Category Archives: Classical Music

Rethinking operatic drama

Today’s pre-eminent opera duo, (German) Jonas Kaufmann and (Greek-German) Anja Harteros, have been inspiring us to rethink operatic drama. DON CARLO: last duet AIDA: “La Fatal Pietra” OTELLO: “Già nella notte densa” LA FORZA DEL DESTINO: act I, 3rd scene IL … Continue reading

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Artists on the operatic stage

Since it aspires to incorporate all the arts, traditionally opera has not presented musicians and painters on the stage, a device that would require adding to the work yet another artistic layer.  Hence their rare appearances.  However, it seems that, … Continue reading

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Τurning points in the career of classical composers

Three recent releases made me think of turning points in the career of classical composers.   Mozart Momentum 1785 (2021) includes the Piano Concertos Nos. 20-22, the Piano Quartet No. 1, the piano Fantasia in C minor, and the Masonic … Continue reading

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Taking favorite solo sections out of their piano concertos

Listening to the opening movement of the Brahms 1st piano concerto I am reminded of the great number of splendid solo passages that can be found in concertos of this kind.  Such passages may be the opening of the piece, … Continue reading

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Listening to classical cover versions

I read with special interest an interview that Benjamin Grosvenor gave recently on playing the Liszt sonata.  Instead of analyzing the work itself or placing it in the history of classical music, the 28-year-old pianist compared his recent recording to … Continue reading

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Piano recitals (1)

Traditional piano recitals, both live and recorded, consisted in precocious and neurotic virtuosos performing anthologies of canonical compositions by precocious and neurotic geniuses.  This interpretive tradition has recently come to an end, together with its supportive critical and scholarly discourses … Continue reading

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The Wandering Musician

Perhaps no other genre in classical music is as intensely Romantic as the Wanderlieder cycle, the song cycle depicting the adventurous peregrinations of a young wayfarer.*    Such cycles represent the epitome of 19th century male subject position as poet, composer, … Continue reading

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Heine & Schubert’s “Der Doppelgänger”

Franz Schubert’s seminal song “Der Doppelgänger” (1828) is suspended in a unique historical and stylistic moment of classical music, with its ostinato piano part looking back to Bach’s passacaglia and its declamatory vocal part looking forward to Wagner’s Sprechgesang.  It … Continue reading

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Learning from the listening skills of composers

When we discuss musical classical works that draw on other classical works we focus on allusions, references, quotes, paraphrases, parodies and the like, trying to see how new compositions revise and appropriate earlier ones.  However, I have been thinking that … Continue reading

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Sheltered listening (Beethoven’s “Archduke Trio” under quarantine)

Why did classical music first, among all the artistic genres, respond with enthusiasm and generosity to the current quarantine, making large quantities of its resources freely and globally available?  Even though it is among the least popular genres, why did … Continue reading

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