2 Dec 2018

Piano concert in A - Grieg

Piano Concert in A - Grieg

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor nikolai tokarev pianist
Nikolai Tokarev
We went to hear Piano concert by Grieg performed by Nikolai Tokarev, piano and the Russia Philharmonic Orchestra. Very well played and re-opened my interest for this piece, which is so beautiful

(see below from Wikioedia)

  \new PianoStaff <<
    \new Staff \relative c' {
      \tempo "Poco animato"
      \key a \minor
      r4\p <a' c>16( <b d>) <b d>( <c e>)
        \voiceOne \repeat unfold 3 { <b d e>4-> }
        \new Voice {
          a8_\markup{\italic{cresc.}} gis
          a gis a gis
      <b d>16\f( <f' a>) <f a>( <b, d>)
        \voiceOne \repeat unfold 3 { <c e>4-> }
        \new Voice {
          b8\p a
          b_\markup{\italic{cresc.}} a
          b a
      a16(\f c) c( g)
      <g a c g'>8-.\fz <f a c f>-. f16( a) a( e)
      <e f a e'>8 <d f a d> d16(\> f) f( c)
      c( f)\! <bes, d f>8-.\p <a c f>-. <bes d f>-.
      <a c f>\< \tuplet 3/2 { c16( d dis } e8) <b e gis>-.\!
      <cis e a>\fp r8 r4
    \new Staff \relative c {
      \clef bass \key a \minor
      \time 2/4
      \repeat unfold 2 { <e' c'> <a, e'> }
      \repeat unfold 4 { <e' d'> <a, e'> }
      \repeat unfold 2 { <e' c'> <a, e'> }
      <e' c'> a16( c) c( g)
      <c,, c'>8-. <f f'>-. f'16( a) a( e)
      <a,, a'>8-. <d d'>-. d'16( f) f( c)
      c( f) <bes, f'>8-. <f f'>-. <bes f'>-.
      <f f'> \tuplet 3/2 { c'16( d dis } e8) <e e,>-.
      <a,, a'> <e'' cis'>-.
      <a, e'> <e' cis'>-.

The Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16, composed by Edvard Grieg in 1868, was the only concerto Grieg completed. It is one of his most popular works[1] and is among the most popular of all piano concerti.


  \new PianoStaff <<
    \new Staff \relative c' {
      \key a \minor
\set Score.tempoHideNote = ##t
\tempo 4 = 84
      <a' c e>4 \mp <a d f>8. <a b d g>16 <a d f>8-. <a c e>4-- r8
      <a c e>8. <a d f>16 <a d f>8-.( <a b d g>-.) <a c e>4-- r4
     <c e g>4 <c f a>8. <c d f b>16 <c f a>8 <c e g>4-- r8
     <c e g>8. <c f a>16 <c f a>8-.( <c d f b>-.) <c e g>4-- r4
    \new Staff \relative c {
      \clef bass \key a \minor
      \slashedGrace <a e'>8
      <a' c e>4 <a d f>8. <a b d g>16 <a d f>8-. <a c e>4-- <a, e'>8
      <a' c e>8. <a d f>16 <a d f>8-.( <a b d g>-.) <a c e>4-- r4
      \slashedGrace <c, g'>8 \clef treble
     <c' e g>4 <c f a>8. <c d f b>16 <c f a>8 <c e g>4-- \clef bass <c, g'>8 \clef treble
     <c' e g>8. <c f a>16 <c f a>8-.( <c d f b>-.) <c e g>4-- r4

The main theme of the allegro molto moderato.
The concerto is in three movements:[2]
  1. Allegro molto moderato (A minor)
    The first movement is in sonata form and is noted for the timpani roll in its first bar that leads to a dramatic piano flourish, which leads to the main theme. Then the key changes to C major, for the secondary theme. Later, the secondary theme appears again in the recapitulation, but this time in the key of A major. The movement finishes with a virtuosic cadenza and a flourish similar to that at the start of the movement.
  2. Adagio (D-flat major)
    The second movement is a lyrical movement in D-flat major, which leads directly into the third movement. The movement is in ternary form (A–B–A). The B section is in D-flat major and E major, then returns to D-flat major for the reprise of the piano.
  3. Allegro moderato molto e marcato – Quasi presto – Andante maestoso (A minor → F major → A minor → A major)
    The third movement opens in A minor 2
     time with an energetic theme (Theme 1), which is followed by a lyrical theme in F major (Theme 2). The movement returns to Theme 1. Following this recapitulation is the 3
     A major Quasi presto section, which consists of a variation of Theme 1. The movement concludes with the Andante maestoso in A major, which consists of a dramatic rendition of Theme 2 (as opposed to the lyrical fashion with which Theme 2 is introduced).


The work is among Grieg's earliest important works, written by the 24-year-old composer in 1868 in SøllerødDenmark, during one of his visits there to benefit from the climate.
The concerto is often compared to the Piano Concerto of Robert Schumann: it is in the same key; the opening descending flourish on the piano is similar; and the overall style is considered to be closer to Schumann than any other single composer. Incidentally, both composers wrote only one concerto for piano. Grieg had heard Schumann's concerto played by Clara Schumann in Leipzig in 1858, and was greatly influenced by Schumann's style generally, having been taught the piano by Schumann's friend Ernst Ferdinand Wenzel.
Grieg's concerto provides evidence of his interest in Norwegian folk music; the opening flourish is based on the motif of a falling minor second (see interval) followed by a falling major third, which is typical of the folk music of Grieg's native country. This specific motif occurs in other works by Grieg, including the String Quartet No. 1. In the last movement of the concerto, similarities to the halling[5] (a Norwegian folk dance) and imitations of the Hardanger fiddle (the Norwegian folk fiddle) have been detected.
The theme of the third movement of the concerto, which is influenced by the Norwegian Halling dance.
The work was premiered by Edmund Neupert on April 3, 1869 in Copenhagen, with Holger Simon Paulli conducting. Some sources say that Grieg himself, an excellent pianist, was the intended soloist, but he was unable to attend the premiere owing to commitments with an orchestra in Christiania (now Oslo). Among those who did attend the premiere were the Danish composer Niels Gade and the Russian pianist Anton Rubinstein, who provided his own piano for the occasion.[6] Neupert was also the dedicatee of the second edition of the concerto (Rikard Nordraak was the original dedicatee), and James Hunekersaid that he himself composed the first movement cadenza.[7]
The Norwegian premiere in Christiania followed on August 7, 1869, and the piece was later heard in Germany in 1872 and England in 1874. At Grieg's visit to Franz Liszt in Rome in 1870, Liszt played the notes a prima vista (by sight) before an audience of musicians and gave very good comments on Grieg's work which would later influence him. The work was first published in Leipzig in 1872, but only after Johan Svendsen intervened on Grieg's behalf.[8]
Grieg revised the work at least seven times, usually in subtle ways, but the revisions amounted to over 300 differences from the original orchestration. In one of these revisions, he undid Liszt's suggestion to give the second theme of the first movement (as well as the first theme of the second) to the trumpet rather than to the cello. The final version of the concerto was completed only a few weeks before Grieg's death, and it is this version that has achieved worldwide popularity. The original 1868 version has been recorded, by Love Derwinger, with the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra under Jun'ichi Hirokami.[10]
Grieg worked on a transcription of the concerto for two solo pianos, which was completed by Károly Thern.[11] The premiere recording of this version was by the British two-piano team of Anthony Goldstone and Caroline Clemmow.[12] On April 2, 1951, the Russian-born American pianist Simon Barere collapsed while playing the first few bars of the concerto, in a performance with conductor Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in New York. He died backstage shortly afterwards.[13] It was to have been Barere's first performance of the work.[14]

23 May 2015

Shostakovich - 8th Quartet

A life in 20 minutes

Photo from 1942,
Shostakovich died 40 years ago
Listen to Shostakovich 8th quartet and you have heard half his other work as well. This work written in 1960, seems to reflect the composer full emotional journey. Stories tell that Shostakovich was suicidal at this point in time, struggling with his health and with his decision to finally join the Communistic Party. His son recalled that his decision brought Shostakovich in tears[50] and he later told his wife Irina that he had been blackmailed.[51].
Shostakovich's musical response to these personal crises was the Eighth String Quartet, composed in only three days. He subtitled the piece, "To the victims of fascism and war",[54] ostensibly in memory of the Dresden fire-bombing that took place in 1945.

Like the Tenth Symphony, this quartet incorporates quotations from his musical monogram DSCH and work from the past: his symphonies 1 & 5, the Cello Concerto and the opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsenk). It shows the freedom of mind Shostakovich still had. The opera was the vehicle for the  general denunciation of Shostakovich's music by the Communist Party in early 1936. Shostakovich also brings in a Jewish melody in the second movement, which he had also used in the 2nd Piano Trio in 1944. He was intrigued by Jewish music’s "ability to build a jolly melody on sad intonations".[76], , but as you can picture, Jewish music was not so popular in the Stalin days.

Some modern composers have been critical on the work of Shostakovich. Pierre Boulez dismissed Shostakovich's music as "the second, or even third pressing of Mahler".[86] The Romanian composer and Webern disciple Philip Gershkovich called Shostakovich "a hack in a trance".[87] A related complaint is that Shostakovich's style is vulgar and strident: Stravinsky wrote of Lady Macbeth: "brutally hammering ... and monotonous".[88] English composer and musicologist Robin Holloway described his music as "battleship-grey in melody and harmony, factory-functional in structure; in content all rhetoric and coercion."[89]
Well listen for yourself in this 8th Quartet, especially the recreation by Shostakovich pupil Rudolf Barshai. Shostakovich declared that the arrangement was an improvement of the original. I guess a comment like that for a re-work of this so personal piece, can be considered a hugh compliment. 

The piece start with 5 minutes of such mournful music, clearly the componer carries the whole world on his shoulders. The second piece is almost like the opposite and typical Shostakovich: high energy, almost violent. The third piece seems inspired by the Danse Macabre and he finishes with the Russian song  “Exhausted by Harsh Imprisonment”.

I like these emotional expressions with deep dark music. You as well?

About me and this blog

About me

My name is Sjang Ramaekers and I love to listen to music with an impact, music that moves me.I like to read and learn on those pieces which i find beautiful and then capture what i find out over that music. 

I will use this blog for that, as my external memory. I do copy from others and will mention it if i do (if i dont forget)

17 May 2015

Vivaldi - Nisi Dominus

Competing for the best

Chiesa di S. Maria della Pietà
In the Netherlands, we had a time where youth choirs made it attractive for people to go to the church for a ceremony. The churches were interested in having good choirs to attract a new audience and the choirs were happy as they had a platform to perform.

In the time of Vivaldi, we had a similar situation in the sense that churches were competing against each other but also against concert halls to bring the best possible music.

And if you had to compete who better to have for writing the music than priest and musician Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741). Vivaldi mind was certainly with music, perhaps more then with being a priest. During masses, he simply stopped if a musical thought had to be captured. Life is all about setting the right priorities.  

He may have gotten the assignment from the Ospedale della Pieta, where he was working as a violin teacher in 1703, to compose the Nisi Dominus (RV 608). In the Ospedale della Pieta, Vivaldi had excellent singers and very strong instrumentalists, which you can hear in the way the piece is set up.

The part for the viola d ‘amore for the Gloria was written down  treating three of the four upper strings as transposing ‘instruments’—the open strings of the viola d’amore are tuned to D, F and D instead of the E, D and G familiar to a violinist—a procedure that leads to bizarre visual effects.  Fingered as they would be on the violin, however, the notes make perfect harmonic and melodic sense. (Michael Talbot)

“ The Nisi Dominus (Psalm 126) is a long and very ambitious piece whose nine movements vary enormously in their style and scoring. It has two simple continuo arias (´'Vanum est vobis' and 'Beatus vir'), one with string accompaniment in unison with the voice ('Sicut sagittae'), two lively concerto church arias ('Nisi Dominus', and its reprise 'Sicut erat in principio') and one ('Cum dederit') that's written in the slow siciliana style with chromatically ascending lines that Vivaldi often used to convey the idea of rest and sleep. It's third movement ('Surgite') is an accompanied recitative in which Vivaldi juxtaposes rapid ascending figures with slow ones at 'panem doloris'. At the words "Sicut erat in principio" (As it was in the beginning), Vivaldi calls on the old Baroque trick of returning to music heard at the very beginning of the work. The 'Gloria' which instead of being the expected set of joyous exclamations is a marvelously dark and solitary passage that leads us, suitably chastened, to the Alleluia-like Amen.”  (from markfromireland’s site Saterday Chorale)

The part I like most is the fourth movement, an Andante, which begins by relating how the Lord gave his beloved people both sleep and children.

Cum dederit dilectis suis somnum: 
ecce haereditas Domini, filii: merces, fructus ventris.

For he brings rest to those he has chosen

behold an inheritance from the Lord – sons:
a reward, the fruit of the womb.

The ‘Cum dederit’ is music of the greatest poise and delicacy, similar in mood to some of the slow movements in The Four Seasons, except more chromatic and suspenseful.

Please listen and sit back.

2 May 2015

Monteverdi - Orfeo

Rubens’ Orpheus and Eurydice
Heritage Images/Getty Images

Don´t Look Back

You will find lots of documents describing the importance of Monteverdi´s masterpiece Orfeo (1607). It is being regarded as the first real opera by many and seen as one of the very best and still performed regularly today.

Monteverdi blends the ancient Greek mythology with his highly innovative and expressive music style, going against the strict rules of the contemporary style. 

Monteverdi's work is regarded as revolutionary, marking the change from the Renaissance style of music to that of the Baroque period.[2] 

He developed two styles of composition: the prima practica – the heritage of Renaissance polyphonyand the new basso continuo technique of the Baroque, the seconda practica.[3] In Prima pratica the harmony controls the words.[10] InSeconda pratica the words should be in control of the harmonies.[10] 

Prima pratica was the ideal of the sixteenth century, with flowing strict counterpoint, prepared dissonance, and equality of voices. Seconda pratica uses much freer counterpoint with an increasing hierarchy of voices, emphasizing soprano and bass, adding recitatives and basso continuo. This represents a move towards the new style of monody, with a single solo line with musical accompaniment, in opposition to homophony and polyphony, in which groups of voices sang independently and with a greater balance between parts.

For this major musical development, Monteverdi selects the really powerful story of Orpheus & Eurydice. Just after their marriage, Orpheus loses his wife Eurydice because of a bite of a snake. Orpheus is a gifted singer and goes with his lyre to the world of the death and convinces Hades to give him back his so beloved wife. Hades agrees but under one condition. During the trip back to the world, Orpheus is not allowed to look back to see if his wife is still following him. Of course agreeing, he then walks with a joyful spirit back our earth. But slowly he starts to doubt if she is following him. A sudden terrible noise makes him so concerned and doubtful that he does look back. In a split second he sees the beautiful shining eyes of Eurydice again but then she leaves for ever. 

Monteverdi follows the story in a beautiful telling manner (act 4). The upbeat during the first part of the walk, then a slow down with the questioning and doubting Orpheus. The sudden noise, music stopping and then with Eurydice in sight, the harsh and cold harpsichord changes for just a few bars into the soft organ sound before Eurydice vanishes.

Lesson for all of us, you can’t win from death but still you should not look back and focus on the future!

The piece I like perhaps most from this opera, depending on my own mood,  is ‘Rosa del Ciel’, in which Orpheus sings about his happiness with his beloved wife. I like it maybe so much as Rosa is also the name of my daughter, who is soon returning for a couple a days from far away Canada, (although I would not compare that to the Underworld).

Look forward to hear this beautiful piece of music

26 Apr 2015

El Canto de la Sibila

El Canto de la Sibila

Music and religion, it seems that they are very connected. In an earlier blog, we saw religion being the source of inspiration for great composers like Anton Bruckner. Also the first music captured on paper and so surviving times was the Gregorian Chant, bringing the audience into a state of devoutness.

In 2010 Unesco recognized `El Canto de la Sibila` as intangible cultural heritage. The Song of the Sibyl is a liturgical drama and a Gregorian chant which is performed in allmost all churches of Mallorca and in the Italian city of Alghero at the evening church services on December 24th. Recently, it has been recovered in other locations such as Barcelona and in the Valencian cities of Onteniente, Jaraco and Gandia. 

The chant was introduced all around Europe in the Middle Ages and it reached Majorca with the Christian conquest in 1229. The lyrics compose a prophecy describing the Apocalypse.
The figure of Sibil comes from the time of ancient Greece. There are many persons who are referred to as Sibil and these women were oracles in, for example Delphi. They were incorporated into the Christian Church as their apocalyptic visions included the promise of the second coming of Jesus Christ to judge the world. Michelangelo included Sibil in his beautiful paintings in the Sistine Chapel, so confirming the importance she and her messages had for the church as it leaves nothing to the imagination of what will happen to unbelievers:

The Day of Judgement
will appear For those who have made ​​service.
Jesus Christ, Universal King,
eternal God and true man
Heaven will come to pass judgment
and give to each their just reward.

Great fire will come down from Heaven;
springs and rivers will all burn.
Fish will scream loudly
losing the natural charms

The sun will lose its brightness
becoming dark and veiled.
The moon will give no light
and the whole world will be full of sadness.
To evil people I will say bitterly:
- Go, you damned, into the torment!
Go, go to the eternal fire
With your Prince of Hell

In the present-day performance, a boy or girl sings, accompanied by two or more Altar boys carrying candles. The singer holds a sword upright in front of his or her face during the entire song. The verses are sung in a single voice and without instrumental accompaniment, apart from when the organ plays between the verses. 

It is fascinating to listen and look to the performance of this work, it is as looking back 800 years and easy to imagine the impact it had and still has on the audience in a dark and cold church in the middle of the winter: Believe or Die


25 Apr 2015

Bruckner - Ave Maria


What kind of a person was Anton Bruckner?. Mahler describes him as half an idiot, half a genius. Very devote, falling in love with teenage girls even at higher age, keeping a photo of his dead mother (as he had no photo from her still alive....). It indeed pictures a remarkable man. Also an insecure man it looks like when it concerns his work. For most of his symphonies we know of many re-writes as Bruckner wanted to please his critics of whom there were many. 

Max Kalbeck, a friend of Brahms wrote in the Wiener Allgemeine Zeitung, February 13, 1883:

The tonal ghosts are altogether too mad: it is as though a pack of wolves met on Walpurgis Night, such stamping and roaring, raging and screaming goes wildly on. If the future can relish such a chaotic piece of music, with sounds echoing from a hundred cliffs, we wish that future to be far away from us.

Where Bruckner had no struggle was with his devotion to God: he believed. Where we see in Mahler searching for God in Nature and in himself and going from assurance to doubt, Bruckner sang of his God and for his God. His 9th symphony was dedicated to God and he hoped He would grant him the time to finish it. Which didn't happen as he had to leave the work unfinished.

Bruckner studied intensively the music of Palestrina and Bach and after working as an organist at the court of Vienna and taken over from his teacher Sechter his professorship at the Vienna Conservatory, he spent his final decades creating his nine symphonies. These symphonies are sometimes refer to as "cathedrals of sound". Mahler expands the scope of the symphony even further - he famously argued with Sibelius that a symphony should contain the universe. - and he created an unmistakably modern musical language by including sounds from the ‘outside world’, using cowbells, military band music, uncommon wind instruments, mandolins and guitars, even vocal soloists and chorus

My choice here is not for one of these complex symphonies but his motet Ave Maria. The work dates from 1861 and features three parts for female and four for male voices. Witzenmann links Bruckner's Ave Maria to four motets of Palestrina one being the Stabat Mater. 

Close your eyes when listening!