Hi, everyone. After much consideration, I’ve decided not to run this blog anymore. I think one blog is handful enough, and I don’t want to spend too much time for blogging even though how much I love doing it. So thanks a lot for following me for the last one year. It’s been such a pleasure sharing great music with you guys. I’ll leave the blog though, not deleting it. And my main blog is http://theoangelo.tumblr.com/ just in case you want to keep the connection with me. Hope you all have nice holiday season and good luck with whatever you’re doing! <333
I think I’ll take a break from this blog for a while. Thanks a lot for the nice comments you’ve sent me over the months. I really appreciate it.
Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 1, first movement, performed by Hilary Hahn. It’s a little alarming how quickly this blog is becoming one-dimensional.
I’ve often described how difficult it is to choose a favorite piece of music. This is mostly due to the many genres found within classical music. How can I be expected to choose a favorite piece of music when I can barely choose a favorite symphony, or string quartet, or opera overture?
There is another difficulty involved. There may be isolated movements within pieces of music that are considered favorites, even if the rest of the piece is not. This leads me to separate the categories, for example, “Favorite Symphony” and “Favorite Symphonic Movement”; likewise “Favorite String Quartet” and “Favorite Quartet Movement.”
A long time ago, in my very early days on this blog, I made a series of posts about my three favorite symphonies: Tchaikovskys Fifth, Beethoven’s Ninth, and Saint-Saens’ Organ Symphony. But I have to admit that my favorite symphonic movement comes from none of these; rather, it is the second movement of Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony that is awarded that position, even if the symphony as a whole does not even rank in my top 10.
If you tuned in yesterday, you know that I’m going to be discussing the second movement of Mendelssohn’s second string quartet today. If you’re tuning in for the first time today, welcome! You might consider going back and looking at yesterday’s post as well, but whatever the case may be, let’s dive right in to the second movement!
In a way, I see this movement as a condensed version of the whole quartet. If you already know the piece, you might see what I’m getting at. If not, well, stay tuned, and you’ll see what I mean.
This movement opens and closes with almost exactly the same music; another tranquil, beautifully flowing melody reminiscent of the opening chorale of the entire piece. As in the first movement, this quickly gives way to the main body of the movement, which is a fugue. The first subject of the fugue may seem familiar; it is a (very loose) transformation of the “Es ist wahr” motif. Listen especially to the first violin’s statement of the subject.
It’s worth noting that this movement is strikingly similar to the second movement of Beethoven’s string quartet Op. 95. This movement similarly begins and ends with a richly textured passage, with an intervening fugue. And the subject of Mendelssohn’s fugue is strikingly similar that of Beethoven’s, and the two fugues follow relatively similar paths of development. This is noteworthy because Mendelssohn was greatly inspired by Beethoven’s later quartets, finding them fascinating despite the general public’s dislike for them. He uses several techniques found in Beethoven’s late quartets throughout his second quartet, and this is certainly the most striking one.
One more thing I’d like to mention about this movement; you know how certain pieces have THAT moment? That moment that makes you smile every time you hear it, or makes you sigh with satisfaction, or just simply melts your heart? Well my THAT moment in this movement comes at the very end. The slow section from the beginning of the movement has almost reached completion; the first violin lands on a D, which we expect to resolve to C and then F as in the opening. Instead, the D lingers; suddenly, we are in D minor rather than F major, and the fugal subject is heard again. This launches a codetta based on the fugal subject, and only after this episode does the movement finally end. I don’t really know how to explain why this moment is so powerful to me, but it gets me every time; I think it’s one of the most ingenious little slices of music there is.
Without further ado, here is the second movement of the String Quartet in A Minor by Felix Mendelssohn. I hope you’ll join me again tomorrow for movement 3!