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Nikolai Medtner Piano

Medtner for Ben

This is the first appearance of Nikolai Medtner (b 1880 – d1951) on this site.

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.

Forgotten Melodies op38 (1) Sonata-Reminiscenza- Allegretto tranquillo

John Field Piano This Dilettante!

This Dilettante!

As a self confessed Classical Music dilettante I continue to discover large gaps in my ‘knowledge-base’ The one I found the other day was so big you could drive a Queensland road train through it!

My brother in law, with whom I frequently discuss music, casually mentioned John Field (b1782 – d1837)

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.[1]

Here are his nocturnes 1 – 7 (about 28 minutes worth)

Faure Piano

Faure Nocturnes

The French composer Gabriel Faure (1845-1924) was one of the foremost French composers of his time.

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

Nocturne #4


Nocturne #3

Beethoven Cello

Beethoven Cello and Piano

The following quote is from an article by cellist Steven Isserlis titled, ‘How I fell in love with Ludwig.’ Here’s the link:

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

Hummel Piano

How wonderful Hummel

Today I was listening to my iPod to a playlist that contains a lot of my favorites. I was only listening with half an ear but kept thinking it was probably Beethoven. Each time the gentle, melodic and lyrical riff appeared (the one that starts the piece) I thought … aaahh yeah it probably is him. (*NOTE: Serious Beethoven lovers please forgive this dilettante!) Still in all I have listened to a lot of Beethoven and he’s my favorite. It must say something for Hummels’ mastery as a composer.

Here’s Hummel’s Fantasie op. 18 Larghetto e Cantibile



For more on Hummel (how he was a fellow student with Beethoven and when B appeared it nearly destroyed H’s confidence!) see this posting

Beethoven Beethoven Wept

Beethoven – a revelation (for Richard and Ben)

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.

Beethoven wept.

String Quartet No.13 in B flat major, Op.130 – Cavatina: Adagio molto espressivo

Avison Baroque 'lightweight'

A Baroque “Lightweight”?

Someone gave me a CD of Charles Avison’s music (1709 -1770) Whilst listening, the label “lightweight” came to mind. The music is pleasant enough, easy to listen to, and that reminded me of a contemporary of Avisons’ – Johann Stamitz – whos music I found to be similar in it’s easy listening quality.

So what is it that separates these two from the likes of Handel, Rameau, Telemann and of course JS Bach? Not enough notes?! Uninteresting interaction between themes/melodies? For want of a better word (remember I’m only a classical music dilettante, not a real critic) I would call their music shallow … or ‘thin’

Here’s Avison’s concerto in A major opus 4


To do your own listening comparison you can scroll through the composer drop down menu on the right and listen to some Handel et. al. Actually part of the reason I made this post was to get back at Avison for being critcal of Handel! How dare he!

Farrenc Female Composers Women!

More of a great Female composer

Louise Ferrenc – who one critic proclaimed the greatest female composer. I’m listening to her more often these days and always come away with the feeling that she truly is a great composer. Here are 3 complete compositions.

Farrenc Sonata #1 in 3 movements


Farrenc Sonata #2 in 4 movements


Farrenc: Variation concertantes sur une melodie suisse Op. 20 in 8 movements


If you haven’t already seen this posting … check it out. Some very interesting material about the discrimination towards women in Classical music.

You might also want to listen to the Long Play selection of her music.

Beethoven Devienne Haydn Hummel Its About Time LONG PLAYING SELECTIONS Mozart Schumann, Clara Women!

It’s About Time

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!

Hmmm … I beg to differ!

Clara Schumann Drei Romanzen, Op 22

Chopin Piano

Chopin – the “dreamiest?!”

Who can do “Dreamy” better than Chopin? Maybe nobody. Let’s listen!

His Nocturne in B #17. Two versions. One by Garrick Ohlsson, until 1970 the only American to win the International Chopin Competition.  And then a more recent winner of the Competition (2005) – Rafal Blechacz; who was proclaimed so superior to all the other entries that they couldn’t award a second prize! (check out Rafal – a fine young man without much of an Ego! A great “New” breed of pianist)

and a wonderful interview


By Ohlsson


By Blechacz