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Johannes Brahms

Monday, August 21, 2017


My Classical Notes

August 8

Performed by Piano Duet

My Classical NotesMusical compositions for piano duet certainly exist, yet they are limited. As such, some performers have resorted to arranging colorful and rich orchestral works to be performed by duo pianos. Let me share with you one such new recording today: “Colors” brings us the following selections: Debussy: Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune La Mer Strauss, Richard: Salome: Dance of the Seven Veils Der Rosenkavalier: Waltzes Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op. 28 All of the above works arr. for piano duet and performed by Tal and Groethuysen (piano duet) The piano duo Tal & Groethuysen has thrilled classical music audiences for more than 30 years. They have received innumerable accolades worldwide for their recordings with Sony Classical, including five ECHO Klassik Music Awards, nine German Record Critics’ Prizes, and the Cannes Classical Award. They have recorded Debussy’s famous orchestral works Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune and La Mer in four-hand versions full of evocative colour, the first arranged by the composer himself and the second in a reduction for four hands by André Caplet. The duo also chose works by Richard Strauss for this album: the “Dance of the Seven Veils” from the opera Salome and the “Waltz Sequence” from the “Rosenkavalier” in arrangements by Johannes Doebber and Victor Babin. They have also recorded the famous symphonic poem Till Eulenspiegel by Strauss arranged for four hands by Otto Singer. A fascinating recording presenting well-known romantic pieces in amazing arrangements, allowing them to be heard in a new light. Here are the piano duo Tal & Groethuysen in the music of Brahms:

Joe's Concert Reviews

Yesterday

Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra – Louis Langree, conductor; Kirill Gerstein, piano. August 15, 2017.

David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center.  Orchestra (Seat D8, $50). Pre-Concert RecitalFrauenliebe und -leben, Op. 42 (1840) by Schumann (1810-1856).Susanna Phillips, soprano; Louis Langree, piano. ProgramVariations on a Theme by R. Schumann for piano solo (1854) by Brahms (1833-1897).Piano Concerto in A minor (1841-45) by Schumann.Symphony No. 1 in C minor (1862-76) by Brahms. The attendance for the pre-concert event was good, although not as good as the one at the last concert we attended.  And those that chose not to make it missed a good one. First, I admit I am not one into art songs, so I usually just acknowledge them and go to the next piece.  And I also complain about the acoustics for voices against orchestras in this auditorium.  Perhaps due to the (particularly) weak-sounding piano, Susanna Phillip’s voice carried very well, from beginning to end of this 20-minute program.  She sang clearly, with the right mix of emotions, and told the story well.  One thing I am not sure about is how good her German is, I am quite sure she got the pronunciation of many words wrong.  Evidently Langree is a competent pianist (few conductors start out in life as one), although he could have pounded the keys a bit harder, in my opinion. Schumann took all of two days to set eight of Adalbert von Chamisso’s poems into music after he learned all the legal challenges put up by Clara Wieck’s father were resolved.  “A Woman’s Love and Live” traces the narrator’s adult life of courtship, pregnancy, motherhood, and death of her husband.  The poems are: (i) Seit ich ihn gesehen (Since Seeing Him); (ii) Er, der Herrlichste von allen (He, the Most Wonderful of All); (iii) Ich kann’s nicht fassen, nicht glauben (I Cannot Grasp It, Believe It); (iv) Du Ring an meinem Finger (Ring on My Finger); (v) Helft mir, ihr Schwestern (Help Me, Sisters); (vi) Susser Freund, du blickest (Sweet Friend, You Look); (vii) An meinem Herzen, an meiner Brust (At My Heart, at My Breast); and (viii) Nun hast du mir den ersten Schmerz getan (Now Have You Caused Me My First Pain).  I found it a bit curious that the commentator saw the need to rationalize some of the non-gender-equal tone in the lyrics to accommodate the sensitivities of today’s audience. Susanna Phillips, with Louis Langree looking on, after she sang the Schumann songs. As noted both by Gerstein and Langree, the main program also threw Brahms and his relationship with the Schumann’s into the mix. The variations were written by Brahms in 1854, a year of great difficult for Robert (he was already in an asylum) and Clara (pregnant with their seventh child); and Brahms was developing an infatuation for Clara, to boot.  A year earlier, Clara showed Brahms a set of variations she wrote based on a subject written by Robert.  Brahms then composed these variation with the inscription “Short variations on a theme by Him, dedicated to Her.”  By the time the music was published, it was certainly not short (lasting close to 20 minutes).  I don’t remember ever hearing it before, but it was quite enjoyable, and I am sure the enjoyment will increase as I get to know the music and its structure.  The Clara variations will be performed at another Mostly Mozart event. The Schumann piano concerto was clearly a piece written for the virtuoso, and Gerstein delivered.  Our seats were on the right front part of the orchestra, so we saw mostly his face as he was playing, but the piano sound came through clearly. For encore, Gerstein played the slow movement of a piano sonata composed by Clara but orchestrated by Robert .  The cello was the only instrument (exception for the last part where the timpani was added) used and Gerstein described it as a love duet between Clara and Robert. Brahms’s first symphony took a mere 22 years, if one counts as the starting point Brahms’s first sketches for the work.  Much has been said about how this work was in the tradition of Beethoven’s Symphonies – including Brahms’s own remark “any ass can see that.”  I can certainly get that similarity, but do not have enough understanding of Beethoven’s symphonies to called this the “tenth.”  Except for the theme of the last movement, I was mostly unfamiliar with this work. Our seats so close to the stage reminded me of some of the shortcomings of the orchestra.  Today it was hearing the individual string players “too clearly.”  The orchestra roster has a few impressive names: Cobb is NY Phil’s principal bass, Rhoten is the principal timpanist, Finkelshteyn is the principal cello of Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Kirill Gerstein after the Schumann Piano Concerto. Perhaps this is the summer season, or perhaps of my lower expectations, I really enjoyed this concert, not losing patience like I did with the last concert. We had a simple dinner at Europan.




Meeting in Music

Yesterday

Mixed Basket of LP's, Part I

J. S. Bach Passacaglia & Fugue in C minor Toccata & Fugue in D minor Prelude & Fugue in C major Dearly I yearn Our father in heaven Oh Man, bewail thy grievous sin Christ, the only son of God Kurt Rapf LP Rip - 1972 Johann Strauss Jr. On the Beautiful Blue Danube Tritsch-Tratsch Polka Emperor Waltz Thunder & Lightning Roses from the South Annen Polka Perpetuum Mobile Josef Strauss Pizzicate Polka Karl Böhm Vienna Philharmonic LP Rip - 1972 Sir Edward Elgar Organ Sonata No. 1 Kenneth Leighton Paean Frank Bridge Adagio Herbert Howells Rhapsody No. 3 in C sharp minor Sir Michael Tippett Preludio al Vespro di Monteverdi Benjamin Britten Prelude & Fugue on a Theme of Vittoria Simon Preston LP Rip - 1967 Johannes Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 Claudio Abbado Maurizio Pollini Vienna Philharmonic LP Rip - 1977 Sir Edward Elgar Enigma Variations Introduction & Allegro Sir Adrian Boult London Philharmonic Orchestra LP Rip - 1962 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Flute Sonata No. 4 in F major Flute Sonata No. 6 in B flat major Flute Sonata No. 3 in A major Flute Sonata No. 5 in C major Flute Sonata No. 1 in B flat major Flute Sonata No. 2 in G major Jean Pierre-Rampal LP Rip - 1974 Modest Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition A Night on Bare Mountain Vladimir Golschmann Vienna State Opera Orchestra LP Rip - 1958 Frydryck Chopin Barcarolle in F shap major Etude in C sharp minor Mazurka in C sharp minor, Opus 50, No. 3 Mazurka in C sharp minor, Opus 63, No. 3 Mazurka in A minor, Opus 7, No. 2 Mazurka in C major, Opus 24, No. 2 Mazurka in A minor, Opus 17, No. 4 Scherzo No. 1 in B minor Ivan Moravec LP Rip - 1969 Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov Symphony No. 1 Song of Oleg the Wise Boris Khaikin Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra Bolshoi Theater Orchestra LP Rip - 1969 Zoltan Kodály Háry János Suite Dances of Galánta István Kertész London Symphony Orchestra LP Rip - 1964 Edvard Grieg Piano Concerto in A minor Cesar Franck Symphonic Variations Henry Litolff Symphonic Concerto No. 4 Oivinn Fjeldstad London Symphony Orchestra Sir Adrian Boult Clifford Curzon London Philharmonic Orchestra LP Rip - 1960 Johannes Brahms Symphony No. 2 István Kertész Vienna Philharmonic LP Rip - 1965 Richard Wagner Siegfried Idyll Parsifal, Prelude to Act I Parsifal, Transformation Music (Act I) Parsifal, Prelude to Act III Parsifal, Good Friday Music (Act III) Parsifal, Transformation Music (Act III) Sir Adrian Boult London Symphony Orchestra LP Rip - 1973 Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 Leonard Bernstein Philippe Entremont New York Philharmonic LP Rip - 1961 Felix Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No. 1 Piano Concerto No. 2 Anthony Colins Peter Kalin London Symphony Orchestra LP Rip - 1962 [FLAC, Front cover, Individual tracks]

The Well-Tempered Ear

August 19

Classical music: What classical music do you find necessary and why?

By Jacob Stockinger The Ear has heard many themes for concerts and festivals. But he really, really likes the title of this year’s Token Creek Chamber Music Festival (below, inside the refurbished barn that serves as a concert hall). It runs from Aug. 26 through Sept. 3. Here is a link to complete details about the performers, the three programs and the five concerts that focus especially on the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and Franz Schubert, Maurice Ravel and Robert Schumann: https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2017/08/17/classical-music-this-years-token-creek-chamber-music-festival-will-explore-necessary-music-by-bach-schubert-schumann-ravel-harbison-and-other-composers-from-aug-26-thr/ The theme or concept is NECESSARY MUSIC. Of course, as the festival press release says, the Token Creek organizers recognize that the whole idea is subjective, so they refuse to be prescriptive: “In what way, and for whom is a certain kind of music necessary? “Certainly the presenters of a chamber music festival would be presumptuous to offer a program as a sort of prescription for listeners. And at Token Creek we won’t. “So often the music we need arrives by chance, and we did not even know we needed it until it appears. And other times we know exactly what we are missing. And so we offer this year’s programs of pieces that feed the soul.” The Ear likes that concept. And he thinks it applies to all of us. So today he wants to know: What music is NECESSARY FOR YOU and WHAT MAKES IT NECESSARY Of course, the idea of necessary music changes over time and in different circumstances. Do you need relief from the anxiety of political news? Are you celebrating a happy event? Are you recovering from some kind of personal sadness or misfortune? But right now, what piece or pieces of music – or even what composer – do you find necessary and why? In the COMMENT section, please tell us what it is and what makes it necessary? And please include a link to a YouTube video performance, if possible. The Ear wants to hear. Tagged: anxiety , Arts , Bach , Baroque , Beethoven , Cello , Chamber music , chance , choral music , circumstances , Classical music , concept , Concert , Early music , event , festival , Franz Schubert , George Crumb , George Frideric Handel , happy' , idea , Jacob Stockinger , Johann Sebastian Bach , Johannes Brahms , listener , Ludwig van Beethoven , Madison , misfortune , Mozart , Music , necessary , occasion , opera , Orchestra , performance , personal , Piano , pieces , political , Politics , prescriptive , presenter , program , Ravel , sadness , Schumann , Sonata , soul , subjective , symphony , theme , time , Token Creek Chamber Music Festival , United States , University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music , University of Wisconsin–Madison , video , Viola , Violin , vocal music , Wisconsin , Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , YouTube



The Well-Tempered Ear

August 12

Classical music: Why do we love Chopin? Ask pianist Jeremy Denk

By Jacob Stockinger I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t like playing or hearing the music of Chopin (below). Can you? But just why the 19th-century Romantic composer has such universal appeal is hard to explain. One of the best explanations The Ear has read came recently from pianist Jeremy Denk , whose essay on “Chopin as a cat” appeared in The New York Times . Denk, who has performed two outstanding solo recitals in Madison, is clearly an important musical thinker as well as a great performer. You can also see that at once if you read his excellent blog “Think Denk.” The Ear suspects the current essay grew out of some remarks that Denk gave during a lecture on Chopin’s pedaling at the UW-Madison , and will be incorporated into the book he is working on that includes his previous acclaimed essays in The New Yorker magazine . Denk (below), who has lately been performing an intriguing survey concert that covers 600 years of music, thinks that Chopin’s uniqueness resides in how he consolidated and fused both conservative values and radical, even modern, innovations. To the Ear, it is the best modern analysis of Chopin that he has read since the major treatment that the acclaimed pianist-musicologist Charles Rosen wrote about the Polish “poet of the piano” in his terrific book “The Romantic Generation .” Moreover, the online web version of Denk’s essay is much more substantial and satisfying than the newspaper print edition. It has not only audio-visual performances of important Chopin works by major artists such as Arthur Rubinstein and Krystian Zimerman, it also suggests, analyzes and praises some “old-fashioned” historical recordings of Chopin by Ignaz Friedman , Alfred Cortot and Josef Hoffmann . Now if only Jeremy Denk would record an album of Chopin himself! Here is a link to the Chopin essay: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/04/arts/music/jeremy-denk-chopin.html Enjoy! Please listen to the wonderful clips that Denk suggests. Then tell us what pieces are your favorite Chopin works, big or small, and what performers are your favorite Chopin interpreters. The Ear wants to hear. Tagged: Alfred Cortot , analysis , Arthur Rubinstein , Arts , Bach , Ballade , barcarolle , Baroque , Beethoven , big , blog , cat , Chamber music , Charles Rosen , Chopin , Classical music , Compact Disc , composer , conservative , consolidate , essay , explanation , feline , Franz Schubert , fuse , harmony , hear , historic , Ignaz Friedman , important , innovation , interpreter , Jacob Stockinger , Jeremy Denk , Johannes Brahms , Josef Hofmann , Krystian Zimerman , lecture , Love , magazine , major , Martha Argerich , melody , modern , Music , musicologist , New York Times , Newspaper , online , pedal , pedaling , Piano , play , poet , Polish , Prelude , print , radical , read , record , recording , Romantic , small , SoundCloud , survey , The New York Times , The New Yorker , think , Think Denk , United States , University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music , University of Wisconsin–Madison , values , web , Wisconsin , Wisconsin Union Theater , Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , YouTube

Johannes Brahms
(1833 – 1897)

Johannes Brahms (7 May 1833 - 3 April 1897) was a German composer and pianist, and one of the leading musicians of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene. In his lifetime, Brahms' popularity and influence were considerable; following a comment by the nineteenth-century conductor Hans von Bülow, he is sometimes grouped with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven as one of the Three Bs. Brahms composed for piano, chamber ensembles, symphony orchestra, and for voice and chorus. A virtuoso pianist, he premiered many of his own works; he also worked with some of the leading performers of his time, including the pianist Clara Schumann and the violinist Joseph Joachim. Many of his works have become staples of the modern concert repertoire. Brahms, an uncompromising perfectionist, destroyed many of his works and left some of them unpublished. Brahms is often considered both a traditionalist and an innovator. His music is firmly rooted in the structures and compositional techniques of the Baroque and Classical masters. He was a master of counterpoint, the complex and highly disciplined method of composition for which Bach is famous, and also of development, a compositional ethos pioneered by J. Haydn, W.A. Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven. Brahms aimed to honour the "purity" of these venerable "German" structures and advance them into a Romantic idiom, in the process creating bold new approaches to harmony and melody. While many contemporaries found his music too academic, his contribution and craftsmanship have been admired by subsequent figures as diverse as the progressive Arnold Schoenberg and the conservative Edward Elgar. The diligent, highly constructed nature of Brahms's works was a starting point and an inspiration for a generation of composers.



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