Category Archives: Nuts and bolts

Haydn’s Music- Bathed in Fire and Blood

(Disclaimer- I’ve broken my no-swearing rule in this post. Apologies for any offense. I think Haydn’s music merits a bit of good profanity) Long-time Vftp readers will know that I’m quite the Haydn aficionado. Last Saturday, I broke a long, heart-wrenching dry spell since my last performance of a Haydn symphony with a very satisfying […]

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AV2233

Explore the Score- Robert Schumann, Symphony no. 1 in B-flat Major, “Spring

‘When his time to reach for the stars had arrived, Schumann’s personal language was fully formed, and just as the subtlety of his piano style had been an immense asset for the songwriter, so the expressiveness of his vocal melody was a bridge to the ‘voices of men and angels’ he imagined he heard in […]

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The worst conducting advice in the history of the universe

Several months ago I was sipping a flat white in a café with a friend and former student who was describing the teaching methods of one of America’s more eminent conducting pedagogues- a gentleman I’ve never met nor observed. Apparently one of his favorite aphorisms these days is that, when conducting, “the camera is always […]

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Session Diaries- Bobby and Hans vol. 3 with Orchestra of the Swan, Monday morning…

Monday, 3 December, 2012 Session 1- 10:00 AM Scheduled: Schumann- Symphony no. 4, mvts 1 and 2 Recording is like nothing else- getting great material on disc requires a rather unforgiving balance of precision and passion. To get the kind of passion and energy that makes a recorded performance leap out of the speakers, the […]

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Concert Review- Birmingham Post, Orchestra of the Swan at Civic Hall, “Spring Sounds 2012 Finale- The Trumpet Shall Sound”

A review from senior critic Christopher Morley at the Birmingham Post of last week’s Orchestra of the Swan performance in Stratford-upon-Avon featuring trumpet virtuoso, Simon Desbruslais. For space reasons, the original review was slightly cut for the print edition, omitting some key detail, so, with the author’s permission, we reproduce his complete, original text here. […]

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Which would you rather conduct? Or: Joining the Mozart Protection Society

Eighteen months ago in a program planning session, this sentence filled me with dread: “How about a clarinet concerto?” Don’t get me wrong- I love the clarinet as much as the next guy, but, in my experience, nobody ever really means “how about a clarinet concerto?” They almost always mean “how about the clarinet concerto?” […]

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Explore the Score- Bobby Schumann busts out the Klangfarbenmelodie

Klangfarbenmelodie, or “tone colour melody” is one of those 2 dollar words we all learned in undergraduate music history class. Simply described, in Klangfarbenmelodie, a single melodic line jumps from instrument to instrument, creating a more-or-less constantly varied coloration of the melodic line. It’s a word we normally associate with the composers of the New […]

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A spring cleaning for the Goldberg Variations

Last month, my colleagues in Ensemble Epomeo and I had a chance to dust off our scores to Dmitri Sitkovetsky’s wonderful string trio arrangement of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Coming back to this most special of pieces was as inspiring, rewarding and humbling as ever, and I’ve been meaning to share a few thoughts about it […]

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Whatever happened to good old C major, anyway?

In the comments for my previous blog post on the Real Top 20 C Major Symphonies of All Time“, I assembled a list of the greatest “C minor symphonies that end in C major.” The first four pieces I thought of were   Beethoven 5 Brahms 1 Bruckner 8 and Shostakovich 8 When I saw […]

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Explore the score- Gal Symphony no. 4 “Sinfonia Concertante”

(First time using “Explore the score?” Just click on the hyperlinks within the text to hear the musical excerpts.)   “Up to the present, however, Brahms has maintained his place as the “last classical composer,” for no one has yet come to replace him.” Hans Gál- writing in  his biographical study, “Johannes Brahms”   Hans […]

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Beethoven 9 Pontifications, part II. Decoding those pesky metronome markings

The metronome mark  problem. If you’ve been reading the classical music press over the last month or so, you would swear up and down that the great Riccardo Chailly had personally discovered the metronome markings  in the Beethoven symphonies. Not so! It turns out those markings have been in the music for years, that a […]

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LvB 9- Concert done, pontifications begin. About those famous sextuplets

Apologies to Vftp fans who have been virtuously checking their Google Reader for new posts, only be to repeatedly disappointed. It has been a very busy few weeks, to say the least. Of course, during busy periods like this there always ends up being a tragic imbalance between a wealth of things to talk about […]

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Nuts and bolts of Beethoven 9- Finding the Fantastic Four

I’m in the midst of doing the bowings for a performance I’m conducting of Beethoven 9 in November. It’s been just over ten years since I last conducted the work- during that time I’ve conducted all of his other symphonies several times, and it feels long overdue for me to get another crack at the […]

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