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Everything posted by pianist_1981

  1. This is difficult to answer, as there are many individual moments that appeal to me deeply for different reasons. But at this point of time, I'd rank the most enduring moments as follows: No. 3: Retransition passage in the slow movement of Shostakovich Piano Concerto, Op. 102 This movement beautifully captures musical simplicity, which to me is among the most difficult styles in which to write effectively. Too often, composers who aim for this style write music which is actually simplistic. There is no depth or substance to it beneath the surface. Not so in Shostakovich's work. His subtle contrast of major and minor throughout is what appeals to me the most, and specifically the transformation of the piano's initial melody from peaceful major (1:15) to deeply painful, lonely minor (4:20), followed by a profoundly hopeful return to major at 4:55 never fails to move me. No. 2: Opening of the slow movement of Barber's Violin Concerto, Op. 14. Barber is my favourite composer of the 20th century, as he was courageous enough to resist those (as best he was able) who pressured him incessantly to stop writing the music that spoke to him - that is music of earlier times. It was difficult to choose a favourite from this master, particularly because I find the opening of his Piano Concerto to be equally stunning, but the transcendentally beautiful oboe solo at the very beginning of his violin concerto slow movement won the day in the end. With most melodies, the poignancy is lost somewhat with repeated hearings. You can never capture the bliss that you felt on initial exposure, even if the work still moves you. That is why this particular movement made my list. I have probably heard the opening oboe solo a hundred times, and to this day it moves me as though I had never heard it before. Few composers have a gift for melody like this. No. 1: Brahms Violin Sonata, Op. 108; first movement, development and coda Brahms is my favourite composer in an overall sense. He mixed a great talent for melody with the formal sophistication and ingenuity of Beethoven. For me, this means that his sonata-allegro movements are captivating throughout. The lyricism of the exposition and recapitulation are balanced with the formal sophistication of the development. And of all his developments, the one that has always stood out to me as stunningly brilliant is that of the third violin sonata (2:25 in my clip). It is basically a giant dominant preparation over which a series a magical harmonies slide about. In a sense, functional harmony is entirely suspended in this section, but without losing a sense of direction and evolution. And as in the Shostakovich, the conflict between major and minor/dim7 sonorities is highly appealing to me. The coda, beginning at 6:55, is equally spectacular. Returning to the development material's magical harmony and ending with dropping open fifths that give a sense of multiple instruments, it concludes inconclusively in D major, which will carry forward into the slow movement (a stunning movement in its own right). In spite of finding countless moments of great beauty, in all the music I've heard in my life I've never found another development or coda like this. This particular combination of pedal point harmony, major-minor conflict, and formal sensitivity produces an entirely original effect.
  2. Theo, I have spent two enjoyable afternoons listening to your three recent piano works (op. 7,8,9). Last weekend, I decided I should hear them again before commenting. Having now done that, it is clear that they are all accomplished, confident works. Your performances are also excellent and make for enjoyable listening. In my opinion, the Serenade is the best of the three, and by a fairly wide margin. Though all these works have some very beautiful moments (the end of the barcarolle, the harmonic sequence at 6:00-6:30 in the serenade and 2:30-50 in Op. 9 stand out to me), there is a much greater degree of contrast in the Serenade, which makes your themes more memorable. The main theme of the Serenade is particularly well-crafted. It has a sense of unpredictability in the rhythmic treatment that makes it feel more natural and expressive, and it contrasts beautifully with the haunting material of your second theme. Here, it is the colour that captures my attention, not the melody, and this is why I find it so effective - it is not always the same element of the writing that is captivating in this work. For me, these works demonstrate an interesting combination of primarily Rachmaninoff and Liszt. It is unsurprising to know that Rachmaninoff is among your favourite composers, as your use of harmony and the motives themselves are frequently reminiscent of him in all three works. You may find that people criticize you for this, especially if you study at the post-secondary level (or perhaps you have encountered this already). Ignore them. They may very well have useful things to say about your works, but if the criticism is solely directed at the fact that your writing bears a resemblance to earlier composers, those opinions are of no value to you. Always write the music you want to hear. I will conclude by saying that you made the right decision to not use this as the 2nd movement of your fantasy. Curious, I listened to that work with this movement in the middle. It doesn't work. The character is too different. Best wishes!
  3. Thanks for listening, Marc. If it makes you feel better, I'm a pianist, and I still find it difficult to write for this instrument. It's easy enough to stick a melody with a simple accompaniment, but that doesn't produce a very compelling result. It's much, much harder to write in a way that makes the instrument sound genuinely good, and in the revision stage, it is the piano part that I find myself changing the most. This is why I generally don't share any work I've written that involves the piano until I've had a chance to perform it myself. In the process of learning the piece, many things get changed in the piano part, regardless of how careful I thought I was when initially composing it!
  4. Theo, I'd be happy to take a look at these works. Perhaps I can find some time this weekend, though I can't make any promises. It's been a busy time for me!
  5. Hard to answer - there's actually quite a few, to be honest. But Tchaikovsky's concertos and most of Liszt's popular output are near the top for me.
  6. Yes, very much so. As a listener, I have a strong preference for the music of the 19th century, and as I believe firmly that we should write what we ourselves want to hear, my works would fit very comfortably in that period. This wasn't something I decided to do - it's what I'm naturally inclined to do.
  7. Any of these choices is fine. It sort of depends on what the rest of the work is like. If it's mostly diatonic, I'd stick with one of the options you presented. But if you've used some chromaticism (or it's the end of a development), I'd personally be inclined to use something more chromatic, like a diminished seventh transition. A relatively direct pathway is available through the dim7 of V for G minor, which can be reinterpreted as dim7 for F major. Another possibility is a chain of tense chords ending with an aug6 on flat 2 or 4. An example in your case would be vii7/g-g-vii7/A-A-Ger6 (on Bb)-F major. This produces a powerful ascending chromatic bass line to the Bb, and the resolution is very satisfying, especially if your last two melody notes were G# ascending to A. Good luck!
  8. Thank you, gents, for the kind sentiments. I appreciate them, and they leave me wondering why I sat on this for more than a year before posting it. Personally, I feel the violin work is the superior sonata from a compositional point of view, but it's clear this is the more popular of the two... so perhaps we can chalk it up to another instance where the composer incorrectly assessed the appeal of his own compositions. Best wishes to all of you!
  9. Nice to hear from you, Theo. I hope all has been well with you! Have you posted any new works recently? I'm glad you enjoyed this sonata, and I appreciate the observations. Do you have perfect pitch? Most people wouldn't have heard that the 3rd movement didn't start in the tonic key.
  10. I've got one more sonata to share here. This is a 2015 composition. It was performed as part of my trio performance in 2018, but we didn't get around to making a house recording of it, so the performance will have to do in spite of some shortcomings in both the performance and recording. Remembering that the balance was piano-heavy in the violin sonata I had played in the same venue some years earlier, I placed the recorder quite close to the cello this time. Too close, as it turns out. One of these times I'll get it right; this seems to be a difficult venue to record in, despite the excellent live acoustics. For those expecting some modern elements in my writing, you'll note that there are a number of aleatoric elements, including but not limited to baby cries, pages shuffling, various weird noises, an early entry, and some wrong notes (all completely intentional, of course). The piece itself is in three movements. The first is a rather slow, brooding sonata-allegro. The second is an ABABA rondoish form with alternating slow and quick segments, and the final movement is also best described as a rondo, though it doesn't cleanly match the standard 5-part or 7-part form of Classical period works. It's one of my darker works and likely not as appealing as other things I've written, but I've finally decided I like it enough to share it here.
  11. This is a re-post of a work that was deleted from the site during the conversion. It was composed in the spring of 2009 - hard to believe it's been 10 years already. Time flies... The work is in three movements, following the traditional 19-century pattern. Movement 1 is a sonata-allegro, movement 2 is in ternary form, and the final movement is a sort of rondo (ABABA). The recording was taken at the dress rehearsal prior to a performance in 2014. I didn't have a long enough extension cord to get the recording device past the back end of the piano, so unfortunately the balance is a bit off, but it'll do for here. Enjoy!
  12. Theo, it took about two months to compose in the summer of 2016. I haven't written anything since; composition demands time, and I'm at a stage in my life where time is in very short supply. Like you, I have a profound admiration for the chamber music of the 19th-century masters. We are incredibly fortunate to live in a time where access to such music has been made so easy.
  13. You're very welcome, Theo. This quartet would be something I would have expected to come from a very talented composer a decade or more older than you are. I seldom feel compelled to provide critical thoughts on works here, but this is such a fine work that it demanded a response. Best of luck with your next work!
  14. Theodore, This is an excellent work, and especially impressive to have been written by someone so young. You have a great deal of talent and passion! Especially noteworthy to me is your sophisticated grasp of harmony. I have seldom encountered someone of your age who has the imagination and technical expertise to work with late-Romantic harmony. It is not simply a matter of knowing how to move from one chord to another, but also how to pace and develop a progression. You have this ability. I have jotted down some thoughts about your quartet as I was listening. Bear in mind that we all should write what appeals to us, and much of what I will share as criticism is simply a matter of my personal taste. It should be taken in the context of what I have written above. First movement: There is a good sense of pacing and harmonic variety. I think this is a very successful movement right through the development section. I would suggest in future works that you explore ways of decreasing the intensity so as to make climax points more effective. Thinning the texture, broader rhythms, and a softer dynamic profile are some ways this can be accomplished. If I had one general criticism of the ENTIRE quartet, this would be it. We cannot understand light if we do not encounter dark. Passionate moments tend to be all the more meaningful if they are contrasted with relaxed passages. Second movement: A very effective theme, and you did well to recognize the limits of the material in keeping the movement brief. Most young composers I have encountered do not have this intuition. I certainly didn't when I was your age, haha! I would consider piano only at 0:40, and at any other point where the strings are all playing only sustained notes in a predictable rhythmic pattern. Beyond that, there is little criticism to offer. It's a very nice movement. Third movement: This movement, in an overall sense, is my least favourite movement of the work, but it also has my favourite MOMENT in the entire work. The opening is nice. Good pacing. At 2:45, I felt the strings were somewhat blocky. If I find myself writing the same rhythm in all my lines in chamber music, I ask myself if the material is actually necessary, or if it is just adding unnecessary heaviness to the texture. In many cases, I just eliminate those accompanimental chords altogether, and the result is better. This is not an absolute requirement, as oftentimes you find you need the chords to support a building texture, but in these cases, I try to ensure there is some independence of movement among the lines. It's more critical in chamber music than orchestral music. The interplay between the strings you have around 2:00 is a good example of that. That favourite moment I mentioned is 3:15-3:35. For me, it brings to mind a passage in the slow movement of Brahms's G major string quintet, a passage which I adore for its harmony and texture. You have captured a similar effect here, and it is these moments that make a listener feel that they MUST hear this work again. I rewound and listened to that passage several times before moving on. I'm sure I will do so again in coming days. The first five minutes are dominated by a single primary theme, and this is perhaps too long to sustain, even in spite of your resourceful use of harmony. I like it very much between the start and 3:35. The thematic change at 5 minutes is also initially very effective to my ear, so we're really talking about a minute and a half that "feels" as though it has gone on too long to me. I also find that the material at the 5 minute mark, though initially effective, lacks that sense of direction you achieve throughout most of the rest of the work. This may have been an intentional choice on your part, and though I personally have some doubts about its effectiveness, I must stress again that this is just my opinion, and the only thing that actually matters is YOUR opinion. I find it nearly impossible to be objective about works I have recently written, but very often a passage I will end up revising later in my life is one that just felt somewhat out of place, even when I was proud of the work as a whole and felt it was as good as it could be. If you feel this sense yourself about any part of your quartet, you may be experiencing the same thing. Fourth movement: This has a great opening that immediately grabs my attention. The passion and energy is very suitable for a concluding movement. Like the first movement, I do find that the most passionate moments would be even more effective if contrasted with less energetic writing, and the piano writing could use more textural variety. That running LH accompaniment is pretty ubiquitous in this movement. You could kill two birds with one stone. For example, lightening the piano writing (this may also involve using single line melody in the upper register rather than octave doubling or chords) and varying the accompaniment could be done in a way which reduces the energy prior to your final build-up. The ultimate climax at 5:30 is very effective. The quartet, as a whole, is very effective, and among the most impressive works by a young composer that I have ever encountered. Bravo! It is plain for anyone to see that you have a very bright future.
  15. Very lovely - especially the freedom of phrasing and subtle suspensions (this seems to be an issue of some contention, but I've always liked the effect of suspensions and don't mind them being used frequently). I agree with Monarcheon that the opening reminds me of Death and Transfiguration. It's a really effective way to open a piece like this. Personally, I probably would have rounded it off around the 1:20-30 mark. Having listened to it about five times, that's where I felt the idea came to its natural conclusion each and every time. Some musical ideas exhaust themselves quickly, which is especially true of these sorts of spur of the moment improvisations. It's not a fault - in fact, when a composer recognizes and respects this, the result is often wonderful. Chopin's A Major prelude comes to mind; had he tried to extend it, I don't think it would be nearly so successful.
  16. Thanks for taking the time to listen, Mike and Austentite! To be honest, I don't consider this my finest work, but the piece has grown on me. What is most interesting to me is that people tend to like different parts of it. I've performed it either in parts or in its entirety about six times now, and most of the individual preludes have come up as the "favourite" in conversation with audience members at some point or another. My personal favourites are 3, 6&7 (as a pair), 10, and 11. 3 seems to keep coming up in conversation; it may well be the best of the set. For me, it doesn't rival the emotional intensity of the slow movement of my piano trio, but that melody has a special place in my heart, and I may well never write anything that can displace it. All the best to you.
  17. That doesn't actually surprise me, Bryan. We sometimes don't realize the value of what we create. I suspect that's the case with a lot of composers, as our natural tendency to self-criticize can lead us to underestimate the quality of our work. I don't care about the financial aspect of this hobby, but I do care about being recognized as the creator of the works, as so much of my time and emotional energy went into them.
  18. Thanks for taking the time to listen, Willibald - I'm glad you enjoyed it. Regarding the composer competition, I certainly agree with you. I've seldom found much enjoyment in listening to mid to late 20th-century art music. The peculiar thing is that the general market is not actually especially interested in academic music. There's interest among performers and composers, but the vast majority of concert-goers would prefer listening to a Brahms, Bach, or Mozart over a Boulez, Babbitt, or Cage, for instance. Modern composers are often quite removed from this market, partly because it is incredibly difficult to gain a foothold against the established repertoire, and partly because there simply isn't enough demand for classical music to allow most composers to make a living of it. Thus, they pursue it as a hobby in the way that Ives did, while earning their living doing something else. I think what's really at play here is that most post-secondary composition instructors of the past couple of generations grew up in the academic climate of the 50s through 70s - an era that was marked by a striking intolerance for utilizing stylistic elements from past eras in an effort to advance music in the same way that all other fields were advancing - and they push their students to continue this tradition. Most composers are intelligent people, and they pride themselves on this intelligence. They do not want to be regarded as unoriginal, nor as individuals incapable of handling the complexities of highly advanced modern music. Those who did dare write more traditional music (Barber, for instance) often received scathing criticism from the proponents of the new style, and students who were not lucky enough to have an open-minded professor at school were likewise scolded for their lack of originality. This peer pressure can be extremely persuasive, and in my opinion is the primary reason that avant garde styles came to dominate the art music world. Unfortunately, this played a significant role in killing off demand for serious art music (which was seen as necessary by many of the chief proponents of the avant garde movement). The effects are still very much present to this day. A few years ago when I was checking in here more regularly, I remember seeing numerous examples of composers in this forum posting nicely written music in traditional styles who were admonished that they should be "finding a fresh, original voice" rather than imitating styles of the past. Invariably, these detractors were modernists, and ironically, their music was seldom any more creative or original than the composers they scorned - they were just imitating a somewhat more recent style of music. The idea they persisted in advancing - that one MUST employ the tools of the modern era in order for his or her music to be relevant to the modern era - always struck me as deeply flawed. If older musical styles are no longer relevant, why do we still listen to and adore them? Why are they still, to this day, more popular among the concert-going public than modern art music styles? The argument only makes sense if one feels that the primary purpose of music is to advance and evolve. All that said, it also makes no sense to me that anyone would claim the world would be better off had avant garde music never been explored. There are some musicians who genuinely believe that this is the most beautiful and expressive music in the world, and they should not be scorned for it. There are also many who find a real sense of fascination and intellectual fulfillment in the process of writing in serialist, aleatoric, and other avant garde styles. I actually think that for many of them, that is of much more importance and relevance than the resulting sound. And there can be no denying that such music is a greater communicator of certain emotions than the tonal system could be. I suppose, in a nutshell, that I wish people would stop trying to pressure each other into writing in their own preferred style. Write what you enjoy - not what you're told you should write. Unless, of course, you make a living writing music for other people, in which case what you write should probably be something they want to hear. :-)
  19. Hello fellow composers, I was recently afforded the opportunity to perform a recital of my own works and decided afterwards to record a couple of them in a home setting. This is a collection of relatively brief solo piano preludes. It's a rather unusual work for me, as I generally tend towards longer, more developed chamber music. These are more like independent, fleeting ideas. This collection moves chromatically from C through B, alternating between major and minor. The musical style would be right at home in the 19th century, which is the period of music that I most appreciate. My personal musical preferences definitely lie with the conservative branch of that period, and my writing reflects that. Unfortunately, I am not comfortable sharing the score. It's not that I don't trust the established members of this community, but rather that I don't trust making my scores available to anyone in the world at a time when the work has not been performed far enough afield to prove beyond a doubt that it is my work. After having a colleague be forced to go to court to deal with a music thief, I am not willing to endure the stress and expense of doing it as well. My apologies to those who would have liked to see it. If only we lived in a world where everyone was honest.
  20. Hi all, So, I've been away from this site for a few years - long enough that I find it has changed and my profile is completely empty! It's time to change that. In February, I had the opportunity to perform a recital of my own works, this trio among them. My colleagues and I decided afterwards that it would be worth the trouble to do a house recording of it. This is the result. My personal musical preferences lie squarely in the conservative German branch of the 19th century, and I've always believed that a composer should write the sort of music he or she likes to hear. That's what you can expect from this trio with respect to form, harmony, rhythm, and so forth. It's in four movements. The first movement is a traditional sonata-allegro with slow introduction. The second movement is a scherzo and trio. The third is a theme and variations, based on a melody I wrote when I was 13 or 14 (side note - NEVER throw away the ideas you compose when you're young!) The fourth movement is rondo-like arch form. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed performing it! I have decided against posting the score. I hate to have to take this stance, but as an essentially unknown composer, I am deeply reluctant to post my scores to an internet site that is open to the world when I know colleagues who have been victimized by thieves stealing their works and claiming them as their own. Even with a legally copyrighted work, it is stressful, time-consuming, and expensive to take these people to court. I apologize to those who would have liked to see it.
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