Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, where Gounod's opera Mireille is set

Gounod and Mistral – Mireille

The video below is Vincent’s aria in the second scene of the fifth and final act of Charles Gounod’s 1864 opera Mireille, written the year before his remarkable Faust, based on the first part of Goethe’s play. Mireille contains fascinating music. The libretto is based on Frédéric Mistral’s long lyric poem Mirèio. Mistral was the 1904…

Marcel Proust

Exhaustion and Intoxication

“… while pretending not to have heard anything, and preserving in her fine eyes, ringed with dark shadows by the habit of listening to Debussy more than they would have been by that of sniffing cocaine, the exhausted look induced by musical intoxication alone, would revolve nevertheless behind her splendid brow, bulging with all those…

From the first page of the MS of Mendelssohn's violin concerto.

Felix Mendelssohn, Violin Concerto, Op. 64 (1844)

Felix Mendelssohn’s last major orchestral work, the violin concerto, in that exceptional key of E minor, is one of the foremost of the genre, and incorporated several alterations to the violin concerto form, in particular the telescoping of the usual two expositions, one for orchestra, a second for the soloist, through the introduction of the…

Beethoven – Piano Sonata 27 in e, Op. 90 (1814)

From time to time, I revisit the 1932-37 recordings of the Beethoven piano sonatas by Artur Schnabel. Schnabel, a consummate musician renowned for his intellectual incisiveness, was the first pianist to record the entire cycle of Beethoven’s piano sonatas. The interpretation of Op. 90, which returns structurally to a format of two movements, is remarkable.…

Beethoven, manuscript of the Arietta, Op. 111

Beethoven – Piano Sonata 32 in c, Op. 111 (1822)

Beethoven never repeats himself, insists András Schiff. And adds that this sonata is “one of the wonders of mankind.” It moves, and moves one, in a kind of exaltation, to borrow the word from Anton Kuerti. American musicologist Richard Taruskin, in his massive but marvellous Music in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (2010), gives an extensive…

Beethoven, Op. 110 autograph, 3rd movement, conclusion of the second iteration of the Klagender Gesang (Courtesy: www.omnifacsimiles.com)

Beethoven – Piano Sonata 31 in A♭, Op. 110 (1821)

The second of the the last three piano sonatas, with, according to András Schiff and other pianists, references in the final movement, and also to be found in Op. 109, to Es ist vollbracht from Bach’s Johannes-Passion.  There is exceptional, reflective beauty in the opening cantabile movement. This beauty is mirrored in the final movement’s juxtaposition of sadness in the 12/16 Klagender Gesang (arioso…

Glenn Gould: Beethoven Sonatas Opp. 109, 110, 111 (Courtesy: www.myplaydirect.com)

Beethoven – Piano Sonata 30 in E, Op. 109 (1820)

This sonata has travelled with me since January of 1966, when I purchased, in Ottawa, Glenn Gould’s Columbia LP of Opp. 109, 110, and 111. It was Op. 109 that made the immediate and lasting impression upon me, and I have revisited it annually, as I did yesterday, around the same time of each winter. András…