We have here the second part of the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony. You can find the first part below.

Arguably Tchaikovsky’s most under-appreciated work (I don’t feel like making comparisons right now, so let’s just say that it is), we have here his only Symphony to go without a number. The Manfred Symphony represents Tchaikovsky’s sole attempt at writing multi-movement programmatic music. This video contains descriptions of what is going on in the “story,” which is always an interesting element. At the risk of sounding “unrefined,” I think that the analysis on wikipedia of this piece is quite good, so I won’t go into too much detail about my own feelings. However, it is interesting to note that there is no main key for this movement. I’m not completely sure why he does this, but I do think that Tchaikovsky takes his time to get started; at least for me, it takes me a while to really get into the music. But when it gets good, it gets to be Tchaikovsky good.

Returning from a several month hiatus (though this break might prove to be very temporary…), I can’t think of a better call to attention than what I am posting here. It is the opening movement of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto. Certainly one of my favorites, it demands the listeners attention in the first few measures of the piece, though the opening introduction is relatively independent from the rest of the movement. In fact, though it does have its dramatic moments, it also has a lot of time for subtle emotions. Another piece you can’t listen to just once (you can find the third movement elsewhere on the blog… the second might make its way on here at some point).

There are at least a few people who follow this blog who really like Scriabin, Chopin and solo piano music in general. In fact, though I did not know this, Scriabin was actually very much influenced by Chopin toward the beginning, and we can see that influence in a few of his works. Perhaps one of the most clear examples of this is this selection, the first movement of his Piano Sonata Number 2. I love these videos where you can follow along with the score; it really lets you see how much is going on, and detect several different ideas which you might miss otherwise. This is particularly applicable to this delicate yet intense masterpiece.

When Paganini wrote a letter to Hector Berlioz complaining of the lack of viola music to play for his wonderful instrument, he asked Berlioz to remedy this problem. In response, he composed this landmark piece of both the viola and the symphonic repertoire. It was, of course, the programmatic symphony/viola concerto Harold in Italy, and we have the first movement here. The finale can be found elsewhere on this blog. This movement has such a careful development of so many varied complicated melodic ideas and emotions. It really is a complex work; some have told me they think it starts off slow, but somehow I always find the opening melody so enthralling that I can’t help but being drawn in. When I posted the finale, I had said this was in my top 5 of best pieces of all time; posting the first movement here, I stand by that statement.

Here we have the second part of the first movement of Berlioz’s wonderful Harold in Italy (notice the thumbnail from the blog :-) )

Here we have a remarkable work, written by a composer of such great stature, but nevertheless inextricably tied to a single instrument, the piano. I am of course speaking of Chopin, but this connection to the instrument is important to understand for this piece, his first piano concerto. Given that he wrote so little for orchestra, it is interesting to see how he utilizes, and what he thinks its role should be. It takes a while for the piano to enter, but once it does it really does seem to dominate. Definitely a piece that’s very easy to think about. Oh yea, and it sounds pretty good too.

We have here the second part of the first movement of Chopin’s first piano concerto.

This was probably the first piece of “nice” music which I found myself fond of. It is Beethoven’s Sixth, often referred to as the “Pastoral Symphony,” and we have the first movement here. I definitely would say this is some of Beethoven’s softer music, but that doesn’t make it any less compelling. Though it starts off calm, energy is conjured when necessary. If you haven’t heard it already, it is a piece that you will be certain to find yourself humming at some point in the near future.

Here we have a brilliant selection from Brahms, it being the opening movement of his third symphony. I had a lot to say about this but I’m having a hard time articulating it, so I’ll just make one of my generic Brahms comments; his music sounds so simple, yet nevertheless has such depth which reveals itself upon repeated listens. It certainly remains fresh after several listens. I have a hunch that he’s using minor keys in very clever ways, but that’s as much as I’ll say for now. Enjoy!