Joseph Haydn – Symphony 73 (1782)

Haydn’s mastery in combining musicality and structure is sublime in this symphony. The repeated notes of the slow introduction are transformed into a theme of repeated notes in the allegro; and, the repeated notes, when voiced in two or several of the instruments of the orchestra, in turn become the implied counterpoint to the melody. The…

Henri Vieuxtemps – Violin Concerto 4 in d, Op. 31 (1850)

The Belgian Henri Vieuxtemps, who re-introduced Beethoven’s violin concerto to the world, wrote seven violin concertos for his own use, of which the most interesting is the 4th. In this, my opinion agrees with the composer’s. The slow movement, which contains the concerto’s most moving music, prefigures, my ear finds, some of the harmonic treatment…

Tchaikovsky – Piano Concerto 2 in G, Op. 44 (1880)

An underappreciated work, completed two years after the first piano concerto. It premiered not in Moscow, but in New York City. Like Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto, this work was heavily cut to their detriment. For the equilibrium of the whole, the concerto must be played as the composer intended. There are some banalities in the first…

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…

Gloria, RV 589 – Antonio Vivaldi

A superb rendition of the Gloria, RV 589, another of Vivaldi’s many remarkable compositions. The tempi are convincing and interrelate exceedingly well within the whole. The harmonic depth and modulatory interconnections are always in the fore. The singing is expressively flawless, and the conducting a feat of organization, control, and musical realization. The whole is…

Totentanz

A spectacular and hair-raising performance by Hungarian pianist György Cziffra of Liszt’s 1859 paraphrase with variations, Totentanz. The dance of death (or, danse macabre) was brought to the forefront of European human consciousness during the 14th century by famines, war, and the Black Death. Its musical representation is in the plainchant dies irae, and its derivative, the…

Classical Fandango – Soler and Scarlatti

Padre Antonio Soler (1729-1783) was a Catalan composer, theoretician, organist, harpsichordist, priest, and maestro de capilla, first at Lérida Cathedral, and in 1752 at the Spanish royal monastery, San Lorenzo de El Escorial, near Madrid, where he studied with the Neapolitan composer Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757), who was also in the royal service as its music…