Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Fan Club 2 - Tuneful Classics

A few more selected videos from YouTube, this time picking a few of my "classical" favourites. These are twentieth century classics, and should be played to anyone who thinks that means they can't be tuneful.

Let's begin with Leonard Bernstein conducting his own Candide Overture, which contains one of the all-time wonderful tunes. Actually the whole opera is sheer bliss as well as being extremely funny, but you'll need to find that out somewhere else.

Here is Martha Argerich playing the slow movement of Bartok's Third Piano Concerto, a great favourite of mine. Bartok wrote it when he knew he was dying of leukaemia, to give his piano-playing wife a bankably popular piece to play when he was gone. As befits a composer famous for his string quartets, he modelled the opening string theme on that of the slow movement if Beethoven's A minor quartet Op 132. In that case the theme is described as a "Hymn of thanks in the Lydian mode, on being restored to health" . Sadly Bartok knew his own health was beyond redemption, which adds a certain emotional kick to the movement.

Here is Claudio Abbado conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in the finale of Stravinsky's Firebird. Some nice horn playing too.

Staying with Stravinsky, here is the opening of The Rite of Spring with unusual choreography by the Frenchman Angelin Preljocaj, of whom I hadn't heard before For reasons that will rapidly be obvious, this would be a good video for getting teenage boys interested in ballet...... It breaks off at a rather arbritrary point, leaving me at least wishing there was more. And there is: here's the end of the same ballet. (Warning - not suitable for work!)

It would have been nice to be able to end this selection with Peter Schickele's Eine Kleine Nichtmusik, but it's not available. What there is, though, is a piece in a quite similar vein: one of his pieces supposedly by P D Q Bach. This one is the "Unbegun" Symphony (by analogy with Schubert's "Unfinished", though this one lacks a first movement). The humour comes from the juxtaposition of all kinds of diverse quotations, as with EKN itself (though in the latter case there is always Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik running underneath). This video clip has helpful subtitles so you can spot them flying past. Enjoy.

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