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Concert Report: Rondeau, Bach, Chopin, Webern and others

Vertigo, Jean Rondeau

Jean Rondeau is a Baroque composer; his compositions immerse the listeners into the atmosphere of the early 17th – 18th centuries. Vertigo is performed on the harpsichord that has a long history according to its external appearance (Warner Classics). That is the harpsichord with its balanced timbre that makes the melody sound majestic and harmonious. The composition is also characterized by the abrupt shifts from soft to loud sounds and vice versa that make it sound dynamic and, at some point, aggressive. The rhythm is simple and continuous. The musical form of Rondeauss Vertigo is typical for Baroque compositions since it is binary. Vertigos musical texture is heterophony because it could be heard that the same melodic line is repeated in different variations during the entire duration of the composition.

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Sinfonia in D major BWV 1045 – Sato, Johann Sebastian Bach

Sinfonia in D major is performed by the solo violin, oboes, timpani, and strings (Netherlands Bach Society). Bach commonly uses orchestral polyphony in his works, and Sinfonia in D major is not an exception from this general rule. The concept of orchestral polyphony means that several instruments simultaneously play independent melodies, and precisely this could be noted in the discussed composition (Netherlands Bach Society). The polyphonic texture of Bachs Sinfonia in D major BWV 1045 makes this composition belong to the progressive type of musical form. The composition is melodic and harmonious. The rhythm that could be characterized as dotted makes Bachs compositions playful and vivid.

Raindrop, Frederic Chopin

Raindrop, originally composed by Frederic Chopin and performed Lang Lang on the Steinway & Sons Spirio, is an immensely elegant and powerful work that, according to some critics, tells the story of Chopin, who was drowning in a lake during the heavy rain (Steinway & Sons). The melody and the rhythm of the composition are slow even in the culmination of the composition. However, the tension is added through the changing dynamics of the Raindrop and changes between low and high pitches. The harmony of the composition is evident from its similar beginning and ending. Chopins Raindrop is homophonic, and the major melodic line is complemented by the additional ones. The form of the composition is ternary that is typical for the compositions written to be performed on the piano.

Mississippi River Suite, Florence Price

Florence Prices Mississippi River Suite, performed by the Second Presbyterian Church Festival Orchestra, brings the audience to the sunny banks of the Mississippi river and allows them to observe an innocent blue sky and green foliage (Michelle Louer). Overall, the composition is sonorous, whereas the textures become richer by the end of the described excerpt from Prices composition. As well as in the case of Chopins Raindrop, the Mississippi River Suite is homophonic. The pitch remains high during the entire excerpt, and the melody and rhythm are slow. Still, by the end of the excerpt, the Mississippi River Suite becomes more dynamic, percussion instruments appear.

Op.25. Wie bin ich froh!, Anton Webern

Op.25. Wie bin ich froh! written by Anton Webern and performed by Sophie Negoïta and Katrin Lehismets is a rather untraditional composition (Sophie Negoïta). It is not characterized by symmetry and fluidity; it sounds ragged even though the rhythm is not fast. Sophie Negoïtas type of voice is a soprano and, therefore, Wie bin ich froh! sounds loud and barely audible in the pauses. The musical texture of Weberns composition is polyphony because the melody lines of the singer are supported by the piano player who fills the void. Besides, the singer and the piano player are performing at different rhythms with distinct melodic lines. The utilized texture does not make Wie bin ich froh! more harmonious, but it adds some activeness to it.

A Portrait, Robert Schumann

A Portrait performed by Jessye Norman and composed by Robert Schumann completely differs from the previously described composition. This work is touching, sensual, and melodic (texmex0303). The piano accompanies the rich and sonorous voice of Jessye Norman but does not distract the audiences attention from it (texmex0303). The piano player and the singer follow the same musical lines and rhythm; they complement one another and create the more harmonious structure of A Portrait. These characteristics imply that the musical structure of the composition is homophonic, and the musical form is ternary that is typical both for songs and piano pieces.

Hoe-Down, Aaron Copland

Hoe-Down is a part of Rodeo ballet written by Aaron Copland (NYO-USA / NYO2 / NYO Jazz). The composition is immensely colorful and vivid due to the abundance of instruments from piano and violins to cymbal (NYO-USA / NYO2 / NYO Jazz). Hoe-Down conveys the atmosphere of a rural farm, and folk motives are particularly evident in this piece of Rodeo ballet. Like most of the preceding compositions, the form of this one is ternary. Copland uses a syncopated rhythm pattern, polyphonic musical texture, fast melody, and unexpectedly introduces percussion instruments. These methods make Hoe-Down sound dynamic and accented.

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Reference List

“Bach – Sinfonia in D major BWV 1045 – Sato | Netherlands Bach Society.” YouTube, uploaded by Netherlands Bach Society 2018.

“Jean Rondeau records ‘Vertigo’ for harpsichord (Royer).” YouTube, uploaded by Warner Classics. 2015.

“Jessye Norman – A Portrait – Widmung (Schumann).” YouTube, uploaded by texmex0303, 2008.

“Lang Lang — Chopin, “Raindrop” Prelude on the Steinway & Sons Spirio | r.” YouTube, uploaded by Steinway & Sons  2019.

“Mississippi River Suite (excerpt) – Florence Price.” YouTube, uploaded by Michelle Louer 2019.

“NYO-USA Performs Copland’s “Hoe-Down” from Rodeo.” YouTube, uploaded by NYO-USA / NYO2 / NYO Jazz, 2018.

“Sophie Negoïta – Op.25 – No1 Wie bin ich froh ! – Anton Webern.” YouTube, uploaded by Sophie Negoïta, 2020.

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