Sibelius’s 5th Symphony
First movement is very quick, with strings being used to the maximum, very very quickly to mimic the flapping of the wings. This build up with the woodwind before slowing down – could this be the swans taking off.
Delicate pizzicato of strings begins the second movement and combined with the flute and brass sounds very much as if the birds are in flight already with the strings swaying to the flapping of the wings and the swans in the sky, looking beautiful. Strings combine with the woodwind and brass to complement the feeling of air and the majesty of the swan in flight. Dramatic without overdoing it.
Third movement. Strings become quicker and the brass and woodwind are more dominant, whilst you can hear the gentle strings. Again a suggestion of wonder about the swans in flight. Deeper sounding. at one point the strings are so faint – swans in the distance, maybe turning around and coming back. Deeper sounds suggest the majesty of their approach maybe? If this is the case that is when we are moving towards the movement and symphony. Some of the motifs in this section. sound very much like something I have heard before but in a more popular music setting.
Strings playing pizzicato numerous times which I would say adds a delicacy to the piece. Strings do convey the majesty of wings moving in the sky.
Orchestra ebbs and flows during the course but build up to a crescendo in the final minute of the piece. Are the swans landing. Such drama, such majesty and a beautiful beautiful ending.
Nielsen’s 5th Symphony
Completely different feel to this compared with the Sibelius 5th. only has two movements. Beautiful strings opening with bassoon, strings play lightly whilst the orchestra comes in. Compared to Sibelius there seems to be more of the orchestra used.
Going through the 1st movement there begins a tension in the strings and something brewing. the deep strings suggest a seriousness. Midway through the first movement that urgent sounds like a war cry with percussion sounding like an army marching, a sense of doom, there is a motif playing in the strings and I do believe I can hear that in the flute with the percussion still marching on. Then as we move on there seems to be that battle between good and evil.
Second movement starts off with the brass expressing itself and the strings are prominent and ease off to a background where we have flute. Going through there is a sense of urgency in the strings. which is then reflected in the wind instruments, but there is always an underlying tension in the strings. There is a motif I can hear repeated by the wind instruments which sounds like something I have heard in a film score in the past. The instruments all start battling with one another midway though the final movement….it then tails off into a silence only to introduce soft strings again. The instruments all come together to build up into a percussion heavy finale
🎼Edgard Varese – Ameriques
I think this piece certainly goes a long way to fit the dictionary definition of music in that what Varese is creating is almost certainly combining instrumental sounds to produce beauty in the form of a piece of music and it very much expresses emotion, the emotion of a city like New York in the earliest part of the 10920s. The orchestra has been used to its limit to produce these sounds and he has combined the use of a siren in there to coney the price sirens.
In my own personal thoughts and feelings I did say that “you can always discover music in many and varied forms” and this piece fits into that. the dictionary definition could be modified to state that music is the art of combining vocal or instrumental sounds and sounds not made by instrumentation but used to enhance a piece of music and bring it more to life than just using the standard instruments of an orchestra.
🎼Ravel – Bolero
This piece is familiar to me because I remember the way in which it as used in the 1984 Winter Olympics by Torville and Dean and I can remember the way they pirouetted and swayed in tune to the music and its dramatic crescendo. I had, however, never heard the full orchestral version until now.
I think the ostinato makes this piece. As it is being played the different pitches of the instruments are adding to the sound of it, giving the piece its flow. The constant melody being beaten out by the drum lends a regal feel to it whilst not being a march. The orchestra is used in bits and I think this lends itself beautifully to the repeated drum melody. However the pitches of the instruments lend, passion to it and drama, and softness. As the piece moves along and more instruments are performed together the piece takes on much more urgency but with a hint of passion in there I feel. I love the strings and the brass but I have to say that my favourite combination has to be at end when all the instruments are brought together but the percussion takes it to another level entirely, lending a masterful dramatic end to it, as all the instruments stop. Beautiful piece (although I can see Torville and Dean dancing to it as I listened which I am trying to block out but it is hard.)
Suggested listening for Project 2 – Between the Wars
I have taken the time to listen to the suggested pieces in the course materials to give me an idea of the things that were produced at the time
🎼Auric – La Symphony Pastorale Suite
I had no idea that Auric was the man who composed the score for Roman Holiday so that is something I have learnt before listening to this piece. This piece is from a French language film of 1946. It starts dramatically and gets lighter before getting sadder as the music progresses. I did not feel that this was a happy piece of music and I didn’t enjoy it very much. It just had no appeal to me, there was nothing that drew me in.
🎼Albert Roussel – Bacchus et Ariane
This piece started off lively enough but unfortunately the piece progressed I had no idea what on earth the piece was trying to convey. At the beginning I thought it had a western film style of sound with the violins galloping and the brass giving chase but as you get into the piece…where does it go. I could feel no story to it, it seemed messed up and didn’t know what it was doing with itself and I have to say I lost interest. It is rare I lose interest in a piece but I found this a very disjointed listen, at one point it was so quick I was wondering if I was still on the same piece. Sorry just not my thing.
🎼Albert Roussel – Symphony no3 in G Minor
What I heard I do not think was the piece in its entirety. However what I did hear I found in total contrast to the Bachus et Ariane piece. It was beautiful and haunting with dramatic strings. In the minor key there is a hint of melancholia but I felt this piece was more dramatic than melancholic. Beautiful strings were complimented by woodwind. The strings almost felt romantic in parts. At the end of this piece there was such a high pitch to the strings it was a true joy. Much preferred this to his other piece
🎼Igor Stravinsky – Concerto in E-flat Major “Dumbarton Oaks”
I liked this piece. It started out bright and cheerful and in the first movement I did feel that some of it would be suited to being used in period drama from the Victorian/Edwardian Era. There were bright cheerful strings and I sensed a busy but friendly theme. The strings seemed to be dominating this movement. The second movement was denominated by brass and woodwind which led to a more uptempo feel (Allegreto as opposed to the tempo guisto of the first movement). It still had a cheery feel to it, albeit conveyed by the brass and woodwind. I loved the way the movement finished on such a low note – was that a bassoon? The third movement – Con Moto – made the piece that bit quicker and combined the brass, woodwind and strings elegantly and still keeping a cheerful edge to it.
🎼Aaron Copland – Rodeo
Wow this is a very American feeling piece of music, I was almost looking for the stereotypical Western Film and an appearance by John Wayne. Very cheerful in its conception and I quite enjoyed listening to this piece.
🎼Paul Hindemith – Symphonic Metamorphosen
This felt almost regal to me, the brass giving a sense of majesty and importance. I enjoyed this piece as it moved on at pace and seemed to optimise the entire orchestra, in its performance.
🎼Paul Hindemith – Trauermusik
A total contrast to the previous piece I listened to but I found this beautiful. Amazing violin solo and the accompanying strings just gave it a balance. I really enjoyed this.
🎼Arthur Honegger – Pacific 231
I was not overly keen on this piece as I didn’t feel that it knew what it wanted to be or to achieve. I didn’t know how to feel about the piece but I stuck with it but didn’t enjoy it.
🎼Arthur Honegger – Pastorale d’ete
In contrast to the previous piece I thought this was a beautiful expression of summer. I enjoyed this immensely.
🎼Gustav Holst The Planets
Listening to this I realised that some of it was very familiar to me. First Mars, bringer of War was very familiar. This movements sounds particularly warlike with loud strings and brass combining to bring added frame. The brass section in places sounds very menacing and in this I find that truly wonderful. By contrast the second movement – Venus – the Bringer of Peace is just that:Peaceful. This movement is much gentler than Mars and for me it sounds like the gentle strings are heralding the dawning of a new day. The violins coupled with the flutes(?) and then a harp sound to me like the start of a beautiful day. Movement 3 Mercury The Winged Messenger. This feels light, quick and almost childlike with some playful themes. It is a bright section and I think the quickness emphasises his status as winged messenger.
Movement 4 resulted in a I know this but can’t remember where I heard it and I looked it up. I did not realise that the music for the hymn “I vow to thee my country” was from this part of the composition. I have always liked the singing of that song. Triumphant. The rest of the movement feels big, like Jupiter and yes there is a playful and happy theme running through it. Moving to movement 5 and Saturn- The bringer of Old Age. This has a distinctly bleaker feel to the previous pieces with a gentle repetitive motif running though it. It is altogether much sadder and I di believe signifies death because the bell toiling does sound like a death toll.. Movement 6 brings Uranus the Magician. Again a much different movement. I hear slight mischief and playfulness in here. The orchestra builds up to a grand theme which a magician would relish as he displays his best trick. There are also darker elements to the piece on times almost sinister. The final movement – Neptune the Mystic. Now I do believe I have heard this very recently whilst watching a programme about Neptune. This sounds far away, magical and almost twinkly. The resulting combination of all these elements is a totally mystic feel. The gentle voices we hear towards the end are haunting yet add again to the mystic feel
You can hopefully tell that I enjoyed this piece. I did very much and am pleased that I have learnt something new as a result.
🎼Gustav Holst – The Perfect Fool Suite
This piece to me resonated of the court jester running through a myriad of different scenarios. Joking,mishcief, sadness (I heard some very mournful violins). This was okay but didn’t really appeal to me unfortunately
🎼Sir William Walton- Concerto for Viola and orchestra
I cannot pinpoint the exact reasons but I did not enjoy this particular piece, I just could not get any feeling for it.
🎼Ralph Vaughan Williams – The Lark Ascending
A beautiful violin sounding like a bird soaring into the sky and gliding on the air currents. Listening to this piece I felt I was deep in the English Countryside watching the lark playing in the air. A beautiful piece which does sound romantic in places.
🎼Edgard Varese – Ameriques
I have heard this piece before and it does evoke the feeling of being in an American city, as you can hear sirens. I am not a fan of this piece but I do feel that the title perfectly describes its American feel.
🎼Erik Satie – 3 Gymnopedies
I have heard this before and did not realise, and it has left me astounded. I have always liked this when I have heard it and now I know that it is a fairly modern piece and the composers name at last. It is a beautiful piano piece – gentle and calming.
🎼Germaine Tailleferre – Sonata No1 for Violin and Piano
I thought that this was a wonderful piece of music. The violin sounded as if it was utilising the entire range of its strings and the accompanying piano was beautiful and didn’t distract.
🎼Prokofiev – Symphony no1 in D Major
I liked this I found it bright and cheerful
🎼Darius Milhaud – La Creation du monde
My limited French tells me that this translates as the creation of the world. I don’t know but I expected more of this piece, more drama – there wasn’t and I didn’t like it.
🎼Darius Milhaud – La boeuf sur le toit
Not keen on this either. It sounded messy and left me cold. Really had no reaction to this.
🎼Louis Durey – Le Printemps au fond de la mer
This was a surprise as there was a vocal with it. I did not like it though.
🎼Maurice Ravel – Daphnis et Chloe
I felt that this could easily be a ballet. This piece takes you through a whole range of emotions – romance, drama, urgency, calm and some parts which have a religious feel.The final movement with the voices was extremely dramatic. I cannot say I loved it, it was okay.
🎼Francis Poulenc _ Gloria
I was not expecting to hear what I did and I really liked it. The vocals in the piece were amazing and blended in perfectly with the orchestra. It was beautiful.
🎼Francis Poulenc -Sextet for Piano, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Basson and Horn
in complete contrast to the previous piece I didn’t like this at all.
🎼Sir Edward Elgar – Concerto for Cello and Orchestra
Thought this was amazing!!!