CLASSICAL OPUS no.25

Claude Debussy: “Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune”

クロード・ドビュッシー:「動物の午後への前奏曲」

 

TIME COMMITMENT: 12 minutes

The poem is instinctively Homeric, spiced with transoceanic unfamiliarity with which we quickly develop sensual intimacy.  The impressionistic savior of tonality infused it with such a wealth of exotic, almost visual harmonies that, once rediscovered, it exerted profound influence on 20th century’s film music.  Here, the Aegean perspectives are deployed by none other than Leonard Bernstein.  Note the suave flute treatment throughout.

 

MUSIC

 

INFO

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pr%C3%A9lude_%C3%A0_l%27apr%C3%A8s-midi_d%27un_faune

 

A REFLECTION

These nymphs I would perpetuate.

So clear

Their light carnation, that it floats in the air

Heavy with tufted slumbers.

Was it a dream I loved?

My doubt, a heap of ancient night, is finishing

In many a subtle branch, which, left the true

Wood itself, proves, alas! that all alone I gave

Myself for triumph the ideal sin of roses.

Stephane Mallarmé: “The Afternoon of a Faun”

Published in: on December 6, 2018 at 4:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

CLASSICAL OPUS no.26

Franz Liszt: “Hungarian Rhapsody No.2”

フランツリスト:「ハンガリー狂詩曲第2番」

 

TIME COMMITMENT: 8 minutes

The short duration ensures that this quintessential romantic form remains enigmatic in its quasi-patriotic delirium.  Worse, it sounds almost contrarian in its multiform pithiness.  Despite the ubiquity of virtuoso fireworks, the middle section seems to leave quite a lot of freedom for imaginative, oxygenated phrasing.

 

MUSIC

 

INFO

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungarian_Rhapsody_No._2

 

A REFLECTION

With frost fall upon my bed,

The ice upon my pillow

Cannot melt away-I lack the strength to die-

Leaving unfulfilled

The vow I made to you.

 

Fujiwara no Teika: “Love in Winter”

Published in: on December 5, 2018 at 5:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

CLASSICAL OPUS no.27

Franz Schubert: “Serenade”

フランツ・シューベルト:「セレナーデ」

 

TIME COMMITMENT: 3 minutes

Sentimental, piercing, even shrill but never discordant in the highest of registers, this poignant lament recurs obsessively.  The strongly suggestive, folkish simplicity that flows from the solo instrument obscures the deftly spinal piano accompaniment – a trademark of many of Schubert’s Lieder.  Here it is performed by I.Perlman – the great Yascha Haifetz’s virtuoso offspring.

 

MUSIC

 

INFO

https://www.musicwithease.com/schubert-serenade.html

 

A REFLECTION

So sweet the hour, so calm the time,

I feel it more than half a crime,

When Nature sleeps and stars are mute,

To mar the silence ev’n with lute.

 

Edgar Allan Poe: “Serenade”

Published in: on December 4, 2018 at 11:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

CLASSICAL OPUS no.28

Camille Saint-Saëns: “Danse macabre”

カミーユサン=サーンス: 「死のダンス」

 

TIME COMMITMENT: 7 minutes

A circular, robotic waltz grinds forward with unobtrusively hoarse, fine-grained violas juxtaposed against an ecstatically soaring theme.  It was transcribed by Liszt for piano, but the nightmarish tonal range of the orchestral version conjures up more potent, Draculean, lugubrious visions.

 

MUSIC

 

INFO

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/10/the-purest-halloween-music-ever-written/382119/

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danse_macabre_(Saint-Sa%C3%ABns)

 

A REFLECTION

I missed his funeral,

Those quiet walkers

And sideways talkers

Shoaling out of his lane

To the respectable

Purring of the hearse…

 

Seamus Heaney: “Casualty”

Published in: on December 3, 2018 at 4:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

CLASSICAL OPUS no.29

Fryderyk Chopin: “Nocturne, E flat major, op.9, no.2”

フレデリック・ショパン: 「夜行性、Eフラット・メジャー、オペラ9、2番」

 

TIME COMMITMENT: 5 minutes

Among the most eloquent, verbal miniatures that never fall into loquaciousness, these somnolent visions careen in vividly traceable childhood memories.  Cheerfully hesitant and vacillating, they were nearly stereotyped to death.  But the nocturnes have triumphed, retaining the power to grip and rip the lungs apart.

 

MUSIC

 

INFO

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nocturnes_(Chopin)

 

A REFLECTION

Autumn is leaving

Tugging each others’ branches

Two pine trees

 

Masaoka Shiki: “Autumn is Leaving”

Published in: on December 2, 2018 at 4:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

CLASSICAL OPUS no.30

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: “Ave Verum Corpus”

ヴォルフガング・アマデウス・モーツァルト: 「アヴェ・マリア」

 

TIME COMMITMENT: 2 minutes

This dreaming, elated, sacred phantasmagoria of elliptic immediacy explores a wide contemplative range.  A sense of exultation pervades this daring exploration of the soul’s netherworlds.  Invariably, performances call for fresh voices, ensuring recurrent renewal of this eternally evanescent choir piece.

 

MUSIC

 

INFO

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ave_verum_corpus_(Mozart)

 

A REFLECTION

Where no knowing is I entered,

yet when I my own self saw there

without knowing where I rested

great things I understood there,

yet cannot say what I felt there,

since I rested in unknowing,

all knowledge there transcending.

 

San Juan de la Cruz: “Verses on the Ecstasy of Deep Contemplation”

Published in: on December 1, 2018 at 5:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

CLASSICAL OPUS no.31

Bela Bartok: “Allegro Barbaro”

ベラ・バートク:「アレグロ・バルバロ」

 

TIME COMMITMENT: 2 minutes

Martial, rumpled and always on the precipice of chaos, this psychodrama is prised open by its maniacal dedication to demented accelerations.  Bartok’s expertise is exhibited here in full: scurrying runners that grow ever louder and intense, just as the pace slows down.  The composition functions with more urgency when performed for solo piano, but the orchestral timbres may have infected Akira Ifukube’s stomping anthems which hailed Godzilla’s imminent appearance in Toho Studio’s classic monster flicks.

 

MUSIC

 

 

INFO

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

 

A REFLECTION

Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,

everyone going home lost in thought?

Because night has fallen and the barbarians haven’t come.

And some of our men just in from the border say

there are no barbarians any longer.

Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?

Those people were a kind of solution.

 

Constantine Cavafy: “Waiting for the Barbarians”

Published in: on November 30, 2018 at 5:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

CLASSICAL OPUS no.32

Johannes Sebastian Bach: “Badinerie”

ヨハネス・セバスチャン・バッハ:「バディネリエ」

 

TIME COMMITMENT: 2 minutes

Essentially a jocular dance, this is a showpiece for solo flutists, extracted from Orchestra Suite no.2 in B minor.  A nimble, laconic, scherzo-like structure is however presented with a tempo only suited for the most agile of the courtiers.  Like a childlike, droll pamphlet of grave consequences, it is subverted in the second version by a youthful James Galway.

 

MUSIC

 

 

INFO

https://www.redlandssymphony.com/pieces/suite-no-2-in-b-minor-bwv-1067

 

A REFLECTION

Orpheus with his lute made trees, 

And the mountain tops that freeze, 

Bow themselves when he did sing:

To his music plants and flowers 

Ever sprung; as sun and showers 

There had made a lasting spring. 

 

William Shakespeare: “Orpheus with his Lute Made Trees”

Published in: on November 29, 2018 at 5:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

CLASSICAL OPUS no.33

Arnold Schoenberg: “Piano Concerto op.42”

アーノルド・シェーンベルク:「ピアノ協奏曲op.42」

 

TIME COMMITMENT: 21 minutes

This pioneering concerto is an openly impulsive attempt to reconcile atonality with romantic expression and even with traces of classical structure.  Its complexity is almost purgatory; it repeatedly crushes any expectations with its all-encompassing, visionary, cubist inventiveness.  Mitsuko Uchida’s testimony in the second video is priceless.

 

MUSIC

 

 

INFO

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piano_Concerto_(Schoenberg)

 

A REFLECTION

I am not I

I am this one

Walking beside me whom I do not see

Whom at times I manage to visit

And whom at other times I forget

Who remains calms and silent while I talk

And forgives, gently when I hate

Who walks where I am not

Who will remain standing when I die

 

Juan Ramon Jimenez – “I Am Not I”

Published in: on November 28, 2018 at 4:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

CLASSICAL OPUS no.34

Hildegard von Bingen: “Symphonie”

ヒルデガルト・フォン・ビンゲン: 「交響曲」

 

TIME COMMITMENT: 62 minutes

This emphatic, scintillating liturgy of unaltered, transparent fluidity comes from the most enigmatic of medieval figures.  She left behind hymns, psalms and sophisticated antiphonal textures (neither monophonic nor polyphonic), frequently broken down into small choruses.

It is so ironic that the most ancient composition in this series comes from a woman.  Over centuries, male control of musical creativity proved stronger and more enduring than in any other form of artistic expression.  Music had to wait till the 20th century to unleash on us the geniuses of Nadia Boulanger, Grażyna Bacewicz, Thea Musgrave, Sofia Gubaidulina, Kaija Saariaho, Pauline Oliveros or Karen Tanaka.  But how much of their work do you know?

 

MUSIC

 

INFO

https://sequentia.org/projects/hildegard.html

 

A REFLECTION

Hail, O greenest branch,

sprung forth in the airy breezes

of the prayers of the saints.

So the time has come

that your sprays have flourished:

hail, hail to you.

 

Hildegard von Bingen: “O Viridissima Virga”

Published in: on November 27, 2018 at 3:31 pm  Leave a Comment