Friday, May 31, 2019

Glenn Gould Plays Piano Sonatas

No. 313 of the ongoing TYWLTMT series of audio montages, which can be found in our archives at


This week marks an important milestone in our ongoing survey of piano sonatas, as we complete our entire Mozart cycle with a pair played by the revered late great Canadian pianist, Glenn Gould.

Gould's distinct interpretive style doesn't always please every listener - and the set of sonatas and composers I chose today shows Gould in very different "moods". For example, in the two sonatas (six movements in total) we find Gould in his "exacting mood", dogmatically keeping to the indications on the score, sometimes in a "sporting mood" pushing "presto" to "prestissimo" while distinctly playing every note, sans rubato or ornamentation.

Listen to his Scarlatti set today as a shining example of his "surgical mood". The short Beethoven sonata "à Thérèse" (written for Countess Thérèse von Brunswick) contrasts with his performance of the "quasi una fantasia" sonata - one played almost sportingly, the other in a "respectful mood" on the verge of the :exasperatingly slow mood" he sometimes gets into, transe-like and almost meditative at times.

The contrasting piece here is the closing sonata - obscure to many -by a young Richard Strauss. This recording, one of list last, strikes me particularly by an uncharacteristically :romantic mood". Ine has the sense that Gould shows a great deal of affection for this piece, and it is given a heartfelt rendition which conveys it a sense of grandeur it sometimes doesn't quite deserve.

But - heck - Gould always surprises!

I think you will love this music too.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Roméo et Juliette (Berlioz)

This is my post from this week's Once or Twice a Fortnight.

The great 19th century French composer Hector Berlioz holds a unique place in musical history. Far ahead of his time, he was one of the most original of great composers, but also an innovator as a practical musician, and a writer and critic whose literary achievement is hardly less significant than his musical output. Few musicians have ever excelled in all these different fields at once.

2019 marks the 150th anniversary of Berlioz’s passing, and I have a pair of OTF posts planned to mark the anniversary, starting with this week’s seco d of two looks at music inspired by the Bard’s famous play.

Which of the two powers, Love or Music, can elevate man to the sublimest heights??It is a great problem, and yet it seems to me that this is the answer: ?Love can give no idea of music; music can give an idea of love??Why separate them? They are the two wings of the soul.?
- Hector Berlioz

Classical music lovers familiar with Symphonie fantastique will know of the supposed genesis of the symphony: the young composer’s infatuation for Harriet Smithson, the Irish Shakespearean actress. Yet this passion was only part of the transformation that Berlioz experienced when he first saw Harriet as Ophelia in the performance of Hamlet at the Odéon Theatre, Paris, in 1827. As he relates in his memoirs, “This sudden revelation of Shakespeare overwhelmed me. The lightning flash of his genius revealed the whole heaven of art to me, illuminating its remotest depths in a single flash?” From then on the dramatic works of Shakespeare shaped his musical imagination in the creation of such works as the dramatic symphony Roméo et Juliette, the comic opera Béatrice et Bénédict, and shorter works - Le roi LearFantasy on The Tempest and the memorial to his love for Harriet, La Mort d’Ophélie.

In their excellent website Michel Austin and Monir Tayeb point out that Roméo et Juliette is one of Berlioz’s greatest and most original works, and reflects a number of influences. We already discussed the Shakespeare influence; the work is also a homage to Beethoven, in particular the Ninth Symphony, which provided Berlioz with one of his starting points in developing the possibilities of symphonic music. It also reflects, like his previous symphony Harold in Italy, the impact of Berlioz’s stay in Italy in 1831-1832 – including a hearing in Florence of Bellini’s I Montecchi ed i Capuletti which only encouraged him to do better. Finally, the exceptional virtuosity deployed in the orchestral writing seems particularly appropriate for the dedicatee of the work, Paganini, who was never able to hear it, much to Berlioz’s regret - The composition in 1839 was made possible by the generous gift of 20 000 francs by Paganini to Berlioz.

The work was first performed in 3 concerts conducted by Berlioz at the same Conservatoire, on 24 November, 1st December and 15th December 1839, before an audience that comprised much of the Parisian intelligentsia of the time and included none other than Richard Wagner, whose Tristan und Isolde of 1859 bears evident traces of the impact that the music had on him. The work did not reach its final form until several years after its composition: after a performance of the complete work in Vienna on 2 January 1846, the first since 1839 and the first abroad, Berlioz decided to make several important cuts and changes to the Prologue, Queen Mab Scherzo, and the Finale, and the full score was not published till 1847.

As it turns out, the work is rarely heard from beginning to end in concert, and we typically only hear the Love Scene and the Queen Mab scherzo as stand-alone bonbons. Charles Dutoit and Sir Colin Davis, in their respective Berlioz anthologies, both recorded the work in its entirety and it is the former’s interpretation (from the Montreal Symphony London/Decca recordings made at the old Church of St-Eustache North of Montreal) that is featured today.

(The YouTube playlist I found also includes a performance of the Symphonie Funèbre et Triomphale as filler)

Happy Listening!

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
Roméo et Juliette, op. 17 [Ĥ 79]

Symphonie dramatique avec Chœurs, Solos de chant et Prologue en récitatif choral, composée d’après la Tragédie de Shakespeare
French libretto by Émile Deschamps, after Shakespeare

Florence Quivar, Mezzo-soprano
Alberto Cupido, Tenor
Tom Krause, bass
Chœurs de L'Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, Tudor Signers Of Montréal
Jean-François Sénart, chorus master
Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal
Charles Dutoit, conductung

London Records ‎– 417 302-1
Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP, Stereo, Box

Recording details -


Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Handel, Mozart, Herbert von Karajan ‎– The Water Music Suite / Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

This is my post from this week's Tuesday Blog.

This week’s Vinyl’s Revenge share is a rare EMI recording of Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic – rare, simply because most of the discography of Karajan and his Berlin orchestra belongs to the Deutsche Grammophon catalogue. We forget, however, that Karajan’s career post-World War II had a somewhat formative period in London of all places. To discuss, let me borrow some excerpts from a five-year old article from an Australian publication.

Karajan was born in 1908, which, in the words of his biographer Richard Osborne, was “the wrong time”’ he was destined to live through World Wars I and II, and through the Cold War and he would die shortly before the Berlin wall came down. But being born in 1908 also meant that Karajan reached some major personal milestones at exactly the right moment in world history.

The war may have been deeply traumatic but when hostilities ceased in 1945, he was 37, an age when a conductor still counts as young but, if he has learned his craft properly, has a large repertoire under his belt.

The 1950s, perhaps the key decade in the forming of the Karajan brand, was also the decade of huge technological innovation. Few musicians understood its potential as well as Karajan. As Osborne said, “He was absolutely the right man at the right time, because although there were a number of other great conductors from the previous generation whom he revered – like Furtwängler, Toscanini, Bruno Walter and so on – they were not recording as they might have done if they’d been around when LP and tape came along. And so he was perfectly placed. He lived through LP, stereo and the arrival of digital sound.”

Ironically it was Germany’s wartime adversaries who proved Karajan’s greatest ally during the 1950s. The EMI producer Walter Legge, a keen Germanophile and a natural (if not practising) musician, had A&R instincts second to none. Apart from Karajan, he brought to disc a new generation of conductors that included Giulini, Klemperer, Cantelli and Sawallisch. Legge’s mission was to build a record catalogue for the post-war age, recording – in the new media of, first, LP and then stereo – the core repertoire in quality that would stand the test of time. A glance through his productions shows he did just that. He was the midwife to many of the classic recordings from the 1950s, and many were conducted by Karajan.

Again, timing was all: war had taken its toll on many of the great European orchestras, and Legge needed an ensemble to work with in the studio. His creation was the Philharmonia Orchestra, assembled in 1945; as Richard Osborne points out “by the middle 1950s the Philharmonia Orchestra, as put together by Legge and Karajan, was probably the best orchestra in the world.”

The Philharmonia years were important not just for the high-quality of the music-making – the elegance of, say, Karajan’s Der Rosenkavalier or Die Fledermaus remains wondrous – but they brought into existence the notion of performing for the gramophone record.

Having whipped the orchestra into shape (and what shape!) Karajan and Legge systematically set about recording what today tends to be the ‘core’ repertoire, indeed one might argue that they helped construct this ‘core’ repertoire.

When Karajan took over the Berlin Philharmonic from Furtwangler, he was still under contract to EMI and committed some of their early tenure to that label. Today’s share includes a few Mozart titles – Eine Kleine Nachtmuzik (in a syrupy recording if you ask me), a few German dances and a layover rendition of the Ave Verum Corpus with the Philharmonia. The flip side of the record is a performance of Water Music highlights as assembled by Sir Hamilton Harty, a kind of tip of the hat to Karajan’s years in London.

As I’ve relayed in pasty posts, this is one of those “Made in Italy” pressings I purchased at a deep discount in the early 1980’s, a licenced re-issue from the EMI Classics catalogue, now owned by Warner Classics. They, in turn, are responsible for the tracks being found on YouTube, and here we are…

Not my favourite Karajan recording, but still worth listening to.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Serenade In G Major: K.525 "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik"
Ave, Verum Corpus, K.618 (*)
(Choir – Singverein Der Gesellschaft Der Musikfreunde In Wien)
German Dances: K. 602, No. 3 - K. 600, No. 5 - K. 605, No. 3

Sir Hamilton HARTY (1879-1941)

Suite From Handel's Water Music (1922)

Berliner Philharmoniker
Philharmonia Orchestra (*)
Herbert von Karajan, conducting

Longanesi Periodici ‎– GCL - 02
(Reissue of Angel Records ‎– 35948)
Format: Vinyl, LP, Stereo
Original Release - 1961

Details -

Internet Archive URL -

Friday, May 17, 2019

Josef Suk (1929 – 2011)

No. 312 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages, which can be found in our archives at

Our Friday Blog and Podcast this week reintroduce one of my favourite violinists, Josef Suk. We first featured him in a Vinyl’s Revenge post and share of the Bruch and Mendelssohn violin concertos, and we feature him today in music of Mozart and of his own great-grandfather, Antonín Dvořák.

In my personal music collection I have no less than three “complete” sets of the Mozart violin concertos; the term complete is in quotes mainly because the actual number of concertos and concertante works Mozart wrote for the violin is up for debate. There are five generally accepted “numbered” violin concertos (nos. 1 – 5) and a trio of stand-alone movements (two rondos and an adagio) likely movements intended as replacements dedicated to specific contemporary violinists of Mozart’s time. A sixth concerto, in E flat major, was at one time attributed to Mozart but is now attributed instead to Johann Friedrich Eck and a seventh Concerto in D Major, also called the Kolb Concerto.

Both my David Oistrakh/Berlin Philharmonic (EMI) and Henryk Szeryng/New Philharmonia (Philips) sets limit themselves to the five + three movements, however the set I own by Suk and the Prague Chamber orchestra adds the missing two – from that set, I chose numbers 5 and 6 for today’s podcast.

The Mozart concertos aren’t “flashy” – the many German Romantic concerti (with the Sibelius and Tchaikovsky) usually are part of the standard “competition” repertoire mainly because they are. What distinguishes these concerti from the hundreds of the Baroque masters and the seminal Romantic ones is the need for very precise, economical yet steady lines that are required from the soloist. This is oil painting, not house painting, if you get my drift… Though I love my Szeryng and my Oistrakh sets, the Suk set is the most satisfying group in that regard, and the orchestra is solid and well-matched. The recordings didn’t get much distribution in the West – par for the course during those years – but were issued on boutique European labels, which is probably where most of us got to enjoy them.

The complete set is available on YouTube

Dvořák was inspired to write the concerto after meeting Joseph Joachim in 1878, and composed the work with the intention of dedicating it to him. However, when he finished the concerto in 1879, Joachim became skeptical about it; he never performed the piece in public. Instead, it was premiered in Prague in 1883 by František Ondříček, who also gave the Vienna and London premieres.
For Supraphon Records, Suk recorded many of the great Romantic-era concertos, many with the Czech Philharmonic (with whom he toured in the West in the 1960’s). The Dvořák concerto, closing out the podcast, is part of that collaboration, with the late great Karel Ančerl conducting. Suk’s rendition stands out in the large number of recordings of this popular Dvořák concerto.

I think you will love this music too.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Roméo et Juliette (Gounod)

This is my post from this week's Once or Twice a Fortnight.

Written in 1597, Romeo and Juliet is probably William Shakespeare’s most celebrated play, and his pair of lovers have become a myth. Over the centuries, Romeo and Juliet has inspired all kinds of music. There are songs, ballets, symphonic poems, Broadway musicals and film scores… I have two posts planned for OTF this month, and both share a common thread – the timeless love story of Romeo and Juliet, in a pair of depictions from French composers.

According to an article on the World of Opera website, there are hundreds of Shakespeare operas, including about two dozen based on Romeo and Juliet. But what makes Gounod's opera a rare bird? It's that it's an opera based on Shakespeare that's actually a hit. Astonishingly, of those hundreds only a few are still seen regularly on today's stages. And of all the "R & J" operas, Gounod's is really the only one that has stuck in the repertory.

When Gounod turned his attention to Romeo and Juliet in 1867 he'd already had a big hit with another adaptation -- an opera based on Goethe's Faust. So for Romeo and Juliet, he collaborated with the same librettists he worked with on the earlier opera: Jules Barbier & Michel Carré.

The two writers stuck fairly close to the original play by Shakespeare, though there are some changes. Barbier and Carré cut a few scenes that didn't deal directly with the two lovers. They also tweaked the ending. In the play, when Juliet finally awakens in the tomb, Romeo is already dead. When she wakes up in the opera, Romeo still has a few flickers of life -- enough for the two to sing a final duet before Juliet stabs herself and they die together.

The recording I chose, from the LiberMusica collection, is one of the last recorded documents of the Old Order at the Palais Garnier and, as such, an interesting historical artifact.

One reviewer (unkindly, you might say), points to the signing of one of my favourite tenors of the era, Quebec City’s Raoull Jobin pointing out that “his ‘Comment?’ to Mercutio in Act I situates him a lot closer to the Jardin des Ursulines in Trois-Rivières than the Place de l' Opéra.” Later adding that “[he loves] Janine Micheau's Juliette. […] She gives forth many ravishingly beautiful phrases in the more lyric parts, with that uniquely lovely, burnished voice of hers. “

Happy Listening

Charles-François GOUNOD (1818 –1893)

Roméo et Juliette (1867)
Opera in five acts , French libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré, based on Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare.

Le duc de Vérone André Philippe
Paris: Camille Rouquetty
Capulet: Charles Cambon
Juliette: Janine Micheau
Gertrude: Odette Ricquier
Thibaut: Louis Rialland
Roméo: Raoul Jobin
Mercutio: Pierre Mollet
Stéphano, a page: Claudine Collart
Grégorio André Philippe
Frère Laurent: Heinz Rehfuss
Choeurs et Orchestre du Théâtre National de l' Opéra de Paris
Arberto Erede, conducting
Recorded in Paris, 1953.

Synopsis –
Libretto –
LiberMusica URL -

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Project 366 - Tchaikovsky and Nielsen Collections

Project 366 continues in 2019 with "The Classical Collectionss - A Continued journey through the Western Classical Music Repertoire". Read more here.

This month’s chapter in the Classical Collections will mainly review on the music of Peter Tchaikovsky, and the symphonies of Denmark’s Carl Nielsen.

The Tchaikovsky Symphonies

Russian music—the Russian creative mentality as a whole, in fact—functioned on the principle of stasis. Russian novels, plays and operas were written as collections of self-contained tableaux, with the plots proceeding from one set-piece to the next. Russian folk music operated along the same lines, with songs comprised as a series of self-contained melodic units repeated continually. Compared to this mindset, the precepts of sonata form probably seemed as alien as if they had arrived from the moon.

Tchaikovsky struggled with sonata form, the primary Western principle for building large-scale musical structures since the middle of the 19th century. Traditional Russian treatment of melody, harmony and structure actually worked against sonata form's modus operandi of movement, growth and development.

Sonata form also was not designed to accommodate the emotionally charged statements that Tchaikovsky wanted to make. In this, he was far from alone—it was a major preoccupation of the Romantic age, to the point that the validity of the symphony was questioned seriously and alternatives to it were actually devised. These alternatives, which included program music in general and the symphonic poem in particular, did not offer a complete solution. Instead, they left Tchaikovsky facing a paradox. He reportedly did not care for program music, to the point of reproaching himself for writing the fantasy-overture Romeo and Juliet. Yet the notion of writing symphonies as purely intellectual patterns of chords, rhythms and modulations was at least equally abhorrent.

Nevertheless, Tchaikovsky attempted to adhere more closely at least to the manner of sonata form in his first three symphonies. They remain chronicles of his attempts to reconcile his training from the Saint Petersburg Conservatory with the music he had heard all his life and his own innate penchant for melody. Both those factors worked against sonata form, not with it. With the Fourth Symphony, Tchaikovsky hit upon a solution he would refine in his remaining two numbered symphonies and his program symphony Manfred—one that would enable to reconcile the more personal, more dramatic and heightened emotional statements he wished to make with the classical structure of the symphony, showing, as musicologist Martin Cooper phrased it, that "his inspiration was stronger than scruple."

In 1891 and 1892 Tchaikovsky made substantial sketches for a Symphony in E-flat major, which was abandoned before the orchestration had been completed. In 1893 Tchaikovsky adapted three of the movements for piano and orchestra as the Piano Concerto No. 3 and the Andante and Finale, while the remaining movement was arranged for solo piano as Scherzo-Fantasie (No. 10 of the Eighteen Pieces, Op. 72). In the 1950s the symphony was reconstructed from the manuscript sources and completed by the Soviet musicologist Semyon Bogatyrev.

Symphony No. 1, op. 13 [TH 24] "Winter Daydreams" [Guide #218]
Symphony No. 2, op. 17 [TH 25] "Little Russian" [Guide #280]
Symphony No. 3, op. 29 [TH 26] "Polish" [Guide #219]
Symphony No. 4, op. 36 [TH 27] [Guide #281]
Manfred, op. 58 [TH 28] [Guide #282]
Symphony No. 5, op. 68 [TH 29] [Guide #282]
Symphony No. 6, op. 74 [TH 30] "Pathétique" [Guide #282]
Symphony in E-flat major [TH 238] [Guide #108]

Listener Guide # 280 - Karajan Conducts Tchaikovsky

Karajan was unquestionably a great Tchaikovsky conductor. Yet although he recorded the last three symphonies many times, he did not turn to the first three until the end of the 1970s, and then proved an outstanding advocate. Notice, at the opening of the Little Russian symphony, horn and bassoon capture that special Russian colouring, as they do in the engaging Andantino marziale, and the crisp articulation in the first-movement Allegro is bracing. The sheer refinement of the orchestral playing in the scherzo is a delight, and the finale has great zest with splendid bite and precision in the fugato passages and a convincing closing peroration. (ITYWLTMT #305 – 8 March 2019)

Listener Guide # 281-282 - Guido Cantelli - Tchaikovsky: The Last Three Symphonies

Guido Cantelli had a stellar but brief career as a conductor, championed by Toscanini who had begun looking for a younger associate to keep the NBC Symphony Orchestra (created for him in 1938) on course during his absences. He arranged for the young conductor's immediate NBC debut on January 15, 1949. Afterwards, Time magazine featured a profile likening him physically to Frank Sinatra, but musically to Arturo Toscanini. Until NBC disbanded the orchestra in 1954, Cantelli conducted there annually, beginning with four but expanding to eight programs. (Once Upon the Internet #21 – 17 December 2013)

[L/G 281: Sympho0ny #4, L/G 282: Symphonies #5 & 6]

The Tchaikovsky Orchestral Suites

Principally composed between the Fourth and Fifth Symphonies, the four symphonic suites feature a blend of academic movements and fanciful, dance-like ones not far removed from the composer's ballets. In fact, all three ballets have their own orchestral suites of memorable selections from their scores. Of the three listed below, only that from The Nutcracker had the composer’s full blessing.

Suite No. 1, op. 43 [TH 31] [Guide #224]
Suite No. 2, op. 53 [TH 32] “Suite caractéristique“ [Guide #283]
Suite No. 3, op. 55 [TH 33] [Guide #78]
Suite No. 4, op. 61 [TH 34] “Mozartiana” [Guide #78]
The Nutcracker, Suite from the ballet, op. 71a [TH 35] [Guide #280]
Swan Lake, Suite from the ballet, op. 20a [TH 219] [Guide#56]
The Sleeping Beauty, Suite from the ballet, op. 66a [TH 234] [Guide #56]

Listener Guide # 283 - In Memoriam - Sir Neville Marriner (1924 – 2016)

Sir Neville studied at the Royal College of Music and the Paris Conservatoire. He began his career as a violinist, playing first in a string quartet and trio, then in the London Symphony Orchestra. It was during this period that he founded the Academy of Saint-Martin-in-the-Fields, with the aim of forming a top-class chamber ensemble from London’s finest players. The Academy now enjoys one of the largest discographies of any chamber orchestra worldwide, and its partnership with Sir Neville Marriner is the most recorded of any orchestra and conductor. (ITYWLTMT #243 – 24 March 2017)

Tchaikovsky’s Principal Concertante Works

To complete this quick survey of Tchaikovsky’s orchestral works we must invariably turn to his concertos and orher works for solo instrument and orchestra. Prominently featured are his First Piano concerto and his Violin Concerto, but we also note many short works for cello and orchestra (including the Rococo variations), a concert fantasy that is as expansive as its piano concerto cousins and a pair of short works for violin and orchestra.

Piano Concerto No. 1, op. 23 [TH 55] [Guide # 39 & 225]
Sérénade mélancolique, op. 26 [TH 56] [Guide #39]
Variations on a Rococo Theme, op. 33 (Original version) [TH 57] [Guide #284]
Variations on a Rococo Theme, op. 33 (Fitzenhagen's version:) [TH 57] [Guide #226]
Valse-Scherzo, op. 34 [TH 6-] [Guide #221]
Violin Concerto, op. 35 [TH 59] [Guide #39]
Piano Concerto No. 2, op. 44 [TH 60] [Guide #226]
Concert Fantasia, op. 56 [TH 61] [Guide #224]
Pezzo capriccioso, op. 62 [TH 62] [Guide #284]
Andante cantabile [TH 63] [Guide #284]
Nocturne [TH 64] [Guide #284]
Piano Concerto No. 3, op. 75 [TH 65] [Guide #226]

Listener Guide # 284 - Tchaikovsky: Complete works for cello and orchestra

Tchaikovsky’s complete works for cello and orchestra comprise a couple of miniatures (the Pezzo Capriccioso and Nocturne), an arrangement of the famous Andante cantabile from the First String Quartet and the evergreen Rococo Variations. (Cover 2 Cover  #18 – 23 April 2019)

The Symphonies of Carl Nielsen

Nielsen is perhaps most closely associated outside Denmark with his six symphonies, written between 1892 and 1925. The works have much in common: they are all just over 30 minutes long, brass instruments are a key component of the orchestration, and they all exhibit unusual changes in tonality, which heighten the dramatic tension.

Symphony No. 1, op. 7 [FS 16] [Guide #285]
Symphony No. 2, op. 16 [FS 29] “De fire Temperamenter“ (The Four Temperaments) [Guide #286]
Symphony No. 3, op. 27 [FS 60] “Sinfonia espansiva” [Guide#211]
Symphony No. 4, op. 29 [FS 76] “Det Uudslukkelige” (The Inextinguishable) [Guide #287]
Symphony No. 5, op. 50 [FS 97] [Guide #76]
Symphony No. 6 [FS 116] “Sinfonia semplice” [Guide #285]

Listener Guide # 285 - Nielsen - San Francisco Symphony / Herbert Blomstedt ‎– Symphonies 1 & 6

Nielsen wrote his first symphony at 27 years of age. Lyrically, Nielsen demonstrated his talents very successfully in his first symphony, and this at 27! The Sixth Symphony may be partially autobiographical; the composer had just experienced a tremendous success with his Fifth symphony, but had also suffered a series of heart attacks He was to write several more works, but in the remaining six years of his life, the atmosphere of his works began to change. (Cover 2 Cover  #13 – 13 Nov 2018)

Listener Guide # 286 - Leopold Stokowski
As a conductor, and the man who probably re-invented the concert-going experience for North-American audiences in the first quarter of the 20th century, Stokowski was a man of many passions: avant-garde and contemporary music (he personally conducted dozens of world premieres of works that are today well enshrined into the concert repertoire), baroque music (trained as an organist, Stokowski seems to have a great fondness for baroque music, though the sound is dated when viewed through the HIP prism) and concert showpieces (his many transcriptions of works of the Baroque and Romantic composers, which he programmed for his great Philadelphia Orchestra and for himself to play with the greatest ensembles in the world). (ITYWLTMT Montage #122 – 13 Sept 2013)

Listener Guide # 287 - Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Herbert Blomstedt ‎– Carl Nielsen

This guide contains selections from Blomstedt's first complete cycle of the symphonies of Carl Nielsen; another cycle was produced about 15 years later while he was Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony (See Guide #285). (Vinyl’s Revenge #38 – 22 May 2018)

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Joseph Haydn, András Schiff ‎– Piano Sonatas

This is my post from this week's Tuesday Blog.

This week's YouTube share, in our Cover 2 Cover series, is kind of a follow-up to two past Friday montages, Haydn at the keyboard from about two years ago and a recent montage featuring Scarlatti and Mozart keyboard sonatas performed by András Schiff. Schiff is again featured, this time in a few Haydn keyboard sonatas.

The classical piano sonata doesn't seem to achieve mass appeal until you reach Beethoven's contributions. Mozart's Sonatas are appreciated, but not really taken to people's hearts in the way that the 'Moonlight', 'Hammerklavier' or 'Appassionata' manage.

As a reviewer to my Haydn montage from 2017 writes, "When compared to the later Mozart, and followed by Beethoven at the turn of the 18th Century, Haydn's keyboard music has been pushed unfairly to the background. [...] You can also hear elements of the early Beethoven sonatas here - yes, he took off from his mentor Haydn, not Mozart, in piano style. Of course, he later surpassed both of them."

Haydn was not a keyboard virtuoso, but had a number of students for whom he composed piano sonatas. The wide range of ability among his students accounts for the disparate levels of sophistication and technical difficulty we find among the surviving sonatas, most of which were written before 1770.

Happy Listening!

Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Selected Piano Sonatas

  • Sonata in G Minor, Hob.XVI:44 (No.32)
  • Sonata in G Major, Hob.XVI:40 (No.54)
  • Sonata in E Minor, Hob.XVI:34 (No.53)
  • Sonata in C Major, Hob.XVI:48 (No.58)
  • Sonata in C Minor, Hob.XVI:20, (No.33)

András Schiff, piano

Selections from Teldec Classics ‎– 0630-17141-2
Details -

Internet Archive -

Friday, May 3, 2019

Richard Goode & Beethoven

No. 311 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages, which can be found in our archives at


This week, we continue working our way through the Beethoven piano sonatas with a pair of sonata sets, one from the beginning of the cycle (his first three, op. 2) and from about two-thirds down the list (nos. 19 and 20, op. 49). What these sonatas have in common, if anything, is their brevity.

Composed in 1795, the Op. 2 sonatas are the first published piano sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven. They are dedicated to Franz Joseph Haydn, a sign of respect for one of Beethoven’s most important teachers. Each of the three sonatas from the Op. 2 contains extraordinary slow movements, true masterpieces in their own right. The Adagio from the first sonata is an excellent example of the kind of playing Beethoven must have exhibited when performing for his friends and patrons. Extremely lyrical, this piece possesses an improvisatory quality that is not dampened by conforming to a simple binary structure.

The Op. 49 sonatas are considered relatively simple sonatas by some pianists, published in 1805 (although the works were actually composed a decade earlier in 1795–96, thus contemporaneous to the op. 2 set). Because they were published in Vienna in 1805, nearly a decade after actually written, they were assigned then-current opus and sonata numbers, which classified them alongside works from the composer's middle period. Both works are approximately eight minutes in length, and are split into two movements. These sonatas are referred to as the Leichte Sonaten to be given to his friends and students.

This week’s featured pianist, Richard Goode, studied piano with Elvira Szigeti, Claude Frank, Nadia Reisenberg at Mannes School of Music and Rudolf Serkin and Mieczysław Horszowski at the Curtis Institute. Not unlike his countryman Jeremy Denk, he is mainly a recitalist and chamber musician; his chamber-music partners included Dawn Upshaw, Richard Stoltzman and Alexander Schneider.
He is especially known for his interpretations of Mozart and Beethoven; Goode was the first American-born pianist to record the complete Beethoven piano sonatas.

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