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Category: Haydn

String Quartet in G minor, opus 10‏ – Claude Debussy

Il-ratto-di-Proserpina-Galleria-Borghese
                                        
                                    “Pluto and Persephone” (1522)
 
                                               Gian Lorenzo Bernini
 
                                                  ______________
 
 
if I’ve been away from my post for so long,
it’s either because my muse had left me, 
abandoned me to the rigours of an 
especially inclement winter, cold, driving 
rain, short somber days, weather for 
isolation, insulation, hibernation
 
or, like Persephone, I’d been abducted 
as to an Underworld, moral as well as 
meteorologicalhowever cosseted might’ve 
been there my stay, eiderdown pillows, 
blankets, books, Internet movies, concerts, 
plays, until by permission of Plutofateful 
consort, God of the Netherworld, by the
intercession of Mother Demeter, Queen of 
the Harvest, I’ve been allowed, even urged, 
to return for spring
 
where cherry blossoms are burgeoning, 
flowers bud in their variety of colours, 
birds sing, trees, like myself, begin to 
scratch out their brimming script onto 
the open-armed page of heaven
 
 
I’d left the string quartet evolving towards
Bohemia and Russia, in the capable hands 
of Smetana and Borodin respectively, from 
its solid roots in Vienna with Haydn and 
 
it would evolve westwards, of course, too 
to France eventually, as the centre of art 
shifted somewhat from Vienna to Paris in 
the late 19th Century, and spread, through 
paint mostly, the eye superseding the ear, 
wresting the cultural reins from music as 
oracle for the times, the new perspective 
of Impressionism
 
minor, his opus 10, a world away from 
the emotional seductiveness of 
Romanticism, but rather driving, electric, 
cosmopolitanteeming with traffic, it’s 
1893, the zeitgeist has changed
 
 
Richard

at the XVth International Tchaikovsky Competition – Bach‏

"J.S. Bach, Wohltemp. Klav. Bd. I, No. IV. (Extrait) / (Duo de Tristesse)" -  Robert Strûbin

“J.S. Bach, Wohltemp. Klav. Bd. I, No. IV. (Extrait) / (Duo de Tristesse)” (1957)

Robert Strûbin

________

if I’ve been getting on their backs
about their Bachs at the Tchaikovsky
Competition
, it’s that they’re playing
Bach as though he were mediocre
Beethoven, it’s like asking Duke
Ellington to be Pink Floyd, it’s just
a completely different generation,
era

Bach wrote for the harpsichord, a
precursor to the piano, it could not
control the volume, nor the length
of a note, the pianoforte came
along to resolve both issues

therefore before Beethoven, who
made full use of the new invention
and worked hard the pianissimos
and the fortissimos, to degrees that
often became either inappropriate
or too authoritative, indelicate or
obnoxious if you’re not in the mood
– I remember wanting to play his so
solemn 111 at my father’s funeral,
but realized late that the first
movement was not especially in
that situation warranted, nor even
parts of the transcendental, but not
always not obstreperous, adagio –
and thumbed thus his nose at the
aristocracy, who earlier, before
the citoyens had demanded their
rights and when the world had
been considered to be of a
rational, logical order, a clock,
and as regular, would never have
tolerated such impudence

Bach and Mozart do not sway
much from strict rhythm, neither
do they alter volume much at all

so that the constant display of
heartfelt Bach and passionate
Mozart becomes cloying, and
not at all what these Classical
and Baroque masters would
have approved of

nor Beethoven, nor Chopin, for
that matter, whose strict tempo
markings didn’t include much
rubato, ritardandos, which you
could think of as milking a note,
putting velvet on your canvas,
it doesn’t work, the composition
itself unaided by bathos, pathos,
delivers, check out, of course,
Glenn Gould

Andrei Korobeinikov sat me right
down the other night with his
arresting BWV868, thrilling,
followed by more dazzling
pyrotechnics, though he fizzled,
and fractured his Beethoven, the
very 111 I care so much for, I
couldn’t even finish, you don’t
need a velvet canvas behind the
111, neither cloying ritardandos,
just skill, nor tangles of notes,
for that matter

Richard

at the XVth International Tchaikovsky Competition – the program‏‏

"Beethoven, 1987" -  Andy Warhol

Beethoven, 1987 (1987)

Andy Warhol

______

you’ll probably have noted, if you’ve
been following the Tchaikovsky
Competition
, that, unlike the
Rubinstein, the selection of works
is much more constrained, though
the mighties nevertheless
predominate

after the third day and into the
fourth, only one contestant has
started with anything other than
Bach, a Tchaikovsky

but unfortunately none of them but
one had given us a Bach worthy of
his name, then followed through
with, not surprisingly, a quite
competent Mozart, the cultural
conditions being not yet all that
different, aristocrats were looking
for their own music instead of the
church’s, secular instead of
ecclesiastical, therefore a tune
rather than an oratorio, Beethoven
and the Revolution would change
all that

afterwards a sonata of Mozart,
Haydn or Beethoven, the Classical
triumvirate, after which Tchaikovsky,
appropriately at this competition,
then études, either “-tableaux”,
“transcendentales”, or plain and
simple, by Rachmaninov, Liszt, or
Chopin, that’s it, you get to hear
the “Appassionata” or the “Grandes
études de Paganini”
several times
that way, sharpening discernibly
your musical ear

one was riveting, Andrey Dubov‘s

another, Lukas Geniušas transfixed
me with his opus 2, no 3, of
Beethoven, a work I usually only
ever tolerate, sending it soaring
into the bard’s later mature, and
revelatory, period

others have been competent, even
admirable, several, however, not
ready for this trial, they’ve come
without adequate preparation for
the ball

though I’ve been watching it in
my pajamas, I should talk

Richard

Alban Berg Violin Concerto‏

"Little Girl in Blue," - Chaim Soutine

Little Girl in Blue (c.1934-c.1935)

Chaim Soutine

________

though Apollo had offered the two
complimentary symphony tickets
he’d scored to my sister and my
mom, my mom bowed out and
suggested I, an adept, should
instead go along, though I needed
to know more about the content,
who and what would be on, no
one knew

meanwhile my sister, preferring not
to leave her husband alone, opted
to cede her ticket to Apollo so he
could accompany me

after some research, when I gushed
that Akiko Suwanai would be playing
Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D
minor – his only one, I cried – Apollo
reconsidered, would, he said, come
along, my enthusiasm having struck
apparently a reverberant chord, a key,
maybe his D minor

once at the concert, to our surprise
and delight, my sister and her
husband, under the spell also of that
maybe bewitching key, had got rush
tickets for essentially, as it were,
a song, so that serendipitously we
all attended the superb performance
together

Dad does concert tickets too, my
sister exulted

Suwanai was transcendent, lifted me
from my seat at the very first touch of
her exquisite bow, I floated, though it
might’ve been also the magic chocolate
I’d bought at the corner, this is Vancouver
after all, known also, not inappropriately,
as Vansterdam

you’ve heard rapturous versions of
Beethoven’s Violin Concerto on at
least one of my earlier blogs,
Anne-Sophie Mutter’s there, Joshua
Bell’s
, but I couldn’t get any of Akiko
Suwanai’s renditions on the Internet

found instead for you this wonderful
Berg
, also his only violin concerto

Berg is of the Second Viennese
School, along with Schoenberg and
Webern, this is no longer Beethoven,
the advent of the First World War in
the Western world had fundamentally
altered everything, the arts were
reflecting this transformation, idioms
were abandoned in every creative field,
as well as in borders and forms of
government, rudiments were being
questioned, tested, see what Soutine
does, for instance, to traditional
representation above, to perspective,
colour, proportions

you’ll note that Berg’s Concerto
doesn’t stipulate a key, part of the
disintegration musical theory was
undergoing, twelve-tone music,
rather than the traditional eight,
was eliminating the subordination
of sharps and flats within scales,
atonality became dominant,
sounding a lot like the cacophony,
I think, of Twentieth-Century traffic

you won’t mistake however the
utterly Romantic sensibility beating
through Berg’s composition, midst
all the discord and the dissonance
you can’t miss his pulsing and
ardent heart, his wistful, dare I say,
heartstrings

there are two movements to the
concerto, the first representing life,
the second death and transfiguration,
Berg had written this, his last work,
for Alma Mahler’s daughter, Manon,
after she died of polio at the age of
18, Alma Mahler had been Gustav
Mahler’s wife, a musical giant, Berg
dedicated the piece, he wrote,
“to the memory of an angel”

Berg died later that same year,
Christmas Eve, 1935, he was 50

Richard

psst: the first part of the programme
had been a bust except for a
lovely piece for violin and koto

what’s a koto, I asked Apollo

it’s what you wear when you’re
coldo, he replied

a koto is a bit like a xylophone,
but with strings instead of
wooden bars, the performer
had dressed in traditional
Japanese garb for the special
Japanese occasion

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