Friday, July 27, 2018

Mozart and Haydn sudden major-minor shifts, explained

Here’s another Atkinson video: “Unexpected, fleeting major-minor mode shifts in Haydn and Mozart”.

Atkinson discusses four compositions.

The K 333 B-flat Piano Major Sonata, with a subtle shift in the second subject, is familiar from my days of piano lessons.

The Haydn Symphony 100 in G, the Military, was interesting more in that the use of flutes as instrumentation for a first subject in colonial times was seen as marital.  He shows how our perceptions have changed with a quick excerpt from the scherzo of Shostakovich’s 10th.

The third example is the Symphony #96, the “Miracle” because of an accident at the first performance, which was really of #102.

These two examples remind the that the last night before I left home for the Army in February 1968 and had a friend over for chess (I think I won most of the games), I played #104 on the VM stereo – the last music I would hear before Basic Combat Training.

His last example comes from the Theme and Variations finale of the Piano Trio in G, K. 496, of Mozart. One of the variations is in the parallel minor. The cello part is remarkable for the time in that it is more than just a reinforcement for the piano bass.  That is, a trio was more than a “violin sonata”. It’s an interesting concept, of variable instrumentation for expressive purposes.  But the rest of his analysis is playful and Timo-like.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Atkinson's YouTube channel: analysis of a Bach fugue

I found a YouTube channel, by Richard Atkinson, with a lot of unusual comparative analyses from classical music.

Today I’ll start out by presenting a simple one, his dissection of a Fugue in C# Minor, a relatively slow and quiet piece, from J.S. Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier, but played on the piano.

He explains the fact that there can be several subjects, and illustrates fugue components with differently colored shadings of the score.  He also explains what a stretto is.

This piece has five separate voices and three subjects, making it a triple fugue. The multiple subjects anticipate sonata form developments.
A number of major sonata-like works and symphonies have fugal finales:  Mahler’s Fifth, Bruckner’s Fifth; Stenhammar’s Second Symphony (which is quite formal);  Beethoven’s B-flat Quartet ending in the Grosse Fugue, and Beethoven’s Hammerklavier sonata. The major completions of the finale of Bruckner’s Ninth show the movement to be large fugal – what’s controversial is the composer’s intentions for the massive coda.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Miniatur Wonderland: the World's largest Model Railway, and you can live inside it (in Germany)

I used to put model railroad exhibits on this blog. When I can visit one I make my own video. 
Here is the “Miniatur Wonderland” in Hamburg, Germany, Business Insider

This is probably the first model railroad in the world with a Google Street View, where minicams are mounted on train cars or other model items to simulate what you would see if this were a real place and you “went small” and lived there, like in “Downsizing”.
Attribution for NASA photo of Hamburg.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Youth CUE Nation's Capital Festival Choir performs at major DC church

The nationwide choral group "The 2018 YouthCUE Nation’s Capital Festival Choir" performed at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC on Sunday, July 1, 2018.

During the Choral Prelude the group performed, with piano accompaniment, “Hallelujah Amen” by Handel (very brief Messiah excerpt), “In the Middle of a Journey” by Randy Edwards, and “Exsultate, Jubilate Deo” by Ruth Morris Gray.  Then there was a brief setting of the Zambian folksong “Bonse Asa”.

This may be the arrangement of Victor C. Johnson.  I made a brief recording but did not post it on YouTube out of copyright concerns (instead I embedded a performance already posted and vetted, probably by ContentID).  There is a good question to answer when folk music is used.  The actual tune is usually in public domain;  but adaptation of folk music is very common in classical music and the adaptation is usually transformative enough to warrant copyright protection.  This issue becomes even more important now that the European Union is seriously considering tightening its Copyright Directive with mandatory automated screening of videos before posting (the Article 13 issue). 
The group joined the FBC choir with an anthem, “An Awakening” by Walker Robson, and later a Choral Offertory adapted by Greg Gilpin, “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel?” (the Lion’s Den).  There were two Communion Anthems, “The Plans I Have for You” and “Prayer of St. Francis”, both by Allen Pote.
The Church now publishes a detailed acknowledgement of every hymn used in the service, crediting both the composer (or transcriber) of the music and author of the words. 
The church music industry is actually quite strict on copyrights and has a system of collecting royalty payments for hymns that appear in hymnals. I believe the organization that runs this is in Cleveland (I’ve seen it mentioned in some church service programs in Texas).  It is common for many hymn tunes to come from classical music (especially English composers, like Parry).  This is also common in Hollywood;  quotes of obscure classical works used to have a way of winding up in film scores, or they used to, until Leonard Bernstein came along in the 60s and made less commonly played symphonies by Mahler, Nielsen, Prokofiev, etc. more common to the public.  It’s rather common for an obscure postromantic work (by someone like D’Albert, Dohnanyi, Stenhammar, Amy Beach, or even Schoenberg) to sound familiar at first hearing, and I suspect that is one reason.