J. Haydn, Sonata in E minor Hob.:XVI/34
1. Presto. 2. Adagio. 3. Molto vivace.
R. Schumann, Romance, Op. 28 no. 2 in F sharp major
R. Schumann - F. Liszt, Widmung. Liebeslied (S. 566)
R. Wagner - F. Liszt, Isolde's Liebestod
S. Prokofiev, Sonata no. 7 Op. 83
1. Allegro inquieto. 2. Andante caloroso. 3. Precipitato.
J. Haydn, Sonata in E minor, Hob. XVI/34
Franz Joseph Haydn’s keyboard sonatas span over 40 years of his creative life. The total is still uncertain since new ones are periodically discovered while others, especially early ones, are found to be mis-attributed or spurious; the number hovers around 60. Haydn composed his first sonatas, up to the early 1770s, for the harpsichord, as evidenced by the absence of dynamic markings. In 1773,Haydn published three sets of six sonatas for either piano or harpsichord that were characterized by florid ornamentation, distinguishing them from those of Mozart.
The Piano Sonata No. 53 in E minor, Hob XVI:34 is from three sonatas published in 1783. This work is the last minor-key sonata the composer wrote and, fittingly, is often seen as one of the first sonatas of Haydn’s later period. With its syncopations, widely spaced Alberti basses, and double-note polyphony, the presto first movement is one of the more technically challenging movements in the Haydn sonatas. From the outset, its quasi-operatic dramatic intensity is established through the use of pithy phrases that are punctuated by fermatas.
In the adagio middle movement, Haydn simulates the coloratura technique of a vocal virtuoso. The bassline accompaniment is sparse against the right hand’s aria-like phrases, which abound with filigree passagework, and drops out altogether in much of the development. Because of the relative independence of the treble line from the strictures of the bass, the performer is freer to experiment with judiciously timed rubato than is usual in Haydn. The movement ends rhetorically in the manner of a French ouverture, with sharp chords punctuated by rests; the tonality does not resolve, reverting to E minor in preparation for the finale.
The tempo marking of the last movement, Molto vivace, is a strange one for Haydn, who normally would use presto for a quick finale with a 2/4 key signature. The innocentemente indication that appears beneath the tempo designation may be a clue to Haydn’s intentions, implying that though the mood is “very lively,” the performer’s overall focus should be on earnestly underscoring the melody rather than on pure speed. In form, the movement is a set of double variations, minore followed by maggiore, one of Haydn’s favourite structural devices. In content, the treble briskly skips with childlike simplicity while the relentless Alberti basses impart a rustic energy. From critics-ear.com : Classical Music Reviews by Joseph Renouf
R. Schumann, Romance in F sharp major, Op. 28, No. 2
Among the most popular of Schumann's compositions for the piano is the F sharp major Romance of his op. 28 set, composed during the year leading up to his marriage to the virtuoso pianist Clara Wieck. The middle of a set of three, it is framed by a boisterous piece in B flat minor and a dry, contrapuntal finale. The F sharp Romance, however, is a superb example of Romantic lyricism, both intimate and profound. Written partially on three staves as opposed to the traditional two so as to make the melodic line more visible, its main melody is refreshingly simple in its construction. Even its harmonic accompaniment, venturing only briefly into the key of the dominant, is uncomplicated. Furthermore, the melody's limited compass as well as its placement in the middle of the harmony and its physical position on the keyboard allow it to sing out above the busy arpeggios that accompany it.
R. Schumann - F. Liszt, Widmung
This is a piano transcription by Liszt of one of Schumann's best-loved songs - written, as were so many of his Lieder - in 1840, the year Robert Schumann married Clara Wieck. The text is by Friederich Rückert and runs:
"You are my soul, my heart, my ecstasy and my pain
You are my world in which I live,
my heaven into which I am suspended,
my good spirit, my better self..."
The young Latvian pianist Andrejs Osokins has established himself as brilliant pianist with a growing international reputation.
Andrejs, now 29, was accepted by the Latvian Academy of Music to study piano in 2003 where he won the Yamaha Scholarship Award. Shortly afterwards he moved to England to continue his studies at Trinity College of Music, where he received both a Licentiate and Fellowship Diploma, along with the Trinity College Music Competition prize. In 2008, Andrejs joined the Royal Academy of Music's postgraduate programme under Hamish Milne, where he has won both the Lillian Davies and Christian Carpenter Piano Recital Prizes.
He has become an accomplished competitor in international piano competitions where he has picked up numerous prizes and awards. Andrejs is now a regular soloist, playing with prestigious orchestras at the world's top recital venues, including London's Wigmore Hall, Westminster Cathedral, St-Martin-in-the-Fields and Draper's Hall, the Birmingham Symphony Hall, La Monnaie in Brussels, Gasteig in Munich, the Great Guild Hall of Riga and Rachmaninov Hall in Moscow.
BBC Leeds Piano Competition Final
Programme Notes (cont.)
R. Wagner - F. Liszt, Isolde's Liebestod
Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner shared a mutual admiration for each other’s work. Wagner openly admitted that Liszt was his only living contemporary who had an influence on his own music. Liszt, on one occasion, had come to Wagner’s rescue, conducting the premiere of Lohengrin in Wiemer in 1850 while its composer suffered in political exile because of his part in the Dresden uprising. When Wagner passed away in Venice in 1883, it was an emotional blow to the aged Liszt and not surprisingly wrote four compositions in memory of his friend and colleague. Liszt also showed his appreciation of his friend and colleague much earlier by transcribing selections from his operas for piano solo.
Interestingly, Liszt chose only one excerpt from the revolutionary Tristan und Isolde to transform into a piano solo: the oft-performed and intensely dramatic Liebestod from the opera’s final scene.It comes at the very close of the opera as Isolde grieves over the body of her love, Tristan. She sings, "How softly and gently he smiles, how sweetly his eyes open..."
The music starts off gloomy and sounding quite native to the piano, almost like a passage from one of Liszt's darker late compositions. But shortly it begins to yearn and fill with regret as notes shimmer and search, the sound of Wagner's orchestration coming to mind. As the emotions build the music struggles to explode with the impassioned love theme. Finally the climactic moment comes: It is sad, it is ecstatic, it is tragic, but it is beautiful. Then the music fades, and at this point in the opera Isolde falls gently onto the body of Tristan. From classicalconnect.com
Sergei Prokofiev, Piano Sonata no. 7 in B flat major, Op. 83
The nine piano sonatas of Prokofiev are the most significant body of work in this genre of the 20th century. Composed between 1909 and 1947, these scores have been compared to the piano sonatas of Beethoven with their combination of Classicism and complexity. Certainly Beethoven was relevant to the later sonatas. According to Prokofiev's second wife Mira Mendelssohn, in the summer of 1939 the composer had read musicologist Romain Rolland's book on Beethoven and was strongly influenced by Rolland's insightful commentary when composing the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Sonatas - all of which were written simultaneously over the following years.
Prokofiev finished the Seventh Sonata in 1942 in Tbilisi. (The composer had been evacuated from Moscow after Germany attacked the Soviet Union.) The sonata was given its premiere on January 18, 1943 at Moscow's Hall of the Columns by the brilliant young piano virtuoso Sviatoslav Richter. (Prokofiev would dedicate his Ninth Sonata - his final completed work in this genre - to Richter.) Richter has written that the sonata is a portrait of disorder, uncertainty, and the rage of death dealing forces. The work's conclusion - in Richter's view - "expands into a gigantic, life affirming force." The sonata was awarded the Stalin Prize - the first of numerous such awards the composer would receive.
In contrast to the neo-classicism of some of the composer's earlier sonatas, the three wartime sonatas are sometimes violent and agonizing in their musical turbulence. The Seventh Sonata opens with an Allegro Inquieto. An agitated opening subject leads to a quieter Andantino section. After a fierce development section, the two principal themes are reversed in the recapitulation. The central Andante Caloroso is hypnotic, almost expressionistic but with a sense of unease. This movement contains some of Prokofiev's most beautiful writing for the keyboard. The Precipitato finale is often fierce. This music clearly speaks of the sounds of war and danger. The movement concludes with the ultimate rapid fire virtuosic display in a clear and affirmative B flat major. These last pages are a daunting technical challenge to any pianist who essays this monumental score! From lawrencebudmen.com