Monday, 12 August 2013

May 2013 - Classical Music

Bach, J.S. - French Suite No.6
Beethoven - Piano Sonata No.27 (2 versions)
  • Lament
  • Two Poems for Orchestra after Richard Jeffries
  • Two Old English Songs
  • Thy Hand In Mine
  • Mantle of Blue
  • Blow Out, You Bugles
  • A Prayer
Dvorak - String Quartets 7 and 10
  • Nocturnes 6 and 7
  • Barcarolles 5 and 6
  • Valse-Caprice No.4
  • Theme and Variations for piano
  • Sérénade du Bourgeois gentilhomme
  • Pleurs d'or (Tears of Gold)
  • 2 Songs, Op.76
Holmboe - String Quartets 2, 4, 9, 12 and 17
Janacek - Concertino
Liszt - Hunnenschlacht (Battle of the Huns)
  • 5 Impromptus
  • Napoli
  • Badinage
Most of these Bridge pieces were short, the exception being A Prayer which is his only work for choir and orchestra.  I don't, from this distance, recall any of these works grabbing my attention the way that his Dance Poem did, but neither did I dislike any of them. There's a consistent level of enjoyment from these pieces.

My Faure chronology took me into some of the music that made me fall in love with this composer in the first place, the piano pieces he wrote in the 1890s.  The fifth Barcarolle is an astonishing piece - even more astonishing once you try to learn to play it, as I have, and realise just how fiendishly complex it is.  In some sections the harmony changes constantly, in others the melody keeps changing octave/register (at times between every note) and creates an intricate ballet between the pianist's two hands that a listener should hear as one seamless flow. It's strange and it's beautiful.

(This isn't the recording I have, but it's not dissimilar in approach.)

And then there's the sixth and seventh Nocturnes, perhaps the greatest works in his piano output. The 7th is a piece I know how to play, and indeed it's one of my very favourite things to play. In the past I've often listened to them together, but in reverse order, with the darker, struggling 7th finding a peaceful resolution before the 6th takes its beautiful, dream-like flight.

They make a lovely pair, but they also represent what is, at least in the piano music, something of a turning point. In early Faure, the melodies soar easily. In late Faure, the melodies often don't soar at all, but instead crawl doggedly upwards.  Here in the middle it feels like the music is just beginning to forget how to take flight. And the results are some wonderfully complex music.

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