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…

Esterháza Palace, illuminated at night

Political Insurrection and the Symphony – Mahler and Freud Meet in Leiden II:II:1

The subject of the poem “Insurrection” is the search for clarity of content in a chosen form. The forms selected are political insurrection and the orchestral symphony, both constrained by the norms of place and society. The setting is in the Hungarian forests, where the insurgents are, and the nearby Esterháza Palace, where Haydn is…

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…