Archive for April, 2010

When did Chamber Music begin?

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

When did “chamber music” begin? Well, as a “sustained, documented art”, you would be hard pressed to find anything earlier than this. English consort music for viols. Marvel at its bracing purity, its otherworldliness. Shakespeare was still in the future.


Young Brahms Emerges

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

Even just the 1st movement of this masterwork contains the whole world and the whole of Brahms’s ranging musical personality. Sweeping, magisterial, yet, even somehow tender . . . (in 2 parts; watch both videos).


Mendelssohn, String Quartet in a-minor, Op. 13

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

String Quartet in a-minor, Op. 13 (1827)

Mendelssohn’s rise to mature talent was precocious and meteoric: he wrote the Octet at sixteen, the Overture to the Midsummer Night’s Dream at seventeen and his first mature string quartet at eighteen. Despite the higher opus number and the occasional label, “No. 2”, Mendelssohn composed Op. 13 two years before his next quartet, Op. 12 in E-flat Major, “No. 1.” Op. 13 is astonishing by several measures besides the youth of its composer. It is lyrical, intensely passionate and utterly winning. It is also ingeniously constructed. The formal structure revolves around a tender love song that Mendelssohn wrote months before he began the quartet. The lied — Frage, Op. 9/1 — makes literal appearances in both outer movements while lending its spirit to the inner ones. (more…)

Happy Birthday Serge

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Happy Birthday Serge. Thank you for writing one of saddest songs of all time. Elegant, elusive, elegiac, sublime. As the kids would say these days, “nuanced.” The Swan of Tuonela sinks below the horizon, forever lost. listen