Thursday, November 12, 2009

Carl Nielsen - First Symphony in G Minor

Carl August Nielsen was a Danish violinist, conductor and composer. Born on 9th June 1865 and died on 3rd October 1931. His works are very well known in Denmark. Today, I heard his first symphony for the first time and it was impressive. He is admired for his symphonies. He also wrote concerti for violin, flute and clarinet. He appears on the Danish hundred-kroner note.
Nielsen first discovered music while experimenting with the sound and pitch he heard while striking logs in a pile of firewood behind his home. The songs his mother sang and the music at the wedding parties also influenced him. His father played the violin at such wedding parties.
His first symphony is in G Minor. It shows his individuality and progressive tonality. The first movement theme for the second violins, oboe and flute permeates throughout all the movements. He begins the work in one key and ends in another.
The performance I heard was by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and energetically interpreted by Michael Schonwandt. Beautiful symphony with a haunting first movement theme.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Shadow of a Doubt

Alfred Hitchcock considered this 1942 thriller to be his personal favourite among his films though I will rate 'Psycho' as his ultimate. Good script by Thornton Wilder. It was inspired by an actual case of a 1920s serial killer known as the 'Merry Widow Murderer'. Nobody narrates a tale like Hitchcock. This film will keep you glued to your seats. Superb acting by Joseph Cotten. Teresa Wright is good as Young Charlie. Good music by Dmitri Tiomkin with Franz Lehar's 'Die Lustige Witwe' (The Merry Widow) waltz as the centrepiece of the music score. This is a great film for all Hitchcock and classic mystery lovers.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bruckner Second

I got this as a classic bargain at Landmark for just Rs.150.00 and it is every bit value for money. It is a collector's dream come true bargain! I have only heard one other version before I picked this up few days back and that was Berliner under Herbert Von Karajan. This performance by the Suddeutscher Philharmonische under Hans Zanotelli goes one notch above Karajan. It is dreamy and well spaced out. The opening bars and the introduction of the beautiful theme is handled very sensitively by Zanotelli. The acoustics are nowhere near the Berliner recording but this performance has an ethereal quality and beats Karajan. The Adagio is beautiful and particularly the closing horn passages are very well interpreted. The Landler is electric and so is the finale. A great performance. This remains the definitive Bruckner Second.