Listening Log

Saxophonists

I happen to really like saxophone but have never really sat and listened to the greats.

Charlie Parker

.Absolutely blown away by his style of playing, and the overall style of music, beautiful double bass and piano playing in the pieces. Really interested to read that Parker wanted to study/collaborate with Edgard Varese buy his health issues and subsequent death didn’t allow them to meet. That would have been some work if that had actually happened.

John Coltrane

I was blown away by Charlie Parker but John Coltrane knocked me for six and left me wondering how on earth one man could get so much out of a saxophone. I was listening as I was doing a few household jobs and at one point I swear my jaw dropped. It was the sheer complexity of what he was playing and I didn’t know a saxophone had such a range. Some of the range in what he was playing really did knock me. Such a talent and the fact that he also died so young. I can understand why he was so influential in jazz. Different from Parker but equally as mesmerising.

Michael Brecker

A total contrast to Coltrane and Parker but I really enjoyed his style of play. I love the saxophone anyway but again he really knew what he could get out of the saxophone in a different way. Being more contemporary his style is different but I really like how his playing just flows. This is very laid back, chilled even and I like what he is doing in the songs that I have listened to.

Auxillary instruments of the orchestra

The Piccolo

­čÄ╝Fluttering Birds by Jean Genin

This started off with a military feel to it before the two piccolos joined in. The piccolos are beautiful and they do indeed sound as if they could be fluttering birds talking to one another as they fly. I really like the way the band joins in with the piccolos in parts, it does still sound like it could be a marching piece. When I say military feel maybe this could be played by a marching band. Really enjoyed the piece.

­čÄ╝Herman Beeftink – Fireflies (piccolo and Piano)

A totally different sounding piece here and once again I enjoyed the way it has been presented. This time the piccolo sounded more like a flute until it reached those higher notes. This seemed a romantic piece and together with the piano the effect was gentle and flowing and very very beautiful indeed, I loved this piece

Cor Anglais

­čÄ╝Elliott Carter – Pastoral for English Horn and Piano (1940)

This pieces sounds as if it has been written so that Cor Anglais and piano merge on occasions. The Cor Anglais sounds like it is running through most of its scale repertoire. However I feel that on times the pain is too loud and completely drowns out the Cor Anglais which made it difficult to listen t and I didn’t enjoy it as much.

­čÄ╝Paul Hindemith – Sonata (1941)

Another piece written for Cor Anglais and piano but this time the piano is much gentler allowing for the romantic sound of the Cor Angais to shine through. I thought this was a beautiful piece which was romantic but for some parts had a medieval quality to it.

The Artist as “hero” -The Evolution of Beethoven

Beethoven – Early Period

  • ­čÄ╝Piano Sonata No 8 in C Minor op 13 Pathetique Sonata
  • ­čÄ╝String Quartets Op 18
    • ­čÄ╝String Quartet in F Major
    • ­čÄ╝String Quartet in G Major
    • ­čÄ╝String Quartet in D Major
    • ­čÄ╝String Quartet in C minor
    • ­čÄ╝String Quartet in A Major
    • ­čÄ╝String Quartet in B Flat Major

As I started listening to these I did not realise that I had actually heard Pathetique Sonata before.

These pieces mostly conform to the characteristics of of Classical style of music. The piano piece contains such crisp clear notes and it is very gentle and beautiful, with I would say a romantic feel to them. Form seems rigid and there is no individual expression of the instrument or an emotion in the piece. It is written and musicians just follow what is written.

Beethoven – Middle Period

  • ­čÄ╝Sonata No 9 in. A Major “Kreutzer Sonata” Op 47
  • ­čÄ╝Moonlight Sonata

In these two pieces I could start to hear a slight shift from classical to Romantic. I had heard the Moonlight Sonata before and it is a piece I have always liked but now I know that it belongs to Beethoven . I have always found this a romantic piece with the piano but to me there seems to be a little more expression in this piece not found in earlier period pieces.

With the Sonata I did feel this was more expressive and as I listened I thought I could hear elements of Klezmer music in a few of the motifs. I know I am not phrasing this properly but there seemed to be a Jewish influence just rippling in violin parts.

Beethoven – Late Period

  • ­čÄ╝Symphony Number 9 in D Minor Op 125
  • ­čÄ╝Mass in D Major “Missa Solemnis” Op 123

Both of these pieces are a complete contrast to the previous pieces. Symphony Number 9 has so much passion and grandeur in it which is totally at odd with Beethoven’s earlier pieces and absolutely packs a punch, the added chorale bringing it to a conclusion.

I didn’t like the Missa Solemnis much at all, it felt very miserable to me, maybe due to it being a mass. However it contained a who bunch of expression and feeling which earlier pieces didn’t seem to have.

Conclusion

Listening to these pieces as a whole really shows me that Beethoven’s work changed throughout his life. Starting with the earlier pieces they were simpler. They stuck to the Classical way of presenting music with form and very little to no expression. The music was just written and played, quite devoid of emotion. When I moved onto the middle period I began to feel that something happened to Beethoven and maybe his approach to music was changing. I haven’t read anything on Beethoven to draw this conclusion but I know he did struggle with his hearing. Maybe he thought he could change the way music was written. Whilst these pieces appear to be Classical in their structure when you listen there are to me hints of expression forming in them which change the way the music is presented. Moonlight Sonata seems to be such a romantic piece and there is a little more expression in this piece an I also felt the Kreutzer Sonata had a Jewish feel to it in parts. Beethoven is starting to be influenced by other elements and these are being fed into his music. The late period I know is when Beethoven’s was profoundly deaf. These pieces that I listened to seems to be more emotional and more intense than previous periods. There must have been a frustration in becoming deaf which has made its way into his music. Symphony 9 was completely different from what I had heard before, much more feeling in the music. His frustration at becoming deaf could be deemed to be why its very much more grand. The Missa Solemnis is very dark indeed. I didn’t enjoy it at all but I could hear how different it was, with voices and the tone of it.

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