Maurice Ravel – String Quartet in F major (1903)

– Composer: Joseph-Maurice Ravel (7 March 1875 — 28 December 1937)
– Performers: Alban Berg Quartett
– Year of recording: 1984

String quartet in F major, written in 1903.

00:00 – I. Allegro moderato. Très doux
07:41 – II. Assez vif. Très rythmé
14:34 – III. Très lent
23:53 – IV. Vif et agité

The Quartet in F major was Ravel’s final submission to the Prix de Rome and the Conservatoire de Paris. The composition was rejected by both institutions soon after its premier on 5 March 1904 by the Heymann Quartet. The quartet received mixed reviews from the Parisian press and local academia. Gabriel Fauré, to whom the work is dedicated, described the last movement as “stunted, badly balanced, in fact a failure.” Ravel himself commented on the work, “My Quartet in F major responds to a desire for musical construction, which undoubtedly is inadequately realized but which emerges much more clearly than in my preceding compositions.”

As a result of major criticism and rejection, a frustrated Ravel left the Conservatoire in 1905 following what was later called the Ravel Affair. Ravel’s loss during the 1904 Prix de Rome and rejection from the Conservatoire de Paris catapulted his career not backwards but forward: a sympathetic public rallied behind his compositions and musical style. In 1905, Claude Debussy wrote to Ravel: “In the name of the gods of music and in my own, do not touch a single note you have written in your Quartet.”

Ravel’s string Quartet in F major stands as one of the most widely performed chamber music works in the classical repertoire, representing Ravel’s early achievements and rise from obscurity. On CD, it is often coupled with Debussy’s own string quartet. The quartet follows a strict four movement classical structure: Moderato très doux begins as a sonata form allegro, the following Assez vif-Très rythmé functions as the quartet’s scherzo, while Très lent acts as a contrasting foil. The last movement, Vif et agité, reintroduces themes from the earlier passages and ends with a striking finale.

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Beethoven – Piano Sonata No. 17, Op. 31/2 “Tempest” III. Allegretto (Kempff)

Allegretto, third movement from Piano Sonata No. 17, Op. 31/2

Wilhelm Kempff, piano (Live)

The Piano Sonata No. 17 in D minor, Op. 31, No. 2, was composed in 1801/02 by Ludwig van Beethoven. It is usually referred to as “The Tempest” (or Der Sturm in his native German), but this title was not given by him, or indeed referred to as such during his lifetime; instead, it comes from a claim by his associate Anton Schindler that the sonata was inspired by the Shakespeare play. However, much of Schindler’s information is distrusted by classical music scholars. Renowned British music scholar, Donald Francis Tovey, in his authoritative book A Companion to Beethoven’s Pianoforte Sonatas, states that “The story that Beethoven connected this sonata with The Tempest is evidently one of many such inventions by his biographer Anton Schindler”. The third movement, in the key of D minor, is very moving, first flowing with emotion and then reaching a climax, before moving into an extended development section which mainly focuses on the opening figure of the movement, reaching a climax at measures 169-173. The recapitulation is preceded by an extensive cadenza-like passage of sixteenth notes for the right hand and the coda which follows is quite substantial, reaching what can be considered the climax of the movement at measure 381, a fortissimo falling chromatic scale.

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827)

The music is featured in the movie CALL ME BY YOUR NAME:

Deok-Vin Lee – #####d[^_^]b##### (2016)

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Deok-Vin Lee (b. 1986) is a Korean composer, currently based in Berlin. He graduated from music college of Kyunghee University, Seoul (2012) and is studying at Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber Dresden under Mark Andre and Manos Tsangaris. He had been awarded Ad Infinitum scholarship from Ad Infinitum Foundation, Lübeck (2013-2014). He was selected by the Fourth International Young Composer Academy, Tchaikovsky city and presented his piece (2014). His piece was performed in Donaueschinger Musiktage (Next Generation Off-Concert, 2014). His works had been performed by ensemble recherche (Freiburg), Auditivvokal (Dresden), Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble (Moscow), Vertigo Ensemble (Bern), Absolut Trio (Bern).

List of works:
Music for water and glasses for 11 performers (2011)
Sonnets for string quartet (2012)
Prufrock for ensemble (2013)
Immanente Zeit for quartet (2014)
Klavierstück for electronic (2014)
Immanente Zeit II for four voices (2014)
Added for quartet (2014)
#####d[^_^]b##### (2016)

Ravel’s ‘Pavane pour une infante défunte’

Ravel_PavanePourUneInfanteDefunte

Pavane pour une infante défunte (Pavane for a Dead Infanta) is a well-known piece written for solo piano by the French composer Maurice Ravel in 1899 when he was studying composition at the Conservatoire de Paris under Gabriel Fauré. Ravel also published an orchestrated version of the Pavane in 1910; it is scored for two flutes, oboe, two clarinets (in B-flat), two bassoons, two horns, harp, and strings. A typical performance of the piece lasts between six and seven minutes. It is widely considered a masterpiece.

Conductor: Andre Previn
Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra
Recording: 1980.

Stravinsky’s ‘Suite For Small Orchestra No.1 and No.2’ recorded in Italy in 1953

The Suite For Small Orchestra No.1 was composed between 1917 and 1925. This miniature work, comprising an introduction and three national dances, is notable for its prominent rhythms and rich orchestral colouring.

Suite No.2 is extremely witty and rhythmically varied. The employment of the piano obligato, tuba, and the colourful application of the percussion instruments are described as particularly original orchestral effects.

Conductor: Hermann Scherchen
Orchestra: Orchestra Sinfonica della Rai di Torino
Recording: November 6, 1953

Did you know that Verdi composed a string quartet?

Giuseppi_Verdi_by_Ferdinand_Mulnier_c1870

Giuseppe Verdi’s String Quartet in E minor was written in the spring of 1873 during a production of Aida in Naples. It is the only surviving chamber music work in Verdi’s catalogue.

Verdi’s production of Aida in early March, 1873 was delayed due to the sudden illness of soprano Teresa Stolz. Verdi focused his time in Naples on the writing of his first chamber work, the String Quartet in E minor. The work was premiered two days after the opening of Aida during an informal recital at his hotel on April 1, 1873. The names of the original performers survive only as Pinto brothers, violins, Salvadore, viola, and Giarritiello, cello.

Verdi commented on the work, saying “I’ve written a Quartet in my leisure moments in Naples. I had it performed one evening in my house, without attaching the least importance to it and without inviting anyone in particular. Only the seven or eight persons who usually come to visit me were present. I don’t know whether the Quartet is beautiful or ugly, but I do know that it’s a Quartet!”

The quartet also exists in a version for string orchestra.

The Quartet is scored for the usual string quartet complement of two violins, viola, and cello.

  1. Allegro
  2. Andantino
  3. Prestissimo
  4. Scherzo Fuga. Allegro assai mosso

 

Claude Debussy – La Demoiselle élue (1959 recording)

La Damoiselle élue (The Blessed Damozel), L. 62, is a cantata for two soloists, female choir, and orchestra, composed by Claude Debussy in 1887–1889 based on a text by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. It premiered in Paris in 1893.

Nadine Saterereau, Giovanna Fiorini, soloists
Orchestra sinfonica e coro della RAI di Torino, orchestra
Sergiu Celibidache, conductor
30.01.59, recording date

Iannis Xenakis – Empreintes (For Orchestra) (1975)

Xenakis made use of the resources of the expanded modern orchestra throughout his composing career. Visceral gestures‚ prolonged in sequences of vibrant inner activity‚ typify Xenakis’s Pythagorean ballet for Balanchine‚ Antikhthon (1971). The procedure is fined down in 1974’s Noomena‚ whose chains of sound react against each other at a dizzying rate of velocity‚ while Empreintes (1975) heralds a new phase in its more sustained growth towards a laconic‚ Stravinskian close.

Orchestra – Orchestre Philharmonique Du Luxembourg
Conductor – Arturo Tamayo

Iannis Xenakis – Aroura (for string orchestra) (1971)

Aroura is a composition for strings by Greek/French composer Iannis Xenakis. It was composed in 1971.

The title of this composition should be translated as “Earth”. It was first performed on 24 August 1971, at the Lucerne Festival. It was premiered by Rudolf Baumgartner with the festival’s Lucerne Festival Strings. It was published shortly after by Éditions Salabert.

The piece is in only one movement and takes around 12 minutes to perform. It is scored for four first violins, three second violins, two violas, two cellos and one double bass, even though it is clarified by Xenakis that it can also be performed by a larger string orchestra or ensemble. Aroura makes an extensive use of glissandos, jagged chords, sound clusters and other techniques exploited in avant-garde movements. The piece has a tempo of 𝅗𝅥 = 60 (which means two beats per second). The register of the piece ranges from a C1 (played by the double bass) to D8, played by one of the first violins. First and second violins rarely play unison, but each of the violinist has their own line. Xenakis uses graphic notation up to six times in the score, the first one being the opening of the composition.

In November 29, 1975, Elgar Howarth with the New Philharmonia Orchestra recorded the piece in Kingsway Hall, in London. The recording was released by Decca and Explore Records.

Franz Liszt – Sonata in B minor (1853)

Liszt_-_manuscript_of_Sonata_in_B_minor,_p._11.jpg

The Sonata in B minor, S.178, is a sonata for solo piano by Franz Liszt. It was completed in 1853 and published in 1854 with a dedication to Robert Schumann.

Liszt noted on the sonata’s manuscript that it was completed on February 2, 1853, but he had composed an earlier version by 1849. At this point in his life, Liszt’s career as a traveling virtuoso had almost entirely subsided, as he had been influenced towards leading the life of a composer rather than a performer by Carolyne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein almost five years earlier. Liszt’s life was established in Weimar and he was living a comfortable lifestyle, composing, and occasionally performing, entirely by choice rather than necessity.

The Sonata was dedicated to Robert Schumann, in return for Schumann’s dedication of his Fantasie in C major, Op. 17 (published 1839) to Liszt. A copy of the Sonata arrived at Schumann’s house in May 1854, after he had entered Endenich sanatorium. His wife Clara Schumann did not perform the Sonata; according to scholar Alan Walker she found it “merely a blind noise”.

Emil Gilels, piano. Live recording, Naples, Italy – 04.04.72.