Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Classical Music - October 2014

Beethoven - Piano Trio No.3 (op.1/3) 
Brahms - Cello Sonata No.1
Bridge
  • Summer
  • Phantasm
  • There is a Willow Grows Aslant a Brook
  • Vignettes de Danse
  • Coronation March
  • Sir Roger de Coverley (A Christmas Dance) - orchestral version 
Chopin
  • Introduction and Polonaise Brillante for piano and cello
  • Rondo in C, op.73
  • Variations in A, 'Souvenir de Paganini'
  • Polonaise in G flat
  • Nocturnes in E minor and C sharp minor (Lento con gran espressione)
  • Mazurkas in D, C (op.68/1) and F (op.68/3)
  • Waltzes in A flat, B minor (op.69/2), D flat (op.70/3), E, E flat and E minor
Debussy - 2 Dances for harp and orchestra
Dvorak - Nature, Life and Love (In Nature's Realm, Carnival and Othello overtures)
Grieg - Piano Concerto
Haydn - Symphonies 85 and 86
Holmboe - Concerto No.8, 'Sinfonia Concertante'
Holmboe - String Quartet No.1 
Janacek - Violin Sonata
Mozart - String Quartet No.18
Schumann - Piano Trio No.3
Shostakovich - String Quartets 7 and 13
Sibelius - Pohjola's Daughter
Vivaldi - Beatus vir in C, 1720s version

I've left this commentary far too late and I didn't have a clear idea at the time of compiling this list as to what I might talk about.

So let's start off by going with the obvious attribute: quantity. The exploration of the young Chopin continued, with a focus on things that had no intention of making his name with. Most of these pieces were published after his death after being presented to friends or admirers. Only the Introduction and Polonaise Brillante has an opus number from Chopin's lifetime, and his own comment on it was "nothing to it but dazzle".

But the young Chopin certainly knew how to dazzle.

I also continued with my re-visitation of Bridge's orchestral works, and this CD (volume 3 in the Chandos series) was arguably the most attractive yet with its mix of large- and small-scale works. Summer is a fine work indeed, and I was already impressed with Phantasm the first time around.

The other thing that stands out here is Dvorak's trilogy of overtures, which I listened to a considerable number of times, both together and separately. The pieces were first performed together, and are clearly linked with one musical motif in particular recurring in all of the quite different pieces (as a main theme in the 1st and 3rd, and as key part of the central contrasting section in the 2nd). While the pieces are moderately popular as fillers on Dvorak programs and their quality is recognised, it's surprising how infrequently the pieces are kept together these days on CD or in concert. I'm therefore quite pleased that I found a box that had them together (performed by Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic). The colour and variety in these works is a testament to Dvorak's skill as a composer.

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