Thursday 19 March 2009


Mm interesting discussion on Bach and Brahms, both good guys in my book. ( Light the blue touch paper and stand well back.) The Matthew Passion has so many beautiful arias, that I turn a blind eye to the Lutheran-ness of it all and put it down to being 'a bit German.' The first time I heard the opening chorus was one of those electric moments. Just to muddy the waters further there is that very contrpuntal bit in the German Requiem which has more than a hint of Bach. Can't remember which movement, sorry. Not to mention the last movement of the First Piano Concerto. Arnie (Schoenberg ) wrote an essay, 'Brahms the Classicist,' where he goes on about it, I think

But when all is said and done, Beethoven is best and he was a viola player as was Mozart.

One word Fidelio. I don't care if the story is not all that in its detail, the music is exquisite and for the beginning of Act II alone he gets my vote. All those overtures to choose from too. The basic premise of the story; woman rescues husband from prison, shows the sort of man Beethoven was. You don't get that in Wagner.

Slow movement of the Emperor Piano Concerto.
Slow movement of the Ninth Symphony, which I foolishly once conducted in a conducting class. Never choose that movement. So there I was in a very slow 12/8, thinking how stupid I was and that this music should not be touched by me. When I got to the end the leader of the orchestra, who was a retired pro and had just returned from a stay as an in-patient in a psychiatric hospital and therefore a sensitive type, said that I had great feeling for the music, which is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me about my musicianship.
The Seventh Symphony and

The Eroica. The best.

Tovey said the odd numbered symphonies were better than the even ones and he was right.

And now after another Parents' Evening, for I aim to speak to anyone in London with a child of secondary age, to sleep.

Draw on sweet night, etc.


Ches said...

I once managed to silence the infamous Bishop Williamson by telling him that the sequence of modulations towards the end of the development of the 1st movement of Beethoven's Eroica Symphony - about which he raved - made me feel like I was being kicked down stairs! He writes nice piano stuff though (Beethoven, not Bishop Williamson).

Of all these Germanic tunesmiths, give me Mozart and only Mozart (with a little bit of Schubert now and again). I've known the Dies Irae text since I was 13, but I never began to understand it until I listened to Mozart's setting. My real preferences lie west of Germany, but I await Berenike's barrage before continuing ;-)

Patricius said...

I have recently rediscovered my love for Beethoven's symphonies and have a particular fondness for the second movement of number seven. Elgar appears to have had a similar liking because it features prominently in an early work, his "Credo on themes from Beethoven symphonies". It has been recorded by the Chapel Choir of the Royal Hospital Chelsea on the disc "O Perfect Love". It makes me smile - but I have no idea why.

leutgeb said...


Mozart deserves a separate post, or indeed a separate blog and I agree that Beethoven does have some moments that seem to lurch a bit, but no-one's perfect! The GCSE idiot Listening Paper, lists sudden accents as a feature of Beethoven's style, which always makes me want to find counterexamples and argue but I have to stop myself When I was a teenager Mozart was the gold standard against which all other composers were measured. My Dennis Brain Mozart Horn Concerto tape was played endlessly.

I might have guessed that you preferred French music and they of course do things completely differently and are always prepared to enjoy the moment if it's beautiful without having to press on because the rules be they harmonic, melodic or formal say so.


never heard of that Elgar Credo, sounds interesting. Will seek it out.

leutgeb said...

PS Silenced Bishop Williamson?

I'm sure there's a cheap joke in there...

Ches said...

You're right. I can't avoid the influence of the French, even when I want to. Many years ago I discovered one day that many of the modern composers that I liked - Aaron Copland, Lennox Berkeley, Virgil Thompson, and even Joseph Horowitz and Astor Piazzolla - all studied with Nadia Boulanger or else were students of students of Boulanger (Richard Rodney Bennett, William Matthias). Boulanger was of course a pupil of Faure and Widor, and round and round we go.

I still believe Bishop Williamson should be rehabilitated, possibly by being made to listen to endless Beethoven critics picking the Emperor concerto to pieces!