Dvořák: Piano Quintet

The combination of piano and string quartet only became really fashionable in the mid-nineteenth century. Before that piano quintets with strings frequently used the combination of piano, violin, viola and double bass (Schubert’s Trout Quintet is a famous example). It was the deserved success of Schumann’s Piano Quintet (1842) that opened the flood gates; the […]

…how strange the change from major to minor

Apart from it being a rather useful (trite but it works?) internal rhyme, Cole Porter wasn’t exactly wrong about the deep emotional effect of the juxtaposition of majors and minors; it’s just that it’s a bit more complicated than that. Have a listen… recognise them? The simple act of flattening one note in a chord, like […]

Winterreise — The Winter Journey

The last five years of Schubert’s life. Just five years? Doesn’t seem that long, does it? But, in a life span of a mere thirty-one — once you take away ten or so years for childhood — those five years come to represent a quarter of the composer’s mature life and, in terms of composition, the […]

Keeping up with the Haydns

There’s something frightening about the string quartet. It’s the tradition, I suppose – Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert all poured some of their best and most profound music into the medium, and that makes the standard for the young, aspiring composer pretty high(!!). So, when the thirty-or-so year old Debussy came to tackle a quartet, he […]

Elizabeth Maconchy

“one of the most substantial composers these islands have yet produced.” Martin Anderson, The Independent Need convincing? Listen to this… Also, this week, a chance to explore the Four Ritual Dances from Tippett’s opera The Midsummer Marriage: Earth in Autumn, Waters in Winter, Air in Spring Fire in Summer Course materials: Elizabeth Maconchy Cycle of […]