Dvořák (1841 - 1904)
Purcell (1659 - 1695) arr. Grimwood
Chacony in G minor
Beethoven (1770 – 1827)
'Moonlight' Sonata Op. 27 No. 2 in C# minor
1 Adagio sostenuto
3 Presto agitato
Schumann (1810 - 1856) arr. Kirchner
Farhad Poupel (alive and kicking)
Fantasy on One Note
Scriabin (1872 - 1915)
Sonata no. 2 in G# minor 'Ocean' (Sonata-Fantasy)
Lyapunov (1857 - 1918)
Sonata in F minor Op. 27
Purcell's perenially popular Chacony is originally for Viol consort or string orchestra. I love the piece and decided to give it a decidedly nineteenth-century treatment as a solo piano concert piece
Beethoven named this most famous of his piano works as Sonata quasi una fantasia, and the title by which it is known today was invented some years after his death. The Sonata is unusual in a number of ways: All three movements share a tonality; rather than a contrast, the trajectory is one of intensification with each movement being faster than its predecessor, culminating in about the most furious finale that Beethoven ever conceived. Despite, or because of the work's tremendous popularity, Beethoven wrote to his pupil Carl Czerny “Everybody is always talking about the C-sharp minor sonata. Surely I’ve written better things. Why does everybody play it?”
And yet, we still do!
This Gorgeous transcription of the song, Mondnacht from Schumann's Liederkreis Op. 39 is by Theodor Kirchner, who probably knew the Schumanns. Here is the text of the original song, translated into English
t was as though Heaven
Had softly kissed the Earth,
So that she in a gleam of blossom
Had only to dream of him.
The breeze passed through the fields,
The corn swayed gently to and fro,
The forests murmured softly,
The night was so clear with stars.
And my soul spread
Her wings out wide,
Flew across the silent land,
As though flying home.
Translation © Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder, published by Faber, provided courtesy of Oxford Lieder
Farhad Poupel, who lives in Esfahan, wrote this Fantasia in 2019. Like the work by Purcell it share's a title with, Poupel ingeniously weaves his story around a single note that tolls throughout. It has a very satisfying stylistic synthesis of East and West and has become one of my favourite piano pieces.
Scriabin, a composer who's importance in the progress of Twentieth Century music has yet to be fully appreciated, composed 10 completed Sonatas which encompass the entire gigantic stylistic development of his short life.
Scriabin was eloquent about the inspirations for many of his works, and we therefore know that his Second Sonata, the Sonata-Fantasy, wass inspired by the ocean following a voyage on the Baltic Sea.
Of the sea he wrote;
“Everything glowed with magnificent majesty on the horizon. First a clear purple, then it turned rose-colored, and finally silvery flecks stained the surface of the sea…. The green of the sea blended with the blue reflection of the sky. There was such a play of colors and shades as I've never seen. It was a picture, a triumph of colors, a festival of truth.”
Of his Sonata he wrote;
“…the first movement represents the quiet of a southern night on the seashore; the development is the dark agitations of the deep, deep sea. The E-major middle section shows caressing moonlight coming after the first darkness of the night. The second movement, Presto, represents the vast expanse of ocean stormily agitated.”
Lyapunov - composer, pianist, conductor, pedagogue - is rarely heard nowadays, yet he was a person of great importance in the canon of Russian music. As a composer, he very consciously took up the mantles of both Liszt and Balakirev, and his style is highly reminiscent of the Mighty Handful, with flavours of the Orient and reminiscences of Russian chant. He adheres to the model of Liszt's B minor Sonata in which multiple movements are joined together into one continuous flow of music.