. Jose abandons his childhood sweetheart and deserts from his military duties, yet still loses Carmen's love to the glamorous bullfighter Escamillo, after which Jose kills her in a jealous rage. The depictions of proletarian life, immorality, and lawlessness, and the tragic death of the main character on stage (Don Jose threatens to kill her if she does not stay with him, fatally stabbing her after she states that she was born free and will die free), broke new ground in French opera and were highly controversial.

Initially, the opera was condemned by the earliest critics, who called it "vulgar", being unaccustomed to seeing the lives of the common folk, much less the world of gypsies (the Roma), smugglers, deserters, factory workers, and various ne'er-do-wells given centre stage. Women did NOT smoke cigarettes in public, nor were they -ahem- sexually "free". One critic noted that the audience in Paris was "shocked by the drastic realism of the action".

Bizet was actually convinced that he had written the greatest failure in the history of opera, in spite of his contemporary Tchaikovsky's prediction that Carmen would end up being the most popular opera in the world, which, arguably, it has.

So, here's the highly recognizable L'ouverture, performed by the Metropolitan Opera, conducted by James Levine

Carmen - Ouverture


Carmen's Habanera ("L'amour est un oiseau rebelle" or "L'amour est enfant de Boheme")

Love is a rebellious bird
that nobody can tame,
and you call him quite in vain
if it suits him not to come.

Nothing helps, neither threat nor prayer.
One man talks well, the other's mum;
it's the other one that I prefer.
He's silent but I like his looks.

Love! Love! Love! Love!

Love is a gypsy's child,
it has never, ever, known a law;
love me not, then I love you;
if I love you, you'd best beware! etc.

The bird you thought you had caught
beat its wings and flew away ...
love stays away, you wait and wait;
when least expected, there it is!

All around you, swift, so swift,
it comes, it goes and then returns ...
you think you hold it fast, it flees
you think you're free, it holds you fast.

Love! Love! Love! Love!

Love is a gypsy's child,
it has never, ever, known a law;
love me not, then I love you;
if I love you, you'd best beware!

You may have to turn the volume up on this video quite a bit . . . .

Carmen - Habanera (Bizet; Anna Caterina Antonacci, The Royal Opera)


And, of course, The Toreador Song ("L'air du Toreador"). That "part you recognize" happens 2:30 into this clip, but it's worth seeing the entrance of the "torero", and the adoration of his fans.

Carmen ( Act 2) - Air du toréador


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Discussion Starter · #173 · (Edited)
Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D 759 "Unfinished Symphony"
Franz Schubert
1822 -

Two movements premiered 1865 in Vienna

Unfinished? It was started in 1822 but left with only two movements-though he lived for another six years. A scherzo, nearly completed in piano score but with only two pages orchestrated, also survives.

To this day, musicologists still disagree as to why Schubert failed to complete the symphony.

It has, however, been surmised that the most extended entr'acte from Rosamunde (also in B minor, in the same style of the first movement and with the same instrumentation as the symphony) was indeed that fourth movement, which Schubert recycled by inserting it into his Rosamunde incidental music composed in early 1823 just after the Wanderer Fantasy.

In any event, it's likely that you may already be familiar with the second theme of the First Movement, a sweet tune in 3/4 carried by the cellos.

Schubert's Eighth Symphony is sometimes called the first Romantic symphony due to its emphasis on the lyrical impulse within the dramatic structure of Classical sonata form. Furthermore, its orchestration is not solely tailored for functionality, but specific combinations of instrumental timbre that are prophetic of the later Romantic movement, with astonishing vertical spacing occurring for example at the beginning of the development.

The most recent masterpieces in the genre were Beethoven's 7th and 8th Symphonies, premiering in 1813 and 1814 in Vienna. By 1822, Schubert was ready to attempt in the symphony what he already done in his songs and had started to glimpse in his piano sonatas and chamber music. Instead of trying to take Beethoven on at his own game of dynamism, dialectic, and confrontation, Schubert found in the music he completed for this B minor symphony a way of shaping time and tonality that no other symphonic composer up to this point had managed.

The following analysis is not mine, but lifted from one or more internet sources, but I'll be damned if I can remember from whence they originated. I also paraphrased the content here and there.

In terms of the history of the symphony, this music is unprecedented. This B minor symphony has all the strangeness, surprise, and shock of an alien artifact.

Tom Service wrote extensively about Schubert's Unfinished Symphony here:

His analysis, while rather technical and wordy, is really spot on in spite of all that.​

There are some great live performances of Symphony No. 8 available on YouTube, but in terms of sound quality, I'll go with this fairly ancient video of Georg Solti conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

I. Allegro moderato
II. Andante con moto

Schubert, Symphonie Nr 8 h Moll 'Unvollendete' Georg Solti, Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Since the Scherzo was practically finished, and even the orchestration was started, it seems unfair to exclude the third movement.

Strangely enough, all of the first three movements are in "three", but that just adds to the charm I think.

Recent research tends to corroborate the hypothesis (first presented by Grove in 1881) that the B minor entr'acte from Schubert's incidental music to Wilhelmina von Chézy's play Rosamunde was originally conceived as the finale of the 'Unfinished' Symphony. Quite apart from being too big to serve well as an interlude, it employs the same orchestral forces as the symphony. As for the Scherzo, Schubert sketched it in piano score, and two pages of his orchestral version are extant. Of the Trio, he penned only one melody for the first section, so it is from here on that reconstruction becomes more speculative. It has been possible, for all the hazards, to compose a well-informed second section that is based (quite naturally) on the material of the first section. The result of Brian Newbould's scholarship at last offers listeners something like a 'real' symphonic experience.

And the majority of it is basically Schubert's work

III. Scherzo/Trio; Allegro
IV. Allegro molto moderato

Schubert / Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D. 759: Mvts 3 & 4 completed (Mackerras)


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Discussion Starter · #174 · (Edited)
Down the Rabbit Hole

Those unfamiliar with Classical music would likely also be unfamiliar with conductors, and there certainly are some "greats" out there, including the very talented Solti, who is the conductor for the first two movements of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony above.

Unfortunately, as I'm trying to rely on live versions of these masterpieces, I'm neglecting some very talented conductors that did their best work long before video became a "thing".

My most wistful omission was for #5, the 1812 Overture. The Antal Dorati monaural recording made in the 1956 is still my favorite version of this classic.

Dorati made his conducting debut in 1924.

He became especially well known for his recordings of Tchaikovsky's music. He was the first conductor to record all three of Tchaikovsky's ballets - Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker - complete. The albums were recorded in mono in 1954 and 1955, for Mercury Records, with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra (later renamed the Minnesota Orchestra), as part of their famous "Living Presence" series.

He also recorded all four of Tchaikovsky's orchestral suites with the New Philharmonia Orchestra, and he was the first conductor to make a recording of Tchaikovsky's "1812" Overture (featuring the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra) with real cannons, brass band, and church bells, first in mono in 1954 and then in stereo in 1958. Both the mono and stereo "1812" versions sold over one million copies, and awarded a gold disc by the RIAA.

He actually lived long enough to make some digital recordings, but, alas, there is no video of him conducting the "1812" live.

He passed away in 1988.

There's another great recording or the 1812 made by the even more brilliant once-in-a-century talent Leonard Bernstein.

And I'd be remiss to not mention Herbert Von Karajan & Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra's version recorded in 1966.

And some experts think that Seiji Ozawa's recording is excellent as well. There IS video of him conducting it; however, his conducting style doesn't really do it for me . . . but, you know, I'm not an actual "expert". I just play one in this thread.

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Discussion Starter · #175 ·

Keith Emerson, Greg Lake

This orchestrated version is performed by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Yutaka Sado. The arrangement of this was done by the amazing composer Takashi Yoshimatsu

Tarkus, Orchestrated


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Discussion Starter · #176 ·
Madrigals, book 5, for 5 Voices
Claudio Giovanni Antonio Monteverdi

Monteverdi was an Italian composer, string player and choirmaster. A composer of both secular and sacred music, and a pioneer in the development of opera, he is considered a crucial transitional figure between the Renaissance and the Baroque periods of music history.

So, Monteverdi's Fourth Book of Madrigals (1603) had already been criticized for their "modernism".

Monteverdi's Fifth Book of Madrigals begins like the Fourth Book--the first half of the publication contains five-voice a cappella madrigals (with optional continuo) that use surprising dissonances to express the images and sentiments of their texts with extraordinary intensity. The second half, however, breaks new ground: the continuo (i.e., accompanying chord instrument like harpsichord or lute) part becomes independent (and indispensable), thus enabling Monteverdi to set extended passages for one or two voices.

One fine example is "T'amo, mia vita" ("I love you, my life")--a rapturous meditation by a young lover who has heard his beloved utter those words. Monteverdi sets the four words for solo soprano, repeating them between lines of the young man's reverie as if replayed over and over in his mind.

He presents his music through complex counterpoint and daring harmonies, although at times combining the expressive possibilities of the new music with traditional polyphony.

So . . . there are 19 Madrigals in Book 5, most of which run between three to five minutes, although the last Madrigal is around nine minutes long, meaning that the full set runs roughly 80 minutes:

*Cruda Amarilli, Che Col Nome Ancora 0:02
*O Mirtillo, Mirtillo, Anima Mea 3:21
*Era L' anima Mea 5:55
*Ecco, Silvio, Colei Ch'in Odio Hai Tanto 10:00
*Ma Se Con la Pieta Non E In Te Spenta 12:48
*Dorinda, Ah! Diro "mia" Se Mia Non Sei 16:11
*Ecco, Piegando Le Ginnocchia A Terra 18:24
*Ferir Quel Petto, Silvio? 20:46
*Ch'io T'ami, E T'ami Piu de la Mia Vita 24:46
*Deh! Bella E Cara E Si Soave Un Tempo 27:13
*Ma Tu, Piu Che Mai Dura 29:49
*Che Dar Piu Vi Poss'io? 33:28
*M'e Piu Dolce IL Penar Per Amarilli 37:01
*Ahi, Com'a Un Vago Sol Cortese Giro 40:33
*Troppo Ben Puo Questo Tiranno, Amore 45:24
*Amor, Se Giusto Sei 48:46
*"T'amo, Mia Vita", la Mia Cara Vita 51:59
*E Cosi A Poco A Poco 54:32
*Questi Vaghi Concenti 57:50


And THIS is why I try to post LIVE versions . . . 80 minutes of madrigals is interminably long for those unfamiliar with music theory and music history . . .

These songs were groundbreaking at the time, yet a recording of them seems dull and dusty.

So, lookie HERE . . . here's just one of them, the second in the book: O Mirtillo, Mirtill'Anima Mia, but performed live, and as a stand-alone 2:40 madrigal.

Les Arts Florissants - Monteverdi Madrigals Book V

Not only can you HEAR the different voices, each with their own wonderful separate vocal line, but you can SEE it happening.

But here's the whole thing: Marco Longhini conducting the Delitiae Musicae

Quinto Libro De' Madrigali. Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)


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Discussion Starter · #177 · (Edited)
The Goldberg Variations, BWV 988
Johann Sebastian Bach

The Goldberg Variations, is a musical composition for harpsichord by JS Bach, consisting of an aria and a set of 30 diverse variations (and a recap of the opening aria) for harpsichord with two manuals.

First published in 1741, the work is one of the most important examples of the variation form. It is named after Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, who may also have been the first performer of the work.

Every third variation in the series is a canon, with each canon starting at a higher interval: Thus, variation 3 is a canon at the unison, variation 6 is a canon at the second (the second entry begins the interval of a second above the first), variation 9 is a canon at the third, and so on until variation 27, which is a canon at the ninth. The final variation, instead of being the expected canon in the tenth, is a quodlibet based on multiple German folk songs.

So, here is maestro Glenn Gould's 1955 recording of the Goldberg Variations, played on a piano. This quickly became one of the most revered piano recordings ever made and Gould became the most famous classical artist of the day. His exciting, unorthodox new way of playing Bach left listeners awestruck and critics around the world hailing him as a genius.

J.S.Bach "The Goldberg Variations" [ Glenn Gould ] (1955)


But I expect that there will be purists that feel that a piano is certainly NOT a harpsicord, and Bach didn't intend for it to be played on a piano.

Actually, pianos DID exist in Bach's day, although not nearly as versatile, durable, and nuanced as what we have today. And Bach would not have even CARED if it had been played on a piano, although it certainly makes it a bit trickier to play some of the double manual variations.

So, here is a much, much longer (1:34) version performed by Jesus (LOL, just kidding . . . ) harpsichordist Jean Rondeau in 2017 (Gould's recording is only 40 minutes long). He takes every repeat and provides embellishments that are tasteful, imaginative and consistent with Bach's score. The color and expression he produces is incredible. He plays creatively and imaginatively.

Bach - Aria mit 30 Veränderungen Goldberg Variations BWV 988 - Rondeau | Netherlands Bach Society


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Discussion Starter · #178 ·
Carnival Overture Op. 92
Antonin Dvořák

It is part of a "Nature, Life and Love" trilogy of overtures written by Dvorak, forming the second "Life" part. The other two parts of the trilogy are In Nature's Realm, Op. 91 ("Nature") and Othello, Op. 93 ("Love").

The overture is scored for two flutes, piccolo, two oboes, English horn, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, triangle, cymbals, tambourine, harp and strings.

This work does indeed depict the high-spirited tumult of a festive carnival setting; barkers and vendors, and boisterous crowds.

Dvořák said that the Carnival Overture was meant to depict "a lonely, contemplative wanderer reaching at twilight a city where a festival is in full swing. On every side is heard the clangor of instruments, mingled with shouts of joy and the unrestrained hilarity of the people giving vent to their feelings in songs and dances." Dvorak evoked this scene with brilliant music given in the most rousing sonorities of the orchestra. Into the basic sonata plan of the piece, he inserted, at the beginning of the development section, a haunting and wistful paragraph led by the English horn (one of Dvorak's favorite instruments) and flute to portray, he said, "a pair of straying lovers," the wanderer apparently having found a companion. Following this tender, contrasting episode, the festive music returns and mounts to a spirited coda to conclude this evergreen Overture.

Here's Jiří Bělohlávek conducting the BBC Symphony Chorus and the BBC Symphony Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall, 8 September 2012

Dvořák - Overture Carnival (Last Night of the Proms 2012)


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Discussion Starter · #179 ·
George Frideric Handel

The Messiah is one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music.

Yep, this is where the Hallelujah Chorus is from (it appears as the triumphant ending of Part II).

Handel wrote Messiah for modest vocal and instrumental forces, with optional settings for many of the individual numbers. In the years after his death, the work was adapted for performance on a much larger scale, with giant orchestras and choirs. In other efforts to update it, its orchestration was revised and amplified.

The entire work resembles an opera in many ways, although there are no "characters".

Handel's music for Messiah is distinguished from most of his other oratorios by an orchestral restraint, especially his limited use of trumpets throughout the work

And it's long. Incredibly long. So-o-o-o-o long.

It's in three parts, each with four to five "scenes", each of which have several distinct parts. All in all, there are over 50 separate sections (depending on how they're numbered).

Given that it performed by at least half of America's largest orchestras every holiday season (even though it's not really a Christmas piece), it might be interesting to note that at the time a lot of people thought it was blasphemous. Many critics objected to the idea of mixing the sacred and secular worlds where the same theater might host religious subject matter one day and suggestive comedy the next.

But only the first third of the work was about the birth of Jesus. The second act covers the death of Jesus and the third focused on his resurrection. As such, the piece was originally conceived as a work for Easter and was premiered in the spring during the Lent season.

And there is no "definitive" version: It's been tinkered with and re-orchestrated endlessly, starting with the composer himself.

Leonard Bernstein once raised eyebrows by reordering sections of Messiah for a Carnegie Hall performance. Not many conductors would have the confidence to tinker with the original intentions of a composer like Handel, but in reality his original intentions are hard to guess.

Handel rewrote parts of the oratorio to better meet the abilities of soloists and the available instruments with each of the original 13 performances. Historically, Messiah has continued to change with the ensembles that perform it. Mozart re-orchestrated Messiah in 1789 and gave it a more modern sound by Classical orchestra standards. He humbly wrote than any alterations he made should not be seen as an effort at improvement.

And even though Handel was German, he relocated to England early on, so Messiah is actually in English.

So . . . here's that "Hallelujah Chorus" that's so famous.

This version is unique in that it combines the 300+ Mormon Tabernacle Choir with a 2000+ virtual choir of people around the world.

World's Largest Virtual #Hallelujah Chorus


However . . . the entire "Messiah" takes over 2 hours, with performances clocking in between 2:15 and 2:45.

Here's King's College, Cambridge Choir conducted by Stephen Cleobury. Yes, the video is lo-def (one of the comments: "Too bad this was filmed with a potato"), but the audio is excellent. The natural reverb is minimal, so you can actually hear the lyrics . . . but you can credit the soloists for refraining from chewing up the text - their technique is excellent. Also, they made a real effort to utilize period instruments as well. And they kept their performance down to 2:15.

♫ Handel "MESSIAH" | King's College, Cambridge Choir | BEST RECORDING


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Discussion Starter · #180 ·
Symphony No. 35 in D major, K. 385, aka, the Haffner Symphony
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

I. Allegro con spirito
II. Andante
III. Menuetto
IV. Presto

The "Haffner" opens with a unison leap of joy, a two-octave-spanning smile that sets the spirited Allegro in motion. Mozart wrote to his father Leopold that it "must be played with great fire." The movement is dominated by the character of the opening theme-a kind of writing influenced by his friend Haydn and sometimes called "monothematicism." Mozart even foregoes the conventional repeat of the exposition; the commentator Michael Steinberg surmises this is because the movement's "striking tautness" and thematic concentration make that gesture unnecessary.

The G major Andante entertains with urbane pleasures, as if in spirited acknowledgement of Mozart's new public in the big city. The Minuet by contrast evokes the festive, unforced mirth of Mozart's music for public celebrations from the earlier Salzburg years. Mozart wanted the finale to be played "as fast as possible." You can hear a premonition of the boisterous Figaro music to come in just a few years. Here the ambitious young Mozart seems to celebrate not only his Salzburg friends of old but the liberating prospects of his new life in Vienna, where he was just beginning to make his mark.

Oh, and it's called the Haffner Symphony because it was commissioned by the Haffners from Salzburg, for the occasion of the ennoblement of Sigmund Haffner the Younger.

Here's a feisty live version by the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Nathalie Stuzmann

Mozart - Symphony No. 35 Haffner (complete/full) / Nathalie Stutzmann

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