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There is an Eastern, Oriental flavour in the tonal realm occupied by the brief, melancholy Mazurka in F minor Op.
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The wincing bite of its opening melodic interval, a dissonant minor 9th, is further elaborated in the bittersweet chromatic wanderings of a plaintive melody constantly hovering between major and minor. The Mazurka in C minor Op. Formally, the ballades bear some relationship to sonata form, with contrasting 1st and 2nd themes in different keys.
Unlike sonata form, however, they are end-weighted: the story they tell increases in dramatic intensity as it goes along, culminating in either a grand apotheosis or, in the case of the Ballade in F minor , in a bravura coda that storms to its conclusion in a whirl of fiery figuration. To hear the innocent bell-like opening of this work, there would be little to predict its end. Here the repeated bell tones heard in the opening carry real pathos, and are made more plangent and urgent when repeated with a countermelody in the alto.
But then … magic! The bell tones of introduction return and we enter a kind of suspended animation as the narrative stops to gaze up at the sky. The 2nd theme follows, but it, too, finds itself riding on wave after wave of left-hand turbulence culminating in a showdown of keyboard-sweeping arpeggios and cannonades of block chords until … magic again!
Another pin-dropping pause. The work is a classic piece of Lisztian musical pictorialism. Subtitled Nocturne, it opens in the stillness of the evening with a distant carillon of bells that then gently transforms into the rocking accompaniment of a tender lullaby in honour of the newborn baby girl.
The work progresses in a series of ingenious keyboard textures imitative of first the chiming, then the sonorous ringing, and finally the hefty swaying of bell-towers and churches throughout the city. It ends poetically with a return to the innocent bell sounds with which it began, their sonic resonance fading softly into the distance.
While the connection with individual personalities is unclear and may even have been fanciful , these pieces remain among the most pictorially vivid—and technically challenging—in the piano repertoire. Ravel vividly depicts the irregular flight of night moths in the first piece of the set, Noctuelles, which opens with a busy blur of chromatic flutter extending over vast swathes of the keyboard but centring on the upper range.
The moths seem to settle on some object of mothy interest in the slower-paced central section, but soon lose interest and flit back to life in the closing section. Ravel opens his depiction with a three-layered soundscape. A rich carpet of arpeggios sweeping up and down in the left hand suggests the action of the waves, while a chiming sequence of open intervals in the upper register outlines the vast expanse of the sea. Meanwhile, an unpredictable third voice emerges clearly but irregularly from the mid-range.
Ravel uses virtually the entire range of keyboard colours in this scintillating depiction of the sea as a gentle giant cradling mankind in its embrace. He is pictured singing an alborado, or morning serenade. The strumming of the guitar and distinctive punchy rhythms of Spanish folk music permeate this work. Among the technical challenges keeping pianists practising after midnight are extended passages in rapid-fire repeated notes and double glissandi in 3rds and 4ths played by the right hand alone.
Sonorities based on 4ths and 5ths evoke the muffled metallic resonance that drifts in every direction as bell-clappers in towers near and far strike their target. Their transparent texture of simple two- and three-part keyboard writing has one foot in the imitative counterpoint of the Baroque while anticipating the Classical era of Haydn and Mozart in their clarity of phrase structure and harmonic simplicity. Especially appealing to modern performers is their pungently flavourful evocations of the popular folk music of Spain, not to mention the flurries of repeated notes, octaves and register-spanning arpeggios that make them such effective vehicles for pianistic display.
The Scarlatti sonatas are typically in binary form, with a first half that ends in the dominant and a second half that works its way back from the dominant to the home tonality. The melodic line whimpers with plaintive little appoggiaturas as harmonic tension accumulates from the use of stubbornly immovable pedal points in the bass.
Guitar idioms are heard in the repeated notes that dominate the last section of each half, making this piece an impressive showpiece of digital dexterity for the performer. In his Scarlatti liner notes, Yevgeny Sudbin lays stress on the spontaneous, improvisatory quality of these sonatas.
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Throughout his career Beethoven had found the time and interest to compose small intimate pieces that placed limited demands on the performer. Some of these he published in collections, such as his seven bagatelles of Op. A much larger set Op. The six bagatelles of Op. Composed at the same time as he was working on the mighty Missa Solemnis and the Ninth Symphony, they display the concentration of musical thought that characterizes his late style. Typical of that style is a native fluency in contrapuntal writing, a freedom from formal constraints in applying it, and the boldness to write his contrapuntal voices several octaves apart.
Beethoven the architect of massive great formal structures shows himself in these pieces to be equally a master of the small miniature, deftly creating an immediate impression with his opening gestures and developing his motives with unfettered originality. There is noble simplicity about No.
12 Very Easy and Melodious Studies, Op.63 (Gobbaerts, Louis)
It contrasts a strongly driven contrapuntal opening section with a dreamy section that alternates with it. This section starts out like a barcarolle, but then drifts off to explore a wealth of musical ideas, some of them coy and playful, other verging on pure sound theatre. It lacks the vehemence of expression that characterizes the other three ballades, Opp.
The work is dominated by two principal themes of contrasting character but united by common elements of basic melodic structure. The first, announced at the outset, is a songful melody that begins by rising up six scale notes, echoed by antiphonal responses in the left hand.
Its contrapuntal profile is that of two voices expanding out in opposite directions from a central point, a pattern that intensifies on the following page into celebratory cadences exploding out into ecstatic arpeggios to the low and high registers simultaneously. The second theme changes the mood completely. It is a dancelike melody of instrumental character that descends six scale notes, outlined in a series of coquettish leaps made all the more coy by the constantly syncopated rhythm in which they are presented.
While this second theme dips often into the minor mode, it rarely stays there long, often slipping back into the major when cadencing. The minor mode is thus constantly restrained from taking on the mask of tragedy. While the first theme remains elegantly static throughout the work, the second undergoes considerable development in a texture of ornamental figuration that dances alternately above it and then resonantly rumbles below.
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This development is the dramatic heart of the piece, and immediately follows a third theme area of remarkable flamboyance, with extroverted multi-octave arpeggios issuing into joyously rambunctious passagework over large swaths of the keyboard. Alexander Scriabin Piano Sonata No. Oh how easy it is to become possessed by Scriabin, one of the most enigmatic and controversial artistic personalities of all time. Once one is bitten and the venom, in the form of his sound world, enters the body and soul, the e ects become all-encompassing, even life-threatening! Scriabin was not only the rst to introduce madness into music; he also managed to synthesise it into an infectious virus that is entirely music-borne and a ects the psyche in a highly irrational way.
Piano music of Gabriel Fauré - Wikipedia
He tapped sources as yet poorly documented or understood. The Sonata No. In fact, the sonata is headed with an extract from the poem, which accompanied the symphonic work:. I summon you to life, hidden longings! You, sunken in the sombre depths of creative spirit, You timid embryos of life, To you bring I daring! From this moment, there are no more compulsory modulations; cadences vanish and the elements that constitute the sonata form become more di use.
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For 60 years musicologists tried to break the code behind his harmonic system and only in did the Soviet musicologist Dernova managed it. The reason the code was unbreakable was mainly because the chords were thought to relate to some kind of a tonal centre. Apart from its architectonic properties, another perplexing quality of a Scriabin chord is the sheer variety of moods it can induce, depending on the context: in the Fifth Sonata the same chord can sound icy, cosmic and even frightening bar 23 or warm, hopeful and nostalgic bar This is where, for me, Scriabin wins over serialism where any potential variety of moods is mostly a by-product of randomness within the limits of the simplistic rules applied.
Originally a tone poem for orchestra, the work quickly became available in any number of transcriptions and arrangements—including one, surprisingly, for church organ.
Pictorially vivid, learnedly constructed, and transparently textured, it bears all the marks of the French musical imagination. Pictorial touches within the score include the tolling of the midnight bell, represented by the 12 repeated half-notes on D that open the piece. Chopin was born in March , Schumann in June of the same year.
They started out as fellow poets of the piano. By the s the piano had become a bourgeois status symbol; there was a reliable market for published piano compositions and an appetite for recitals by piano virtuosi. He released small-scale works regularly; the more accessible of his pieces fueled demand for his more adventurous works. When he withdrew from active concertizing, his compositional desire to explore, innovate, and experiment had free rein.
Robert Schumann might have followed a similar path had he not abandoned piano performance even before his intended career trajectory was launched due, so the legend goes, to a hand injury. Many new fans of the VRS may not know of the long, rich history of VRS Schumann performances dating back to the earliest days of the society.
But all are considered to some degree — problematic. Then there are the nocturnes.