Mozart's Fantasia in D minor K 397

>> Sunday, January 31, 2010

Another of my Mozart favorites, performed here on fortepiano by Jos Van Immerseel. (I confess that I listened to a performance by Glenn Gould, but was unimpressed with his interpretation.)

Fantasia No. 3 in D minor, K. 397 is a piece of music for solo piano composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1782. Despite being unfinished at Mozart's death, the piece is nonetheless one of his more popular compositions for the piano. Because of its somewhat unusual rhythm, its constantly changing tempo (seven different tempi occur throughout the piece, some of which are quite fast), and its complete lack of any recognizable musical form (as indicated by the "Fantasy" title), the Fantasia is considered to be a relatively challenging piece to perform.

The original manuscript has not survived and the final measures of the piece have been lost. The ending as it currently exists is believed to have been written by August Eberhard Müller, one of the composer's admirers.

The Fantasia runs to just over 100 measures, and a full performance takes approximately seven minutes.

Information source: Wikipedia


Mozart Symphony no. 40 in G minor, The "God" Symphony

>> Saturday, January 30, 2010

Before we end out the month, the month in which Mozart was born on 27 January, 1756, I must feature my favorite of Mozart's symphonies. Yesterday I featured a 1980's medley of classics set to a techno beat and one of my readers dubbed the Mozart no. 40, G minor  the "God" symphony (thanks Jasper!), and how right he is! (Glenn Gould called it banal? What an ass!) This symphony, composed in 1788, was part of a very productive summer in which Mozart also composed his 39th and 41st symphonies.

Presented to you in five parts, here are all four movements of Mozart's Great G minor Symphony, played by the Prague Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras. (I might add that the tempos in this performance are perfetto!)


The Royal Philharmonic's Hooked on Classics

>> Friday, January 29, 2010

Who remembers this? This takes me way back to the days right after I graduated from college (1982), with a bachelor of music and I was living in northern Kentucky. I was performing in various venues in both Kentucky and Ohio and in order to stay trim and fit for the stage, I would put on my gym clothes and shoes and put the Hooked on Classics LP on the turntable and do a one hour aerobic workout to it.

I challenge you to listen to the whole 10 plus minutes and name every composer with extra credit for the name of the piece!


So I'm a sucker for baritones: Simon Keenlyside

>> Thursday, January 28, 2010

I only discovered this English baritone a couple of summers ago when I heard him for the first time in the 2003 Covent Garden DVD recording of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, in which he sang the role of Papageno.  The man is brilliant, both singing and acting. And while I have only seen him in Mozart roles (in which he excels), the recording I have chosen for this particular post is of him singing the Prologue from Pagliacci. 

You're gonna love this - I guarantee it.



A very happy Mozart day

>> Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lick my ass nicely,
lick it nice and clean,
nice and clean, lick my ass.
That's a greasy desire,
nicely buttered,
like the licking of roast meat, my daily activity.
Three will lick more than two,
come on, just try it,
and lick, lick, lick.
Everybody lick his own ass himself.


Mozart German Dance No. 3 in C major, Die Schlittenfahrt

>> Saturday, January 9, 2010

Most of Mozart's German Dances were written whilst he held the position of Kammermusicus (Imperial Chamber Composer) in Vienna. Mozart had been apointed to this position on the 1st December 1787 by Emperor Joseph II. The position was offered following the death of the former Kammermusicus, Christoph Willibald Gluck on 15 November 1787.  In the position Mozart earned 800 Florins a year.  One of the main obligations of his position was to write music for the court dances and balls that were held in the Redoutensaal (Public Ballrooms) of the Imperial Palace in Vienna.  Mozart was an enthusiastic dancer, and produced many dance works, including ten sets of German dances. The first set was written in February 1787, before Mozart's appointment to Kammermusicus. The other sets, excluding K. 611, were written between December 1787 and 1791,  during which Mozart also wrote well known pieces such as Symphonies 40 and 41, and his opera Così fan tutte. These were mostly written in sets of six, with one set of four and one of twelve. Mozart composed this set of three Teutsche (German Dances) in the early months of 1791. The three dances of K. 605 are usually listed with the six dances of K. 600 and the four of K. 602 as Dreizehn deutsche Tänze (Thirteen German Dances). The pieces first appear on 12 February 1791 on Mozart's List of all my Works,  and are the penultimate set of German Dances that Mozart would compose before his death on 5 December 1791. 

Dance 3 Schlittenfahrt:  This dance may have been written independently of the others, as it is very different in style. Schlittenfahrt means "Sleigh Ride"; the use of sleigh bells in the piece clearly emphasises this. Before the sleigh bells enter, there is a series of repeating phrases that pass between the trumpets, woodwind and violins. The topography of the dynamics of the tuned sleigh bells make the piece seem like a sleigh ride, as the dynamics rise and fall like a sleigh would over snow. This is followed by a beautiful but simple trumpet solo that gives a very peaceful and clear atmosphere to the piece, like a winter's day. The original repeating phrases then return, but end with a majestic fanfare from the trumpets that passes to the other instruments, then returns to the sleigh bells and trumpet solo again. The piece ends with a diminuendo of the trumpet solo.

Information Source: Wikipedia


Vivaldi: The Four Seasons, Winter

>> Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Four Seasons (Italian: Le quattro stagioni) is a set of four violin concertos by Antonio Vivaldi. Composed in 1723, The Four Seasons is Vivaldi's best-known work, and is among the most popular pieces of Baroque music. The texture of each concerto is varied, each resembling its respective season. For example, "Winter" is peppered with silvery staccato notes from the high strings, calling to mind icy rain, whereas "Summer" evokes a thunderstorm in its final movement, which is why said movement is often dubbed 'Storm'.
The concertos were first published in 1725 as part of a set of twelve concerti, Vivaldi's Op. 8, entitled Il cimento dell'armonia e dell'inventione (The Contest between Harmony and Invention). The first four concertos were designated Le quattro stagioni, each being named after a season. Each one is in three movements, with a slow movement between two faster ones. At the time of writing The Four Seasons, the modern solo form of the concerto had not yet been defined (typically a solo instrument and accompanying orchestra). Vivaldi's original arrangement for solo violin with string quartet and basso continuo helped to define the form.

Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 8, RV 297, "L'inverno" (Winter)
  1. Allegro non molto
  2. Largo - actually, this movement is in E-flat major, and the only movement that violins I and II (not solo) pizzicato, except in the ending with whole notes.
  3. Allegro
Information source: Wikipedia


Franz Schubert Winterreise, IV. Erstarrung

>> Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Winterreise (Winter Journey) is a cycle of 24 poems by Wilhelm Müller, best known as the song cycle set for male voice and piano by Franz Schubert (D. 911, published as Op. 89 in 1827). It is the second of Schubert's two great song cycles on Müller's poems, the earlier being Die schöne Müllerin (D. 795, Op. 25, 1823). Both were originally written for tenor voice but are frequently transposed to suit other vocal ranges - the precedent being established by Schubert himself. These two works, in their scale, their dramatic coherence and power, their musical and literary unity, and their interpretative demands, stand in a league of their own within the song-cycle genre. Indeed, although Ludwig van Beethoven's cycle An die ferne Geliebte (To the distant beloved) had been published earlier, in 1816, Schubert's two cycles hold the foremost place in the history of the genre.

4. Erstarrung (Numbness)

He looks in vain for her footprints in the snow, where they formerly walked together arm in arm among the flowers and green grass. He wants to kiss the ground and weep on it, until he can dissolve the ice and see where they trod. But the flowers are all dead, and he can take no remembrance of her away from there. His heart is lifeless with her image frozen within; but if it thaws, her beautiful image fades.

Information source, Wikipedia


Must the Winter Come So Soon? from Vanessa by Samuel Barber

>> Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Here in my part of the U.S. we're not used to long, hard winters. Generally the temperatures are mild, with an occasional cold snap, usually lasting only a few days at a time. However, this year we are experiencing something quite different. Since just before Christmas, temperatures have dropped well below freezing and on Christmas Eve day we had close to twelve inches of snow dumped on us in a white-out blizzard. I've known winters like this, only then I was living in Montana where it was commonplace. All I can say is thank goodness for hot tea, warm woolly stockings, warm flannel nighties, and my soft "warm nothing" blanket.

One of my favorite singers of all time, Frederica von Stade, laments the coming of winter in "Must the Winter Come So Soon?" from Samuel Barber's Vanessa.  This is a 1992 recording from the Metropolitan Opera's Richard Tucker Gala. Members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Conductor: James Conlon 


Michael Maniaci, Adult Male Soprano

>> Monday, January 4, 2010

This is absolutely amazing - an adult male soprano singing the Alleluja from Mozart's motet, Exultate Jubilate which was composed for the castrato Venanzio Rauzzini!  Maniaci is not a counter tenor but an actual adult male soprano. How can this be? When he entered puberty although his body grew and developed normally, his vocal cords did not, only lengthening and thickening partially, thus leaving him with a natural male soprano voice. This is about as close to a castrato as we will ever hear in the 21st century and what a thrill it is to get to hear this motet sung by a voice that is so close to the way Rauzzini's voice would have sounded!


A New Year's Tradition: Marsch Radetsky by Johann Strauss

>> Sunday, January 3, 2010

If you're ever in Vienna for New Year's you will want to have tickets for the Annual New Year's Concert given by the Vienna Philharmonic. But if you want tickets you'll need to put your name on the list years in advance, and even then there is no guarantee that you'll get them. Fortunately it is televised world-over so those of us who can't travel as far as Vienna and/or who aren't fortunate enough to get tickets, can still enjoy it.

The Viennese are known for their staunch and stayed traditions and at New Year's it's no different. Although from year-to-year the concert program will vary, there will always be certain pieces that will remain on the program - the Blue Danube Waltz being one and the other the Radetsky March. This particular film clip is from the 2009 concert featuring Daniel Barenboim conducting the Vienna Philharmonic.


Lynette's Top 12 Musical Posts of 2009

>> Saturday, January 2, 2010

1. January 30th - The World's Most Beautiful Music: Handel's Lascia ch'io pianga

2. February 2nd - Music to Write By

3. March 18th - On Creativity and Tolerance: Yo-Yo Ma

4. April 3rd - The World's Most Beautiful Music: Handel's Cara Sposa from "Rinaldo"

5. May 8th - A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Train

6. June 12th - Friday Faure: Pavane, Opus 50  and (because I couldn't decide between them), June 29th - The World's Most Beautiful Music: Karl Jenkins' Ave Verum Corpus

7. July 19th - The World's Most Beautiful Music: Mozart Sonata for Piano and Violin in E minor, K. 304, movement 2

8. August 9th - Music to Soothe

9. September 22nd - Mozart in the Hands of Youth

10. October 13th - The Masquerade Waltz by Aram Khachaturyan

11. November 2nd - The Pipe Organ, Queen of Instruments!

12. December 19th - In the Bleak Midwinter, The Gloucester Cathedral Choir

"Best Series" award goes to The Thirty-One Days of Halloween
 Post of the Year goes to On Creativity and Tolerance: Yo-Yo Ma



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