Archive | Chamber Music

Isabelle Faust
Photo: Marco Borggreve

Beethoven’s “Spring” Sonata: Isabelle Faust

A continuous vibrato is one of the key elements of modern violin playing. So it’s easy to forget that there was a time when vibrato was used much more sparingly as an ornament. Listen to German violinist Joseph Joachim’s 1903 recordings of Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 1 and No 2 and you’ll hear this older approach to sound. In a […]

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Brahms Sextets: The Cypress Quartet’s Swan Song

The San Francisco-based Cypress String Quartet disbanded last summer after twenty years. Their final recording, featuring Johannes Brahms’ two String Sextets, was released in January. The Cypress was joined by cellist Zuill Bailey and violist Barry Shiffman for the album, recorded in front of a live audience at the Skywalker Sound Studio. Recently, the Cypress Quartet’s […]

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Poulenc

Finding “Joie de vivre” in Poulenc

Music has the ability to unleash mysterious powers which transcend the literal. I was reminded of this recently, as I listened to George Gershwin’s ebullient song, Of Thee I Sing, featured in Monday’s post. It’s the title song of one of the Broadway musical theater’s most zany political satires. Within the show, the premise of the […]

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Grammy-Awards-

The 2017 Classical Grammys

Here is an overview of last weekend’s 2017 Grammy Awards in the classical categories. From opera to chamber music, the list features a heavy dose of American contemporary music: Best Orchestral Performance This is the second installment in a series of live-concert Shostakovich recordings by Music Director Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony on the […]

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10 Musical Adaptations of “God Save the Queen”

On Monday, Britain celebrated Queen Elizabeth II’s Sapphire Jubilee, marking her 65 years on the throne. At 90, Her Majesty is the world’s longest-reigning monarch. The milestone reminded me of the nearly 140 composers who have created musical adaptations of God Save the Queen, an ancient melody that may have originated in plainchant long before it was […]

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Philip Glass

Philip Glass at 80

Tomorrow marks the 80th birthday of American composer Philip Glass. In celebration, conductor Dennis Russell Davies will lead the Bruckner Orchestra Linz in a world premiere performance of Glass’ Symphony No. 11 at Carnegie Hall. Along with Steve Reich, Terry Riley, and La Monte Young, Philip Glass was a leading voice in the American minimalist movement which emerged in the […]

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Alban Berg Quartett / Heinrich Schiff, Violoncello / 22.06.2008 / Koelner Philharmonie

Schubert’s String Quintet in C Major: The Alban Berg Quartet and Heinrich Schiff

On Monday we listened to a brief sample of recordings by the late cellist Heinrich Schiff. In today’s post, I want to include one more: a soulful 1983 recording of Franz Schubert’s String Quintet in C Major in which Schiff joins the Alban Berg Quartet. The album is listed, deservedly, among EMI’s “Great Recordings of the Century.” […]

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Belcea Quartet

The Belcea Quartet Plays Haydn

Franz Joseph Haydn has been called the “Father of the String Quartet.” His sixty-eight quartets, written between 1762 and 1803, pushed the genre beyond frothy court entertainment, setting the stage for composers who followed. Haydn’s quartets demand focused, attentive listening. While earlier string quartets often featured a solo first violin and three accompanying voices, Haydn’s quartets […]

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Atos Trio

Schubert’s Time-Altering Nocturne

This week, I’m playing Schubert’s monumental Ninth Symphony (the “Great”). It’s a piece which pushes the envelope towards Romanticism in some interesting ways. Can you think of any other symphony from the 1820s that starts this way with a single melodic line in the horns or uses the trombones as a prominent solo voice? The Ninth […]

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The Chiara Quartet: Bartók by Heart

Here are some excerpts from the Chiara String Quartet’s recently released album, Bartók by Heart. The two-disc set features all six string quartets by the twentieth-century Hungarian composer, Béla Bartók. The Lincoln, Nebraska-based quartet was formed in 2000. As the album’s title suggests, the Chiara String Quartet has begun performing all repertoire completely by memory, a practice which one member […]

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The Listeners' Club

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