About Beethoven – Piano Concerto No. 5

Listen to Lang Lang —— BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 5 on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aH63RKQ7OEw
Read “The best way to understand a Beethoven concerto? From a musician’s point of view.” on https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/music/the-best-way-to-understand-a-beethoven-concerto-from-a-musicians-point-of-view/2019/02/15/133712f0-2ee4-11e9-813a-0ab2f17e305b_story.html?utm_term=.025a42863d3f
And quote:
Every work of orchestral music is a mosaic of myriad considerations, thoughts, phrasings and experiences in performance. This concerto used to be perceived as monumental (listen to the George Szell recording with Leon Fleisher from 1961), but today, as Kostov points out, it’s the style of many conductors to lead Classical-era pieces — the music of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven — “much lighter and much happier, so it’s not as intense.” (Noseda has demonstrated this approach with the NSO.) Yet Aimard ultimately sees the piece in light of its own history, written at a time when Napoleon’s forces were besieging Vienna.
“It is anything but monumental, anything but beautiful and aesthetic,” he says. “It is a shout for freedom.”
“When it comes to musicians,” Kostov says, “the performance is just 1 percent of what happens underneath.”

Handel – Messiah always for my Christmas celebration

My Christmas music celebration usually starts around Thanksgiving Day. I always want to listen to the full version of Handel’s Messiah many many times during this wonderful Christmas season, and my spirit is often lifted by this magical music piece.  The following is a list of web page links for the classical music recordings of Handel’s Messiah.

. Handel – Messiah – by London Philharmonic (Complete Concerto/Full) : https://youtu.be/71NCzuDNUcg

. Messiah – A Sacred Oratorio, Handel – London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Colin Davis https://youtu.be/ZuGSOkYWfDQ

. Handel Messiah The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge: https://youtu.be/SCLrle4T9MI?t=78

Quote from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messiah_(Handel) Messiah (HWV 56)[1][n 1] is an English-language oratorio composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel, with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible, and from the Coverdale Psalter, the version of the Psalms included with the Book of Common Prayer. It was first performed in Dublin on 13 April 1742 and received its London premiere nearly a year later. After an initially modest public reception, the oratorio gained in popularity, eventually becoming one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music.

Handel’s reputation in England, where he had lived since 1712, had been established through his compositions of Italian opera. He turned to English oratorio in the 1730s in response to changes in public taste; Messiah was his sixth work in this genre. Although its structure resembles that of opera, it is not in dramatic form; there are no impersonations of characters and no direct speech. Instead, Jennens’s text is an extended reflection on Jesus as the Messiah called Christ. The text begins in Part I with prophecies by Isaiah and others, and moves to the annunciation to the shepherds, the only “scene” taken from the Gospels. In Part II, Handel concentrates on the Passion and ends with the “Hallelujah” chorus. In Part III he covers the resurrection of the dead and Christ’s glorification in heaven.

Handel wrote Messiah for modest vocal and instrumental forces, with optional settings for many of the individual numbers. In the years after his death, the work was adapted for performance on a much larger scale, with giant orchestras and choirs. In other efforts to update it, its orchestration was revised and amplified by (among others) Mozart (Der Messias). In the late 20th and early 21st centuries the trend has been towards reproducing a greater fidelity to Handel’s original intentions, although “big Messiah” productions continue to be mounted. A near-complete version was issued on 78 rpm discs in 1928; since then the work has been recorded many times.

Beethoven: Symphony No.6, “Pastorale”; Jarvi, DKB, A spring season cheering?

This year of Chinese Lunar New Year is on February 8, 2016; the year of monkey.  I am using this music piece for cheering: “Beethoven: Symphony No.6 in F, “Pastorale”, Op.68
Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen Paavo Jarvi, director: Beethoven: Symphony No.6, “Pastorale”; Jarvi, DKB. One Youtube.com link for the 6th symphony is here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQGm0H9l9I4.

Quote from Wikipedia: About Beethoven: Symphony No.6, “Pastorale”

“Beethoven was a lover of nature who spent a great deal of his time on walks in the country. He frequently left Vienna to work in rural locations.”

“‘Awakening of cheerful feelings on arrival in the countryside.’: The symphony begins with a placid and cheerful movement depicting the composer’s feelings as he arrives in the country. The movement, in 2/4 meter, is in sonata form, and its motifs are extensively developed. At several points Beethoven builds up orchestral texture by multiple repetitions of very short motifs. Yvonne Frindle commented,[6] “the infinite repetition of pattern in nature [is] conveyed through rhythmic cells, its immensity through sustained pure harmonies.”

Explanations for each movement from this web page and I quote: Each movement subtitle explaining what it was about


Beethoven spread out the symphony into five movements and gave each movement a little subtitle explaining what it was about.

I. “Happy Arrival” (Awakening of cheerful feelings upon arrival in the country)

The Pastoral symphony opens with warmth and calm, setting the scene as we arrive in the countryside. This has a programmatic indication. In this movement, we find a genuine popular sonority through the choice of instruments neatly weaved together.

II. “By the Brook” (The natural scene of the stream)

This slow movement is a beautiful depiction of the delicate nature of… nature itself. It is a wonderful scene of nature with exceptionally musical themes in the pure pastoral air. You can almost breathe the fresh country air! It is more of a description of sensations rather than images. Towards the end, we find the onomatopoeic sounds of birds.

III. “Merrymaking” (Joyful gathering of countryfolk)

Now we turn our attention to the loud, jolly peasants who live in the countryside. Here we see them celebrate with a joyful dance. Of course, these are simple folks, so the music itself is simple, but very energetic.

IV. “ThunderStorm” (Heavy rumblings of natural forces) 29:21

With no pause between the previous movement and this movement, there is a dramatic surprise, hinting at trouble ahead. Yes, a storm is brewing! Beethoven inserts fantastic lightning crashes and the whirl of the wind. He renders the stages of the storm as it unravels on the horizon and moves closer more and more threatening. The instruments with grave chords — cellos and double basses — through their sounds announce the storm, then, the staccato sounds of the violins render the falling raindrops, and through the timpani and the flutes we sense the thunder and lightning. Then comes the rainbow. Above all these images, we feel the tense disposition that captures man facing the realities of nature. There’s an underlying sense of human fear since humanity is powerless against the forces of nature. When the storm is over, all living creatures come to the surface, taking their place in the natural cycle. This is rendered by a choral of flutes which come as a true sunray.

V. “Shepherd’s Song” (Expression of thanks when the storm is over)

As the storm fades away, all the animals emerge, and there’s a general feeling of relief. Sunshine reappears, and everyone’s mind is relaxed again. This is the song of gratitude towards nature. It is a calm movement, full of grace. It starts out quiet, but quickly gets faster and happier. The music is fairly simple, but this makes its emotions of gratitude endearing.

Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, through its simplicity, is just sincere and natural.


Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 in E Minor “From The New World” / Karajan · Vienna Philarmonic: My favorite

Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor “From The New World” / Karajan · Vienna Philarmonic is a recording that I often listen to; I particularly like the second movement “Largo”; I thus list the second movement link here first, then the entire symphony.

Dvořák – Symphony No. 9 in E Minor “From the New World” – II. Largo (Karajan)

Quote from Wikipedia:

The theme from the Largo was adapted into the spiritual-like song “Goin’ Home”, often mistakenly considered a folk song or traditional spiritual, by Dvořák’s pupil William Arms Fisher, who wrote the lyrics in 1922

The entire “Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 “From The New World” / Karajan · Vienna Philarmonic”:

Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 “From The New World” / Karajan · Vienna Philarmonic

Quote from Wikipedia: Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor, “From the New World”, Op. 95, B. 178

The Symphony No. 9 in E minor, “From the New World”, Op. 95, B. 178 (Czech: Symfonie č. 9 e moll „Z nového světa“), popularly known as the New World Symphony, was composed by Antonín Dvořák in 1893 while he was the director of the National Conservatory of Music of America from 1892 to 1895. It is by far his most popular symphony, and one of the most popular of all symphonies. In older literature and recordings, this symphony was often numbered as Symphony No. 5. Neil Armstrong took a recording of the New World Symphony to the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission, the first Moon landing, in 1969.

The symphony was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, and premiered on December 16, 1893, at Carnegie Hall conducted by Anton Seidl. A day earlier, in an article published in the New York Herald on December 15, 1893, Dvořák further explained how Native American music had been an influence on this symphony:
I have not actually used any of the [Native American] melodies. I have simply written original themes embodying the peculiarities of the Indian music, and, using these themes as subjects, have developed them with all the resources of modern rhythms, counterpoint, and orchestral colour.

Dvořák did, it seems, borrow rhythms from the music of his native Bohemia, as notably in his Slavonic Dances, and the pentatonic scale in some of his music written in America from African-American and/or Native American sources.

Dvořák was influenced not only by music he had heard, but by what he had seen, in America. He wrote that he would not have composed his American pieces as he had, if he had not seen America.[15] It has been said that Dvořák was inspired by the American “wide open spaces” such as prairies he may have seen on his trip to Iowa in the summer of 1893.[16] Notices about several performances of the symphony include the phrase “wide open spaces” about what inspired the symphony and/or about the feelings it conveys to listeners.

Frédéric Chopin – Piano Concerto No. 2. II Larghetto | Arthur Rubinstein

I read a quote that shall be a good reminder for me; it says “The secret of life is to know who you are and where you are going.”

I hope that year 2016 is a year of peace for me, and of more focus on the classic music listening, ballet performance viewing and yoga practice.  I thus like to start with this piece “Frédéric Chopin – Piano Concerto No. 2. II Larghetto | Arthur Rubinstein”.

Click on the following picture or this web link to listen: Frédéric Chopin – Piano Concerto No. 2. II Larghetto | Arthur Rubinstein

Video for Rubinstein-Chopin-Piano Concerto No.1 in E Minor 2nd movement

Learn from the past mistakes

I like to start my first Monday in 2016 with a quote I read today, and one of my favorite Violin concertos – Beethoven Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61 – Itzhak Perlman, violin; Daniel Barenboim, conductor; Berlin Philharmonic.

. The quote:

Make the mistakes of yesterday your lessons for today.

. The violin concerto

Itzhak Perlman – Beethoven Violin Concerto – Daniel Barenboim

Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 to start Year 2016

I like to start my year 2016 with the passion from “Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64” performed by Janine Jansen with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (at the BBC Proms). The YouTube.com link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pmj7nCRYNs4.

Some information about this concerto quoted from Wikipedia: Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64

Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64, is his last large orchestral work. It forms an important part of the violin repertoire and is one of the most popular and most frequently performed violin concertos of all time.[1][2][3] A typical performance lasts just under half an hour.

Mendelssohn originally proposed the idea of the violin concerto to Ferdinand David, a close friend and then concertmaster of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Although conceived in 1838, the work took another six years to complete and was not premiered until 1845. During this time, Mendelssohn maintained a regular correspondence with David, who gave him many suggestions. The work itself was one of the foremost violin concertos of the Romantic era and was influential on many other composers

Additional information about the Romantic era in classical music from this web page: http://www.classicfm.com/discover/periods/romantic/

The Romantic era is known for its intense energy and passion. The rigid forms of classical music gave way to greater expression, and music grew closer to art, literature and theatre.
Beethoven pioneered Romanticism and expanded previously strict formulas for symphonies and sonatas, and introduced a whole new approach to music, giving his works references to other aspects of life – for example, his ‘Pastoral’ Symphony No. 6 describes countryside scenes.
As well as symphonies, the tone poem and descriptive overture were popular as pieces of stand-alone orchestral music that evoked anything from a painting or poem to a feeling of nationalistic fervour
The Romantic era gave birth to the virtuoso. Liszt was one of the greatest of his time, and wrote demanding piano music to show off his own brilliance. Chopin is also among the outstanding composer-performers from this timeIn the world of opera, cue the entrance of Verdi in the middle of the Romantic era. He turned Italian opera on its head by introducing new subject material, often with social, political or nationalistic themes, and combined these with a direct approach to composing.
Germany’s Richard Wagner also played a key role in developing the operatic genre.Before Wagner, the action and music in opera was split into short pieces or ‘numbers’ much like a modern-day musical show. Wagner’s operas are written as long, continuous sweeps of music. The characters and ideas are given short signature melodies called leitmotifs.
Wagner’s ideas dominated most music, from the large-scale symphonies of Bruckner and Mahler to the heroic tone poems and operas of Richard Strauss, even reaching Italy, where Verdi and Puccini started to produce operas according to many of Wagner’s rules.
Ideas and compositions became more and more outlandish and inventive until the musical rules had to be rewritten, and the scene was set for the biggest change in music for centuries – the beginning of Modernism.

Read more at http://www.classicfm.com/discover/periods/romantic/#YDqC8b5zjFQ6AjFq.99