Author Topic: Gurn's Classical Corner  (Read 569682 times)

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Offline Gabriel

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #340 on: April 03, 2009, 03:33:52 PM »
That is of course the case, Gurn. Just now however I cannot remember any fugue in Haydn's masses, but that could be down to the time of day (or night).

Gabriel, coud you recommend a Rejcha disk or two?

In fact, I've been about thinking of a "Rejcha's greatest hits" post for some weeks, but I've told myself that I would like to make a careful selection out of the 25 wind quintets before I post it. There is Rejcha for all tastes.

If you are fond of fugues, the normal suggestion would be the 36 fugues for piano op. 36. The only complete set now available is played on fortepiano by Jaroslav Tuma (it is a very good set, but if you dislike the sound you could have some trouble). But consider that Beethoven, when he knew Rejcha's op. 36, exclaimed that "these were no longer fugues". As Reicha was really fond of experimentation, it isn't surprising at all!

For formal experimentation, an interesting set are the six Flute Quartets op. 98. Phrasing, rhythm, harmony, counterpoint, nothing escapes from Rejcha's sharp eye: this is remarkable music. They have been all recorded, but in two separate sets by two ensembles (1-3 led by Konrad Hünteler, and 4-6 by Aurèle Nicolet: Nicolet's set is erroneously numbered as 1-3).

There is a lot more (even in his smaller works Rejcha exposes all kinds of surprises), but I would like to keep it for a better synthesis. Of course the natural choice for approaching Rejcha's compositions is the magnificent set of wind quintets, but this is another story... and a very long one indeed!

I will try to post my "greatest hits" selection as soon as possible, so it might help to introduce who is in my humble opinion one of the greatest geniuses of this era.

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #341 on: April 03, 2009, 04:39:12 PM »
That is of course the case, Gurn. Just now however I cannot remember any fugue in Haydn's masses, but that could be down to the time of day (or night).

Gabriel, coud you recommend a Rejcha disk or two?

I'm sure that's all it is, Valentino. For a quick example, listen to the Harmoniemesse and savor the powerful little fugues at the end of the Gloria and the Credo. I'm working on that right now, just as a memory refresher, and for the pure pleasure. :)

8)

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Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #342 on: April 03, 2009, 04:45:20 PM »
In fact, I've been about thinking of a "Rejcha's greatest hits" post for some weeks, but I've told myself that I would like to make a careful selection out of the 25 wind quintets before I post it. There is Rejcha for all tastes.

If you are fond of fugues, the normal suggestion would be the 36 fugues for piano op. 36. The only complete set now available is played on fortepiano by Jaroslav Tuma (it is a very good set, but if you dislike the sound you could have some trouble). But consider that Beethoven, when he knew Rejcha's op. 36, exclaimed that "these were no longer fugues". As Reicha was really fond of experimentation, it isn't surprising at all!

For formal experimentation, an interesting set are the six Flute Quartets op. 98. Phrasing, rhythm, harmony, counterpoint, nothing escapes from Rejcha's sharp eye: this is remarkable music. They have been all recorded, but in two separate sets by two ensembles (1-3 led by Konrad Hünteler, and 4-6 by Aurèle Nicolet: Nicolet's set is erroneously numbered as 1-3).

There is a lot more (even in his smaller works Rejcha exposes all kinds of surprises), but I would like to keep it for a better synthesis. Of course the natural choice for approaching Rejcha's compositions is the magnificent set of wind quintets, but this is another story... and a very long one indeed!

I will try to post my "greatest hits" selection as soon as possible, so it might help to introduce who is in my humble opinion one of the greatest geniuses of this era.

Well, they may be too common for consideration here, but Reicha's 24 Quintets for Winds are unequaled in the genre, and in Late Classical composition in general. To me, any discussion of his music has to begin here. Even short of getting the entire set, you owe it to yourself to pick up this 2 disk set:

 

which is the Academia Wind Quintet of Prague on Hyperion. Very nice sampling.

8)

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Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #343 on: April 03, 2009, 06:34:47 PM »
Hi Valentino - below a 'larger' pic of Gurn's recommendation, which was my introduction to Reicha's Wind Quintets - an excellent Hyperion Dyad bargain (if still available?); these are wonderful works & performances to the point that I'd like to own MORE!  ;D

CPO is offering a 10-CD box of these wind works performed by the Albert Schweitzer Quintet - I don't know this group but the Amazon Marketplace price is $75; so, any comments on this offering (or possibly other 'complete' sets)?  Thanks all - Dave  :)


 

Offline Gabriel

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #344 on: April 04, 2009, 01:31:09 PM »
CPO is offering a 10-CD box of these wind works performed by the Albert Schweitzer Quintet - I don't know this group but the Amazon Marketplace price is $75; so, any comments on this offering (or possibly other 'complete' sets)?  Thanks all - Dave  :)

A comment, Dave?

;D

If you liked the Hyperion set... GET IT!

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #345 on: April 04, 2009, 05:58:57 PM »
Equality of instruments: A musical necessity or a social convention?

This is a topic which has always interested me. I'm quite sure that someone far more knowledgeable than I am has written an enlightened tome which fully explains the topic, but I haven't been privileged to read that yet, so I have drawn inferences from what I have read and put some things together and this is what I came away with. If anyone sees any errors of fact, or wishes to correct my logic, I would love to discuss this topic here. :)

In the mid to late 18th century there was a long-standing tradition that part of a well-rounded education for anyone of the noble class to learn music and especially the playing of an instrument. With men it was often a string instrument, with women, nearly always the keyboard. A fair number of these people became very proficient at their instruments, but it was strictly taboo for anyone with noble blood to pursue any sort of career as a musician, so they remained "amateurs" or dilettantes. Some of them played of a quality which today we would expect only of professionals, so we can't use amateur in the modern sense of not being proficient enough to be a professional. Other factors applied.

And these people were good enough and wealthy enough to commission works from the finest composers of the day for their own use. They played at salons that they or their friends held regularly, and in the case of the ladies, they played for prospective suitors, often with the suitor himself playing accompaniment on the violin or cello or whatever instrument he played. Thus, sonatas were written for keyboard where the only obliggato instrument was the keyboard, and the other instrument(s) were ad libitum. This was the stage that the accompanied sonata was in when Haydn wrote his earlier piano trios, for example, and Mozart his early violin sonatas. So when we are told (unfortunately often) that these earlier works aren't worth listening to because they were written for amateurs, we are victims of a misrepresentation, intentional or otherwise, that leaves out the entire context of what an amateur was in those days.

By the time of the reign of the Emperor Joseph II, there was a huge change in the social fabric of Europe, particularly in Austria. The noble class was stripped of a lot of their wealth and power, but the middle class, merchants, lawyers and the like, suddenly were not only able to accumulate wealth but also to put on the pretense of being noble. They, however, were not constrained by class rules which prevented them from becoming professional musicians if they desired. Witness Josepha Auernhammer, a student of Mozart. Daughter of a merchant, she took lessons from Mozart and became one of the fine pianists of her time, eventually going to Paris to play professionally. In addition, there also rose a class of touring professional musicians who performed whatever works they brought with them and also whatever was popular at the time in whatever city they landed in. An example is Mademoiselle Jenomy (daughter of a French diplomat) for whom Mozart composed his 9th piano concerto, and Mademoiselle Paradis (blind virtuoso, famous throughout Europe) for whom he composed the 17th. Or Regina Strinasacchi, violinist extraordinaire, for whom he composed the violin sonata in Bb K 454 and performed it with her in public before the Emperor. These were all professionals in every sense of the word (Jenomy retired to Paris and taught keyboard until her death <>1820). In other words, music was moving out of the salon and onto the public stage, due to social factors far bigger than music itself.

So, how did composers react to this? Well, they began writing for ensembles in which all the members were equally talented instead of just 1 or 2 members were. And that meant that the violin part of a violin sonata needed to be at least as interesting as the keyboard part. Same for trios (extremely popular then, as now). So all the themes in a piece were no longer introduced by the keyboard, and the voice-leading wasn't strictly cued from the keyboard either. There was a greater equality between instruments.

So, was this a musical necessity? Or a social one? Well, it was both, IMO. Music had come about as far as it could in the mixed ensemble without some elemental change which allowed for the idiomatic playing of each instrument to assert itself. Violins couldn't double the right hand forever, nor cellos the left. Once basso continuuo was eliminated from music, the bass (cello) had to have a real part to play. So the music was fundamentally changed to accommodate this necessity. And from a social point of view, there were now players available to fill the need for cellists and violinists too. Keyboard chamber music was no longer the province of the salon.

So, how about strings? This is a wholly different story, which I will have a go at next time. Thanks for reading. :)

8)


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Antoine Marchand

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #346 on: April 04, 2009, 07:30:55 PM »
Very interesting ideas, Gurn.

I was thinking about something probably complementary with your view: The birth of the Conservatory after the French Revolution enabled to have many musicians (number) trained in the same principles (quality). The same lesson for many people in a public institution is to me a step towards a certain standardization of music.

This is perceptible in the instruments too: for instance, to mention just one case, the piano(forte) replaced to a great variety of baroque keyboards. In this way the "instrumentarium" begins a clear process of reduction (number) and "regularization" (quality), compared with precedent times.

... but I can be wrong.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2009, 02:17:39 AM by Antoine Marchand »

Offline Valentino

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #347 on: April 04, 2009, 11:31:48 PM »
Thanks again for educational posts par excellense.

I shall prowl the Norwegian library system for Rejcha.
(The Hyperion double disk is of course only available as ridiculous mp3 at a ridiculous price now. No go.)
We audiophiles don't really like music, but we sure love the sound it makes

Offline Sorin Eushayson

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #348 on: April 05, 2009, 02:08:14 AM »
Great article, Gön!  ;D  I may reference it at some point.  Great cliffhanger, too - I'll be waiting for Zweiter Teil!

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #349 on: April 05, 2009, 05:08:50 AM »
Very interesting ideas, Gurn.

I was thinking about something probably complementary with your view: The birth of the Conservatory after the French Revolution enabled to have many musicians (number) trained in the same principles (quality). The same lesson for many people in a public institution is to me a step towards a certain standardization of music.

This is perceptible in the instruments too: for instance, to mention just one case, the piano(forte) replaced to a great variety of baroque keyboards. In this way the "instrumentarium" begins a clear process of reduction (number) and "regularization" (quality), compared with precedent times.

... but I can be wrong.

Antoine,
I would be delighted to have you post your views here. I enjoyed your posting in the Mozart Sonatas thread, but as you see that has sunk below the horizon, while here it would still be available to anyone interested.

Standardization was indeed a major factor towards what we recognize today. And in the immediate post-Revolutionary Era, France had a huge influence on European music (e.g. - Beethoven was as influenced by France as much as by Germany). So this would clearly be a germane topic for us. Have at it!

8)

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Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #350 on: April 05, 2009, 05:13:12 AM »
Thanks again for educational posts par excellense.

I shall prowl the Norwegian library system for Rejcha.
(The Hyperion double disk is of course only available as ridiculous mp3 at a ridiculous price now. No go.)

Valentino,
That disk is still available here, although probably "used" though. Although I didn't think it was OOP...  :-[

I see a variety of other disks of these works. I have a couple of the Naxos "Michael Thompson Wind Ensemble" disks that are really good too, and should be readily available. You wouldn't be disappointed with those, especially at the Naxos price! :)

8)


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Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #351 on: April 05, 2009, 05:15:01 AM »
Great article, Gön!  ;D  I may reference it at some point.  Great cliffhanger, too - I'll be waiting for Zweiter Teil!

Thanks, Sorin. Hope it presents something of interest to any music lover. As for the string ensemble genres, yes, a different story indeed. Sometimes the keyboard makes all the difference! :)

8)

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Offline Gabriel

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #352 on: April 05, 2009, 06:56:46 AM »
And these people were good enough and wealthy enough to commission works from the finest composers of the day for their own use. They played at salons that they or their friends held regularly, and in the case of the ladies, they played for prospective suitors, often with the suitor himself playing accompaniment on the violin or cello or whatever instrument he played. Thus, sonatas were written for keyboard where the only obliggato instrument was the keyboard, and the other instrument(s) were ad libitum. This was the stage that the accompanied sonata was in when Haydn wrote his earlier piano trios, for example, and Mozart his early violin sonatas. So when we are told (unfortunately often) that these earlier works aren't worth listening to because they were written for amateurs, we are victims of a misrepresentation, intentional or otherwise, that leaves out the entire context of what an amateur was in those days.

The case of Haydn's piano trios is one of the best examples of this situation. Even his late piano trios show a restricted position of the cello in front of both violin and piano. This lack of "instrumental balance" is not irrelevant for music, of course, but it is irrelevant for the quality of music: in fact, among those trios it is possible to find some of the greatest chamber compositions of this era and - as it is often with Haydn - of music as a whole.

Mozart's Prussian quartets show the other face of this evolution: the importance of the cello part was a consequence, deliberately thought for those specific works. I guess there's a lot to say about these magnificent quartets and their relationship with instrumental changes during the middle and late classical periods.

Further thoughts: new instrumental combinations during the classical period can be focused as another expression of this situation. For instance, I think of Mozart's Kegelstatt Trio, written for clarinet, viola and piano. It is one of Mozart's greatest chamber works and I would say a very "personal" one: he was particularly fond of those three instruments. The introduction of clarinet to the major repertoire is, in part, a consequence of Mozart's enthusiasm towards it: not just the evident Clarinet concerto or Clarinet quintet, but even in stage music; for example, La Clemenza di Tito has some delighful obbligati for clarinet. (Somebody will say - and very correctly - that it was intended for the basset horn, but I'm seeing the movement as a whole). On the other hand, viola was Mozart's favourite string instrument, and what to say about keyboard and its relationship with Mozart the virtuoso performer.

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #353 on: April 05, 2009, 07:24:38 AM »
The case of Haydn's piano trios is one of the best examples of this situation. Even his late piano trios show a restricted position of the cello in front of both violin and piano. This lack of "instrumental balance" is not irrelevant for music, of course, but it is irrelevant for the quality of music: in fact, among those trios it is possible to find some of the greatest chamber compositions of this era and - as it is often with Haydn - of music as a whole.

Yes. I have read some analyses of Haydn's piano trios that suggest that he had some difficulty in knowing precisely what to do with the cello once continuuo became redundant. Not sure that this is precisely the right way to describe it, but he did seem to take a while to come around to using the cello in the piano trio the same way he used it in the string quartet. Pretty much all of the SQ's after Op 17 use the cello as a full equal partner. More equal than some, in fact. :)

Quote
Mozart's Prussian quartets show the other face of this evolution: the importance of the cello part was a consequence, deliberately thought for those specific works. I guess there's a lot to say about these magnificent quartets and their relationship with instrumental changes during the middle and late classical periods.

Yes again, and this is what I want to explore in the next installment of this essay, how the string quartet differed from the keyboard chamber works. Clearly it is a whole different line of evolution.

Quote
Further thoughts: new instrumental combinations during the classical period can be focused as another expression of this situation. For instance, I think of Mozart's Kegelstatt Trio, written for clarinet, viola and piano. It is one of Mozart's greatest chamber works and I would say a very "personal" one: he was particularly fond of those three instruments. The introduction of clarinet to the major repertoire is, in part, a consequence of Mozart's enthusiasm towards it: not just the evident Clarinet concerto or Clarinet quintet, but even in stage music; for example, La Clemenza di Tito has some delighful obbligati for clarinet. (Somebody will say - and very correctly - that it was intended for the basset horn, but I'm seeing the movement as a whole). On the other hand, viola was Mozart's favourite string instrument, and what to say about keyboard and its relationship with Mozart the virtuoso performer.

No doubt at all that this trio was very personal to Mozart: he composed it for himself and his friends to play at their personal salons (with himself on viola, Stadler at Bassett Clarinet and his student, Mademoiselle Jacquin at the keyboard). One of MY favorites too.

Clarinet was indeed one of Mozart's favorite instruments, although he was far from being its only proponent. Our old friend Krommer was another, and Carl Stamitz and largely Bernard Crusell who really put the clarinet over the top in acceptance. Once people heard it and its beautiful tone color and range, it was a done deal. :)

8)


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Antoine Marchand

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #354 on: April 05, 2009, 08:14:12 AM »
BTW, anyone knows two delicious discs entitled Mozart – Une Soirée chez les Jacquin (Zig Zag Territoritoires)?

I recalled them when I was reading the last posts.

Apparently in their original incarnation (I own the cheap edition without booklet), these CDs included an amazing “78 page booklet with essays on the Jacquins, on their relationship to Mozart, on Anton Stadler, on the basset horn and the clarinet, on the instrument-maker Theodor Lotz and on the fortepiano used for the recording by its maker”.

More information here: http://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Jacquin-Lehtipuu-Ensemble-Banchini/dp/B00002R15T (the audio is rather fine for the Amazon's standards).

Great discs even considering this picture of Giles Thomé  ::):


Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #355 on: April 05, 2009, 08:17:55 AM »
BTW, anyone knows two delicious discs entitled Mozart – Une Soirée chez les Jacquin (Zig Zag Territoritoires)?

I recalled them when I was reading the last posts.

Apparently in their original incarnation (I own the cheap edition without booklet), these CDs included an amazing “78 page booklet with essays on the Jacquins, on their relationship to Mozart, on Anton Stadler, on the basset horn and the clarinet, on the instrument-maker Theodor Lotz and on the fortepiano used for the recording by its maker”.

More information here: http://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Jacquin-Lehtipuu-Ensemble-Banchini/dp/B00002R15T (the audio is rather fine for the Amazon's standards).

Great discs even considering this picture of Giles Thomé  ::):

Antoine,
Yes, I have the original, along with the 78 page booklet. :)  It is indeed very informative, and interesting. IMO, this is one of the great packages ever released if one wanted to make converts to a particular genre of music. The singing and playing is superb, and the theme is maintained throughout the disks AND the artwork. Highly recommended. :)

8)

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Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #356 on: April 05, 2009, 08:28:53 AM »
Gurn, Gabriel, & Antoine - thanks for the informative posts in the recent page of this thread, esp. the detailed & erudite comments offered by Gurn; I've read quite a bit of this history also in the development of music & instrumentation of those times, and can't really find any major arguments.  I feel that the changes in instrumentation (esp. to the keyboards & woodwinds) and the influences of composers & their 'professional' friends (e.g. Mozart & Stadler) were important in some of this repertoire.  So, great posts!  :)

But, along the line of composers writing for so-called 'amateur' noblemen (or noblewomen), one of the best examples, of course, is Haydn and Prince Nick, the latter on the baryton - I'm half way through this 21-CD box set, and the music is just written well; there was always some sentiment that Haydn may have 'simplified' his baryton writing for his boss, but hey Nick was considered pretty damn good on this instrument; at any rate, this is quite enjoyable music (best appreciate in incremental doses!) - below is a recent post I put in the 'old instrument' thread; thought a 'repeat' here would not be an issue - Dave  ;D     

**************************************************************************************************

Baryton - another older string instrument, popular in the 17th & 18th centuries, and one that has fascinated me for years; of course, the master composer for this instrument was Joseph Haydn, mainly because his employer, Prince Nikolaus Esterhazy, was apparently an excellent performer on this instrument and insisted on a LOT of 'new' music for his passion; Haydn was a reluctant servant at first because of his lack of understanding of the baryton; well, he taught himself to play the instrument and then was much more enthusiastic in composing many works, including 126 extant trios, duets, octets, and other pieces! 

Well, yesterday I received from 'across the pond' the Brilliant Box shown below of Haydn's Baryton Works - the instrument is seen in both photos; Brilliant has established a website HERE just for this set; the track listenings are included, plus some audio snippets; quoted in part from the booklet: 

Quote
baryton...a member of the gamba family, typically consists of one manual w/ 6-7 bowed gut strings and another w/ up to 20, though normally 9-10 'sympathetically resonating strings of metal, lying under the fingerboard...; the open back of the neck also makes it possible to pluck the resonance strings....


The baryton used in these recordings (performed by the Esterhazy Ensemble w/ Michael Brussing on the instrument) is a copy after an instrument by J.J. Stadlmann which was played by Prince Nick, himself (the original is in the National Museum in Budapest) - just getting started today in listening to this set; will take a while!  :D

 

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #357 on: April 05, 2009, 08:42:18 AM »

Baryton - another older string instrument, popular in the 17th & 18th centuries, and one that has fascinated me for years; of course, the master composer for this instrument was Joseph Haydn, mainly because his employer, Prince Nikolaus Esterhazy, was apparently an excellent performer on this instrument and insisted on a LOT of 'new' music for his passion; Haydn was a reluctant servant at first because of his lack of understanding of the baryton; well, he taught himself to play the instrument and then was much more enthusiastic in composing many works, including 126 extant trios, duets, octets, and other pieces! 

Well, yesterday I received from 'across the pond' the Brilliant Box shown below of Haydn's Baryton Works - the instrument is seen in both photos; Brilliant has established a website HERE just for this set; the track listenings are included, plus some audio snippets; quoted in part from the booklet: 
 

The baryton used in these recordings (performed by the Esterhazy Ensemble w/ Michael Brussing on the instrument) is a copy after an instrument by J.J. Stadlmann which was played by Prince Nick, himself (the original is in the National Museum in Budapest) - just getting started today in listening to this set; will take a while!  :D

 

Interesting post, Dave. I have always been fascinated with the baryton. First time I heard it I just couldn't figure out how that cello and guitar were playing together like they were... ::)  :D

The part that I marked in your post has an interesting anecdote attached: Haydn taught himself how to play the baryton to surprise the Prince. He pulled it out one evening and played (rather better than the Prince did, in fact) but surprisingly, elicited little comment from the Prince. When Haydn asked him about it he said "Well, you're a professional, you should be able to play anything..." and carried on what he was doing. Just goes to show, don't show up your Prince... :)

8)


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Offline knight66

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #358 on: April 05, 2009, 10:54:00 AM »
Very interesting material. Is there any evidence that the works commissioned, where it is clear that at least one 'line' had to be reasonably elementary, were subsequently reworked to beef-up the less demanding part?

Also, do we know whether the work pretty much had to be tune-lead? I was wondering to what extent composers felt they could experiment; or were they keeping themselves on the lead to ensure ear catching pleasure?

Mike
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Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #359 on: April 05, 2009, 11:42:06 AM »
Very interesting material. Is there any evidence that the works commissioned, where it is clear that at least one 'line' had to be reasonably elementary, were subsequently reworked to beef-up the less demanding part?

Well, to some extent the works speak for themselves in this regard. If you can simply skip the part altogether then it is either undemanding or superfluous. Look at Mozart's Concerto (#7) for 3 Pianos, K 242. It was a chamber concerto (for the home) written for a countess and 2 of her daughters. Piano 1 is quite difficult, reflecting the capability of the countess (IIRC) who was quite a good pianist. Piano's 2 & 3 were progressively less so, to the point that when he rewrote it a few years later for himself and Auernhammer to play, he dropped the part altogether or combined the 2 parts into 1. :)

Quote
Also, do we know whether the work pretty much had to be tune-lead? I was wondering to what extent composers felt they could experiment; or were they keeping themselves on the lead to ensure ear catching pleasure?

Mike

I think they experimented far less on commissioned works than otherwise. One of the main complaints today about "classical" music is the regularity of meter. There was not a whole lot of trying out of oddly spaced rhythms because that's not what the commissionees wanted. They were looking for nice, regular metrics to go by. The real interesting stuff (especially Mozart's) was non-commissioned, he wrote it because he wanted to try out a new idea. That sort of thing didn't make money back then, it was art for art's sake. :)

8)

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