Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sunday Classics preview: Three more mystery works are added to the Guess the Composer(s?) Quiz


UPDATE below with the rest of the answers
(Last night's answers are already posted)

Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts the BBC Symphony in fine performances of the third and fourth movements, the lovely Menuet and [at 5:14] the spirited "Rigaudon," from Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin, at a 2007 Proms concert in London's Royal Albert Hall. The "Rigaudon" is another piece I considered for our mystery works. (I didn't include it!)

by Ken

Last night we began this two-part quiz, out of which Sunday's musical program will eventually emerge. Tonight, as promised, here are three more mystery works. Also as promised, the composer(s) is/are to be found on this master list:

Alban Berg
Hector Berlioz
Leonard Bernstein
Johannes Brahms
Benjamin Britten
Claude Debussy
Louis Moreau Gottschalk
Charles Gounod
Olivier Messiaen
Carl Nielsen
Jacques Offenbach
Hans Pfitzner
Sergei Prokofiev
Maurice Ravel
Camille Saint-Saëns
Arnold Schoenberg
Dmitri Shostakovich
Johann Strauss Jr.
Richard Strauss
Igor Stravinsky
Sir Arthur Sullivan
Hugo Wolf

Again, it's possible that some or all of tonight's composer(s) may be the same as last night's.

Mystery Work D

This lovely yet somehow off-kilter little waltz has been discovered by the TV music scavengers. This is a sort of thing for which the composer had an uncanny facility.


Mystery Work E

Here we hear the sheer audacity of musical imagination running wild. Well, maybe not running wild exactly; behind the scenes, the eerie beauty of this little piece is in fact quite tightly controlled. If I didn't know the work, there's a composer on our master list I would be eyeing. I would be wrong.


Mystery Work F

We're only going to hear this piece once, and even this performance is downloaded. (This is a piece I've known exclusively in a performance that I have only on LP.) I was on the verge of downloading yet another version, but I decided this one would be enough, even with that unusual instrumental combination of . . . oh no! If I tell you that, you'll go and Google that.


As you'll guess from its lack of a beginning or end, this is an orchestral interlude, creating a transition from a large chunk of the most beautiful music ever written (no joke this time) to what may be the most horrible (in a good way!) musical shock.



I've finally come up with a plan. The plan is that I'll post all the identifying information for Friday's mystery works (and the performances) as an "update" around 6am PT tomorrow (Sunday) morning, and then I'll do the same for tonight's mystery works as an update here around 9:30am PT, half an hour before post time for the actual Sunday Classics post (10am PT).


[D] SHOSTAKOVICH: No. 6, Waltz 2, from Jazz Suite No. 2

(1) Concertgebouw Orchestra, Riccardo Chailly, cond. Decca, recorded April-May 1991
(2) Philadelphia Orchestra, Mariss Jansons, cond. EMI, recorded March 1996

[E] PROKOFIEV: No. 3, "Night," from Scythian Suite, Op. 20

The composer I might have guessed (wrongly) is Debussy.

(1) Minnesota Orchestra, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, cond. Vox, recorded 1983
(2) Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, André Previn, cond. Philips, recorded March 1987

[F] SCHOENBERG: Weihnachtsmusik (Christmas Music)
for two violins, cello, and harmonium

I first got to know the Weihnachtsmusik via Decca's London Sinfonietta set of Schoenberg's Complete Works for Chamber Ensemble, the same LP box that contained last night's glorious Iron Brigade. I found the latter on CD -- improbably tacked onto Pierrot Lunaire and the Op. 24 Serenade. But I had to resort to download for this digital version of the Christmas Music.

Ensemble Stanislas. Gall, recorded c1991

[BONUS] SCHOENBERG: Gurre-Lieder (Songs of Gurre):
Part I, Orchestral Interlude

The interlude follows the last of the impassioned alternating solos for the Danish King Waldemar and his lover Tove, and sets up the horrible shock revealed at the start of the "Song of the Wood Dove." We'll be hearing more of Gurre-Lieder -- a bit more this Sunday, then a lot more next week.

(1) Staatskapelle Dresden, Giuseppe Sinopoli, cond. 
Teldec, recorded August 1995
(2) New York Philharmonic, Zubin Mehta, cond. Sony, recorded May 23-28, 1991

CONFIDENTIAL TO ANYONE WHO GUESSED EITHER MESSIAEN OR PFITZNER FOR ANY OF OUR EIGHT MYSTERY WORKS: Well, really now! (You might check the brief discussion under "Jeux de vagues" in last week's post.)


I'll go so far as to reveal now that, between our six mystery works and the two bonus works, we have heard three works each by two composers. Those composers will be featured in tomorrow's post. In fact, we're going to hear more of two of the works we've sampled -- and even more of one of them next week.


The current list is here.

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At 1:40 AM, Blogger Philip Munger said...

D - I use Andre Rieu's youtube version of this as part of a segment of a class I give. If you go there and type in "Shostakovich 2nd Waltz," Rieu's version pops right up. Everyone looks like they're on quaaludes.

Bonus - the alto trombone part of this piece influenced Alban Berg's alto trombone part for his 3 Orchestral Pieces. Both parts are almost unplayable, but Berg's is more essential to the structure of the orchestration. I've tried to love this piece forever, and haven't yet.

At 5:46 AM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Thanks, Philip!


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