Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bach/ Biber/ Tartini: Max Rostal et al., 1957

I've been trying to explore classical music lately, mostly small combo pieces and music for strings. I've been having trouble consistently finding things that I like because the genre is deep in a way that's so foreign to me. I haven't figured out how to spot the albums I like because so many of the great composers and performers were so prolific. Until you listen to a record, you have no idea how it will sound unless you know the composition ahead of time. If anyone has any recommendations based on the clip below, please let me know.

This week's album contains pieces by three composers: Sonata in E Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach, Passacaglia by H.I.F. von Biber, and Concerto in G Minor by Giuseppe Tartini. Listening to Bach's sonata was something of a breakthrough for me because it was the first time I ever enjoyed the harpsichord. I usually think its sound is less refined and expressive than other instruments', and it doesn't help that the volume and timbre of each note are fixed regardless of how hard you hit the keys. When a harpsichord is high in the mix it's in your face for the whole song. In the sonata, the harpsichord and the cello lay down a foundation for the violin and the rich tones of the harpsichord blend into the background smoothly. The violin part is very striking and the harpsichord and cello create a lush texture throughout the song.

Max Rostal, violin on Passacaglia
Max Rostal , violin; Frank Pelleg, Harpsichord; Antonio Tusa, Cello on Sonata
Max Rostal, violin; Winterthur Symphony Orchestra, Walter Goehr, conductor on Concerto

Sonata in E Minor 1st movement by Easy Jams

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