September 2013 was my last posting! Amazing how time flies when you’re battling prostate cancer! Yep … the adventure of my life and it’s going better than I would have hoped. Determined to avoid any of the intrusive horrors; I’m using many of the natural cancer fighting modalities. Tons of powerful nutraceuticals and supplements, fresh veggie and wheatgrass juices, meditation, exercise, month by month hormone injections (the least intrusive of the ‘effective’ mainstream tools) and a secret weapon!
Hey I just thought of a cool way to mark my progress. What better than Beethoven’s answer to being healed!
His string quartet #15 – Heiliger Danksgesang eines Genesenen an die Gottheit-Neue Kraft fuehlend
translated: “A Convalescent’s Holy Song of Thanksgiving to the Divinity, in the Lydian Mode”
Like all of his late string quartets this is a ripper! (Aussie slang for good stuff)
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
In the article he comments on this second movement: The last sonata, in D major, takes off in other new directions. After the dramatic opening movement, Beethoven gives us, for the first time in these works, a full slow movement, a prayer that must surely be the most beautiful movement ever written for cello and piano.
‘the most beautiful movement ever written for cello and piano’ Wow. And that’s praise from a guy who plays the cello.
Beethoven’s 5th (and last) Cello Sonata in D maj. / second movement
Ben to go with your double whiskey and Richard because I’m thinking about you
According to Wikipedia, Beethoven’s 6 Late String Quartets are … widely considered to be among the greatest musical compositions of all time. This movement from the 13th String Quartet (the Cavatina) was chosen as the last piece to be played on the “golden record“, a phonograph record containing a broad sample of Earth’s common sounds, languages, and music sent into outer space with the two Voyager probes.
Jeremy Siepmann, a music critic, provides some background to this piece of music.
String Quartet No.13 in B flat major, Op.130 – Cavatina: Adagio molto espressivo
One of the world’s greatest compositions, Beethoven’s 5th piano concerto (the Emperor), played by Glenn Gould on piano – Leopold Stokowsky conducting The American Symphony Orchestra 1966.
My friend Richard admires Glenn Gould so much, I’ll go ahead and post this work, which may or may not be “perverse” and “heretical”!
Here is a review of this recording on Amazon.
Both Glenn Gould and Leopold Stokowski were often iconoclasts, with musical interpretations that some considered eccentric or even heretical. That’s certainly the case with this piece, which some critics have labeled as “perverse”. So fair warning, purists often despise this recording.
Not me. Of all all the other versions I have heard, this is the one I keep returning to. The 2nd movement as played by Gould is one of the most beautiful and moving pieces of music I’ve ever experienced. Stokowski’s orchestra is lush and sonorous, Gould’s playing is fluid and singing, and even the humming somehow works.
It’s true that Stokowski and Gould sometimes seem to have different ideas about the music (particularly in the first movement). Listening closely, one can detect inconsistencies between the approach of the conductor and pianist. But somehow that doesn’t matter, and the end result is a glorious musical triumph. Other recordings may be truer and more accurate, but to me they sound pale and bland next to this. Regardless of its eccentricities and heresies, it’s still one of my top 10 favorite recordings. Ever.
About time that I posted some full compositions. You may have noticed that I tend to only present one movement from a Concerto or Symphony or Sonata; rather than all the movements. Invariably it’s the second movement – due to my preference for slow, melodic, thoughtful, melancholic!, peaceful etc. I suppose in a way it’s not really fair to the composer not to present his/her entire statement.
Recently a person in my town asked if I ever posted entire compositions. He didn’t ask the question in a judgmental fashion, just politely inquired. It has “niggled” at me ever since. So… Istvan … here’s a post for you!
(* I’ll place this posting in the Long Playing sections)
Francois Devienne (1759 – 1803) was known as “The French Mozart”
Francois Devienne – Bassoon sonata I in C major, Op. 24
Beethoven – Piano Sonata no. 23 Appassionata
Johann Nepomuk Hummel: One of the greatest of the ‘ignored and forgotten’ composers!
Hummel – Sextett Fur Blaser In F Major
Haydn – Symphony No. 104 In D Major (”London”)
Mozart – Piano Sonata No- 13
Clara Schumann, Robert’s wife – who decided late in life she just didn’t have what it takes to be a composer!
Wikipedia defines bagatelle as a short piece of music, typically for the piano, and usually of a light, mellow character. The name bagatelle literally means a “trifle”, as a reference to the innocent character of the piece.
Here’s Glenn Gould tickling the ivories and humming along! You can just barely hear him in the background humming while he plays. Some record companies took out the humming, but this recording of the bagatelles left it in. Gould’s habit of humming along with the music put him in his own league of ‘eccentric.’ There is something unsettling and distracting about it; yet at the same time charming, and maybe appropriate? Gould thought so! It’s not so hard to imagine the great composers themselves – vocalizing along as they played their compositions in private.
6 Bagatelles, Op- 126, No- 1 In G Major , Andante Con Moto Cantabile E Compiacevole
6 Bagatelles, Op- 126, No- 2 In G Minor , Allegro
7 Bagatelles, Op-33, No-1 In E-Flat Major , Andante Grazioso, Quasi Allegretto
Today whilst researching aspects of Beethoven’s music I came upon a reference to the Eroica Variations. The author said something along the lines that they were rarely played because they were so strange, or weird, or something to that effect. Listening about 10 minutes in to the combined 15 variations I laughed out loud (at least twice) Delightfully ridiculous.
A mental picture emerged of a highly intelligent adolescent with medium range autism whose parents force him to practice the piano. This is his revenge. (*Stick with it. It only runs about 3 minutes. I’ll bet you laugh at least once)
Somewhere about in the middle of the collected Eroica Variations played by Jeno Jando
Over the years developing this site my brother has been both my strongest critic, and at the same time my most supportive advocate! We’ve spent a lot of time talking about music and I’ve sent him CD’s and a USB flash drive with the music he likes.
These exchanges comparing our musical tastes came to a head the other day after I sent him the Utube link below. He decided that this genre was his musical manna! – Wind – Just the wind instruments. Quartets, quintets, sextets or a whole bunch at once! (Like Mozart’s piece for 13 wind instruments) The use of exclusively wind instruments has an interesting history. The gist of it seems to be that the patrons of the composers in the 17 and 18 hundreds who weren’t filthy rich! .. some of them could only afford to have a little in-house musical group; and they came to be known as Harmonie. At the same time the article notes that some street musicians of the time played in these ‘wind groups.’
Anyway here in order are: The Utube link to a delightful piece by Beethoven. The Wikipedia article and another much more detailed account of Harmoniemusik. (* The next day: An important update) And finally a Long Play selection of all wind lasting an hour and 12 minutes. Enjoy.
* A friend sent me an alternate version for the Mozart Serenade K361 and my brother and I both agree that’s it’s much better. Unfortunately my friend doesn’t know who it is playing! Anyway it will provide a lovely Intro to the long play.
Mozart’s Serenade For Winds K361 third movement
New Wind Instrument Long Play
Playlist: The first 3 movements of Beethoven’s Sextet for 2 clarinets, 2 French horns and 2 Bassoons
Wind quartet in E flat major (andante grazioso) by Anton Reicha. Then Reicha‘s Wind quintet #2 in E flat maj. op 88 IV
Then 4 movements from Mozart’s Serenade for 8 wind instruments in E flat maj. KV 375
Followed by Beethoven’s quintet for Oboe, 3 French horns and Bassoon (all 3 movements)
Finally … Mozart’s Serenade K361 “Gran Partita” for 13 wind instruments: third, fourth, fifth and seventh movements.
A musician friend visited my web site and listened to the second movement of Beethoven’s piano sonata number 8 (the Pathetique) played by Wilhelm Kempff, who was particularly well known for his Beethoven interpretations. My friend then sent me a link to the same piece played by Radu Lupu. Incredible difference! The Kempff version runs 4:56 while Lupu’s goes 7:05! Have a listen to Kempff first, and then the slower, poetic and beatific version by Lupu.
Beethoven piano sonata 8 / 2nd movement by Kempff
After reading the article below and a few others about Radu I began seeking his music out and I’m now a real ‘fan.’ I was amazed that I hadn’t found him before, during my lengthy and exhaustive searches and downloads, for the great pianist of the 20th century. Unfortunately it so far appears that his recorded catalog is fairly small. After the link there are a few more examples of how ‘Slow is better’! Exquisite Brahms.