If There Is Much In The Window There Should Be More In The Room

Friday, May 17, 2013

Beethoven - S. Richter (live Carnegie Hall, 3 may 1965) - Sonates n°17, 18, 31

Beethoven - S. Richter (live Carnegie Hall, 3 may 1965) - Sonates n°17, 18, 31

Richter’s American debut tour in the fall of 1960 created a sensation. At the time, he was 45, and had performed outside the Soviet Union only once before, in Finland. But evidence of his greatness had spread through his recordings on the Melodiya label, and many American musicians who had heard him in Russia, including Van Cliburn in 1958, brought back reports of his spectacular pianism.

His first United States performance was with the conductor Erich Leinsdorf and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. But it was a series of five Carnegie Hall recitals, beginning on Oct. 19, 1960, that electrified the public. Reviewing the first recital, a program of five Beethoven sonatas, Harold C. Schonberg reported in The New York Times that ''every musician in town was present'' and that, for once, ''the sold-out house was seated an expectant 10 minutes before the stage lights went on.''

'There may have been a show-me attitude at the beginning,'' Mr. Schonberg continued. ''Within 15 minutes all was dissipated in enthusiasm. Mr. Richter proved to be a pianist of style, poetry and imagination: a complete artist.''

Live New York (1965)
1-3 :
The Piano Sonata No. 17 in D minor, Op. 31, No. 2, was composed in 1801/02 by Ludwig van Beethoven. It is usually referred to as "The Tempest" (or Der Sturm in his native German), but this title was not given by him, or indeed referred to as such during his lifetime; instead, it comes from a claim by his associate Anton Schindler that the sonata was inspired by the Shakespeare play.

4-7 : La Sonate pour piano n° 18 en mi bémol majeur, op. 31 n° 3, de Ludwig van Beethoven, fut composée en 1802, publiée en 1804 et dédiée avec les n° 16 et n° 17 à la comtesse de Browne.

Contemporaine des deux autres sonates de l'opus 31, la Sonate n° 18 est la plus atypique des trois. Elle est la dernière des sonates pour piano de Beethoven à comporter plus de trois mouvements (si on excepte la Hammerklavier (sonate N° 29) et la 28e sonate opus 101) et la dernière à inclure un authentique menuet de facture classique. Son exécution dure environ 24 minutes.

I. Allegro
II. Scherzo: Allegretto vivace
III. Menuetto: Moderato e grazioso
IV. Presto con fuoco

8-10 : La Sonate pour piano n° 31 en la bémol majeur, opus 110, a été composée par Ludwig van Beethoven en 1821 et publiée en 1822. Il s'agit d'une œuvre sans dédicace, ce qui est assez rare chez Beethoven pour être noté.

Avant-dernière sonate de Beethoven, la sonate n° 31 comporte trois mouvements :

I. Moderato cantabile molto espressivo
II. Allegro molto
III. Adagio, ma non troppo — Fuga : Allegro, ma non troppo

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Nathan Milstein. Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy - Violin Concerto №1

Nathan Milstein. Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy - Violin Concerto 1

Felix Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 is his last large orchestral work. It forms an important part of the violin repertoire and is one of the most popular and most frequently performed violin concertos of all time. A typical performance lasts just under half an hour.

Mendelssohn originally proposed the idea of the violin concerto to Ferdinand David, a close friend and then concertmaster of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Although conceived in 1838, the work took another six years to complete and was not premiered until 1845. During this time, Mendelssohn maintained a regular correspondence with David, seeking his advice with the concerto. The work itself was one of the violin concertos of the Romantic era and was influential to the compositions of many other composers.

Although the concerto consists of three movements in a standard fast–slow–fast structure and each movement follows a traditional form, the concerto was innovative and included many novel features for its time. Distinctive aspects of the concerto include the almost immediate entrance of the violin at the beginning of the work (rather than following an orchestral preview of the first movement's major themes, as was typical in Classical era concertos) and as a whole, the concerto has a through-composed form, in which the three movements are melodically and harmonically connected and played attacca (each movement immediately following the previous one).

The concerto was initially well received and soon became regarded as one of the greatest violin concertos of all time. The concerto remains popular and has developed a reputation as an essential concerto for all aspiring concert violinists to master, and usually one of the first Romantic era concertos they learn. Many professional violinists have recorded the concerto and the work is regularly performed in concerts and classical music competitions. -  Wikipedia

Nathan Milstein (1903 - 1992) was a Russian-born American virtuoso violinist.

Widely considered one of the finest violinists of the 20th century, Milstein was known for his interpretations of Bach's solo violin works and for works from the Romantic period.

He was also known for his long career: he performed at a high level into his mid 80s, retiring only after suffering a broken hand.was called the "prince of the violin" (and at one time, the "prince of the bow"). Harold Schonberg, in his obituary of Milstein published in The New York Times , wrote his famous line, "He could well have been the most nearly perfect violinist of his time".

He received a Grammy Award in 1975 for his recording of Bach's sonatas and partitas, and was awarded the Légion d'honneur by France in 1968. He was also awarded Kennedy Center honors by President Ronald Reagan.

A recital he gave in Stockholm in July 1986 proved to be his final performance. An accident shortly afterwards ended his career.

For most of his career he performed on the "Milstein (Maria Teresa), Goldman" Stradivarius of 1716 and for a short period the "Dancla" Stradivarius of 1710.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Napoleon’s Oraculum (1839)

Napoleon’s Oraculum (1839)

Link to Open Library page view

In 1813 Napoleon was defeated at Leipzig. However he left behind him a "Cabinet of Curiosities" among which a Prussian officer discovered the following Oraculum. Originally this Oraculum had been discovered in one of the Royal tombs of Egypt during a French military expedition of 1801. 

The emperor ordered the manuscript to be translated by a famous German scholar and antiquarian, and was translated into English in 1822. From that time onwards the Oraculum remained one of the emperor’s most treasured possessions. 

He consulted it on many occasions and it is said to have "formed a stimulus to his most speculative and most successful enterprises." As it states in the 1839 edition of the Oraculum, “Happy had it been for him, had he abided or been ruled by the answers of this Oracle.”
This story is highly unlikely for a number of reasons. The Rosetta Stone, which translates Egyptian hieroglyphs into Greek, was not fully deciphered until the 1820s. It would have been impossible for Napoleon’s “German scholar” to translate the Oraculum with the detail necessary for consultation. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Mahler Symphony No 5 Adagietto - Sir Simon Rattle

Mahler Symphony No 5 Adagietto - Sir Simon Rattle 

Mahler was best known during his own lifetime as one of the leading orchestral and operatic conductors of the day, but he has since come to be acknowledged as among the most important post-romantic composers – a remarkable feat for a figure whose mature creativity was concentrated in just two genres: song and symphony.

Besides the nine completed symphonies, his principal works are the song cycles Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (usually rendered as ‘Songs of a Wayfarer’, but literally ‘Songs of a Travelling Journeyman’) and Kindertotenlieder (‘Songs on the Death of Children’), and the synthesis of symphony and song cycle that is Das Lied von der Erde (‘The Song of the Earth’).

Mahler told fellow composer Jean Sibelius in 1907 that “a symphony should be like the world: it must embrace everything”; putting this philosophy into practice, he brought the genre to a new level of artistic development.

After Beethoven, fifth symphonies became special landmarks for composers working in the Austro-German symphonic tradition. Mahler’s is an epic work: large in scale, extreme in its expressive character, abundant in its musical ideas and invention.

Its five movements create a broad sonic arch, capped by an elaborate Scherzo. Flanking this, to start the symphony, are a funeral march followed by music of violent intensity; and following the Scherzo, a dream-like Adagietto and an ebullient, contrapuntally embellished finale.

Thursday, May 2, 2013



Water Battles at the Colosseum Roman amphitheater old engraving Charpentier1782

Although the Colosseum served for many centuries as a center of hideous spectacle and barbarous cruelty, at the time of its construction, 
 A naumachia held at the Colosseum. Illustration by G. Nispi-Landi, 1913

Romans saw it as part of the rightful restoration into public hands of land which had been illegally expropriated by the despised Emperor Nero. 

At the very heart of Rome, from the Palatine to the Esquiline, Nero had built a large private estate, the symbolism of which had been plain to everyone. 

Nero had even blocked the people's access to the Sacre Via, Rome's most sacred thoroughfare and,

L- The_Arch_of_Titus_on_the_Via_Sacra,_Rome

in a city which traditionally frowned upon ostentation in private dwellings even for the rich, built himself a huge and magnificent palace which became known as the Domus Aurea or "Golden House".

 An 18th Century print by J Blundell shows the scale of Nero's Golden Palace, which, if completed, would have spanned a third of the city of Rome
On a ridge on the northern face of the Palatine, Nero had erected for himself a colossal 36 metre high bronze statue and in the middle of the palace grounds was a large artificial lake. After Nero's eventual disgrace and death, his successors competed with one another to break up his estate and to replace it with structures of public utility. 

To this end, Emperor Vespasian ushered in an era of long term peace and prosperity, and undertook new public building projects, filled in the lake and built the Amphitheatrum Flavium.

L -Vespasian planning the colosseum

He also moved closer to it the Colossus of Nero which he changed to represent to the god of the Sun.

It is this combination statue and amphitheater which much later led to the site being known as the famous Flavian Amphitheater,

(the Colosseum), which still stands today. 

L- Colosseum aerial view

Considering the watery origins of the site, it seems somehow appropriate that some of the earliest spectacles held there had an aquatic theme.

Following precedents set by Julius Caesar and Augustus, the amphitheater was used as a venue for naumachia, mock sea battles which were designed to thrill and divert the masses. 

Being located very close to a major aqueduct, the arena of the Colosseum was filled with water up to a height of 1.5 meters.

Then scale replicas of naval vessels were floated on the water and manned with presumably very reluctant crews of prisoners who were forced to battle for their lives.

The hand-colored Dutch engraving (1663) from the Netherlands Maritime Museum (top) is based upon an etching by Étienne du Pérac that was commissioned by the Veronese scholar Onofrio Panvinio for his book De Ludis. Based upon measurements and details provided by the author, the copper plate was etched between 1565-1566 and is almost identical to one du Pérac later produced for a catalog of engravings by Antonio Lafréry on ancient Rome. This book was published in 1600, a second edition of which is in the collection of the Canadian Centre for Architecture, from which the engraving above has been taken.