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Month: December, 2011

from Haydn to Beethoven‏

in my pantheon of pianists Sviatoslav Richter, 1915-1997, 
is a paragon, if you’ll pardon that parade of p’s, here he
plays two not especially eminent Classical masterworks, 
though neither not uninteresting nor unimportant
 
 
Haydn, along with other composers of his time, wrote
sonatas mostly for their students, young ladies frequently
looking for marriageable advantage, he saved the cream
therefore of his art for his more public pieces, symphonies,
oratorios, string quartets, these last, to my mind, his most 
impressive vehicle
 
you’ll nevertheless be delighted by this effervescent musical
 
Richter plays it in the dark, in his later years a personal 
idiosyncracy
 
it’s 1984
  
 
you’ll note in a Classical musical composition even the
adagio, the slow movement, will be wistful, never even
melancholy, never ever forlorn, considered impudent, 
impertinent, by a genteel aristocracy, their code of
noblesse oblige would’ve frowned on emotional excess, 
considering it undignified, common 
 
Beethoven’s fire bursts through these Classical strictures
already in his very first piano sonata, opus 2, no 1
adhering to the Classical sonata form, even its intention,
but he’s revealed unequivocally by his passion and fury 
 
his adagio here might be lilting but it’s unmistakably
at the very least emotionally compromised, beyond
wistful, though Beethoven at this point, is giving it an
honest try, the movements are in traditional order
despite an extra fourth instalment, and of course any
extra length, as I’ve earlier pointed out, always means
more substance, gravitas, already something of an 
impertinence to the traditional, more unbending
contemporary social cast
 
by the prestissimo, the last and appropriately most
explosive of the movements, he is anything but courtly,
his music already, three years before the Revolution in
Francewill no longer submit to imperious aristocracies
flexing no longer tolerable muscle, he cannot, in his very
bones, be confined to merely niceties, and you can hear it
 
Beethoven can no longer be Mozart, Haydn, though he
has studied profoundly at their schools, his are 
tempestuous seeds in that fertile, their Classical, soil, of,
just round the corner, its flower, the more unruly but
profoundly introspective Romantic Movement, the
exploration, the prioritization, of the human soul,
the burgeoning era of human rights 
 
Beethoven will define it, set it firmly on its path, give it
an anthem, a credo, a forthright example, a solid ground
to build a new world on
 
   
the piano sonata, opus 2, no 1, of three in his second
opus, is Beethoven’s very first piano sonata, it’s 1795   
 
stick around, this is just the start
 
 
Richard   
 
 

* Anthony van Hoboken, 1887-1983, rather than
   chronologically like Köchel Mozart, organized Haydn’s
   work according to its musical form, l for symphonies for
   instance, lll for string quartets, XVl for piano sonatas,
   of which this is the 24th, therefore Hob. XVI 24van
   first published in 1957
 
   an alternate method, published in 1963, from Christa    
   Landon, is arranged chronologically, where this is
   Haydn’s piano sonata no 39, incidentally, of 1773
 
   confusing maybe, but kind of like the EEU being
   referred to just as often as Europe, same place, 
   different organizational catalogue, not so tough
 
  
 
 
 
 
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Brahms Piano Concerto no 2 in B flat major, opus 83‏

though I’d no intention of presenting a piano concerto
quite yet I’d been trolling Celibidaches on the Internet,
after marvelling at his wondrous Boléro”, and couldn’t
hold back this gem I found of his, Brahms’ Piano 
 
same venue, same Münchner Philharmoniker, same
starched ceremonial ruffles, I thought, same even age
of the conductor, to the very minute, it appeared, in 
his unchanged eye and perspective, wise, serene,
omnipotent, perhaps the very same concert as in the
illustrious Ravel, I said to myself, though later couldn’t
especially recognize individual instrumentalists
 
Daniel Barenboim, who conducted earlier the speedy
“Boléro”, wears another hat here, he’s the pianist, but
in this incarnation he is transcendental, carried aloft,
I think, notably, by the Olympian Celibidache, who
cedes his fire and glory to the younger Barenboim
throughout, who supremely is up for the challenge,
a ready and rearing Apollo, taking on the treacherous
musical task, defying obstreperous planets, perilous
astrological constellations in nefarious conjunctions, 
stray or fleeting stars, to foster safely home to its
final hearth his solar chariot, in a towering sunset,
finale of apocalyptic proportions, each purveyor
casting unutterable light, god and mere immortal, 
from his own particular perch, upon our beholden
world
  
Celibidache, as would Zeus, cedes serenely to his 
younger avatar his bow, his deserved adulation,
safe in his own unquestionable omnipotence
 
 
this concerto has four movements incidentally, greater
length always suggests more gravitas, more substance 
 
is it warranted
 
you be the judge 
 
 
Richard
 
psst: in another mythological context, note the hand of
         Celibidache resting on air, intermittently fluttering,
         at the beginning of the slowest movement, the
         andante, the third, the hand of God ministering, 
         according to Michelangelo, in the “Creation of 
         Adam”, should you not yet be convinced of the 
         maestro’s august and unequivocal stature
   
 

Celibidache‏’s Ravel’s “Boléro”

Sergiu Celibidache is the granddaddy of conductors, 
Methuselah, a patriarch, a high priest, a cardinal, 
a very ayatollah, Olympian, no less imposing on
Olympos than Zeus, god of everything, in his
majesty 
 
here he delivers the “Boléroof Ravel, I think,
definitively, at a pace that would have made the
composer, I’m sure, exultant, proud, at an imposing
longer than 22 minutes, the most extended I’ve ever
heard, it is nevertheless the most imperious, mighty,
authoritative, a wall of adamant and ritualistic sound 
put in mesmerizing motion, indeed ignited, by the 
lascivious demands of the luxurious, undulating  
bolero
 
the slower pace seems to suggest a further distance,
an incidence, by the noteworthy by, of the expression
of spatial dimension through the manipulation of sound, 
fashioned precisely here by the measured increase in
volume throughout, becoming louder as it nears, settling
in your very face at its conclusion, like an apotheosis,
massive, unflinching, remarkable
 
 
it is not uninstructive to compare for metre the two
previous “Boléro”s I mentioned, the moderate Dudamel,
the galloping Barenboim, to gauge the impact of their
choice of tempo on your preference, the one you like is
the one you’ll want to return to, leaving the other two
in the evanescent dust, no fuss, no muss, just instinct 
 
it is also instructive then to wonder why, which’ll say
much more about who you are, you’ll be surprised to
note, who you still aspire to be, than anything you
might ever have imagined
 
 
Richard
  
psst: every advance in taste, quality, comfort, could
         only have taken place ever through comparison,
         the sum of two is greater always than its meager,
         even arid, parts