Wednesday, 29 October 2008

186. Joseph Haydn - The Seasons (1801)


















Recording

Title: Die Jhareszeiten
Performers: Gundula Janowitz, Werner Hollweg, Walter Berry, Berliner Philharmonic
Director: Herbert von Karajan
Year: 1972
Length: 2 hours 20 minutes

Review

If the
Creation is Haydns most famous oratorio, The Seasons is the second most famous. It is not as uniformly amazing as the Creation, partially because the theme does not give itself to the spectacle of the creation of the world. Still it has its moments.

It is of these great moments that this oratorio lives, whether it is the storm in Summer, a hunt in Autumn or a song sung around the fire in Winter. This means however, that there is quite a lot of filler here, the recitatives are often not that interesting.

This is the last Haydn piece on the list and one of his last compositions, so we bid farewell to a truly great and innovative composer which is now unfairly in the shadow of Mozart, even if the two were completely different composers, with completely different styles and interests. Haydn's joy is contagious and when he wants to go dark the contrast is immense. This is a good oratorio, but it does not match some of Haydn's amazing instrumental work.

Final Grade

8/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Among the more rousing choruses are a hunting song with horn calls, a wine celebration with dancing peasants (foreshadowing the third movement of Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony), a loud thunderstorm (akin to Beethoven's fourth movement), and a stirring ode to toil (or to "industry" in some translations):

The huts that shelter us,
The wool that covers us,
The food that nourishes us,
All is thy grant, thy gift,
O noble toil.

Haydn remarked that while he had been industrious his whole life long, this was the first occasion he had ever been asked to write a chorus in praise of industry.
Some especially lyrical passages are the choral prayer for a bountiful harvest, "Sei nun gnädig, milder Himmel" (Be thou gracious, O kind heaven), the gentle nightfall that follows the storm, and Hanne's cavatina on Winter.

The work is filled with the "tone-painting" that also characterized The Creation: a plowman whistles as he works (in fact, he whistles the well-known theme from Haydn's own Surprise Symphony), a bird shot by a hunter falls from the sky, there is a sunrise (evoking the one in The Creation), and so on.

The beginning of Spring:


Sunday, 26 October 2008

185. Ludwig van Beethoven - Piano Sonata in C sharp minor, op. 27, no. 2 "Moonlight"(1801)


















Recording

Title: Klaviersonaten
Performer: Stephen Kovacevich
Year: 1999
Length: 16 minutes

Review

This is possibly the most famous piano sonata in the history of piano sonatas, and with good reason. We are now, according to the parameters of the list, in the Romantic period, listening to the first and last movements of this sonata it is hard to disagree with this definition.

Beethoven starts this sonata with one of the most famous portrayals of what is essentially sadness or longing or something equally heart-achingly painful. The second movement is a little ray of sunlight and then he goes into the amazingly frustrated last movement, there's anger and frustration here, portrayed in a much more violent way than anyone before.

The work has the problem that comes with it being so famous. You've heard it a thousand times, but listening to it in chronological context discloses just how brilliant it really it, and why it deserves its fame. An amazing piece.

Final Grade


10/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

The work was completed in 1801 and rumored to be dedicated to his pupil, 17-year-old Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, with whom Beethoven was, or had been, in love. The name "Moonlight" Sonata derives from an 1832 description of the first movement by music critic Ludwig Rellstab, who compared it to moonlight shining upon Lake Lucerne.

Beethoven included the phrase "Quasi una fantasia" (Italian: Almost a fantasy) in the title partly because the sonata does not follow the traditional sonata pattern where the first movement is in regular sonata form, and where the three or four movements are arranged in a fast-slow-[fast]-fast sequence.

Wilhelm Kempff plays the third movement:


Saturday, 25 October 2008

184. Ludwig van Beethoven - Violin Sonata in F Major, op.24, "Spring" (1800)


















Recording

Title: The European Busch-Serkin Duo Recordings Volume 1
Performers: Adolf Busch (violin), Rudolf Serkin (piano)
Year: 1933
Length: 20 minutes

Review

This is probably Beethoven's second most famous violin sonata, right after the Kreutzer sonata, and it is also the last composition in this list to be nominally a part of the Classical age. From here on out we will be in the Romantic age.

Although this sonata is clearly in the classical style, it is still an impressive piece, not only because of how positively catchy all the movements are, but also because of the perfect interplay of the instruments.

This great interplay of instruments is particularly apparent in this recording, that even if it is pretty old shows an almost telepathic communication between Busch and Serkin, brought about by a long collaboration between the two. So highly recommended, the sound might not be the best quality but it is perfectly acceptable.

Final Grade

10/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Its dedicatee was Count Moritz von Fries, a patron to whom the fourth violin sonata, the string quintet of the same year, and the seventh symphony were also dedicated.

Anne Sophie von Mutter doing the Spring, part 1:



Friday, 24 October 2008

183. Ludwig van Beethoven - Symphony no. 1 (1800)


















Recording

Title: Symphony No. 1, Symphony No. 6
Performer: Cleveland Orchestra
Director: George Szell
Year: 1964
Length: 26 minutes

Review

Of the nine Beethoven symphonies this one is probably the least impressive. This just goes to show, however, how great all of them are, because taken by itself it is a pretty amazing Symphony, it only pales in comparison.

Beethoven is one of those pivotal composers where the music world is measured in Before Beethoven and After Beethoven. Even if this is not one of his most innovative symphonies, it still sounds very much Classical, it is still very much a Beethoven composition, you can hardly mistake it for something else.

Beethoven just has an explosive sound which comes out here, even if the symphony owes much to Haydn, even the general mood of the music has a certain Haydn cheerfulness that is not as typical of Beethoven. So a minor Beethoven symphony, if such a thing exists, which means it is still excellent!

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

The twelve-bar introduction of the first movement is often considered a musical joke, but it may simply be a result of Beethoven's experimentation: it consists of a sequence of dominant-tonic chord sequences in the wrong key, so that the listener only gradually realizes the real key of the symphony. There is a shortened recapitulation before the coda which closes the first movement. The andante (in F Major, the subdominant) of the second movement is played considerably faster than the general concept of that tempo, at what could be thought of as moderato. The third movement is remarkable because, although it is marked Menuetto, it is so fast that it is ostensibly a scherzo. The finale opens with another possible joke, consisting of partial scales played slowly before the full C-major scale marks the real start of the allegro.

A bit of the first movement conducted by Zubin Metha:




Wednesday, 22 October 2008

182. Ludwig van Beethoven - String Quartets op.18 (1800)



















Recording

Title: The Early String Quartets
Performers: Takács Quartet
Year: 2002-2003
Length: 2 hours 20 minutes

Review

Beethoven was something else. Quite literally something very different from Haydn or Mozart, this is most apparent here by his repeated use of sforzando to high emotional effectiveness.

It is this emotional punch that puts him rightfully in his place as the daddy of Romanticism. Just to have an idea you should listen to the Adagio of the first quartet and the last movement of the sixth quartet. They are both supremely effective emotionally and very visual.

The way in which Beethoven invokes the feeling of melancholy in the last movement of the last quartet on this recording is almost gothic in its ambience. This is an emotional depth that the rococo style was completely unaware that was possible. For that reason alone this is indispensable.

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

The fourth movement [of the sixth quartet] is the crux of the piece and possibly the highlight of Op. 18. It is marked "Questo pezzo si deve trattare colla più gran delicatezza" ("This piece is to be played with the greatest delicacy"). The first section, in 2/4 time is marked Adagio and on one reading matches the "Melancholy" of the title. The second section marked "Allegretto quasi allegro" is in 3/8 time and is more sanguine. It is a fast and simple evocation of a Viennese ballroom or German country dance. This proceeds in contrast to the first section but eventually grinds to a halt on a fortissimo diminished chord. There follows a brief return of section 1 (10 bars) followed by a briefer return of section 2 (5 bars) (in a minor) followed by an ever briefer return of section 1 (only 2 bars). This is followed by section 3, which is really a lengthier return of section 2, which starts in G and moves back to B♭.

Last Movement of the sixth quartet:


Monday, 20 October 2008

181. Joseph Haydn - String Quartets, op. 77 (1799)


















Recording

Title: String Quartets Opus 77
Performers: Quatuor Mosaiques
Year: 1989
Length: 1 hour

Review

Here we have the last string quartets by Haydn... and unfortunately there is only one more piece by him on the list. So his joie de vivre will end up in the earth like it does to us all. Cheery.

Frankly I was not as impressed by these two Quartets was I was by Opus 76, which sounded a lot more experimental and were also more attractive. These are the only two quartets in this Opus which was supposed to consist of 6 quartets, but Haydn just never got around to finishing it, and you can feel him a bit uninspired here.

Still, they are very good, only not as immensely impressive as his previous ones on this list. So if you are really in love with his String Quartets you could do worse than get this, but if not... leave it be.

Final Grade

8/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

The return to Vienna in 1795 marked the last turning point in Haydn's career. Although his musical style evolved little, his intentions as a composer changed. While he had been a servant, and later a busy entrepreneur, Haydn wrote his works quickly and in profusion, with frequent deadlines. As a rich man, Haydn now felt he had the privilege of taking his time and writing for posterity.

First Movement of the second quartet:


Sunday, 19 October 2008

180. John Field - Piano Concertos (1799 - 1832)


















Recording

Title: Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 4
Performers: Benjamin Firth, Northern Sinfonia
Director: David Haslam
Year: 1996
Length: 1 hour 15 minutes

Review

At first this album might seem like a big step forward into romanticism, well in fact the two concertos on this recording are from 1811 and 1814 respectively and in that sense they are really not that innovative... although they would be in 1799.

This just goes to show how fast music is going to evolve in the next 15 years, from classical with a hint of romantic to full-blown romantic. Field is an interesting character in the sense that he was the first person to compose nocturnes, that Chopin would then make so famous as piano pieces. In these concertos you can hear nocturne-like movements in the two slow movements, very delicate pieces indeed.

The two concertos are OK, nothing to write home about, but as said before the short slow movements stand-out for their nocturne-like qualities and the first movement of the fourth concerto stands out for its martial influences in the orchestra. Another interesting thing is Field's use of folk music, but again these concerts are well into the 19th century so that shouldn't be as strange as when Haydn did it for example.

Final Grade

8/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

He died in Moscow two years later. Because Field's faith was unclear -- his parents were nominally Protestant, but he had had a Catholic wedding -- there is a legend that when he was questioned on his deathbed by a priest his friends had procured about which religion he practiced, he said, "I am a clavicist" (Je suis claveciste).

No videos of the concertos, but you get one of the Nocturne no.5:


Saturday, 18 October 2008

179. Joseph Haydn - The Creation (1798)


















Recording

Title: Die Schopfung
Performers: Balthasar-Neumann-Chor, Balthasar-Neuman-Ensemble
Director: Thomas Hengelbrock
Year: 2002
Length: 1 hours and 40 minutes

Review

Many claim this to be Haydn's masterpiece, and I agree to some extent, in the sense that it is a complete work in the dramatic and musical sense, and completely integrated in those two parts. The part where God creates light is truly impressive, as is the opening Chaos. Still, the work is too dependent on the text to make sense.

The fact that it is too dependent on the text makes it much less appealing just to listen to. It needs understanding, if you understand what is being said, or can follow a libretto, your enjoyment will be considerably superior. The whole thing is full of musical representations of what is being said that make a lot more sense if you understand what is happening.

This, as an oratorio, is midway between the mass and the opera and the drama works pretty well, but it is definitely a work that you should give your time to. If you don't get where you are at it will sound verbose in its recitatives only really shining in the Choirs and Arias. Ideally you should learn German and then listen to it. As a way to recount the story it would be ideal for children... if you actually wanted to teach them Creationism... which you don't.


Final Grade

8/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

The pleasure of experiencing Haydn and van Swieten's Die Schöpfung lies less in the inevitable trajectory of the plot—we all know the story, and it contains no real sense of conflict—than in the wide-eyed wonder with which the composer visits its familiar contours. A childlike quality pervades the work, as if Haydn were relating the narrative to young listeners who had never heard it before." -- James Keller

William Christie records the Creation:


Thursday, 16 October 2008

178. Joseph Haydn - Mass in D minor, "Nelson" (1798)


















Recording

Title: Missa "in Angustiis": "Nelson" Mass, Te Deum
Performers: English Concert & Choir
Director: Trevor Pinnock
Year: 1987
Length: 50 minutes

Review

We haven't been as flush with church music in the recent past as we were during the Baroque, and that is not a bad thing. Sacred music is best digested slowly, when there is too much of it is can kind of meld together. Fortunately for us a small trickle of Sacred Music is very enjoyable, when it is of such high quality it is a great pleasure indeed.

This is a hard-hitting mass. It seems weird to us now that someone would want to go to church to listen to the cutting edge of music... but that is pretty much what people were doing here. This Haydn piece is a showcase of amazing composition both at an orchestral level and at a choral level.

Haydn has a limited orchestra with only strings, trumpets and timpani. He makes the best of a bad situation by infusing the mass with great martial thundering and contrasting it with moments of absolute sweetness. More impressive than that is the sheer horror with which it starts. The Kyrie is an astounding and panicked piece of music. The Benedictus goes into an amazing Martial march, sacred music at some of its most original. Highly recommended.

Final Grade

10/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Though in 1798, when he wrote this Mass, Haydn's reputation was at its peak, his world was in turmoil. Napoleon had won four major battles with Austria in less than a year. The previous year, in early 1797, his armies had crossed the Alps and threatened Vienna itself. In May of 1798, Napoleon invaded Egypt to destroy Britain's trade routes to the East.

The summer of 1798 was therefore a terrifying time for Austria, and when Haydn finished this Mass, his own title, in the catalogue of his works, was "Missa in Angustiis" or "Mass in Time of Distress." What Haydn didn't know when he wrote the Mass — but what he and his audience heard (perhaps on the very day of the first performance September 15) was that on Aug. 1, Napoleon had been dealt a stunning defeat in the Battle of the Nile by English forces led by Admiral Horatio Nelson. Because of this coincidence, the Mass gradually acquired the nickname "Lord Nelson Mass." The title became indelible when in 1800, Lord Nelson himself visited the Esterhazys (accompanied by his British mistress, Lady Hamilton), and may have heard the Mass performed.

Vermont Youth Orchestra does the Kyrie:


Wednesday, 15 October 2008

177. Ludwig van Beethoven - Piano Sonata in C minor, op.13, "Pathetique" (1798)


















Recording

Title: Favourite Piano Sonatas
Performer: Vladimir Ashkenazy
Year: 1981
Length: 18 minutes

Review

The very name of the sonata shows the great leap forward that this is. The sense of Pathos here is great, and that would be one of the defining characteristics of Romantic music.

That said this is still Beethoven on the Classical side, even if the future is clearly apparent in what must be one of the great piano sonatas of all time, surely the most famous one right after the Moonlight sonata, also by Beethoven.

So we start a new great composer with this, Beethoven will keep us companied for quite a while and that is nothing but a good thing. This sonata really needs to be listened to, and I bet most you reading have heard it before, but in the context of late classical music it makes a particular impact in how forward looking it is. Amazing.

Final Grade

10/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

The Pathétique Sonata is perhaps the earliest of Beethoven's compositions to achieve widespread and enduring popularity. It is widely represented on the concert programs and recordings of professional pianists. As one of the more famous Beethoven pieces, it has been incorporated into several works of popular culture (e.g. it is used as the theme of the film The Man Who Wasn't There and Billy Joel's "This Night" from his album An Innocent Man). Beethoven's Pathetique remains one of his most popular sonatas.

Glenn Gould's version:


Tuesday, 14 October 2008

176. Joseph Haydn - String Quartets op.76 (1797)


















Recording

Title: The Complete String Quartets
Performers: The Angeles Quartet
Year: 1994-99
Length: 2 hours (2 CDs off the 21 CD set)

Review

These are some great string quartets by Haydn, pretty much the best collection of string quartets we've had here. Again, much like the Symphony, Haydn is seen as the father of the String Quartet and here he brings it to a great level of perfection.

Thankfully other equally skilled composers in the string quartet division are coming up soon in the Romantic era (Beethoven and then Schubert) but for the best of Classical age string quartets it is hard to beat this.

The greatest highlight here is the third quartet, the slow movement using the tune that has become famous as the German national anthem, but the first movement is equally impressive with a decidedly folksy tune to it. The folksyness of Haydn is one of my favourite things about him, he was not afraid to learn from the people, and just makes for some jaunty, sing-alongable tracks.

Final Grade

10/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Although the quartets were completed by 1797, shown by accounts of visitors hearing them performed in early 1797, they were not published until 1799. Correspondence between Haydn and his publishers reveal that there was confusion regarding the release of his quartets; the composer promised the London publishing house of Messrs. Longman Clementi & Co. first publishing rights, but a lack of communication with the firm led Haydn to worry that a Vienna publication might accidentally release the complete set of quartets first, causing him to lose money from London.

These quartets are among Haydn's most ambitious chamber works. They deviate more than previous quartets from the expected sonata form, and Haydn emphasized thematic continuity, seamlessly and continually passing motives from one instrument to another (Grave 312).

Deutschland Deutschland Uber Alles, heh Second movement of the third quartet:


Saturday, 11 October 2008

175. Luigi Cherubini - Médée (1797)


















Recording

Title: Medea
Performers: Maria Callas, Ginno Penno
Director: Leonard Bernstein
Year: 1953
Length: 2 hours

Review

I detest Maria Callas' singing style. It is ugly, strident and almost to the level of caricature. And then not to solve any problems I get the shittiest recording quality of all times here, it's recorded off the radio in 1953!

The choir gets too distorted for comfort, Callas gets even more strident to the point of distortion, you hear people shuffling about, coughing, you even hear what seems to be a prompter in the second or third act... I don't remember.

What is most frustrating about it is the fact that is actually seems to be an interesting opera, even if Leonard Bernstein seems to be conducting it in a way completely irrespective of history. Either that or Cherubini has just invented verismo and no one told me.

Final Grade

4/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

The role of Médée is famed for its difficulty. Famous interpreters of the role in the 20th century included Maria Callas, Eileen Farrell, Dame Gwyneth Jones, Magda Olivero, Leyla Gencer, Leonie Rysanek, Anja Silja, Maralin Niska, Marisa Galvany, Montserrat Caballé, Sylvia Sass, Shirley Verrett and, in the restored original-version, Phyllis Treigle.

Here you go, notice all the back noise and how strident she sounds:

174. Joseph Haydn - Trumpet Concerto (1796)
















Recording

Title: Concertos For Oboe, Trumpet, Harpsichord
Performers: Mark Bennet, The English Concert
Director: Trevor Pinnock
Year: 1990
Length: 16 minutes

Review

An interesting concerto by Haydn which explores the potentiality of the new invention at the time: the chromatic trumpet. So this trumpet has keys and therefore can go places trumpets before it couldn't and that is what makes it a better instrument. Still it is not the most fascinating of Haydn's orchestral works.

Compared with the last Haydn symphonies we've had here this sounds like a bit of a throwback, a bit like early classical/late baroque. The fact that it is not as forward looking as some other stuff he was doing at this time does not take merit away from the piece, which is still lovely.

The trumpet solo part is the real highlight here, delicate and putting the new instrument to great use in it's exploration of the lower register. In the end therefore it is all a bit underwhelming, even if it is quite pleasant.

Final Grade

8/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Anton Weidinger reputably had developed a keyed trumpet which could play chromatically throughout its entire range. Before this, the trumpet was commonly valveless and could only play a limited range of harmonic notes by altering lip pressure. These harmonic notes were clustered in the higher registers, so previous trumpet concertos could only play melodies at very high pitches (e.g., Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2). Haydn's concerto includes melodies in the lower register, exploiting the capabilities of the new instrument.

There were attempts all over Europe around the mid-classical era to expand the range of the trumpet using valves, and Weidinger's idea of drilling holes and covering them with flute-like keys proved reasonably unpopular, due to their poorer quality of sound. Thus the natural trumpet still had continual use in the classical orchestra whilst the keyed trumpet had barely any repetoire. The valved trumpets used today started to appear in the 1830s.

Tine Thing Helseth plays the third movement:


Friday, 10 October 2008

173. Joseph Haydn - Symphony no. 104, "London" (1795)
















Recording

Title: Symphonies 83 Hen, 101 Clock & 104 London
Performers: Berlin Philharmonic
Director: Herbert Von Karajan
Year: 1975
Length: 25 minutes

Review

This is the last Symphony composed by Haydn and it is really the culmination of his Symphonic achievement. It is, in my humble opinion, the best Haydn symphony of them all, from the majestic and sombre start to the folk-song like ending there is not a boring, or less than brilliant moment in the whole thing.

We can tell how fast the 19th century is approaching by the elements that you can spot in this symphony which would be completely at ease in a Beethoven work of the romantic period, for example. The third movement prefigures the
Pastoral Symphony, the second movement almost prefigures Mahler's adagios in a couple of moments! And the last movement reminds me of Dvorak's New World Symphony... but maybe that's just me.

Definitely an essential piece of music by the "father of the symphony" who seems to not only have made the whole style popular, but to have developed it to a great level of perfection. Beyond essential.

Final Grade

10/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

The exuberant finale, in fast tempo and in sonata form, opens in the mode of folk music using a drone bass and a theme often claimed to have originated as a Croatian folk song; for details see Haydn and folk music. The development section settles on the dominant of the main key, as is typical, but atypically, the recapitulation does not occur immediately. Instead, the development is extended with a section in F sharp minor, after which the recapitulation in D major follows immediately.

Last movement... I know this isn't the best orchestra for it, but they are trying!:


Wednesday, 8 October 2008

172. Joseph Haydn - Symphony no. 101, "Clock" (1794)

















Recording

Title: The 12 "London" Symphonies
Performers: London Philharmonic
Director: Eugen Jochum
Year: 1973
Length: 28 minutes

Review

Mozart is dead but Haydn is fortunately still around to keep us all in a cheery mood. After the famous musical joke of the "Surprise" symphony he has another little play with the second movement having a "tic-toc" theme going all the way through it.

The Symphony does not live only of its namesake "clock", however, in fact there is plenty to love here. The first movement starts with a beautifully creepy adagio only to erupt into complete exuberance in one of the greatest transitions in any Haydn Symphony.

Haydn is again a composer full of lightness and joy, and fortunately he is still gonna be alive for a while so we can enjoy plenty more of his stuff... although there is only one more symphony by him on the list. The performance is flawless as would be expected with a real verve, making even the slow movement totally whimsical.

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

The work was premiered on 3 March, 1794, in the Hanover Square Rooms, as part of a concert series featuring Haydn's work organized by his colleague and friend Johann Peter Salomon; a second performance took place a week later.

As was generally true for the London symphonies, the response of the audience was very enthusiastic. The Morning Chronicle reported:

As usual the most delicious part of the entertainment was a new grand Overture [that is, symphony] by HAYDN; the inexhaustible, the wonderful, the sublime HAYDN! The first two movements were encored; and the character that pervaded the whole composition was heartfelt joy. Ever new Overture he writes, we fear, till it is heard, he can only repeat himself; and we are every time mistaken.

Some clocks:


Tuesday, 7 October 2008

171. Domenico Cimarosa - Il Matrimonio Segreto (1792)



















Recording

Title: Il Matrimonio Segreto
Performers: Badioli, Ratti, Sciuti, Stignani, Orchestra del Teatro de La Scala di Milano
Director: Nino Sanzogno
Year: 1956
Length: 2 hours

Review

Firstly I would not necessarily recommend this version of the Opera. This version is missing the recitatives and if you are interested in the story you will need them. For that you can get the Barenboim version which also has the advantage of being more recent.

But then it is hard to know if you would want a copy of this in the first place. Ok, Cimarosa is only second to Mozart in opera composition in the Classical era... well... that is faint praise at best, being second-place to Mozart makes his exponentially worse than Mozart.

If this is the best Cimarosa opera, as seems to be the consensus, it is sorely lacking in the sophistication of Mozart, both in musical and dramatic terms. It is comparable in terms of subject to the three De La Ponte operas (
Nozze, Don Giovanni and Cosi Fan Tutte), and that is about it. It can be mildly amusing, and some of the arias are also mildly amusing, but there is very little juice here, no staggering pieces or emotional depth to the characters. So, eh.

Final Grade

7/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Cimarosa's only work still to be regularly performed, it is arguably one of the greatest 18th century opera buffa apart from those by Mozart. Its premiere was the occasion of the longest encore in operatic history; Leopold II was so delighted that he ordered supper served to the company and the entire opera repeated immediately after.

Cara Non Dubitar:


Wednesday, 1 October 2008

170. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Requiem (1791)


















Recording

Title: Requiem
Performers: Academy of St. Martin In the Fields & Chorus
Director: Neville Marriner
Year: 1990
Length: 51 minutes

Review

Here we are at the end of Mozart's output, quite literally, his beautiful scary and powerful unfinished Requiem. This is one of those pieces that are powerful not only for the music itself but also for the circumstances in which they were produced, a mass for the dead where the composer dies before finishing it.

Critics have said that Mozart would still be in the history books and recognised as the amazing composer that he was if this was the only thing he ever composed. And he probably would indeed, this is probably my favourite piece of Sacred Music, there is such horror to some of the pieces, such beauty to others that there is something for everyone here, well maybe except for someone in a dancing mood.

This is one of those pieces that really deserves close listening, it is nothing short of amazing. My favourite part is the Confutatis Maledictis, a section which is alternately panicked and quiet, an almost schizoid piece of music followed by the beautiful Lacrimosa, but the whole thing is an experience to be listened to beginning to end. Unfortunately you can tell that from the Domine Jesu onwards the brilliance is not as present, a sign that the Requiem was unfinished and completed by a student of Mozart.

Final Grade

10/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

At the time of Mozart's death on 5 December 1791 he had only completed the opening movement (Requiem aeternam) in all of the orchestral and vocal parts. The following Kyrie (a double fugue), and most of the Sequence (from Dies Irae to Confutatis), is complete only in the vocal parts and the continuo (the figured organ bass), though occasionally some of the prominent orchestral parts have been briefly indicated, such as the violin part of the Confutatis and the musical bridges in the Recordare. The last movement of the Sequence, the Lacrimosa, breaks off after only eight bars and was unfinished. The following two movements of the Offertorium were again partially done -- the Domine Jesu Christe in the vocal parts and continuo (up until the fugue, which contains some indications of the violin part) and the Hostias in the vocal parts only.

Confutatis followed by Lacrimosa: