Boccherini – Guitar Quintets – Volume 1

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Luigi Boccherini, Guitar Quintets, Zoltan Tokos, Danubius String Quartet, Judit, Toth, Adel Miklos, Eniko Nagy, Ilona Ribli, Ibolya Toth, Istvan Berenyi, Keith Anderson, Wattean, Giovan Gastone, Joseph Haydn, Antonio Salieri, Maria Ester, Onorato Vigano, Salvatore Vigano, Manfredi, Nardini, Cambini, Infante Don Luis, King Charles III, Font family, Benavente-Osuna, Friedrich Wilhelm, King of Prussia, Lucien Bonaparte, Mozart, Beethoven, Marques de Benavent, Szendrey Karper Laszlo, John Williams, Leo BrouwerLuigi Boccherini (1743-1805)

Quintets for Guitar and String Quarter – Volume 1

Quintet in D Minor, G. 445

Quintet in E Major, G. 446

Quintet in B-Flat Major, G. 447

Zoltan Tokos, Guitar

Danubius String Quartet (Judit Toth – violin; Adel Miklos – violin; Eniko Nagy – viola; Ilona Ribli – cello)

Recorded at the Unitarian Church in Budapest by Phoenix Studio from July 28-31, 1991

ONE-SENTENCE REVIEW:

I know very little about Boccherini and don’t listen to a lot of guitar quintets – so the following liner notes should be educational for both of us.

ORIGINAL LINER NOTES (by Keith Anderson):

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Luigi Boccherini, Guitar Quintets, Zoltan Tokos, Danubius String Quartet, Judit, Toth, Adel Miklos, Eniko Nagy, Ilona Ribli, Ibolya Toth, Istvan Berenyi, Keith Anderson, Wattean, Giovan Gastone, Joseph Haydn, Antonio Salieri, Maria Ester, Onorato Vigano, Salvatore Vigano, Manfredi, Nardini, Cambini, Infante Don Luis, King Charles III, Font family, Benavente-Osuna, Friedrich Wilhelm, King of Prussia, Lucien Bonaparte, Mozart, Beethoven, Marques de Benavent, Szendrey Karper Laszlo, John Williams, Leo BrouwerThe Italian cellist and composer Luigi Boccherini was born in Lucca in 1743, the son of a double-bass player.

His family was distinguished not only in music, but boasted poets and dancers among its members.

His elder brother Giovan Gastone, born in 1742, was both dancer and poet, the author of the text of Haydn’s Il ritorno di Tobia and the libretti of some earlier stage-works of the Vienna Court Composer, Antonio Salieri.

His sister Maria Ester was a dancer and married Onorato Vigano, a distinguished dancer and choreographer. Her son, Salvatore Vigano, who studied composition with Boccherini, occupies a position of considerable importance in the history of ballet.

Boccherini was giving concerts as a cellist by the age of thirteen, and in 1757 went with his father to Vienna, where they both were invited to join the orchestra of the court theatre. Boccherini returned to Italy, but there were further visits to Vienna, before he finally secured a position in his native town.

In 1766, however, he set out with his fellow-townsman, the violinist Manfredi, a pupil of Nardini, for Paris, having performed with both violinists and with Cambini in chamber music in Milan the previous year.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Luigi Boccherini, Guitar Quintets, Zoltan Tokos, Danubius String Quartet, Judit, Toth, Adel Miklos, Eniko Nagy, Ilona Ribli, Ibolya Toth, Istvan Berenyi, Keith Anderson, Wattean, Giovan Gastone, Joseph Haydn, Antonio Salieri, Maria Ester, Onorato Vigano, Salvatore Vigano, Manfredi, Nardini, Cambini, Infante Don Luis, King Charles III, Font family, Benavente-Osuna, Friedrich Wilhelm, King of Prussia, Lucien Bonaparte, Mozart, Beethoven, Marques de Benavent, Szendrey Karper Laszlo, John Williams, Leo BrouwerIn France, Boccherini and Manfredi won considerable success, and the former continued his work as a composer, as well as appearing as a cello virtuoso.

In 1768, the pair left for Spain, where Boccherini seems to have lived until his death in 1805.

In Madrid, he was appointed composer and virtuoso de camera to the Infante Don Luis, younger brother of King Charles III. Part of the following period he spent in Madrid and part at the Palace of Las Arenas in the province of Avila, where the Infante retired after an unacceptable marriage.

Members of the Font family were employed by Don Luis as a string quartet and renewed their association with Boccherini at the end of the century.

After the death of the Infante in 1785, the composer entered the service of the Benavente-Osuna family. At the same time, he was appointed court composer to Friedrich Wilhelm, who in 1787 became King of Prussia, providing the cell-playing king with new compositions on the same kind of exclusive arrangement that he had earlier enjoyed with Don Luis.

There is, however, no evidence that Boccherini ever spent any time in Prussia. After the death of Friedrich Wilhelm and the departure of other patrons from Madrid, Boccherini received support from Lucien Bonaparte, French ambassador in Madrid, and remained busy until the end of his life, although visitors reported that he lived all the appearance of poverty.

Boccherini’s style is completely characteristic of the period in which he lived, the period, that is, of Haydn rather than of Mozart or Beethoven.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Luigi Boccherini, Guitar Quintets, Zoltan Tokos, Danubius String Quartet, Judit, Toth, Adel Miklos, Eniko Nagy, Ilona Ribli, Ibolya Toth, Istvan Berenyi, Keith Anderson, Wattean, Giovan Gastone, Joseph Haydn, Antonio Salieri, Maria Ester, Onorato Vigano, Salvatore Vigano, Manfredi, Nardini, Cambini, Infante Don Luis, King Charles III, Font family, Benavente-Osuna, Friedrich Wilhelm, King of Prussia, Lucien Bonaparte, Mozart, Beethoven, Marques de Benavent, Szendrey Karper Laszlo, John Williams, Leo BrouwerHe enjoyed a reputation for his facility as a composer, leaving some 467 compositions. A great deal of his music is designed to exploit the technical resources of the cello, in concertos, sonatas, and, particularly, in chamber music for various numbers of instruments, including a remarkable series of quintets with two cellos.

The twelve quintets for guitar and string quartet, of which eight have survived, are arrangements by the composer of works written for pianoforte quintet in the late 1790s.

The set of six quintets here recorded (only three in volume 1) were dedicated to the Marques de Benavent, an enthusiastic amateur guitarist.

The first, the only one in a minor key, is in four movements, and establishes the mood, its Spanish elements mingling happily with the idiom of Vienna.

It is followed by a three-movement Quintet in E major, ending in a Polish dance.

The third of the group, in B-flat major, returns to the four-movement form, its Minuet and Trio now preceding the slow movement.

TRACK LISTING:

  • 1-4: Quintet in D Minor, G. 445 [19:53]
  • 5-7: Quintet in E Major, G. 446 [18:16]
  • 8-11: Quintet in B-Flat Major, G. 447 [21:26]

FINAL THOUGHT:

OK – so Boccherini was a prolific and important dude and his family was crazy talented. I need to investigate why his nephew (Salvatore Vigano) “occupies a position of considerable importance in the history of ballet.” It’s a nice, pleasant disc – brunch music – very Haydn. (Though the guitar is barely distinguishable in this recording – maybe that’s the style or the acoustics.)

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Emily Sachs – President – Manka Music Group (A division of Manka Bros. Studios – The World’s Largest Media Company)

Beethoven – Symphony No 3 – Eroica

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Beethoven, Josef Suk, Violin Concerto in D, Sir Adrian Boult, Sir Neville Marriner, Christopher Bishop, Robert Gooch, Michael Gray, Joseph Joachim, Felix Mendelssohn, Franz Clement, Stephen von Breuning, Bruno Walter, Columbia Symphony Orchestra, John McClure, Larry Keyes, Mary Evans, Ted Bernstein, Baron Gottfried van Swieten, Hoffmeister and Kuhnel, Joseph Haydn, Johann Georg Albrechtsberger, Karl Alois, Prince Lichnowsky, Christopher Hogwoog, Peter Wadland, Stan Goodall, Isidor Neugass, Franz Joseph Max Prince Lobkowtiz, C.H. Pfeiffer, F. A. OelenhainzLudwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Opus 55 – ‘Eroica’

The Academy Of Ancient Music (Christopher Hogwood, Conductor)

Recorded at Walhamstow Assembly Hall, London – August, 1985

ONE-SENTENCE REVIEW:

Even though this symphony, I think, is most effective when performed with the best modern instruments money can buy, this “authentic instrument” recording (thanks, Sir Hogwood) is the standard bearer and generation after generation will forever have this fabulous recording to know exactly how this masterpiece sounded in Beethoven’s day (provided the orchestras in Beethoven’s day didn’t suck).

ORIGINAL LINER NOTES (written by Barry Cooper):

Although Beethoven was born and brought up in Bonn, he moved to Vienna in 1792, at the age of nearly 22. Once there, he quickly became recognized as a virtuoso pianist, and he also become wildly admired for his remarkable ability at improvisation.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Beethoven, Josef Suk, Violin Concerto in D, Sir Adrian Boult, Sir Neville Marriner, Christopher Bishop, Robert Gooch, Michael Gray, Joseph Joachim, Felix Mendelssohn, Franz Clement, Stephen von Breuning, Bruno Walter, Columbia Symphony Orchestra, John McClure, Larry Keyes, Mary Evans, Ted Bernstein, Baron Gottfried van Swieten, Hoffmeister and Kuhnel, Joseph Haydn, Johann Georg Albrechtsberger, Karl Alois, Prince Lichnowsky, Christopher Hogwoog, Peter Wadland, Stan Goodall, Isidor Neugass, Franz Joseph Max Prince Lobkowtiz, C.H. Pfeiffer, F. A. OelenhainzHis reputation as a composer, however, developed more slowly, and until the end of the century his compositions found favor with only a small number of people. But two works did more than anything to broaden his popularity – the Septet Opus 20 of 1799-1800 and the ballet Die Geschopfe des Prometheus (The Creatures of Prometheus) of 1801.

The Prometheus music was to play an important role in the genesis of the Eroica Symphony of 1803, and so an understanding of the ballet and its background is essential for a full appreciate of the Symphony. Ballet in Vienna had reached new heights during the 1790s, with several being produced each year; many were new, with music by such composers as Sussmayr, Weigl and Wranitzky, and most were labelled as belonging to a particular type, such as comic, heroic or tragi-pantomime.

Beethoven’s Prometheus, first performed on 28 March 1801, formed part of this tradition and was described as a ‘heroic allegorical’ ballet (notice the word ‘heroic’).

The work was so successful that it received twenty-three performances in less than two years. The finale appears to have been particularly popular, and Beethoven soon took advantage by arranging the two main finale themes as Contretanze for use at balls (it is sometimes stated that the Contreanze preceded the ballet, but the sketches indicate that ballet undoubtedly came first).

In 1802, he used the principal finale theme again, this time for a set of piano variations Opus 35; he even requested the original publishers to mention on the title page that the them was from Prometheus, though his request was ignored.

As soon as he had finished sketching these variations, he wrote on the next two page of his sketchbook a plan for the first three movements of a symphony in E-flat – a plan that was to evolve into the Eroica Symphony.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Beethoven, Josef Suk, Violin Concerto in D, Sir Adrian Boult, Sir Neville Marriner, Christopher Bishop, Robert Gooch, Michael Gray, Joseph Joachim, Felix Mendelssohn, Franz Clement, Stephen von Breuning, Bruno Walter, Columbia Symphony Orchestra, John McClure, Larry Keyes, Mary Evans, Ted Bernstein, Baron Gottfried van Swieten, Hoffmeister and Kuhnel, Joseph Haydn, Johann Georg Albrechtsberger, Karl Alois, Prince Lichnowsky, Christopher Hogwoog, Peter Wadland, Stan Goodall, Isidor Neugass, Franz Joseph Max Prince Lobkowtiz, C.H. Pfeiffer, F. A. OelenhainzThe fact that there are no sketches for the finale at this initial stage suggests he had already decided to base this movement on the popular theme from Prometheus,; thus the Eroica became the fourth work to use this theme.

During the next few months, the planned Symphony lay dormant, but Beethoven returned to it in the middle of 1803. He worked intensively on it throughout the summer, as usual composing the movements in the same order as they appear in the finished version.

By autumn 1803, the Symphony was more or less complete, but he continued touching it up for at least a year or so afterwards and it was not finally published until October 1806.

The Eroica or ‘Heroic’ Symphony was the first of his symphonies to have specific extra-musical associations. But although he doubtless expected the musical reference to his heroic ballet to be instantly recognized by the Viennese public, Prometheus was not the only hero he had in mind.

According to one account, General Abercromby (who had been killed in action in 1801) was the hero was provided the initial idea for the Symphony.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Beethoven, Josef Suk, Violin Concerto in D, Sir Adrian Boult, Sir Neville Marriner, Christopher Bishop, Robert Gooch, Michael Gray, Joseph Joachim, Felix Mendelssohn, Franz Clement, Stephen von Breuning, Bruno Walter, Columbia Symphony Orchestra, John McClure, Larry Keyes, Mary Evans, Ted Bernstein, Baron Gottfried van Swieten, Hoffmeister and Kuhnel, Joseph Haydn, Johann Georg Albrechtsberger, Karl Alois, Prince Lichnowsky, Christopher Hogwoog, Peter Wadland, Stan Goodall, Isidor Neugass, Franz Joseph Max Prince Lobkowtiz, C.H. Pfeiffer, F. A. OelenhainzMore significantly, Beethoven intended to dedicate the work to Napoleon, whom he regarded as the hero who had overthrown the tyranny of the Anicen Regime. He had even written out a dedicatory title page, when news reached Vienna that Napoleon had proclaimed himself emperor.

In a fit of rage, Beethoven is reported to have torn up the page, exclaiming, “Is he too nothing more than an ordinary man? Now he too will trample on all human rights.”

In a manuscript copy of the Symphony which he possessed and which still survives today, Napoleon’s name on the title page is so heavily deleted that there is a hole in the paper.

In the end, the Symphony was dedicated to Prince Lobkowitz, who not only paid Beethoven for the dedication but also enabled him to try out the Symphony several times at the prince’s palace before its first public performance on 7 April 1805.

The work is thus best regarded as a portrayal of the idea of heroism rather than of any individual; the title page of the first edition leaves the matter ambiguous, stating that the Symphony was ‘composed to celebrate the memory of a great man’ (‘compsta per festeggiare il sovvenire di un grand Uomo’) – either the memory of the Napoleon that was (before he became emperor) or of any great man.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Beethoven, Josef Suk, Violin Concerto in D, Sir Adrian Boult, Sir Neville Marriner, Christopher Bishop, Robert Gooch, Michael Gray, Joseph Joachim, Felix Mendelssohn, Franz Clement, Stephen von Breuning, Bruno Walter, Columbia Symphony Orchestra, John McClure, Larry Keyes, Mary Evans, Ted Bernstein, Baron Gottfried van Swieten, Hoffmeister and Kuhnel, Joseph Haydn, Johann Georg Albrechtsberger, Karl Alois, Prince Lichnowsky, Christopher Hogwoog, Peter Wadland, Stan Goodall, Isidor Neugass, Franz Joseph Max Prince Lobkowtiz, C.H. Pfeiffer, F. A. Oelenhainz, NapoleonThe concept of heroism is portrayed in the music in a number of ways, most conspicuous of which is the size of the work. For Beethoven, a hero was apparently a larger-than-life character, and so the Symphony is substantially bigger than any previous one.

In the first movement it is the gigantic development section in the middle of the movement that best portrays the hero, as it builds up to a climax of ferocious discords, followed by a desolate theme in the woodwind and ultimately the triumphant return of the main theme.

The second movement is headed ‘Marcia funebre’ and alternates between minor and major – between mournful melancholy and noble pathos.

In the third movement, a scherzo and trio, the heroic element appears most clearly in the trio, where a theme of uncommon boldness is played on three horns instead of the usual two, giving a much fuller sound. This theme, like many of the main themes in the Symphony, is based on the notes of the tonic chord, a device that contributes much to the heroic quality of the music.

(Some analysts suggest these tonic-chord themes are derived from the two opening chords of the Symphony, but the sketches show that these two chords were very much an afterthought.)

In most earlier symphonies the finale was a relatively light movement, but the Eroica marks the beginning of a trend towards much weightier finales. This is hardly surprising when one remembers that the main themes of the Eroica finale was an important generating factor for the whole Symphony.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Beethoven, Josef Suk, Violin Concerto in D, Sir Adrian Boult, Sir Neville Marriner, Christopher Bishop, Robert Gooch, Michael Gray, Joseph Joachim, Felix Mendelssohn, Franz Clement, Stephen von Breuning, Bruno Walter, Columbia Symphony Orchestra, John McClure, Larry Keyes, Mary Evans, Ted Bernstein, Baron Gottfried van Swieten, Hoffmeister and Kuhnel, Joseph Haydn, Johann Georg Albrechtsberger, Karl Alois, Prince Lichnowsky, Christopher Hogwoog, Peter Wadland, Stan Goodall, Isidor Neugass, Franz Joseph Max Prince Lobkowtiz, C.H. Pfeiffer, F. A. OelenhainzBeethoven did not specify any programme in the finale, but it is tempting to see the movement as reflecting the plot of Prometheus. The ballet begins with a storm, and similarly the finale of the Eroica has a stormy opening; next Prometheus encounters two statues he has made, and in the Symphony the stiff, unharmonized bass-line that follows the storm could hardly be more statuesque.

Prometheus brings the statues to life, and Beethoven likewise breathes life into the empty bass-line by adding various counterpoints, culminating in the addition of the tune borrowed from his ballet.

In the rest of the ballet the now living statues are introduced to various arts, while the remainder of the Symphony Beethoven proceeds to use a great variety of musical arts, including variation, fugue and symphonic development.

The meaning of the ‘allegorical ballet’ is this: Prometheus is a lofty spirit who finds the men of his day in a state of ignorance and civilizes them, making them susceptible to human passions by the power of harmony. Thus it concerns the creative artist, a hero who breathes life into his creations and civilizes those around him. This idea can also be discerned in the gradeur of the Eroica, where the real hero is surely the composer.

It is of course possible to appreciate the Eroica while knowing nothing of its connections with Prometheus and Napoleon. But if we are to make progress towards ‘authentic’ listening, which is the logical counterpart of authentic performances, it is essential to be aware that the original audiences would have understood at once the reference to Prometheus in the Eroica, as well as appreciating that the Symphony was breaking new ground.

It is also important to appreciate the genesis of the work – both its musical and extra-musical origins – so that we can approach it from the same angle as the composer. Such attitudes will certainly enhance our enjoyment of the music, and our receptiveness to the ideas that Beethoven was trying to communicate.

TRACK LISTING:

  • 1-4: Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major – Opus 55 – ‘Eroica’

FINAL THOUGHT:

Napoleon had to get all cocky and name himself “Emperor” – doesn’t he realize that Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony could have been dedicated to him? What a dumb ass.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Symphony No 4, Symphony No 5, Leornard Bernstein, Sir George Grove, Countess Therese Von Brunswick, Carl Maria Von Weber, Berlioz, Theater an der Wien, ERoica, Goethe, Faust, John McClure, Larry Keyes, Fred Plaut, Hank Parker

Emily Sachs – President – Manka Music Group (A division of Manka Bros. Studios – The World’s Largest Media Company)

 

 

 

 

Beethoven – Symphony No 1 and Symphony No 2

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Beethoven, Josef Suk, Violin Concerto in D, Sir Adrian Boult, Sir Neville Marriner, Christopher Bishop, Robert Gooch, Michael Gray, Joseph Joachim, Felix Mendelssohn, Franz Clement, Stephen von Breuning, Bruno Walter, Columbia Symphony Orchestra, John McClure, Larry Keyes, Mary Evans, Ted Bernstein, Baron Gottfried van Swieten, Hoffmeister and Kuhnel, Joseph Haydn, Johann Georg Albrechtsberger, Karl Alois, Prince LichnowskyLudwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Symphony No. 1, Opus 21 in C Major

Symphony No. 2, Opus 36 in D Major

Columbia Symphony Orchestra (Bruno Walter, Conductor)

Recorded at American Legion Hall, Hollywood, California, 1959

ONE-SENTENCE REVIEW:

Now we’re getting into the meat – Beethoven Symphonies 1 & 2 all I can say is Ludwig van is a talented man… the future looks promising.

ORIGINAL LINER NOTES (none):

Another budget disc from CBS Masterworks. They couldn’t even afford liner notes. But here’s a bit of info from our friends at Wikipedia:

SYMPHONY NO. 1

Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21, was dedicated to Baron Gottfried van Swieten, an early patron of the composer. The piece was published in 1801 by Hoffmeister & Kühnel of Leipzig. It is unknown exactly when Beethoven finished writing this work, but sketches of the finale were found from 1795.

The symphony is clearly indebted to Beethoven’s predecessors, particularly his teacher Joseph Haydn as well as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, but nonetheless has characteristics that mark it uniquely as Beethoven’s work, notably the frequent use of sforzandi and the prominent, more independent use of wind instruments.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Beethoven, Josef Suk, Violin Concerto in D, Sir Adrian Boult, Sir Neville Marriner, Christopher Bishop, Robert Gooch, Michael Gray, Joseph Joachim, Felix Mendelssohn, Franz Clement, Stephen von Breuning, Bruno Walter, Columbia Symphony Orchestra, John McClure, Larry Keyes, Mary Evans, Ted Bernstein, Baron Gottfried van Swieten, Hoffmeister and Kuhnel, Joseph Haydn, Johann Georg Albrechtsberger, Karl Alois, Prince LichnowskySketches for the finale are found among the exercises Beethoven wrote while studying counterpoint under Johann Georg Albrechtsberger in the spring of 1787.

The premiere took place on April 2, 1800 at the K.K. Hoftheater nächst der Burg in Vienna.

The concert program also included his Septet and Piano Concerto No. 2, as well as a symphony by Mozart, and an aria and a duet from Haydn’s oratorio The Creation. This concert effectively served to announce Beethoven’s talents to Vienna.

SYMPHONY NO. 2

Symphony No. 2 in D major (Op. 36) is a symphony in four movements written by Ludwig van Beethoven between 1801 and 1802. The work is dedicated to Karl Alois, Prince Lichnowsky.

The Second Symphony was mostly written during Beethoven’s stay at Heiligenstadt in 1802, at which time his deafness was becoming more apparent and he began to realize that it might be incurable.

The work was premiered in the Theater an der Wien in Vienna on 5 April 1803, and was conducted by the composer. During that same concert, the Third Piano Concerto and the oratorio Christ on the Mount of Olives were also debuted. It is one of the last works of Beethoven’s so-called “early period”.

Beethoven wrote the Second Symphony without a standard minuet; instead, a scherzo took its place, giving the composition even greater scope and energy. The scherzo and the finale are filled with vulgar Beethovenian musical jokes, which shocked the sensibilities of many contemporary critics.

One Viennese critic for the Zeitung fuer die elegante Welt (Newspaper for the Elegant World) famously wrote of the Symphony that it was “a hideously writhing, wounded dragon that refuses to die, but writhing in its last agonies and, in the fourth movement, bleeding to death.”

TRACK LISTING:

  • 1-4: Symphony No. 1, Opus 21 in C Major
  • 5-8: Symphony No. 2, Opus 36 in D Major

FINAL THOUGHT:

Regardless of what Wikipedia, above, says – I think Symphony No. 1 is clearly a “Beethoven” symphony” and not as indebted to his predecessors (unless we’re talking about length) as others may believe. And no matter how many times I listen to Symphony No. 2, I just don’t get the “hideously writhing, wounded dragon…” It’s just not that violent (but I’m sure that joke killed at the Biergarten after the concert).

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Emily Sachs – President – Manka Music Group (A division of Manka Bros. Studios – The World’s Largest Media Company)

Johann Sebastian Bach – Goldberg Variations

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily's Music Dump, Emily Sachs, Manka Music Group, Johann Sebastian Bach, J.S. Bach, Goldberg Variations, Glenn Gould, Joseph Haydn, Columbia Masterworks, Samuel H. Carter, Last Six Sonatas, BWV 988, Stan Tonkel, John Johnson, Ray Moore, Martin Greenblatt, Henrietta Condak, Don Hunstein, Pablo Casals, 30th Street Recording StudioJohann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Goldberg Variations, BWV 988

Glenn Gould, Pianist (CBS RECORDS MASTERWORKS)

Recorded at 30th Street Recording Studios, New York City – May 1981.

ONE-SENTENCE REVIEW:

Brilliant (but can someone please stop that infernal humming in the background…kidding)

ORIGINAL LINER NOTES (uncredited):

In 1955, a young Canadian pianist made his first recording for what was then Columbia Masterworks. At that time he was not well-known to concert audiences and was completely unknown to the record market. But after the recording sessions of June of that year, in Columbia’s famous 30th Street Studios in New York City, and after the release of his first album, Bach’s Goldberg Variations, Glenn Gould became world-famous.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily's Music Dump, Emily Sachs, Manka Music Group, Johann Sebastian Bach, J.S. Bach, Goldberg Variations, Glenn Gould, Joseph Haydn, Columbia Masterworks, Samuel H. Carter, Last Six Sonatas, BWV 988, Stan Tonkel, John Johnson, Ray Moore, Martin Greenblatt, Henrietta Condak, Don Hunstein, Pablo Casals, 30th Street Recording StudioHis performance of Bach’s 1742 collection of “keyboard exercises” created an international recording sensation and achieved the unique distinction of becoming an album that, from its original release data to the present, was never absent from the active catalog of Masterworks recordings.

In 1970, Glenn Gould completed a recording session at the 30th Street Studios and decided that in the future he would record exclusively in Toronto, where his television and film activities were center. He did not again return to this musically historical building until 1980 when he began making his first digital recordings for CBS Masterworks – the Six Last Sonatas of Haydn and the Goldberg Variations.

Why did Glenn Gould, who seldom records a piece twice, choose to re-record a work that had received a definitive performance at his hands 27 years ago?

Gould has offered only the explanation that new technology plus his own desire to reexamine the work in terms of its “arithmetical correspondence between theme and variation” led him back into the studio for this recording.

Any more complete explanation of this new approach would, according to Gould, entail a complete written analysis, in an almost book-length essay, of the “thirty very interesting but independent-minded pieces” that make up the Variations – a fascinating prospect, to be sure.

Samuel H. Carter, who co-produced the Last Six Sonatas of Haydn, also worked on the new Goldberg Variations. Following are some of his observations of the last recording sessions:

Sometime past midnight on Saturday, May 27, 1981, the doors of CBS’s famous 30th Street Recording Studios in New York closed on the last official recording session to be held there by CBS Masterworks.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily's Music Dump, Emily Sachs, Manka Music Group, Johann Sebastian Bach, J.S. Bach, Goldberg Variations, Glenn Gould, Joseph Haydn, Columbia Masterworks, Samuel H. Carter, Last Six Sonatas, BWV 988, Stan Tonkel, John Johnson, Ray Moore, Martin Greenblatt, Henrietta Condak, Don Hunstein, Pablo Casals, 30th Street Recording StudioOut of those doors walked a man – assuredly only after a “cool down” period and change of shirt – a man whose illustrious recording career began there a little over a quarter century before. With an appropriateness that is usually found only in fiction, the last notes played by Glenn Gould that night were from the same work of Bach – the Goldberg Variations – with which he had first transfixed the music world in the summer of 1955.

Now the Studio, once a kind of mecca for some of the world’s greatest musicians, was to be sold, victim of the changed fortunes of an industry that has become as multinational as any other and as competitive.

For Glenn Gould and for those of us whose association with “Columbia” covers a long span of years, the old church is a place where many ghosts walk in an atmosphere so laden as to be almost claustrophobic, in spite of the soaring reaches of the ceilings.

Glenn Gould may have quietly come out by the same door wherein he entered but while he had been inside he stirred things up more than a little. Pablo Casals once said that Bach is “a volcano,” speaking of course of the emotional content of the music that traditionalists tried so hard for so long to deny.

Gould, too, is something of a volcanic force. He is the embodiment of musical sophistication in that he seems always to know what he intends the music to do. He almost never lets the music happen to him – he happens to it. That is what made many musicians who nominally “knew” the Goldberg Variations feel that they had just discovered them when the 1955 album appeared.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily's Music Dump, Emily Sachs, Manka Music Group, Johann Sebastian Bach, J.S. Bach, Goldberg Variations, Glenn Gould, Joseph Haydn, Columbia Masterworks, Samuel H. Carter, Last Six Sonatas, BWV 988, Stan Tonkel, John Johnson, Ray Moore, Martin Greenblatt, Henrietta Condak, Don Hunstein, Pablo Casals, 30th Street Recording StudioMay I suggest that, with this new recording, many additional “discoveries” will be made. The nature of these will doubtless be as many and various as the number of listeners.

I think of Glenn Gould as an artist of strong intentionality. He shapes and molds a musical line in its breadth and in its detail with breathtaking awareness. As he has often told interviewers, he will try to make each performance different, yet this firm intention is always present so that however different the “take” there is never any tentativeness or absence of character.

This new digital recording of the Goldberg Variations was made, in the main, simultaneously with a video taping. Make-up sessions were held on April 25 and May 29 for the purposes of the recording.

Having worked extensively in both mediums as performer and producer, Glenn was almost instantly aware, in seeing and hearing a playback, of what takes or portions of takes were suitable for the film and recording and which for the film only. I often felt that he was being excessively nit-picking, only to discover in the intensive listening and editing sessions that followed that he had known precisely the difference he wanted in ever case.

He is a man who is very reluctant to accept anything short of the absolute attainment of his artistic goal.

TRACK LISTING:

  • 1 – Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 [51:00]

FINAL THOUGHT:

“I don’t know know much about classical music – for years I thought the Goldberg Variations were something Mr. and Mrs. Goldberg did on their wedding night.” – Woody Allen (Stardust Memories). Of course this recording gets my highest rating!

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Beethoven, Classical Music, Symphony No 9, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Robert Page, Carol Vaness, Janice Taylor, Siegfried Jerusalem, Robert Lloyd, Friedrich Schiller, Tony Faulkner

Emily Sachs – President – Manka Music Group (A division of Manka Bros. Studios – The World’s Largest Media Company)