Classical Masterpieces – Issue no. 4
Hello fellow musicians!
Thank you for joining us once again as we continue to explore some of the finest music written through the years!
Today I want to begin with a work written by Felix Mendelssohn for string quartet. A typical String Quartet is made up of 2 Violins, a Viola (larger and deeper violin) and Cello. These four instruments make such incredible music together, and many composers have written for this combination.
Take a listen to Mendelssohn’s Canzonetta, the 2nd movement from his String Quartet op. 12. This video is not a live performance, but was created as a music video.
Franz Liszt composed two concert Etudes for piano in the years 1862 & 1863. The first was titled “Waldesrauschen”, meaning Forest Murmurs, and the second was called “Gnomenreigen”, which means Dance of the Gnomes. Both are incredibly difficult works and require huge technical control and mastery of the piano to play. The second, “Gnomenreigen”, is the one we will hear today.
Liszt is well known for his virtuosic piano playing and difficult writing, and this piece is no exception! Lasting just over 3 minutes, the work features light, staccato playing, many grace notes (notes which are played very quickly together, in the very opening of the piece for instance), and many fast notes! Take a listen here to Adam Gyorgy and see what you think of this amazing performance!
Look For This:
- Can you hear the grace notes in the introduction of the piece, and how lightly they are played?
- Notice how relaxed Adam is as he plays all of the fast sections!
- Did you hear the pieces speeding up towards the end?
- Notice all of the same notes left hand plays in the middle of this piece.
Felix Mendelssohn, amongst all of the other pieces of music he composed throughout his lifetime, managed to write 48 songs he called Songs Without Words (Lieder ohne Worte, in the original language) for the piano. These are collected together in 8 books of 6 songs in each, and are typically very lyrical and song-like in nature, but without any lyrics, hence the title. Altogether, the whole collection takes about 2 hours to play through!
Some of these were written faster and some of them slower, and although I personally haven’t heard them all, the ones I have heard have all been very beautiful to listen to. You can listen to some of the others if you would like to by CLICKING HERE to hear the complete collection.
Todays video is the very first Song Without Words, written around 1829. Take a listen below!
Listen For This:
- Notice how there is a constant flow of notes under the melody of this piece?
- Leon (the pianist) has a very smooth touch to the piano. Hear how he plays each melody note with feeling.
- What does this song make you think of?
Edward Elgar, born in 1857 in England, would probably be one of the lesser known composers, at least in name. Some of his works are quite well known, such as the five ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ marches, which are sometimes played at festivals, graduation ceremonies, and other times like these.
La Capricieuse is a work written by Elgar for Violin and Piano. This is a fantastic work requiring an incredible control of the bow, with the many lines of up-bow staccato playing and the lightness that this piece requires. Take a listen to Andrew Haveron’s version of this masterpiece below!
Look For This:
- Did you spot all of the up-bow staccatos (short notes) being played in this work?
- Notice how simple the piano part is compared to the vioin!
- Hear the way in which he plays the violin in an incredibly light and bouncy way, with the bow bouncing off the string often!
Carl Davidoff was a Russian Cellist and composer, quite well known in his time. He wrote mainly for his own instrument, the cello, which included a mixture of Concertos, Fantasies, Ballades and also technical studies for advanced students, which push the limits of what the cello is capable of!
‘At The Fountain’ is the third work from a collection of pieces called, 4 Pieces for Cello and Piano – pretty original title right! The other 3 are titled Sunday Morning (no. 1), At The Cradle (no. 2) and Dusk (no. 4).
Today we will hear from cellist Jérémy Garbarg, as he plays this light hearted, yet intense work.
Listen For This:
- Did you expect what the cellist played after the piano introduction?
- Notice how loose and relaxed the Jeremy is as he plays this (even his hair seems relaxed!)
- What did you think about the contrasting sections in his piece (fast vs. slow, exciting vs. lyrical etc)?
As always, thank you for taking the time to read this blog! If you enjoyed this post, please comment below and tell us what you liked about it! We’d love to hear from you!
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Until next time,
Evans Music School