Monday, January 30, 2017

Rachmaninoff's odd little Piano Concerto #4 in G Minor (note the very ending)

Somewhere downstairs I have a CD of Ashkenazy and Previn playing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concertos 3 and 4, and today I thought I would make some remarks about the 1968 performance by Arturo Bendetto Michaelangeli  of the Piano Concerto #4 in G Minor, Op. 40 with the Philharmonia Orchestra of London conducted by Ettore Gracis.  In fact, I think that is on an old “Blue Angel” record downstairs two that I may have gotten about the time I finished Army Basic in 1968.

The Concerto is shorter and in some ways less “pretentious” than his earlier concerti (2 and 3) and less “expansive” but in some was more eclectic.  The harmonic progressions show a little bit of influence of jazz and of impressionism, at times (especially near the opening), the music seems to “hang” around the dominant key D Major too much (it opens on the dominant).

There is a big time in G of sorts, but it is a bit truncated and sounds like it comes from 1940s “tin pan alley” a bit. The very end has 3 FF G Major chord on the piano with the descending major third interval.  That same idea dominates the “second theme” group in my own last (Third) Sonata.  But at the end I take the “hymn” theme from F# Major back to a C Major Pedal Point with a couple of “polytonal” pivot points – and a lot of unresolved dissonance – so the pianist will have to control the melodic line (playing it back, a computer connected to Sibelius can’t keep the melodic line together, only a human pianist can do that).

The finale does have the interesting harmonic effect of a middle section in D-flat, a tritone away rom the home key, an idea not found often (Elgar does this in his first symphony).

The second movement (in C) is based on the on the nursery rhyme "Three Blind Mice", a tune that was used in the opening of the first James Bond movie "Dr. No" (which I saw in the Cleveland Arcade back in 1965).

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Nice anthem-hymm of Kelvingrove

Today, a very simple post, a special hymn- anthem, not in the regular hymnal, by Kelvingrove, “Will You Come and Follow Me?”

This embed comes from a church in Nebraska in 2014.
It was sung at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC on Sunday, January 22.

The picture above is from the Refugee Ball at the Synagogue at 6th and I in Washington DC January 17, where Tibetan and African folk music was performed.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Does Bruckner's Symphony #3 (the "Wagner") anticipate the "Number Nine"?

Sergui Celibidache conducts the Symphony #3 in D Minor by Anton Bruckner, with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony.

Yes, I love the picture from the French Alps.

The Symphony has gotten my attention because I have spent a lot of time looking at various “completions” of the Finale of the 9th in the same key.

The work is called the “Wagner”, because of chromatic passages that resemble Wagner, especially toward the end.

The most important motive in the Symphony is a descending interval motive based on the opening of the Beethoven Ninth, D – A – D octave lower.  Both the first movement and finale end with that sequence of notes (although some versions of the finale omit that and simply end on the preceding fortissimo chord).

Bruckner tends to build his final climaxes on opening themes rather than “second themes”, which tend to generate “big tunes” with some composers (like Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Grieg). In this Symphony, the rather perfunctory, declamatory nature of the opening theme, and its return at the end, adds to its power.

The final climax has an extended chord on the subdominant, rather than an abrupt pivot (as in the 8th).  Then on the final pedal point there are rising “Wagnerian” motives in the brass that anticipate the Seventh and also the Samale completion of the Ninth.  The descending theme also figures into the finale of the Ninth at a few critical moments (morphing into the “octave theme”).
Celibidache tends to favor slow tempos, like Klemperer.