A friend of mine recently said, “I’m starting to wonder … why listen to anything else?!”
He meant Beethoven.
Now I find myself slipping into some similar ‘Beethoven vortex!’
With 503 pieces in my library; (each movement counts as 1) – I’m also starting to wonder: Why listen to anything else? His music just ‘does the job’. The job of touching head and heart, disturbing, uplifting and challenging one’s musical conceptualizations. I offer this piece up as an example of “Music at it’s Best”
So what do you reckon dear listeners? Would you still tune in to jimsclassicalmusic.com? If all I played was the Big B?
Sonata No. 4 in E flat major Op. 7 – II. Largo con gran espressione.
Played very well by Paul Lewis
I was listening to a debate on the radio some months ago on the theme: Was Beethoven the Greatest? I remember one of those who were voting ‘Yes’ – making a comment along the lines of how, as great as he was, sometimes you just had to wonder what in the hell he was doing! I think she meant that when he gets edgy and ‘out there’ it’s hard to figure out what he’s trying to accomplish musically or emotionally/spiritually … or any which way!
And how about the alchemical transitions he spins? Where he takes us from somnambulist/ hypnotic – to raging punk – like riffs in a minute.
Sometimes listening to Beethoven I find myself on the edge of my seat, almost holding my breath, to see what comes next. Where does a musical genius go after 8, 10 or 15 notes in a sequence that are like a child experimenting? Knowing, that said genius is not childlike, we wonder how his boundless musical savvy is going to lead us out of it; and into… what?!
OK – here’s such a moment. Starting at 3:10 into this piece and going on to about 4:20. Who else but Beethoven could do this?
How did he take us from there to there? Magic stuff. Actually this entire Sonata movement is ‘somethin’ else’!
In this review of the pianist Ingrid Fliter http://www.ingridfliter.com/kevin-moore-cny-cafe-momusthe critic says, “Her playing is not focused on the studied perfection and polish that is so often the case with younger competition-winning pianists today. Rather it makes these pieces come alive with a natural and unforced quality that underscores the very real perfection of the playing. It simply grabs the listener the way great Beethoven pieces should.”
Earlier he says, This is truly great Beethoven playing. It brings to mind the old recordings of Solomon, Hungerford, Myra Hess or Clara Haskil.
Wow – High praise indeed. Funny thing is .. I think I can hear it! Time to go shopping for much more of Fliter’s Beethoven.
here’s her take on the second movement of Beethoven’s Pathetique sonata
How about some more Ingrid! Here’s Chopin’s Waltz #8 op. 64 no. 3 in A flat
And some Schumann: Symphonic Etudes op. 13 Anhang variation V
This is from a review of Haydn’s piano trios on Amazon.
In a letter Brahms says something to the effect `Nobody seems to understand Haydn nowadays. For years he gave us all our music’. Whatever precisely Brahms meant, it seems to me that the complete transformation in the idiom of music that made the music of Mozart and everyone since so astoundingly different from the music of Bach was Haydn’s achievement, and his alone.
What Brahms wrote – … ‘he gave us all our music’ – seems to imply what a huge trans-formative influence he had on the great Classical composers who followed.
Here’s a piece I’ve just been listening to. It floats my boat! Hope it does yours too.
My cyber friend and spiritual comrade Ben, in California, urged me to investigate his music. Since he was admired by Rachmaninoff (and actually collaborated with him) I was motivated to find and listen to more (I had only one piece by him in my library) After listening to a number of pieces I’ll stick with his buddy Rachmaninoff, when I want that Russian melancholy, wistful and nostalgic stuff! They do sound very close in the overall mood they generate.
To discover that he studied with Clementi, collaborated with Hummel, Chopin admired his nocturnes and Liszt made a fuss about them too; was just another small humiliation for this dilettante, not having heard his music before.
Here’s part of what Liszt said, None have quite attained to these vague eolian harmonies, these half-formed sighs floating through the air, softly lamenting and dissolved in delicious melancholy. Nobody has even attempted this peculiar style, and especially none of those who heard Field play himself, or rather who heard him dream his music in moments when he entirely abandoned himself to his inspiration.
Bottom line: These piano pieces are very easy on the ears. Simpler in their construction than Liszt or Chopin, but certainly charming and appealing. The strong ostinato element in the pieces makes me wonder if modern minimalist composers of the ilk of Phillip Glass may not have found inspiration here.
*In music, an ostinato (derived from Italian: “stubborn”, compare English: obstinate) is a motif or phrase, which is persistently repeated in the same musical voice. An ostinato is always a succession of equal sounds, wherein each note always has the same weight or stress. The repeating idea may be a rhythmic pattern, part of a tune, or a complete melody in itself.
Here are his nocturnes 1 – 7 (about 28 minutes worth)
I purposely did not do any research for this post; deciding not to read what the critics had to say about the Brandenburg Concertos. I think you only need an ear (or two) and a heart to appreciate how great they are!
Here are a couple of his beautiful piano nocturnes.
We’re sitting in a piano bar way-station nibbling tasty hor dourves and watching the runway. The room is full of cultured wealthy philanthropists and spiritual seekers; awaiting the shuttle flight to Heaven: Level 3/room 16