Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Quartets by Dvořák

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

This week’s Tuesday Blog is a variation on our PTB Classic series, with a return to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s on-line library of chamber performances and three works for string quartet by Anonin Dvořák.

A viola player himself, Dvořák felt a natural affinity to writing for strings. His chamber work is heavily inspired by folk culture (Czech, and later American), while also maintaining his Czech roots. Over a period of thirty years, Dvořák composed over forty chamber music works. Like Schubert, Dvořák turned to the string quartet early in his career; both had one sound practical reason for choosing this medium at the start of their careers: it was relatively easy to get quartet music played.

The two quartets shared here are mature works; the tenth, subtitlesd “Slavonic”, owes its nickname to the dedicatee. Indeed Jean Becker, the leader of the Florentine Quartet, had asked specifically for a "Slavonic Quartet" in the wake of Dvořák's "Slavonic Dances" and "Slavonic Rhapsodies").

The String Quartet No. 14 was the last string quartet completed by Dvořák, finished his Fourteenth Quartet in 1895, when he had returned to Bohemia after his visit to America. This Quartet marked an important point in Dvořák's development because he would devote himself almost exclusively to writing explicit program music, namely symphonic poems and operas, afterwards.

Dvořák's String Quartet movements now bearing the title Cypresses (Czech: Cypřiše) are String Quartet versions of 12 of his 18 love songs, B11, of 1865 -also titled Cypresses. The 12 pieces he selected for arrangement from B. 11 are Nos. 2–4, 6–9, 12, 14, and 16–18; the original songs are for solo voice and piano, and are settings of poems by Gustav Pfleger-Moravsky from the collection "Cypresses" (hence the title).

In his ongoing survey of string quartets, Merl’s blog has discussed the three works we are sharing today. Here are the pertinent links:

String Quartet No. 10, Op. 51 - https://www.talkclassical.com/blogs/...rtet-10-a.html

String Quartet No. 14, Op. 105 - https://www.talkclassical.com/blogs/...rtet-14-a.html

Cypresses, B.152 - https://www.talkclassical.com/blogs/...sq-review.html

Happy listening!

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
String Quartet No. 10 in E♭ major, Op. 51 [B. 92] (Slavonic)
Borromeo String Quartet

Cypresses, B.152 (arr. from Cypresses song cycle, B. 11)
Musicians from Marlboro

String Quartet No. 14 in A♭ major, Op. 105 [B. 193]
Borromeo String Quartet

Archive page - https://archive.org/details/01-strin...-10-in-e-major

Friday, September 24, 2021

Gundula Janowitz sings Schubert

No. 367 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages is this week's Tuesday Blog. It can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/367-gundula-janowitz-sings-schuber


A few words about our new “A la Carte” series:

As we curate our Tuesday Blog playlists, and in particular the ones we explored under Project 366, we found that some fell well-short of our 60-75 minute runtime, others far exceeded that same runtime. In an effort to better fit our preferred time boxing, I decided to recast selected playlists by “mashing them up” with other playlists, or mixing and matching them with new related material..

This week’s offering is a straight “upsized” version, where I added a few tracks to an otherwise unchanged playlist.

Original posts: TalkClassical; Blogger

As I stated in the original post, Schubert's body of work includes over 600 songs for voice and piano. That number alone is vastly impressive - many composers fail to reach that number of compositions in their entire output, let alone in a single genre. But it isn't just the quantity that's remarkable: Schubert consistently, and frequently, wrote songs of such beauty and quality that composers such as Schumann, Wolf and Brahms all credited him with reinventing, invigorating and bringing greater seriousness to a previously dilletante musical form.

Gundula Janowitz officially retired from the stage in 1990 and, according to most accounts, gave occasional recitals until around the middle of that decade with her final recital –captured for posterity in a bootleg recording - in September 1999.

To her Schubert credits we have studio recordings from 1977-78 (with Irwin Gage at the piano) and a late-career recital with Charles Spencer at the piano re-issued on The Nuova Era and Brilliant Classics labels.

The filler tracks are three selections from a collection of settings of Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship attributed to the character Mignon.

I think you will (still) love this music too.


Friday, September 10, 2021

Paganini: Violin Concertos Nos. 2 & 5

No. 366 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages is this week's Tuesday Blog. It can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast366



Today’s Blog and Podcast is a “crossover” montage, intermingling our Friday series with an ongoing Tuesday Blog share discussed on September 7. As we deploy three CDs worth of Paganini concertos on our podcasting channel, part two of the set focuses on concertos 2 and 5.

As we wrote this past Tuesday, Paganini’s output for the violin has many memorable pieces; most of them intended to display Paganini’s virtuosity and “devilish” ability on the instrument. Surprisingly, his concertos don’t get as much attention in that regard. Some will argue that they are indeed designed to showcase the soloist yet don’t give much attention to the orchestral part of that “duel”. There is, however, a notable twist here…

The third movement of Paganini's Second Concerto owes its nickname "La Campanella" or "La Clochette" to the little bell which Paganini prescribes to presage each recurrence of the rondo theme. The character of the bell is also imitated in the orchestra and in some of the soloist's passages featuring harmonics. The outcome is a very transparent texture, which gains extra charm of gypsy coloration of the rondo theme. This movement has served as the basis of compositions by other composers, such as the Étude S. 140 No. 3 "La campanella" by Liszt, and Johann Strauss I's Walzer à la Paganini Op. 11.

The Violin Concerto No. 5 was composed in 1830. It is in fact the last concerto of Paganini (the concerto #6 was partly written in 1815 and is sometimes referred to as “#0”). This concerto by the most famous of all violin virtuosi can be called a monologue for the violin because only the solo part exists; the orchestral score either was not written down or has not yet been discovered., the concerto can be performed if suitably reconstructed.

In 1958 Vittorio Baglioni entrusted this task to Federico Mompellio on behalf of the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, and in September 1959, the concerto received its premier performance. Franco Gulli was the soloist and Luciano Rosada the conductor. The success of this performance induced Guli to present the concerto in many European cities.

I think you will love this music too

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Paganini: Violin Concertos (Complete)


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

This week’s Cover2Cover starts the ball rolling with a Brilliant Classics three-disk release of the complete violin concertos of Nicolò Paganini performed by Alexandre Dubach and the Monte Carlo Philharmonic. Here are a few thoughts collected from the Brilliant Classics website (link below) and a BBC Music web article by Freya Parr.

‘A blazing comet’ was how Hector Berlioz described Italian violinist Niccolò Paganini. So faultless was his playing that many were convinced he had made a pact with the devil ¬– a theory substantiated by his somewhat ghoulish stage persona. A true musical legend of his era, Paganini inspired musicians such as Robert Schumann and Franz Liszt to forge their own careers as a pianists. Franz Schubert was also a regular audience member at Paganini’s concerts, despite the outlandish ticket prices.

The music he composed and performed throughout the early 19th century completely altered people’s perceptions of what could be done on a violin. His dazzling collection of techniques and special effects would often drive members of his audience to hysteria. Yet Paganini often remarked that, despite his legendary status as a violinist, he found it rather difficult to compose for the instrument.

Though there are many showpieces from Paganini’s violin output that are notorious – like the 24 caprices for solo violin we featured in 2014 the six concertos don’t get as much airplay, save maybe for numbers 1 and 2. Paganini relied on the guitar (in lieu of the piano) as an aid in composition; the orchestral parts for his concertos were often polite, unadventurous, and clearly supportive of the soloist. In this, his style is consistent with that of other Italian composers such as Giovanni Paisiello, Gioachino Rossini, and Gaetano Donizetti, who were influenced by the guitar-song milieu of Naples during this period.

Hopefully, sharing the complete set will allow you to take in all their mischief!

Programming Note: The single-track clip from YouTube will be deployed in three parts (one disc at a time) on our podcasting channel, including a first-time “crossover” montage this coming Friday.

Happy Listening!

Nicolò PAGANINI (1782-1840)
The six violin concertos
Disk 1:
Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Minor, MS 60
Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, MS 21 [Op. 6]

Disk 2:
Violin Concerto No. 3 in E Major, MS 50
Violin Concerto No. 6 in E Minor, MS 75

Disk 3:
Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Minor, MS 78
Violin Concerto No. 2 in B Minor, MS 48 [Op. 7]

Alexandre Dubach, violin
Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo
Michel Sasson (Disk 1) and Lawrence Foster (Disks 2 & 3), conducting

Brilliant Classics 99582
Recorded 1991-94
Details: https://www.brilliantclassics.com/ar...rtos-complete/

Internet Archivehttps://archive.org/details/04-violin-concerto-no.-6-in-e-minor