As a rule I don’t fall ill. I just don’t. But this time I did. A flu got hold of me out of the blue on a wonderful sunny weekend. Monday morning was not funny. A sleepless night, a head so dizzy I had trouble keeping my balance – back to bed then! But I am restless person as you know. Staying in bed all day was a frightening outlook! Especially against the backdrop that it was going to be one more sunny autumn day. There was little I could do however. Reading a book was out of question, at least during that morning. Music? Perhaps. I had a foreboding that Mozart would work, some chamber music, something to calm me down, to relax, to drown in benevolent sounds, to drift away and to make the day pass quickly.
I you ever catch a flu this winter, try Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Trio in E Major, KV 542. It dors the trick, it’s cheaper than medicine, and you can use it multiple times, even if you do not happen to be ill. Mozart wrote it during spring 1788. He rarely used the key of E major, and musical experts say that the piece points to accomplished musicians and a connoisseur-type audience as the potential customers. The chromaticism* in the first movement, the delicate coordination of the three instruments in the last movement and the technically and musically demanding piano part make it a challenging piece of music.
Needless to say, the trio saved my day and transformed a gruesome morning into a halfway pleasant time. The Trio has been recorded by the Trio Parnassus.
The day I received Almut Runge-Woll’s PhD thesis on the composer Emilie Mayer was a wonderful day. Besides Fanny Mendelssohn and Clara Schumann, Mayer is one of the few female composers of the Romantic era that wrote a substantial number of works and received at least some official recognition during their lifetime. Runge-Woll’s research on Mayer’s life and the evolution of her musical language would finally unlock the doors to her music and her personality. I had found recordings of some of her works and immediately became fascinated by those works, last but no least her Symphony No. 4 in B Minor.
Today’s society emphasizes perpetual self-improvement, and, considering my limited physical and intellectual capacities, I regularly resort to full-scale doping. I am not speaking of wine, mind, as the picture illustrating this post could suggest. I confess being an addict of Mozart’s piano concertos, and they invariably give me a boost. Here, Piano Concerto No. 11 in F Major (KV 413) is a true force multiplier. It is extremely pleasant to the ear – the Austrian wine connoisseur would say “lieblich”, which denotes a pleasant sweetness. And the melodies Mozart has woven into the piece are true earworms.
A cry. Human? Animal? Hard to say. An eruption of strings, strident, loud, insistent, dramatic. Good morning and welcome to the sound world of Wolfgang Rihm. In 1977 the German composer wrote a piece called “Music for three stringed instruments”. He was 25 years old at the time, a precocious avant-garde composer who would become one of the most important contemporary composer for classical music. By now the piece has become almost a classic of contemporary music. Rihm witnessed a performance in 2015 in Berlin by the violinist Ilya Gringolts, the viol player James Boyd and the cellist Nicolas Altstaedt. “You transformed my dots on paper into music”, he said afterwards. The biggest compliment ever.