Saturday, 3 March 2018

Classical Music - November 2017

Bach, J.S. - Gottlob! Nun geht das Jahr zu Ende (Praise God! The year now draws to a close)
Bach, J.S. - Er rufet seinen Schafen mit Namen (He calls His sheep by name)
  • First Essay for Orchestra
  • Violin Concerto
  • 4 Songs, op.13 
  • Symphony No.8
  • The Ruins of Athens
  • Violin Sonata No.5 
  • String Sextet No.1
  • Piano Quartet No.1
  • Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel
  •  Suite for Strings
  • Phantasie Piano Quartet
  • An Irish Melody: Londonderry Air (string quartet version)
  • Miniatures for piano trio, sets 1 to 3
Bruun - Vandring i Skoven (A Walk in the Forest)
  • Symphony No.5
  • String Quartet No.8
  • Piano Quartet No.1
  • Piano Trio No.2
  • Theme and Variations for piano
  • Dumka for piano
  • 2 Minuets for piano 
Faure - Piano Trio
Franck - Violin Sonata in A
Haydn - Symphonies 52 and 64
  • Symphony No.12
  • String Quartet No.7
  • Notations
  • Quartetto Medico 
Liszt - Dante Symphony
Medtner - Skazki, opp. 42 and 48
Mozart - Piano Concerto No.7
Mozart - Piano Sonatas 3, 4 and 6 
Nielsen - Symphony No.3, 'Sinfonia Espansiva'
Nielsen - Aftenstemning (Evening Mood) 
Nørgård - Symphony No.6, 'At the End of the Day'
Pedersen (Fuzzy) - Seven Postcards from Ebeltoft and Vicinity
Prokofiev - Piano Sonatas 6, 7 and 8
Rachmaninov - Piano Concerto No.4
Rachmaninov - Symphonic Dances (2 piano version)
  • Myrthen
  • Liederkreis (Heine)
  • 3 Romances, op.28
  • Piano Sonata No.6
  • 2 Preludes, op.27
  • 3 Etudes, op.65
  • 2 Impromptus, op.14
  • Polonaise, op.21
  • 9 Mazurkas, op.25
Shostakovich - Symphonies 5 and 11
Sibelius - Eight Songs to words by Josephson, op.57
Vivaldi - Violin Sonata in C minor, RV 5

The pattern of listening here is pretty much the same as previous months, slowly but surely working through the various "programmes" I had set for myself. There are some quirks, such as my sudden decision to give Liszt's Dante Symphony a spin on account of the vague memory that this was a Liszt work I liked. And that's true. But finding Liszt that I can love is a slightly more difficult matter.

Beethoven's 8th symphony is always a highlight of any Beethoven traversal. Medtner's skazki are becoming more and more sophisticated. Prokofiev's wartime piano sonatas are rightly regarded as some of his best.

But the most notable information, for me, in this list is that I reached Schumann's "year of song". In 1840 the piano composer suddenly became a lieder composer. Which is remarkable not simply because of the abrupt shift in focus, but because of the incredible quality of what he produced. While I admit there are still many lieder by famous names such as Schubert, Brahms and Wolf that I haven't heard, my own view is that Schumann is the very best lieder composer of all. And that view is primarily based on the output from this one intense burst of activity, from February 1840 through to January 1841.

The inspiration seems to be in large part a desire to express his love for his soon-to-be/new wife, Clara. Myrthen ended up being a wedding present (as befits the title, because myrtle wreaths were used as wedding decorations) and is all about love, but Schumann kept on composing songs after completing that first project. And we can all enjoy the results.

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