Beethoven, Handel Variations for Cello and Piano

April 3, 2005

Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770-1827

Twelve Variations on "See here the conqu'ring hero comes" from Handel's Judas Maccabaeus, WoO 45 (for Cello and Piano), 1796
Ludwig van BeethovenBefore the revolutionary series of symphonies, string quartets and mature piano sonatas, the young Beethoven wrote a wide variety of chamber music to gain entry into the drawing rooms of his noble patrons. His first published opus was a set of piano trios and within a few years, he added a number of string trios and several works for cello and piano. Beethoven was the first to compose for this combination; his Op. 5 cello sonatas represent the birth of a genre. Though the cello began to enjoy a new independence in the chamber works of Haydn and Mozart, it was Beethoven who gave the cello its new intimate setting.
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Elgar, Piano Quintet in a minor, Op. 84

April 3, 2005

Sir Edward Elgar, 1857-1934

Piano Quintet in a minor, Op. 84, 1919

Sir Edward ElgarIn a few short years after the first world war and before the death of his wife, Sir Edward Elgar realized his last important productive period as a composer. He moved from London to the Sussex countryside seeking refuge from a variety of overbearing concerns including the war, poor health, financial troubles and the loss of close friends. Inspired by walks in the woods, Elgar turned his attention almost exclusively to chamber music, composing a violin sonata, a string quartet and the Piano Quintet in a minor.

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Schumann, Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 47

April 3, 2005

Robert Schumann, 1810-1856

Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 47, 1842
Robert Schumann1842 is often called Schumann's "Year of Chamber Music" because, in a stretch of nearly unbroken intensity, he produced three string quartets, a piano trio, the innovative piano quintet and the piano quartet. The Piano Quartet in E-flat-major, Op. 47, was the last of the series, written within a few weeks. Given Schumann's affinity for the piano, it is not surprising that the piano quartet and piano quintet remain the most popular his chamber works. Of the two, the quartet, with is smaller ensemble, is naturally more intimate, its character more delicate,
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Mozart, Horn Quintet in E-flat, K.407

January 30, 2005

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Quintet in E-flat Major for Horn and Strings, K. 407, 1782
Wolfgang Amadeus MozartMozart's Horn Quintet is, like all of his chamber music, utterly charming, engaging and perfectly constructed. But this work is engaging for different and more subtle reasons than his other string chamber music. Rather than the counterpoint, rich harmonies, suave chromaticism and the frequent drama prominent in his other works, this quintet engages with different aspects: the tone and natural personality of the horn, and the unique but dynamic nature of quintet ensemble itself. This is an adventure in sonority and juxtaposition.
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Borodin, String Quartet No. 1 in A Major

January 30, 2005

Alexander Borodin (1833-1887)

String Quartet No. 1 in A Major (on a theme of Beethoven), 1879

Alexander BorodinAlexander Borodin was a full-time professional Chemist, and in his spare time, a composer. Still, he managed to write a small but highly regarded oeuvre including two symphonies, two operas, and two string quartets among his mature works. All of them show tremendous craftsmanship, a gift for melody, a distinctive personality, and they secure Borodin's reputation as one of the great Russian composers emerging in the late 19th century. Borodin was one of "The Five", the so-called "Mighty Handful" of Russian composers that associated in St. Petersburg and sought to create a distinctly Russian national art music independent of dominant western European models.

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Beethoven, String Quartet in c minor, Op. 18/4

January 30, 2005

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

String Quartet in c minor, Op. 18, No. 4, 1801

Ludwig van BeethovenBeethoven worked painstakingly for two years to produce his first string quartets, Op. 18, published in 1801 in the fashion of the time as a set of six. Pre-dating them are the complete string quartets of both Haydn and Mozart, Haydn having written his last two complete quartets in the same years, finishing in 1799. Just as later composers were daunted by the supreme achievements of Beethoven before them, so Beethoven was acutely aware of the rich legacy of quartet literature already preceding him.

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Shostakovich, 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87

November 4, 2004

Dmitri Shostakovich, 1906-1975

24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87, (for piano), 1951 "24 Jewels"
Here is a simple list of famous composers featured on earsense: Bach, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. Most of you from a Western European derived civilization will at least know these names as you would know Shakespeare, Da Vinci, Darwin, Freud and Einstein. earsense is devoted to encouraging you to know their music as you would the Beatles or Duke Ellington.

Do you know the name Shostakovich?

Dmitri Shostakovich was a purely 20th century Soviet Russian composer of towering significance. He can be unequivocally added to the possible Mount Rushmore of the first sentence: Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Shostakovich.

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Bach, The Well-Tempered Clavier

October 1, 2004

Johann Sebastian Bach, 1685-1750

The Well-Tempered Clavier (Book I and II) 48 Preludes and Fugues "48 Jewels"
"The two Books of The Well-tempered Clavier of J. S. Bach, commonly known in English as The 48 Preludes and Fugues, are at the centre of European civilisation, and are the beloved property of generations of people all over the world. If all of western art music were to be lost and only one work survive, this would be the first choice of many. The achievement of the music at an intellectual level alone puts Bach among the leading intellects of European history. Yet his ability to explore and develop musical materials is fully matched by the scope and power with which he explores moods, emotions and characters, and this is what has made his music so beloved by so many. His own contemporaries remarked how, in spite of the formidable complexity, his mastery of ordering materials and of the arts of rhetoric was such that he could reach out and touch the hearts even of those with no special knowledge of musical techniques.
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The earsense blog is born

September 1, 2004

earsense was launched long ago with the intention of it being a kind of dynamic website as we used to think of web sites long ago. That is, as a kind of blog, before blogs were something different than a plain old well maintained web site. Trouble is, it was much harder to update and maintain the site until these new blogging tools appeared. (Maybe the difficulty helped maintain some discipline to the thought and expression? Naw....)

So, now it's time to hook in a blogging package (thanks to WordPress) and see how the more casual, dynamic parts of earsense might flourish within the more recent and arguably superior blog paradigm. We'll see what happens.

Welcome to the earsense blog!

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