CLASSICAL OPUS no.65

Bela Bartok: “Duo for Two Violins – Transylvanian Dance op.44”

ベラ・バルトーク:「2つのヴァイオリンのデュオ – トランシルバニア・ダンスop.44」

 

TIME COMMITMENT: 2 minutes

This perfectly fractured, fiddly ditto betrays the composer’s voyeurist addiction to folk inspirations.   Bartok’s folk song collection later helped him introduce novel percussive textures into western music (after which, we had to wait for Edgar Varèse and Moondog to do more work in this direction).  The second version here showcases cello, yet the dance really originated as a solo piano piece, some two decades earlier.

 

MUSIC

 

 

INFO

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonatina_(Bart%C3%B3k)

 

A REFLECTION

Oh, Orlando!

Remember the night we danced

quietly on the sands where music

was played? Your words were

wonderers, said quietly

in the pockets of my ears.

 

Sheema Kalbasi: “Dancing Tango”

Published in: on October 26, 2018 at 4:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

CLASSICAL OPUS no.67

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: “Le vol du bourdon”

ニコライ・リムスキー=コルサコフ:「バブルバーンの飛翔」

 

TIME COMMITMENT: 2 minutes

Virtuosic, incisive, punchy, muscular and intrepid, this cuddly interlude literally swamps us with its debonair winks.  This celebrated composer, mentor to Scriabin, Rachmaninoff and vintage Stravinsky, is often quoted as comfortably reveling in the juxtaposition of “feminine” orientalism and occidental masculinity.  Buf if that sounds like virile Kozaks’ unstoppable Drang nach Osten, whence the prototypical levity that buzzes around this piece?  Either way, no insecticide is required.

 

MUSIC

 

INFO

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_of_the_Bumblebee

 

A REFLECTION

It may indeed be fantasy when I

Essay to draw from all created things

Deep, heartfelt, inward joy that closely clings;

And trace in leaves and flowers that round me lie

Lessons of love and earnest piety.

So let it be; and if the wide world rings

In mock of this belief, it brings

Nor fear, nor grief, nor vain perplexity.

So will I build my altar in the fields,

 

Samuel Taylor Coleridge: “To Nature”

Published in: on October 24, 2018 at 4:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

CLASSICAL OPUS no.69

Joaquin Rodrigo: “Concierto de Aranjuez”

ホアキン・ロドリゴ: 「アランフェスのコンサート」

 

TIME COMMITMENT: 27 minutes

Everything in this composer’s art is visual.  He indulges in additive, ochre patterns, overlaid with multiple lattices of light, watercolor strokes.  The title acknowledges gossamer praises to the Royal abode’s yesteryear glory.  Familiar as the theme rings, this instant classic was penned full 30 years after Albeniz had brought back Iberian music to Europe’s heartland.

 

MUSIC

 

INFO

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concierto_de_Aranjuez

 

A REFLECTION

Has my heart gone to sleep?

Have the beehives of my dreams

stopped working, the waterwheel

of the mind run dry,

scoops turning empty,

only shadow inside?

 

Antonio Machado: “Has My Heart Gone to Sleep?”

 

Published in: on October 22, 2018 at 4:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

CLASSICAL OPUS no.74

Manuel de Falla: “Serenata Andaluza”

マヌエル・デ・ファーガ:「セレナタ・アンダルツァ」

 

TIME COMMITMENT: 5 minutes

De Falla, fêted for bringing the guitaristic idiom into classical music, went far beyond tempting, cheap folklore residues.  His work captures the southwestern light, charming and hallucinatory in its power to evoke hitherto unheralded thematics.

 

MUSIC

 

INFO

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manuel_de_Falla

 

A REFLECTION

The moon is dead dead

— it will come back to life in the spring

 

when a south wind

ruffles the brow of the poplars

 

when our hearts yield their harvest of sighs

 

when the roofs wear their grass hats

 

The moon is dead dead

— it will come back to life in the spring

 

Federico Garcìa Lorca “Two Evening Moons”

 

 

Published in: on October 17, 2018 at 7:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

CLASSICAL OPUS no.76

Mikhail Glinka: “Ouverture to Ruslan & Ludmila”

ミハイル・グリンカ:「ルスランとルドミラの序曲」

 

TIME COMMITMENT: 4 minutes

This seductive opening literally explodes with ceremonial power.  As it advances at frantic pace, the opera will repeatedly bristle with eruptive potential, but this volcanic energy should not distract from the composer’s dilemma.  Glinka’s oeuvre remained didactically syncretic.  Although he drew profusely on traditionally logorrheic folk songs of the Eastern plains (instrumental music was long frowned upon and even formally opposed by the Orthodox Church), he made his mark as the pioneer of Western forms in Russian music.  For this great musical nation, it all started here.

 

MUSIC

 

INFO

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruslan_and_Lyudmila_(opera)

 

A REFLECTION

You listen to the peal of distant thunder

The rumbling voice of violent waves and storm

And hear the village shepherd’s lonely cry

And then you send your answer

But hear no echo, there is no reply

This also, poet, is your nature

 

Aleksandr Pushkin: “Echo”

Published in: on October 15, 2018 at 5:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

CLASSICAL OPUS no.82

Edward Elgar – “Pomp And Circumstances No. 1 In D Major”

エドワード・ エルガー – 「華やかさと環境・第1 ・ D・メジャー」

 

TIME COMMITMENT: 8 minutes

This unashamedly bombast march is so declamatory, almost cantankerous!  Of course, large-scale ensembles predated this composer – whether in choral works or in Wagnerian operas.  But Elgar suffused such traditions with solo virtuosity and sumptuous, though never fastidious, orchestration.  In a classic case of re-purposing the theme, it is highly ironic that the work of this Catholic author is now considered “patriotic” in the UK and referred to as ‘a graduation song’ in the US.  But then, some Japanese youngsters tend to believe that their national anthem is a ‘sumo song’ just because it is played at the opening and close of wrestling tournaments.

 

MUSIC

 

INFO

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomp_and_Circumstance_Marches

 

A REFLECTION

I believe in those wing’d purposes,

And acknowledge red, yellow, white, playing within me,

And consider green and violet and the tufted crown intentional,

And do not call the tortoise unworthy because she is not something else,

And the jay in the woods never studied the gamut, yet trills pretty well to me,

And the look of the bay mare shames silliness out of me.

 

Walt Whitman: “Song of Myself XIII”

 

Published in: on October 9, 2018 at 5:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

CLASSICAL OPUS no.86

Bedrich Smetana: “Die Moldau” (Vltava)

ベッドジー スメタナ – 「モルダーウ」(ヴィルタヴァ)

 

TIME COMMITMENT: 14 minutes

The eminently romantic format of a symphonic poem wonderfully echoes the national aspirations of the 1860s.  Smetana paints in watercolor that is sober, but never austere.  Voracious for our attention, the pieces moves us with the elasticity of the title’s great river.

 

MUSIC

 

INFO

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%A1_vlast

 

A REFLECTION

Wildly here, without control,

Nature reigns and rules the whole;

In that sober pensive mood,

Dearest to the feeling soul,

She plants the forest, pours the flood.

 

Robert Burns: “Verses on Castle Gordon”

 

Published in: on October 5, 2018 at 5:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

CLASSICAL OPUS no.93

Jean Sibelius: “Valse triste”

ジーン・シベリウス:「悲しいワルツ」

 

TIME COMMITMENT: 5 minutes

Delicate and musing in its fidgety, doomed forays into the most nocturnal of waltzes, the composition flourishes unexpectedly with a series of unsettling, dynamics jolts.  Initially dark and austere, it swells seamlessly and climaxes with emblematic intensity before reclining for the final repose.  This symbolic chiaroscuro was handed down by one of the last of exponents of musical nationalism (in the Finnish case – anti Russian).

 

MUSIC

 

INFO

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valse_triste_(Sibelius)

 

A REFLECTION

When sorrow fades

Come the memories,

And each of them

Hurts uniquely.

 

Eeva Kilpi: “When Sorrow Fades”

 

Published in: on September 28, 2018 at 7:05 pm  Leave a Comment