Archive for December, 2007

Still, Still, Still – Part 2

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

“Still, Still, Still”, Part 2: (Or, “Why I am probably a musicologist”)

Mormon Tabernacle ChoirStill, still, still, I am lost in the siren call of this simple song. Still, I sit, still, and listen again and again, wondering with an awakened heart why I am so moved by the mystery of this music.

“Still, Still, Still” is a traditional Austrian song with this “Salzburg” melody dating from 1819. Like many old songs that stay among us through time, it has many different lyrics, possibly different melodies. Without a doubt, it has cast its spell in many arrangements, harmonies, tempi and the like. (more…)

Still, Still, Still – Part 1

Friday, December 21st, 2007

A Musical Christmas Card

Mormon Tabernacle ChoirEvery year as Christmas approaches, I start thinking about the advent season and various touching rituals from my childhood. Along with the charming advent calendars, the treasured family Christmas decorations and the joy of a fresh pine tree bringing the reminder of those things that are recurrent and evergreen, I think of the warm glow of candlelight and the elegance of certain Christmas carols. With my own evergreen love of music and its recurrent power of emotional and spiritual transformation, I maintain a single constant ritual of my own every year: I bring out my favorite Christmas music and I grow excited, like a child during advent, about the potential surprise of discovering something new. (more…)

Brahms, Piano Trio No. 2 in C, Op. 87

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Johannes Brahms, 1833-1896

Piano Trio No. 2 in C Major, Op. 87, 1882

BrahmsWith the juxtaposition of Haydn and middle period Beethoven, it is easy to hear Brahms’s second piano trio and recognize yet a third distinctive chapter in Viennese chamber music. Within an otherwise classical genre constructed with all the formal integrity it historically demands, a highly romantic voice surges through this work pointing even further towards the late harvest of the fin de siècle. Written in 1882 when Brahms was forty-nine, the Piano Trio No. 2 in C Major, Op. 75 is a mature work coming after the piano quartets, the piano quintet, the string sextets and all three string quartets. Since the familiar version of the first Piano Trio in B-flat Op. 8 was the product of (more…)

Beethoven, Piano Trio No. 5 in E-flat, Op. 70/2

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770-1827

Piano Trio No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 70, No. 2, 1808

Beethoven title=While Haydn wrote piano trios as masterful accompanied sonatas, Mozart was the first to achieve a three-part texture of balanced independence in his masterful trios of the late 1780s. It was left to Beethoven to expand and deepen the genre placing the piano trio in the realm of serious virtuoso chamber music on par with his quartets. Beethoven tackled chamber music with piano early: among his first compositions is a set of three unpublished piano quartets while his first published opus was the set of three piano trios Op. 1 of 1795, contemporaneous with Haydn’s Trio in C Major. Beethoven expanded the form by adding a fourth movement in the fashion of the string quartet (more…)

Haydn, Trio in C major, Hob. XV: No. 27

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Joseph Haydn, 1732-1809

Trio in C major, Hob. XV: No. 27, circa 1794, published 1797

Joseph HaydnHaydn is well known for his monumental achievements with the symphony and the string quartet; he produced a combined total of works in both genres numbering around one hundred and forty-two. But Haydn was prodigious in at least two other genres at the heart of the classical tradition: the keyboard sonata and the keyboard trio, both transitioning from the harpsichord to the piano during the course of his career. Haydn composed something like fifty keyboard sonatas and another forty or so keyboard trios of which over thirty have been authenticated. The final ten “late” trios were written between 1794 and 1797 specifically for the piano rather than the harpsichord. They are known as the “London Trios” since Haydn wrote them (more…)