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my first performance in thirty years

keberoxu 03 Aug 20 - 01:48 PM
keberoxu 03 Aug 20 - 02:05 PM
keberoxu 03 Aug 20 - 02:14 PM
keberoxu 03 Aug 20 - 02:58 PM
Helen 03 Aug 20 - 05:06 PM
keberoxu 03 Aug 20 - 05:28 PM
keberoxu 03 Aug 20 - 06:32 PM
keberoxu 03 Aug 20 - 08:25 PM
leeneia 04 Aug 20 - 01:08 AM
JennieG 04 Aug 20 - 01:37 AM
leeneia 04 Aug 20 - 12:08 PM
leeneia 05 Aug 20 - 11:37 PM
Jack Campin 06 Aug 20 - 08:11 AM
Steve Shaw 06 Aug 20 - 09:31 AM
Steve Shaw 06 Aug 20 - 09:45 AM
GUEST,keberoxu 06 Aug 20 - 03:05 PM
leeneia 07 Aug 20 - 01:16 PM
keberoxu 08 Aug 20 - 02:56 PM
leeneia 08 Aug 20 - 05:54 PM
keberoxu 16 Aug 20 - 02:36 PM
Helen 16 Aug 20 - 04:17 PM
Jack Campin 16 Aug 20 - 05:25 PM
GUEST,keberoxu 16 Aug 20 - 06:09 PM
Jack Campin 17 Aug 20 - 04:03 AM
Waddon Pete 17 Aug 20 - 07:45 AM
Mo the caller 17 Aug 20 - 08:39 AM
leeneia 17 Aug 20 - 10:58 AM
keberoxu 18 Aug 20 - 11:04 AM
banjoman 21 Aug 20 - 07:02 AM
Mrrzy 21 Aug 20 - 08:45 AM
open mike 23 Aug 20 - 01:31 AM
keberoxu 25 Aug 20 - 09:25 PM
JennieG 26 Aug 20 - 02:08 AM
keberoxu 09 Sep 20 - 08:42 PM
keberoxu 11 Sep 20 - 11:49 AM
keberoxu 26 Sep 20 - 06:22 PM
keberoxu 27 Sep 20 - 03:40 PM
keberoxu 30 Sep 20 - 03:12 PM
leeneia 01 Oct 20 - 01:52 PM
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Subject: my first performance in thirty years
From: keberoxu
Date: 03 Aug 20 - 01:48 PM

Well, it isn't much. It isn't even public, speaking strictly.

Four of us are patients in a clinic and,
each of us being classically trained,
we have been reading through classical music together --
we never knew each other before being admitted here.

The youngest of the lot, the violinist, will soon be discharged,
as it is time for school, to which this musician will return.
We hope to see our fellow patient off, when the time comes,
by performing at the clinic together, and our audience will be
the staff and our fellow patients.
(Due to the pandemic, we can't have visitors / guests here.)

In truth the other three musicians (including the violinist)
are all a lot younger than I am, and their technique
is reasonably up to speed, they play often enough,
even if they are not music majors (they aren't)
as I was at their age.

Me, I play the piano part, and for the last thirty years
the only keyboards I have touched have been for computers
(I did learn touch-typing in my youth as well).

So here we are,
practicing the Theme and Variations from
Franz Schubert's Trout Quintet -- just one movement.
It doesn't take long, but it is a lot of work to prepare.
My technique is SO bad.

I have an excuse for the dirty little tricks I am using,
abbreviating the piano part to make it easier to play.
This piece is a quintet -- we're a quartet.
The fifth musical part, the missing part,
is a double-bass viol -- we don't have that player.
I'm using my left hand, at the piano keyboard,
to hit the bass notes, filling in for the missing player,
while my right hand fakes the piano part,
and when the double-bass viol drops out,
then my left hand can grab onto the rest of the piano part.
So it isn't strictly what Schubert wrote,
and the purists would throw a tantrum;
but it makes it possible
for the four of us to play this quintet
and for it to sound good, if not magnificent.


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: keberoxu
Date: 03 Aug 20 - 02:05 PM

Schubert's music is based on a charming little song he wrote earlier.
And, as you are entitled to my opinion,
this is what I think of the words (by Grillparzer):

this is a truly lousy lyric.

DIE FORELLE

by Franz Grillparzer

In einem Bächlein helle,
Da schoß in froher Eil
Die launischer Forelle
Vorüber, wie ein Pfeil.
Ich stand an dem Gestade
Und sah, in süßer Ruh',
Des muntern Fischleins Bade
Im klaren Bächlein zu.

Ein Fischer mit der Rute
Wohl an dem Ufer stand,
Und sah's mit kaltem Blute
Wie sich das Fischlein wand.
So lang dem Wasser Helle,
So dacht' ich, nicht gebricht,
So fängt er die Forelle
Mit seiner Angel nicht.

[this stanza was suppressed, not set to music]
So scheu'st auch manche Schöne
Im vollen Strom der Zeit
Und sieht nicht die Sirene
Die ihr im Wirbel dräut.
Sie folgt dem Drang der Liebe;
Und eh' sie sich's versieht,
So wird das Bächlein trübe
Und ihre Unschuld flieht.

Doch endlich ward dem Diebe
Die Zeit zu lang; er macht
Das Bächlein tückisch trübe:
Und eh' ich es gedacht,
So zuckte seine Rute;
Das Fischlein zappelt dran;
Und ich mit regem Blute
Sah die Betrogne an.

[Schubert omitted this last stanza]
Ihr, die ihr noch am Quelle
Der sichern Jugend weilt,
Denkt doch an die Forelle:
Seht ihr Gefahr, so eilt!
Meist fehlt ihr nur aus Mangel
Der Klugheit; Mädchen, seht
Verführer mit der Angel --
Sonst blutet ihr zu spät.

(poem published 1785, in Karlsruhe.)


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: keberoxu
Date: 03 Aug 20 - 02:14 PM

At Schubert's untimely early death, the same poet, Grillparzer,
wrote the inscription for his tomb.

Die Tonkunst begrub hier einen reichen Besitz,
Aber noch viel schönere Hoffnungen.


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: keberoxu
Date: 03 Aug 20 - 02:58 PM

If you want to know what
the Theme and Variations from the "Forellen - Quintette"
sound like --

although, we will never in a hundred years
sound as good as this --

here is a filmed performance.


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: Helen
Date: 03 Aug 20 - 05:06 PM

Thanks for telling us about this performance. Having the opportunity to not only play your piano, but to play with a small group and work towards a performance is ... well, I can only imagine that it is bringing joy into your life.

Please keep us up to date on the progress and also let us know when you all perform the piece and how it goes.

Music is a blessing.


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: keberoxu
Date: 03 Aug 20 - 05:28 PM

I wonder if any animated cartoon film artist has given
the Disney Fantasia treatment
to Schubert's theme and variations on "Die Forelle" [The Trout].
Maybe it has happened already and I am unaware?
I suppose I ought to look up Schubert at the IMDB website.

The very young colleague who plays violin in our ensemble
took one look at Variation I, and got downright indignant!
In this one, the piano takes the song melody/theme,
and the strings either support or ornament the music.
The violinist, in this one, is required by the composer
to scoot their fingers up the neck practically to the bridge
in order to make the shrill squeaky little trilling ornaments.
What this has to do with sound effects for a bucolic fishing scene
I could not say, so I wondered myself:
are these bird calls? are they mosquitoes?
The indignant violinist, who has a dry sense of humor
and a deadpan delivery, quickly volunteered an opinion:
the little fishy has been caught and is already on the hook,
and that god-awful violin noise is the fish, shrieking for help!

And that's only the first of five variations.

It is in Variation III that I meet my personal battlefield,
in which the piano takes off like a jet plane,
and streams of thirty-second notes fill the piece from start to finish. This is all in the highest registers of the keyboard,
where one's playing is fully exposed and every mistake can be heard.
The theme, in this Variation, is taken up by the cello and string bass; and, especially with that double-bass hamming up the melody,
it sounds less like a little trout than a sporting leviathan,
a whale splashing around, say, off the island of Dominica in the Caribbean, where sperm whales like to raise their young.
While that commotion in the piano sounds less like a babbling brook with a little trout in it, than it does
like a school of dolphins performing acrobatics at sea. It's hilarious. I think that Variation alone should have an animated cartoon.

Then comes Variation IV, and WHAM! We dive into the minor key
and play this loud fast melodramatic theatrical-sounding thing.
And Schubert, at this point, cannot leave well enough alone,
and he starts going through all these switches from minor to major and back to minor, and changing keys every four bars or so ...
until we come back to the babbling brook and the trout.


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: keberoxu
Date: 03 Aug 20 - 06:32 PM

Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart.

My mistake -- it is he who wrote the poem "Die Forelle,"
not Franz Grillparzer
(who did indeed write Schubert's epitaph, though).

When I have enough time,
a future post to this thread
will submit something in the way of an English translation
so that everyone who doesn't have German
can share my disappointment (okay, disgust) in the text.


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: keberoxu
Date: 03 Aug 20 - 08:25 PM

This English translation is a patchwork.
This is because composer Schubert set three of the five stanzas above,
and singable translations exist, obviously,
taking only the musical setting into account
and ignoring the other two stanzas.

This post will include a singable English translation, for which
one Frederic Field Bullard takes the credit (c. 1904).


THE TROUT

Down in a brook swift-running
A trout both small and wise
Did dart with happy cunning,
As swift as arrow flies.
Upon the bank I laid me,
And watched, with sweet content,
The waters, cool and shady;
The trout, on pleasure bent.

With rod and line an angler
A-fishing came that way,
And, cruelly exulting,
Saw where the troutlet lay.
'If I am not mistaken,'
Quoth I, 'the brook's so clear,
The trout will ne'er be taken,
Tho' long he persevere.'

[suppressed verse]
In the stream of life,
Many fair young things dart past,
Unaware that a siren
Menaces them from a whirlpool.
Before they are aware of it,
The attraction of love draws them in,
And once the water is muddied,
Their innocence is gone.

At last the persecutor
Stepped down the bank, and stirred
And dimmed the crystal water,
When, quicker than a word,
His cruel rod was bending,
The trout had seized the bait,
And I, with grief heart-rending,
Beheld its cruel fate.

[Schubert did not set this stanza]
Remember the trout, young ladies,
As in the heedless confidence of your youth
You dally at the wellsprings of life:
Run away at the first sign of danger!
Lack of prudence often results in
The shedding of innocent blood.
Before it is too late, maidens,
Beware the fisherman.


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: leeneia
Date: 04 Aug 20 - 01:08 AM

Congratulations, keb, on being part of a performing musical group. There's nothing like playing music with others to make the blood sing in your veins - no pun intended.

Don't worry about the missing double-bass player. It's better to play the way you can than to let the music die by going unplayed.


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: JennieG
Date: 04 Aug 20 - 01:37 AM

Well done, and congratulations - I admire you!


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: leeneia
Date: 04 Aug 20 - 12:08 PM

Tough being the one who has to tell the young violinist that sometimes somebody else gets the lead. Maybe her therapist should be the one to tell her. :-)

Maybe nobody should say anything and let her conclude that it's Schubert's fault.


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: leeneia
Date: 05 Aug 20 - 11:37 PM

Thanks for the link, keb. It's a beautiful piece, and listening to it will improve your playing. And I don't think it would hurt a bit if you slowed it down some.

Do you have a date for playing it?


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Aug 20 - 08:11 AM

Just listened to it again (Clifford Curzon and strings from the Vienna Octet). Apart from in the slow movement, I can't hear anywhere that the bowed sustain of a double bass is significant. An electric bass guitar would work just as well.


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Aug 20 - 09:31 AM

I'm a big fan of a few of Schubert's late pieces. I love the last three piano sonatas and the String Quintet in C. I love the driving force of the last symphony but I've always had a blind spot when it comes to the Unfinished, Death And The Maiden and the Trout Quintet. For really nice, bubbling troutiferous music, there's the fourth impromptu of his D899 set. Unlike Mozart, who fitted a whole musical life into 35 short years, I feel that Schubert, who died at 31 of syphilis after a lot of messing about with sex workers, was on the brink of greatness rather than already great. Of course, his songs are wonderful, but I don't speaka da lingo...


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Aug 20 - 09:45 AM

I should also have mentioned the two song cycles Die schöne Müllerin and Winterreise, and the Wanderer Fantasy for piano as among my favourite Schubert pieces.


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: GUEST,keberoxu
Date: 06 Aug 20 - 03:05 PM

Lining up a date to perform, rather than rehearse,
is a challenge in itself.
It's easy for us to agree to rehearse in the evenings
when all the staff (except nursing for the clinic)
have gone home for the day,
and that one room with the grand piano is vacant.

Putting on something for our fellow clinic patients
is a different matter,
and we have roughly seven or eight days to make it happen
before the violinist's discharge.
It still isn't a set date.
Knowing how things get worked out when they are
activities outside the therapeutic schedule,
if it does happen it will be close to the last minute.


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: leeneia
Date: 07 Aug 20 - 01:16 PM

I bet your fellow patients enjoy listening to you rehearse. Think how nice it is to be walking down a hall and to hear the sound of real people playing live music.


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: keberoxu
Date: 08 Aug 20 - 02:56 PM

Leeneia, what you say is true,
as all the comments from said fellow patients have been positive.

Apart from getting everything agreed to
-- it will happen this coming week, it's just going to be loosely done --
the obstacle is the social distancing thing.
As it happens, the room with the decent piano
(as opposed to three rooms with god-awful pianos)
is one of the rooms with a ZOOM set-up,
and that might get thrown into the mix,
keeping the ZOOM circulation amongst the hospital/clinic community network.

I even heard muttering about finding a portable electronic keyboard
that could be set up out of doors,
and when it was muttered in my direction,
I replied,
Well, it would be a first for me, but I'm game
if everybody else wants it that way.

Anything could happen.


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: leeneia
Date: 08 Aug 20 - 05:54 PM

That is so nice, keb. It sounds like the facility management is really behind you.


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: keberoxu
Date: 16 Aug 20 - 02:36 PM

The performance took place on Thursday 13 August 2020
in the room with the decent [and long-suffering] grand piano.

As a performance by patients for patients at the clinic,
the evening had a mixed program[me].

The evening opened with someone singing an excerpt
from Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet,
'your children are not your children' etc.
Another performer followed with some
improvisations at the piano, MOR-jazz style.
Then:

Duet for violin and viola, classical composer no one has ever heard of.
Both musicians were a bundle of nerves, and afterwards,
the violinist confessed that near the end of the piece,
when her anxiety peaked and she forgot to look at her sheet music,
she improvised / invented two measures of her part on the spot.

Duet for viola and cello with a gentle piano accompaniment,
from a Shostakovich prelude
which is famous and has been much [re]arranged.
Slow, mournful, minor-key, and deeply emotional.
The audience ate it up, and gave generous applause;
the two string players were very unhappy afterwards
because they thought it ought to have been played better.

Then, one of the clinic's Activities Department staff,
meaning non-clinical and non-therapeutic staff,
who is a chorus director in the real world,
sang the little Schubert song, "Die Forelle,"
with me at the piano. Very well received.

Then I stayed at the piano and was joined by
the violin, the viola, and the cello,
and we plowed our way through
the Theme and Variations movement (Movement IV)
from Schubert's Trout Quintet, based on "Die Forelle."
It wasn't perfect. I certainly wasn't perfect.
But I had played far worse during rehearsals,
and I managed to play okay, and even enjoy myself.
The violinist, as ever, critiqued themselves severely afterwards.
But we all came together and made a joyful noise,
and the applause afterwards was really very satisfying.

The grand piano lives in a large meeting room which has
windows, large windows, on three sides, situated at the end of one building.
Some of the smaller windows are casements which open and shut, and have screens.
For our evening performance, all of the casement windows were opened.
Thanks to social-distancing requirements,
only a small number of people -- performers as well as audience --
were allowed to crowd into the meeting room.
The meeting room doors were open into the foyer,
where folding chairs were occupied by other audience members.
And an uncounted number of people went outdoors
and sat/stood outside the open windows
from which to listen to the performance.

That was a few days ago, and we are still getting compliments.
The violinist, who is Asian-American, contributed to the sendoff
(had to discharge from the clinic to go back to university)
by making enough paper origami to fill a large cardboard box
and giving everybody an origami ornament.
Mine is made with gift-wrapping paper, very colorful,
which has little black-and-white keyboard images
punctuating the multi-colored design.
It lives on top of the dresser in my clinic bedroom.


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: Helen
Date: 16 Aug 20 - 04:17 PM

keberoxu, I'm so happy that everything went well. Artists are their own worst critics so it's no surprise that the musicians look at it from the "I could have done better" viewpoint, while the audience would have been very, very happy to be given such a wonderful gift.

And you have had the joyful experience of rehearsing together with other musicians. Your first performance in thirty years. That's an achievement to be proud of.


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: Jack Campin
Date: 16 Aug 20 - 05:25 PM

Trying to guess who might have composed the violin/viola duet. It's not a common combination.


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: GUEST,keberoxu
Date: 16 Aug 20 - 06:09 PM

Franz Anton Hoffmeister, to answer your question;
his Opus 7, no. 1,
Duet for Violin and Viola in G Major.
Actually they only played the first movement, Allegro.


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: Jack Campin
Date: 17 Aug 20 - 04:03 AM

Seems to have been a well planned and enjoyable gig.

I just looked up Hoffmeister (who I had only vaguely heard of) and he seems to have been more significant than historical memory gives him credit for.


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 17 Aug 20 - 07:45 AM

Wonderful Keberoxu! Enjoy!


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: Mo the caller
Date: 17 Aug 20 - 08:39 AM

I just looked up Hoffmeister too. Thought I recognised the name as H's edition, and yes, he published Mozart. Can't remember if we sang his edition of the Mozart C minor mass, I know there is more than 1 and the notes are shared differently between the 8 parts, so not all of the online 'learn 2nd alto' cheats are helpful.


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: leeneia
Date: 17 Aug 20 - 10:58 AM

Congratulations, keberoxu! I can tell you are still basking in the glow of it, and deservedly so.


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: keberoxu
Date: 18 Aug 20 - 11:04 AM

You are all very kind with your encouragement and congratulations,
and you have my heartfelt thanks.

The remaining musicians want to keep going!


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: banjoman
Date: 21 Aug 20 - 07:02 AM

The Old Trout Band used this music as their theme. We used to say "Last night the OTB played Schubert - and lost."
Good luck and best wishes


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: Mrrzy
Date: 21 Aug 20 - 08:45 AM

Bully for you!


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: open mike
Date: 23 Aug 20 - 01:31 AM

the healing power of music!!! therapeutic for all!


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: keberoxu
Date: 25 Aug 20 - 09:25 PM

About that Shostakovich prelude,
perhaps you would care to hear what the composer actually wrote.
The little piece is scored for
two violins and piano;

what we performed was a (re)arrangement
where the piano part is the same, but the strings are
viola and cello,
so in some places the melodies go an octave lower than in the original.

Shostakovich Prelude (by way of Macedonia -- good on them!)


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: JennieG
Date: 26 Aug 20 - 02:08 AM

I have been remiss in adding my congratulations - so, well done!


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: keberoxu
Date: 09 Sep 20 - 08:42 PM

This month we are moving on to Brahms.
We are now looking at Brahms' Opus 91,
in which two songs for voice and piano were in fact composed
to be performed with viola as well, hence informally
they are sometimes called the viola lieder.

The first song is a setting of Friedrich Rückert
describing a beautiful sunset/evening scene.
The second is a German translation of a Spanish lyric
which is for the infant Jesus,
a lullaby sung by the Blessed Mother.

Because Brahms uses a tune --
"Josef lieber Josef mein" -- from traditional music,
the lullaby is easier and more accessible.
The Rückert setting, while very beautiful,
really tests the viola player, as that part
is enormously complex and sophisticated --
it's murder for the violist to sight-read, which
my colleague was doing last night, poor thing.

But both songs are brief and tuneful, and if we ever get them
up to performance speed, and perform them for our fellow patients,
I suspect they will go over well.


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: keberoxu
Date: 11 Sep 20 - 11:49 AM

I have opened a music thread for the
"Geistliches Wiegenlied" which is
Opus 91, no. 2, by Johannes Brahms.
It is of interest in itself because it is not
a typical art song/German 'Lied' with
a text by a German poet, set to music.

For this song, Brahms helped himself to two different traditions.
For the singer, he set to music a German translation of
a Spanish lyric, from about 1600 A.D.,
of a lullaby to be sung by the Virgin Mary;
it makes no mention of Joseph, but begs the winds in the trees
to stop making so much rustling noises,
that the baby Jesus may not be awakened from slumber.

Now, when Brahms encountered the German-language translated text,
it reminded him of a German Christmas carol, which DOES mention:
"Joseph, lieber Joseph mein ..."
and features the Virgin Mary asking Joseph
to help her rock the baby Jesus to sleep.
Rather than combine the two texts,
composer Brahms borrowed the melody at the beginning of the German carol,
which is played by the viola as a counterpart
to the singer's melody and text.

I thought the song merited its own thread.


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: keberoxu
Date: 26 Sep 20 - 06:22 PM

Before month's end, our Trout Trio reunited in a practice room
(with a spinet, not a grand piano --
the night was chilly, and that room was not as cold)
in order to read through some stuff together.

By this time I had actually ordered, and had delivered,
a decent edition score of Schubert's entire Trout Quintet.
I looked over the remaining four movements.
With a violin, as a Trout Quartet,
we could have faked our way through all five movements.
Without a violin, well ... actually
there were two additional movements that we could get away with.

The opening movement and the final (fifth) movement
absolutely require the violin part, so we left those alone.
But our Trout Trio, moving on from the Theme and Variations,
read through the
Scherzo with its attached Trio (the quickest and lightest of all the movements),
and Movement Two, an Andante something or other.
That second movement was the interesting thing.
The violin actually has relatively little to do;
I was able to play the violin part, where it was essential,
with my right hand at the piano keyboard.
In a couple of spots in the second movement,
the viola and the cello (the rest of the Trout Trio here)
have a soulful duet melody,
while the violin, the string bass, and the piano
turn into a rhythm section.

It was only a read-through, but it was a lot of fun.


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: keberoxu
Date: 27 Sep 20 - 03:40 PM

The late pianist Emil Gilels, with the Amadeus Quartet,
in their Deutsche Grammophon studio recording of
the second and third movements of
Schubert's Trout Quintet --

the movements referenced in the previous post.


D. 667, movement II: Andante

D. 667, movement II: Scherzo and Trio


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: keberoxu
Date: 30 Sep 20 - 03:12 PM

Actually, I am coming to think of
Movements I and V of the Trout Quintet
as the "bookend" movements,
which prop up
the most tuneful movements which happen in the middle.


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Subject: RE: my first performance in thirty years
From: leeneia
Date: 01 Oct 20 - 01:52 PM

I'm glad to hear you are still playing. I, in the meantime, have got my dulcimer out of its case and started playing again. It's addictive; I tell myself it's time for bed, but it won't hurt me to play just one more song.


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