Arnold Schoenberg, A Survivor from Warsaw, Op. 46. Performed by Erich Leinsdorf.

schoenberg

Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep while listening to some Debussy followed by Schoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw. The Debussy will lull you into a peaceful, somnolent state. Then A Survivor from Warsaw will come on and it…will…scare…the…living…hell…out…of…you. (But I guess that’s sort of the point of it, isn’t it?) I learned this from personal experience.

Buy the album here.

(This was originally published on my leipzig48.com blog “Dancing about Architecture” in 2006.)

Arnold Schoenberg, A Survivor from Warsaw, Op. 46. Performed by Erich Leinsdorf.

Igor Stravinsky, Le Sacre du Printemps; Berliner Philharmoniker and Herbert von Karajan

Igor Stravinsky, Le Sacre du Printemps: Part I –  2. The Harbingers of Spring, Dance of the Adolescents.  Performed by the Berliner Philharmoniker and Herbert von Karajan.

Karajan

This caused riots in Paris?  In Paris??  I guess times have changed.  This almost sounds like it could be from a Disney movie. It would fit right in with parts of The Lion King.  My little nieces would love dancing along to this piece.  Seriously, I do know that this was featured in Fantasia (wasn’t it?).  I can’t listen to it without picturing dinosaurs lifting up their heads and looking around.  Anyway, I guess that’s what Small meant when he wrote about “this ability of our society to absorb into itself and neutralize revolt that has characterized the history of music […] in our century”.

Buy the album here.

(This post was originally posted on my leipzig48.com blog “Dancing about Architecture”.)

Igor Stravinsky, Le Sacre du Printemps; Berliner Philharmoniker and Herbert von Karajan

Claude Debussy, Préludes, Book 1: X. Profondement Calme (…The Absorbed Cathedral). Performed by Noriko Ogawa.

Claude Debussy, Préludes, Book 1: X. Profondement Calme (…The Absorbed Cathedral).  Performed by Noriko Ogawa.

This is a solo piano piece with a binary, ABA1B1, form.  Its tempo is marked as “profoundly calm”.  Most of it is pianissimo (una corda, even), but there are some louder bits and accents.  It’s basically, in my opinion, a chordal study.  It reminds me a lot of Chopin’s Prelude in C Major (Op. 28, No. 20) and Chorale from the Nocturne (Op. 37, No. 1).

Like the Chopin Chorale that I just mentioned, I would almost consider this a religious work even though it’s not commonly considered so (as far as I know).  I liked this one so much that I went out and bought the score for it and spent a lot of time reading through it.

(This post was originally posted on my leipzig48.com blog “Dancing about Architecture”.)

Claude Debussy, Préludes, Book 1: X. Profondement Calme (…The Absorbed Cathedral). Performed by Noriko Ogawa.

Claude Debussy, Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune.

Claude Debussy, Prélude à  l’après-midi d’un faune. Performed by Michael Tilson Thomas and the London Symphony Orchestra.

debussy

This is a piece for orchestra played at a moderate to slow tempo, perhaps adagio.  At the beginning a woodwind (a clarinet or a flute, maybe?) is the featured instrument.  Woodwinds play featured solo parts throughout much of the work.  Also, there are some nice bits near the beginning played by the trombones (or maybe baritones).  Somewhat near the end of the piece, a solo violin plays a lovely part.  But, mostly, it’s just the full orchestra painting lovely swathes of color, with gentle crescendos and decrescendos.

The woodwind part at the beginning of this sounds an awful lot like the clarinet intro to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (was Gershwin influenced by this work?).  Actually, a lot of this, the overall orchestral texture, in particular, reminds me of parts of Rhapsody in Blue.  I guess, judging from its title, that this work is meant to be programmatic (do the solo woodwinds represent the fawn?), but I just like its lush, gorgeous sound. .  This was recorded in 2001, when Michael Tilson Thomas was already musical director of the San Francisco Symphony.  I would like to have heard him conduct it with the SFS.

Buy the album here.

(This posting originally appeared in 2006 in my leipzig48.com blog “Dancing about Architecture”.)

Claude Debussy, Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune.