Monday, December 30, 2019

Beethoven Piano Sonata #16 in G, light and playful?

Ashish Xiangyi Kumar has posted sheet music and detailed analysis of form of the Beethoven Piano Sonata #16 in G Major, Op. 31 #1   There are two performances by Kovacevich and Goode.

The work seems playful and studious and almost a meta-essay on the Sonata from itself, with the expected key relations (how he handles the Dominant key is interesting).  The slow movement in C in 9/8 sounds a little perfunctory and a little like Haydn, but it picks up interest.

The finale is a laid back Allegretto rondo, that gets into finger virtuosity and feigns a big climax before dissolving into nothing.

I had at one time imagined composing two piano concerti.  One would be in C# Minor, and the Amy Beach concerto is a bit like what I imagined.  The second would be in G Major, which I imagined as an airy key, and it would end in nothing. Once in a while, a soft ending.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Christmas Eve Service at Trinity Presbyterian in Arlington VA -- and a bonus from Vaughn Williams

Last night for Christmas Eve I returned to Trinity Presbyterian Church in Arlington VA for Christmas candlelight service.

Some of the music items have been covered here, before, but I’ll add a bonus at the end of this post.
There was a solo flutist to accompany the singing. 

An early hymn was “On This Day Earth Shall Ring” by Gustav Holst, based on a Latin chant in Dorian mode (d minor).  There was a curious device where phrases ended with sustained repeated notes.

The Trinity Chorale Ensemble – I know some of the singers personally – performed several anthems. First there was “As the Bells Ring” by Bob Chilcott, “The Blasts of Chill December” by James Bassi, and the more familiar “Night of Silence” by Daniel Kantor, to be followed by Silent Night with our holding candles (after communion).
There was another hymn "The Snow Lay on the Ground" by Leo Sowerby.
During the Offertory. Carol Feather Martin (director of music and known as a concert organist) performed a curious modally harmonize hymn on the piano, about 5 minutes, that sounded like a development of the Gustav Holst hymn presented earlier. I don’t know who composed the actual piece (not in the notes).  But the 4/4 rhythm was punctuated with extra half-beats once in a while (like a measure of 5/4 – not quite the 4/20 that Adam Neely describes in a posting here Nov. 26 – an effect common with rock bands and percussion! )

I’ll close with an embed of a Tim Keyes Consort performance in 2013 of Ralph Vaughn Williams ‘s short cantata “Toward the Unknown Region”, which I’ve had on Varese Sarabande, I think, and it is also on Angel with Dona Nobis Pecam.  (I had covered “Hodie” here Dec. 26, 2014). The piece is in F Major, unusual for effects of this nature, but the conclusion matches the effect of the end of Mahler’s Resurrection, for example.  Vaughn Williams is often considered a composer of gentle pastoral modal music, but he can be virile and loud sometimes.  Note the overpowering conclusion even with a chamber orchestra performance. This work seems to belong in a Christopher Nolan movie (maybe "Tenet").
I remember playing this in my NYC apartment in the spring of 1978 before catching a flight to Phoenix to go to one of Dan Fry’s “Understanding” conventions.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Rachmaninoff's "Cello Sonata", and why it is interesting to me, at least

Natalia Gutman (cello) and Elisso Versaladze (piano) play the Sonata for Cello and Piano in G Minor, Op. 19 (1901) by Sergei Rachmaninoff.  

The work is titled as such as the idea of “cello sonata” would diminish the role of the piano.  Here, the 35-minute work is so much a piano virtuoso sonata that it overshadows the cello, which sounds like an obligatto.

The work has four movements, and the first movement offers a slow introduction and even exposition repeat (with the second theme in dominant major instead of relative).

The scherzo (C minor) is wicked, but the slow movement (E-flat) is opulent post-romanticism on steroids.

The Finale is entirely in the Picardy G Major.  It has some piano passage work that foreshadows the Second Piano Concerto.  Before the end, there is a fake slow-down as if it would end quietly, and then there is a prestissimo rush to the final fortissimo.

My “music friend” at William and Mary that lost fall of 1961 played the cello was well as piano and invited me to write him a cello sonata.  I have a sketch of a slow first movement in B-flat in handwritten notes, I still have it.  The finale was supposed to be a kind of tarantella. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

FBC Washington DC 62nd Annual Christmas Candlelight Service

On Sunday, December 15, 2019, the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC held its 62nd Annual Christmas Candlelight Service at 4 PM.

Musicians included the FBC Chancel Choir, the National City Christian Church Chancel Choir, the Runnymede Singers. Two trumpets, a French horn, Trombone, timpani, cymbals, and organ with Lawrence Schreiber and Kevin Biggs.

Here are a few highlights:

Two chorale and brass settings by Jim Lucas were Venu Emmanuel (Zoltan Kodaly also composed one), and “Angels We Have Heard on High”   The latter hymn seemed to be modified to 5/4 time, of possibly an abbreviated extra beat called 4/20 (Nov. 6).

The National City Church performed “Every Valley” by John Ness Beck.  (Embedded performance is from the 2019 Flint (MI?) Festival of Carols).

The Runnymede Singers performed “Vamos Todos a Belen” by Noe Sanchez.
The closing anthem with two sopranos, bass and organ was Gustav Holst’s “Christmas Day”.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Do big time musicians crowd out smaller creators with YouTube's quasi payola system? A social media lawyer thinks so

Ian Corzine explains how big artists pay for ads and for views of their ads which can count as full views.  YouTube is changing the rules so that for the first 24 hours the ad views don’t count as full views?

This reminds me of “payola” in the old radio music world.

It sounds as if big music producers not only enforce copyright aggressively, they try to keep smaller musicians from competing with them and joining the club.

I don’t know if this could affect the classical world, where commissioning of works is a big way composers make a living, so new technologies could become disruptive.

Corzine has another video on music copyright that I’ll look at soon.
The Case Act, creating a small claims court in the Copyright, might be capable of creating new issues for musicians within a year or so.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Christmas choral music season starts at First Baptist DC

The First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC offered some interesting choral Christmas music for the brunch Sunday.

The choir performed, as the main anthem, Movement 5 from “Hope of Israel” by Daniel E. Gawthorp, called “Emannuel”.

Here is a similar recording, performed by the Salt Lake Singers, conducted by Jane Fjelstad.

For the offertorium they performed Philip Brunelle’s setting of Paul Manz’s “E’en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come”, with a setting for Clarinet and Organ and choir.

The performance above is from Morningstar Music.
At brunch, there was a Children’s play “Wow”, a setting of the Nativity.  I happened to sit on a table with a college student familiar with YouTube and free speech controversies, and he knew this was what the FTC would mean by “made for kids” if it were a video.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

How classical and jazz musicians compare in interpreting complicated rhythms

Adam Neely explains “How and why classical musicians feel rhythm differently”

He discusses concepts like “phase lock” and “flams” which matter a lot in percussion bands, especially with music of western African origin. European music traditionally had more gradual beats, when played by ensembles and orchestras.

However some composers have tried to introduce jazz and African rhythm concepts into solo or ensemble music with piano. I don’t know the details, but some of their software to handle these problems is quite sophisticated.

Neely shows examples of how “9/8” time, as in a hymn (“Blessed Assurance”) is 3+3+3, but in African music is often 2+2+2+2+1.
Neely plays short passages from Ravel’s String Quartet, and from the opening trumpet solo of Maher’s Symphony #5 (the rhythm derived from the Beethoven 5th).  The Ravel happens to be used by Neutraton and Sibelius Photoscore software as a sample.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Stanford, Symphony #5, with its curious Brahmsian passagalia for a finale

I want to share one more symphony of Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, Symphony #5 in D MajorL’Allegro ed il Pensieroso”, Op. 56 (1894).

The Ulster Orchestra is conducted by Vernon Handley. I have the Chandos CD.

I played this a lot around the end of 1989, when I was changing jobs, leaving Lewin-ICF and going to Uslico (to become Reliastar, ING, Voya).
The finale is an interesting Passacaglia in the minor key (D minor) that goes back to D Major for a sunset and then quiet coda. It sounds like Brahms.