Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 2 is a fiery work that captures the Hungarian spirit in a work of virtuoso demands – the violinist has to give us not only the dash but also the reflective in the melody. Brahms regarded the works in this collection as ‘genuine children of the…gypsies…’
it takes the best of the best, starting with the Marschallin’s opening scene with her young lover, Octavian. The night of passion (listen to those horns!) changes to a tender melody as Octavian reappears as the Rosenkavalier, the Knight of the Rose.
This is neither a calm and loving serenade nor a bright morning piece. It’s a piece of a disturbed night. Snatches of melody appear and disappear, and he uses pizzicato on the viola, perhaps to be a guitar. The textures change – perhaps we’re looking at the ever-changing sea with its light and shadows.
In Paul Huang’s performance, the work is transformed from a soprano aria to work for a much lower voice at the opening. It’s not until the repetition (and ornamented) repeat, that the violin part ascends into the stratosphere. It’s an interesting way of making us re-hear a work that may be sometimes so familiar that we don’t hear it at all.
In this performance, our two lutes accompany a singer in Johannes Bedyngham’s Fortune alas, a plea to Lady Fortune to be kinder. He asks why she should be wasting his life by keeping him in prison and accuses her of liking the fact that she can bring a man from success to failure in an instant.
Maxwell Davies examines the string quartet as an architectural structure on his commission by Naxos Records. He includes snippets of the nine earlier quartets in the Quartet No. 10, the final work in the project. Are you able to discover them?
The Overture is not what we would expect from the orchestral concert overtures, which always seems to be telling you a story. This overture seems to place you in the middle of the action immediately, constantly asking for your attention.
Pablo Sarasate (1844-1908) was one of the great late 19th century violinists. As a virtuoso, he was known not only for his faultless execution but also for his purity of tone. He gradually began to write his own music and in 1898 published his second volume of Spanish Dances for violin and piano.