Saturday, July 28, 2018

A Few Musings

Just a few musings this morning as I want to write something, but can't quite decide what. I am coming to the end of my odyssey through the Haydn Edition. Better than halfway through the piano music which are the last group of CDs in the box. The piano sonatas were one of the main reasons to buy the box as I don't know them very well, but every time I hear one I am impressed. The ones written before 1766 are fairly light, just entertainment. But a lot of the later ones are really interesting with a lot of unexpected dramatic gestures. I find them a bit more interesting than those interminable sets of variations we find occupying so much space in the Mozart piano oeuvre. Mind you, I am still in the sonatas; the last couple of discs are variations. One nice thing about the Haydn box is that they offer all the piano sonatas in performances on fortepianos, some copies and some originals. The performers include Bart van Oort, Ursula Dütschler, Stanley Hoogland, Yoshiko Kojima, and Riko Fukuda. The pianos include an original Broadwood from 1794.

Here is Stanley Hoogland with the first movement of the Piano Sonata in E-Flat Major, Hob. XVI:52 and yes, this is on that 1794 Broadwood. Presumably with new strings! Blogger won't embed so follow the link:

This is a rare find: when I accessed it this clip had one (1) view!! I quite like the sound of these old fortepianos.

Our chamber music festival starts next week and the programming is a bit better than in recent years as I notice that there are a few late Beethoven and Shostakovich quartets appearing. I will pretty much go to any string quartet concert with Shostakovich as there are a lot of the quartets that I have not yet heard in concert. Yes, I'm afraid that my very favorite string quartet composer is Shostakovich, just beating out Beethoven, Haydn and Mozart. I think that Robert Schumann is among my least favorite string quartet composers so there are couple of concerts I am avoiding for that reason. Schumann is a very interesting composer, one of the ones that really shaped romanticism in music. But his strengths are in the songs and the early piano pieces, not in the string quartets and symphonies which I find very tiresome. Just an opinion.

I'm re-learning the early piece by Leo Brouwer written as a homage to Stravinsky: the Elogio de la Danza. I really love this piece as it has the originality (in the way it adapts some Stravinskian language to the guitar in brilliantly idiomatic fashion) and concision that so much of his later music lacks. I have to say that I think that this piece and the Espiral Eterna are really his best pieces and they were both written in the 60s. Since then he has written great stacks of music for solo guitar and guitar with orchestra, some of it good, like the Decameron negro, but a lot of it just going over and over the same ground. We have more than enough "Cuban Landscapes" thanks very much! (I noticed in the score the other day that there are some pencil marks that I think were put there by Leo himself as I played the piece for him in a masterclass in the 1970s!)

A master-class with Leo Brouwer in the 1970s in Toronto (that's me in those horrible plaid pants!)

I put up Elogio the other day, so here is a performance of La Espiral Eterna, a wonderfully unique piece inspired by both tape loops and Ligeti. The performance is by the composer.

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