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Joseph Haydn

Friday, May 26, 2017


My Classical Notes

May 23

Michelangeli Performs Beethoven

My Classical NotesPianist Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli died on June 12, 1995, in Lugano, Switzerland . For me, he will always be a pianist whose music brings me a lot of enjoyment. While his repertoire was not huge, what he did perform was always exemplary. Such is the case with Beethoven’s Sonata number 3, Opus 2. Imagine, this was the second work of Beethoven’s ever to be published. He must have been a young man at the time, perhaps around 25-30 and living in Vienna. Even that early one can hear that he is trying to be original, opposed to re-inventing the Haydn style. Listen now to a great master playing this Sonata by Beethoven:

Classical iconoclast

May 20

Haydn, Veress : English Chamber Orchestra, Altstaedt

Josef Haydn (1732-1809 ) and Sándor Veress (1907-92) with the English Chamber Orchestra and Nicolas Altstaedt at King's Place, London.  (Listen for repeat broadcast)  Proof yet again, that music is music, defying pigeonholes.  Every good composer has his or own identity, but all create things worth listening to, whatever the genre.  Listening outside the box enhances appreciation.  Perfectly natural. Hall One at Kings Place is without doubt the most elegant concert hall in London, small but classically proportioned and blessed with an extremely clear acoustic. The walls are lined with polished wood, apparently from a single source, which helps to even out resonance.  Here, everything sounds balanced, to the extent that minor problems in performance seem magnified.  But that burnished, mellow acoustic is so beautiful.  No surprise it's a good place to record in.  The English Chamber Orchestra, always polished, sounded wonderful, even on broadcast here.    How lovely Haydn's Cello Concerto no 1 sounded with this orchestra, in this performance space, specially designed for chamber music !  Nicolas Altstaedt was soloist and conductor, in the true spirit of chamber communality.  Elegant but lively playing : baroque music wasn't precious.  The vitality in this performance set the tone for Sándor Veress's Sonata for Cello Solo (1967).  Altsteadt was, of course, playing on his own, but the ambient atmosphere of chamber ensemble lingered: he didn't sound alone, though no-one else was playing.  Veress is a fascinating figure, who knew Bartók and Kodály, absorbing their interest in Hungarian folk music as an alternative to the Austro-German mainstream. These were turbulent times in Hungary, where many sympathized with fascism, and "modern" music was frowned upon.  In 1941  Bartók was able to emigrate, though  a move to America,. In 1949, Veress was able to defect, and escaped to Switzerland, though he had a hard time getting recognition.   Nonetheless, in exile, he influenced his students.  Heinz,Holliger's (S)irató , written in his honour, is part requiem, part protest, hence "irato" (irate) in the title and in the vehemence of the music. (Read more here)ydnThe idea of being alone, yet not alone, pervades Veress's Sonata for solo cello. The first movement is a dialogue, but with whom ?  The "other" may be invisible and inaudible, but is palpably present.  Long lines, like exhalations, sudden bursts of dynamic vigour.  The middle movement in contrast,is more subdued, the lines exploring space, so to speak. it's titled "monologue".  In the epilogue, Veress writes more complex lines, testing technique. Frenzied, zig-zag passages, culminating in a sudden burst of lyricism : perhaps the musical equivalent of a smile ? Who knows ? Altstaedt plays with warm and feeling. Veress's Sonata for Cello Solo was the highlight of the evening, very modern music, and realized very well.  Before it, we heard Veress's Four Transylvanian Dances for String Orchestra,  This was written between 1944 and 1949, the year Veress went into exile. Traditional dance may be the starting point, but the music is highly individual: more Veress than folklore. You couldn't dance to this except in an abstract, modern style. The last movement, the Dobbantós, comes closet to traditional form.  With its intensely rhythmic patterns, it suggests  gypsy dance, the music of oppressed vagrants, making their way through mainstream society.  A man like Veress, who knew the folk roots of his region, would have no illusions that peasant music was "pretty". The members of the English Chamber Orchestra brought out the spiky angularity. The music moved as if driven by demonic forces : the Devil as fiddler, stamping his feet for emphasis. The concert began with Haydn and concluded with Haydn, Symphony no 49  "La passione".  In King's Place, the acoustic makes a small ensemble sound larger and richer than it might otherwise, which added to the impact.  Elegantly poised lines, balanced restraint, yet infused by an undertow of feeling, high strings singing, lower strings giving ballast.  After having heard Veress,  one could not help but connect to a sense of understated sadness, bravely borne.  




My Classical Notes

May 10

Sinfonia Concertante for Diverse Instruments

Have a look at this interesting new recording: Sinfonia Concertante: Performed by Kammerorchester Basel. It features the following selections: Holzbauer: Sinfonia Concertante in E flat major for violin, viola, violoncello and orchestra Mozart: Sinfonia concertante in E flat for Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon & Orchestra, K297b Pleyel: Sinfonia concertante in F major, Ben. 113 Performed by the Kammerorchester Basel, Umberto Benedetti Michelangeli conducting (He is the nephew of famous Italian pianist Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli). There was hardly a music form more popular at the height of the Classical period than the Sinfonia Concertante. An entirely new concert experience resulted from a combination of a straightforward orchestral setting and brilliant playing by soloists as well as blending elements of the symphony, solo concerto and divertimento. Composers did not score works for individual soloists only, but also created a symphonic genre with as many as nine solo instruments. Under the baton of Umberto Benedetti Michelangeli, the Kammerorchester Basel has recorded three of the most interesting and varied works of this genre. The Sinfonia Concertante in F major by the Haydn pupil and Strasbourg cathedral Kapellmeister Ignaz Josef Pleyel (1757–1831) is impressive not only due to the number of solo instruments but also because of its wonderfully refined orchestral accompaniment. The Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat major by Mannheim court composer Ignaz Holzbauer (1711–1783) is recorded by a first-rate orchestra here for the first time. A further highlight is the Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat major, K 297b, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) as reconstructed by Robert Levin. Here is the Sinfonia Concertante for Oboe, basson, Clarinet, and horn by Mozart:



My Classical Notes

April 27

New Interpreters: The Schumann Quartet

I have a new recording for you today: The Schumann Quartet performs ‘Landscapes’, which features the following compositions: Bartók: String Quartet No. 2, Sz 67 (Op. 17) Haydn: String Quartet, Op. 76 No. 4 in B flat major ‘Sunrise’ Pärt: Fratres for String Quartet Takemitsu: Landscape I for string quartet All performed by the Schumann Quartet. The Schumann Quartet are winners of the BBC Music Magazine 2016 Newcomer award. “Landscapes” is a journey in sound to the roots of the Schumann Quartet, a foursome made up of the three brothers Erik, Ken and Mark Schumann and the viola player Liisa Randalu. Four very different works contribute their personal stories to form a magical whole. At the album’s hub is Arvo Pärt’s composition “Fratres”, meaning “brothers”. The Schumann Quartet rehearsed the work with Pärt in Viimsi in Estonia and recorded it there. The personal contact with the composer came through Pärt’s Estonian fellow countryperson, Liisa Randalu. The Schumann Quartet was founded about five years ago, but its unique playing culture means it already has an international reputation as one of the best quartets around. “One look, and I know how he/she would like to play the music at that moment,” says Ken Schumann about the mystical communion within the ensemble. It is this intuitive exchange between one another and the wish to raise this communication to the maximum degree, “to see what the tension and our joint spontaneity can take,” that makes the quartet so exceptional and that has been captured on “Landscapes”. In line with the backgrounds of the quartet’s four members (the Schumann brothers are German, of Romanian-Japanese origin) the pieces on this album come from those various parts of the world: the album is a compilation of Estonian, Japanese, Hungarian and Austro-German works. The collection of pieces is tied together with the ribbon of “Landscapes” and is an integral part of the Schumann Quartet’s live program. Here are the members of the Schumann Quartet, performing the music of Joseph Haydn:

Joseph Haydn
(1732 – 1809)

Joseph Haydn (31 March 1732 - 31 May 1809) was an Austrian composer, one of the most prolific and prominent composers of the Classical period. He is often called the "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet" because of his important contributions to these forms. He was also instrumental in the development of the piano trio and in the evolution of sonata form. A life-long resident of Austria, Haydn spent much of his career as a court musician for the wealthy Hungarian aristocratic Esterházy family on their remote estate. Isolated from other composers and trends in music until the later part of his long life, he was, as he put it, "forced to become original".[5] At the time of his death, he was one of the most celebrated composers in Europe. Joseph Haydn was the brother of Michael Haydn, himself a highly regarded composer, and Johann Evangelist Haydn, a tenor. He was also a close friend of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and a teacher of Ludwig van Beethoven.



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