Roni's Journal

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Composition: Minuet in the style of Haydn

Just composed:

Download score

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Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Simple is never simple

Kenneth reveals the complexities of Mahler's fourth symphony:

Looking at the page instead of thinking about what it sounds like tells you a lot about just how complex and conflicted this first movement is. As with Haydn, simplicity is the most serious business for Mahler.


Simple is never simple.

That is probably why such geniuses as Gesualdo, Buxtehude, Handel, Mozart, Schubert – to name a few – are way underestimated and undervalued, especially comparing to others.

That is probably also the reason why Bach, Beethoven, Wagner, Tchaikovsky – and the rest of the pack – are so overrated.

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Young virtuosi

Jessica tells us about her impressions from the Manchester International Concerto Competition for Young Pianists.

... the 22 and Under's strongest impression was left by someone who was also under 16: Jan Lisiecki from Calgary in Canada, who played Chopin's Second Concerto. He's only 12.

I'm all for young musicians, but, in my opinion, it's not all about being a virtuoso. Why are all these kids performing difficult virtuosic concerti? Is that the only way we can judge their musicianship, their musicality?

I have heard a few famous 10-year-olds. Some performances just blew me out of the chair. Some didn't. But my "approvals" weren't the same as the audience's. Why is faster – better?

I want to hear these kids play Handel's suite in D-minor (No. 15), the second movement from Mozart's 22nd piano concerto, Chopin's nocturne in F-minor (Op. 15 No. 1), to name a few.

Same goes for violinists, flutists and all other young musicians: play something slow – it is much more difficult.

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Sneak peak: Moonlight Sonata

The Phrygian progression discussion was a prelude to the upcoming post on Beethoven's Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor.


There's always been a discrepancy over the twelfth bar on whether to play the note c or b in the second triplet group ... But, in fact, there is no discrepancy, because, as per the counterpoint rules of the classical period, two separate voices mustn't move in parallel octaves or fifths, unless once is doubling the other. Clearly, the middle triplet note is not doubling the (already-doubled) bass-line. And hence – c, and not b, should be played.

The second movement turns out to be a light-hearted exercise in classical harmony. Unfortunately, the main motif is hardly a melody, and, what's more, it is repeated 20 times in the course of (fortunately, only) two minutes.

Again, Beethoven eyes a motif by Mozart for the first part of his second subject, and...repeats it six times until it gets him somewhere. He even grabs the ornaments along!

Over 20 top recordings will be reviewed, and the best of them selected.

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Career and family

Anne writes:

Many of us are single, and even those of us who are partnered are unsure how children will fit into their lives. Will we have the time and stability in our careers to devote to being the kinds of parents we would hope to be?

And my reply was:

You are right, many classical musicians are always "on the move", no time for real family... Children require real commitment, and if you know you won't be able to give them that – better not have them at all, I guess. But, in reality, it is up to you whether to turn the career nob down a bit and start a real family. Career and family can "live" side by side – they are not mutually exclusive!

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Sunday, 19 August 2007

Phrygian progression

In classical music, a descending tetrachord (line of four notes) with intervals tone-tone-semitone can be called a Phrygian progression, and forms the basis of the Phrygian mode.

The Phrygian mode is equivalent to the Dorian mode in ancient Greek musicology (due to a misinterpretation of the Latin texts of Boethius, medieval modes were given the wrong Greek names by the early Christian church in the 8th century).

Read and listen:

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Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Review: Paganini – Violin Concerto No. 1 / Hahn

Niccolò Paganini (1782 – 1840)
Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major, Op. 6

Hilary Hahn is making history as we speak: this classical music recording puts her among the top violinists in the world.

An astonishing performance unlike any existing one, especially with regard to form, intonation and musical insight of the violinist.

Read and listen:

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