The Vatican and its many secrets – we didn’t need Dan Brown, author of the bestseller “The Da Vinci Code”, to lift the veil that hid what the Papal State wanted to remain unknown. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart did it before. While he stayed in Rome in 1770 he heard Gregorio Allegri’s “Miserere”, which is performed annually during the Holy Week by the Papal choir. He memorised the ornamented sections, kept secret up to then, copied them to paper and had them published through a middleman, the organist, composer and music scholar Charles Burney.
“Sonnez cors et trompettes!” (Sound the horns and trumpets). This French expression came to my mind when I listened to Johannes Brahms Serenade No. 1 in D, Op. 11, especially to the jubilant first movement. It has been recorded by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, back to back with Schumann’s Cello Concerto that I have presented in a post two days ago. I never had really cared to listen to Brahms’ serenade in D consciously before I began to study Schumann’s piece. An omission I later regretted! Because… because it is incredibly beautiful, rich, melodious – very much a reverence to Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. It displays an overall sunny, optimistic mood, a piece that requires no effort to listen to and has no deeper meaning thant to give the audience 55 minutes of pleasure.
Robert Schumann. This man causes me pain. This man gives me joy. All at the same time. You may wonder why. Because of a stupid obsession of mine, one of these senseless ideas man comes up with to torture himself. Some time ago I have decided that I like Franz Schubert better than Schumann. I know both men’s works fairly well by now, and I hate to admit it, but if I am honest, Schumann is equal to Schubert. It. Can. Not. Be. I will never admit that in public. No way.
L’art pour l’art and brilliance as a proof of virtuosity is the law – Franz Liszt’s lifelong guiding principle. While he lived in Paris and Italy, he edited a collaborative piano work called “Hexaméron” with the subtitle “Grandes Variations de Bravoure sur la Marche des Puritains de Bellini. Liszt recruited upon a suggestion of Princess Cristina Trivulzio Belgiojoso five pianist-composers to write variations on a march from Vicenzo Bellini’s opera “The Puritans”, following Ludwig van Beethoven’s example who has written a little earlier the “Diabelli Variations”.