Sunday, October 05, 2008

New Wine in Old Bottles

Hi there, folks. Are you like me, folks? I mean, really, truly, ineradicably like me, folks? Well, then, folks, I'm sure I needn't explain to you folks the point of the following catalogue:

Beethoven: String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat major, Op. 130, "Kinderscenen/Annie Get Your Gun."

The Schumannian nickname is owing to mm. 55-57 and 59-61 of the first movement; the Berlinian one to the principal theme of the fourth (the listener will agree, won't he, that "anything" IB "could do" LvB "could do better"?).


String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Op. 132, "Scottish/Carol of the Bells"
We have at least one Scottish symphony (see below for the second contender) and two Scottish operas (Lucia and Verdi's adaptation of The Scottish Play), so surely there's room for a Scottish quartet. I'm not so much thinking here in this connection of the famous bagpipe music in the second movement as of the jig-like principal theme of the first (mm. 10-11 [Vc] and passim). And I am not alone in having noticed a premonitory quotation of perhaps the most underrated of all Christmas carols in the finale (viz. in mm. 63-67, 71-75, 220-224, and 229-233).
Haydn:

String Quartet Op. 17, No. 2, in F major, "Theme From an Imaginary 1970s PBS Talk Show" (I.mm.12-26 and passim).


String Quartet Op. 20, No. 1, in E-flat major, "Symphony No. 104"/"London Symphony" (I. m. 1 and passim).

Here, in a work composed at the dawn of the 1770s, we witness Haydn, ever the wily and patient entrepreneur, scheming to insinuate the infectious principal motive of a chart-topper of the mid-90s into the minds and hearts of Europe--one drawing-room at a time.


String Quartet Op. 20, No. 3, in G minor, "The Blue Angel"/"Falling in Love Again" ["Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuss"] (I. mm. 35-38 [vn. 1]).

And you thought "Deutschland über Alles" was the only Papa-H-penned hit of the inter-war years?

Prokofiev:

Symphony No. 6, op. 111, "Scottish."
See the principal theme of the first movement, stated in the strings after a couple of staccato fanfaric measures in the brass. With any luck, this one will eventually supplant Mendelssohn's No. 3 as the Scottish symphony.
Sergei Sergeyevich's Sixth is also known in certain circles as the “Mozartean” symphony on account of its winsome evocation at one point in its finale (viz. in the first violin part of the five measures following Rehearsal No. 65 in the 1949 Leeds Am-Rus Edition) of the two sunny oases of tranquility in the otherwise boisterous parallel movement of Mozart’s K. 543 (viz. mm. 85-94 and 237-246 [Vls I and II and Vla. only]).
Schubert:
Symphony No. 9 in C major, "Cute."
See http://shirtysleeves.blogspot.com/2008/07/from-new-and-improved-every-man-his-own.html#schubert
Shostakovich:

Symphony No. 5, Op. 47, "Superman."

So called not on account of any conjectural Nietzschean program lurking in the margins of the composer's notebooks, but rather on account of its peerlessly charming evocation of the to-and-fro hubub of the newsroom of a major metropolitan newspaper in its first movement (viz. from two measures after Rehearsal Mark No. 29 through to Rehearsal Mark No. 31, and chiefly by means of the xylophone part). Mstislav Rostopovich's first recording with the [U. S.] National Symphony Orchestra (DG 410 509-2) brings out the Stücksgeist of this piece as no other has done before or since.

1 comment:

Jason said...

Greetings Douglas. It has been a long time since I saw you last. I hope this little missive finds you well.