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Date

June 3, 2019

Goldmine1 Goldmine Giveaway: Read a Jeffrey Halford interview and win his CD

Win ‘West Towards South’ CD after reading an interview with Jeffrey Halford.

The post Goldmine Giveaway: Read a Jeffrey Halford interview and win his CD appeared first on Goldmine Magazine.

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Goldmine staff The anniversary of Goldmine’s Record Album Price Guide

Twenty years later, the former publisher of Goldmine recalls the launch of the first Record Album Price Guide.

The post The anniversary of Goldmine’s Record Album Price Guide appeared first on Goldmine Magazine.

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Carlos Giffoni publishes comic series whose protagonist has nine lives

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Music Freelance Six of the best works by Louise Farrenc

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Teacher, composer and equality campaigner: Louise Farrenc was a force to be reckoned with. Born in 1804 into a progressive family of sculptors and artists, she was encouraged to embrace her creative abilities from an early age.

As well as being an enthusiastic pianist, she harnessed a love for composition and was enrolled at the prestigious Paris Conservatory during her teens. Here, she began composition lessons with Anton Reicha (who later schooled Berlioz and Liszt), and went on to write chamber music, piano works and symphonies. Alongside maintaining a thriving concert pianist career, in 1842 she was appointed professor of piano at the Paris Conservatory – the only female professor appointed in the entire 19th century.

She remained popular as a performer, but sadly, her compositions never gained the traction achieved by those of her male counterparts. She persisted nevertheless, and continued to compose well into the 1860s. Fast-forward to today and her legacy prevails: the rediscovery of her music has deemed her a musician of enviable accomplishment. We’ve compiled a list of her six greatest (and most memorable) pieces that deserve your attention.

 

 

Symphony No. 3

While best known for her chamber music, Farrenc also composed many orchestral works. Her Third Symphony, written in 1847 (after her First in 1842 and Second in 1845), is energetic and deliciously rich in texture. Influences from Beethoven (a friend of her teacher, Anton Reicha) are plentiful, particularly in the final movement, which opens with bold and ample strings. The Adagio movement is equally glorious, transforming from a gentle clarinet and oboe melody to full-bodied symphonic pleasure very early on. All four movements are worth a listen.

 

  

Nonet

The Nonet, written for the combined forces of string quartet and wind quintet, is arguably her most popular work. It was composed in 1849 and is a sonic feast for the ears. The third movement is particularly striking. Characterised by dotted quavers and syncopation, the introductory string writing is majestic – fiendish even – with dextrous pizzicato movement. Abundant in chromatic passages and playful themes, it complements the other three movements nicely.

 

 

 

Violin Sonata in A

Farrenc was clearly at home when composing for piano and violin: it was the former that spearheaded her performance career. Composed in 1850, all four movements of the Violin Sonata are tremendously varied, venturing through delightful ebbs and flows of tempo and dissonance. An assortment of inspiration (including the violin sonatas of Schubert and Mendelssohn among others) can be spotted if you listen closely enough. In fact, there’s a hint of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro at the end of the first movement.

 

 

30 Studies in Major and Minor

Venturing back to 1836, we visit a selection of Farrenc’s piano works. This was just four years after she had departed from composing solely for piano – and it's clear among all the pieces that she was a pianist through and through. The techniques used in these studies range from the virtuosic and polyrhythmic patterns of No. 17 (which highlights the flexibility of the piano and satisfies all the necessary components of a Toccata) to the relatively calm air of a children’s nursery song in No. 12. Some of the pieces could be considered chaotic (No. 19), while others may sound like a lullaby (No. 10). The character of each piece is certainly open to interpretation, but it is undeniable that the variation in her studies is nothing short of mastery.

 

 

 

Concertante Variations on a Swiss tune

This is a collection of eight short pieces for piano and violin. With an average duration of around one minute for each piece, they are digestible, accessible and easy to listen to. Despite originating from the same matter, each one has its own dramatic personality, and the primary instrument is well balanced throughout. No. 3 is a particular delight – the piano tap-dances around the violin, plucked, which creates a charming flirtation between the two instruments. The pieces are on Spotify here:

 

 

Clarinet Trio in E-Flat

This piece was dedicated to Adolphe Leroy, an important clarinettist who, like Farrenc, taught at the Paris Conservatory. The piece, composed in 1861, is in four movements with complex relationships between the clarinet, piano and cello. It explores overlapping rhythms, diverse textures and exhilarating musical variability, the result: a dazzling presentation of how three different instruments and soundworlds can work together seamlessly.

 

 

To hear more of Farrenc’s work, see our Best of Louise Farrenc playlist here:

 

 

Written by Nina Green

 

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Please see photos from my current David Bowie exhibition in Beijing at Modern Sky Entertainment! xM

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Goldmine1 Elton John original photographs showcased for purchase via SFAE

Iconic photographs of Sir Elton John by Terry O’Neill and others set for purchase via the San Francisco Art Exchange (SFAE).

The post Elton John original photographs showcased for purchase via SFAE appeared first on Goldmine Magazine.

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“Without rock ’n’ roll, I would not have developed as a lensman….

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“Without rock ’n’ roll, I would not have developed as a lensman….

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Freya Parr A guide to Vaughan Williams’s Symphony No. 4

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After the pastoral serenity of the previous decade’s work, the rage and violence in parts of the Fourth comes as a surprise to many. 

One of the most striking features of Vaughan Williams’s life-work story is his seemingly limitless capacity for creative renewal. Just when everybody thought they had him safely pigeonholed, he would unleash another lightning-bolt from the blue.

 

Reception

When the Fourth Symphony appeared, in 1934, it made broadsheet headlines. Had the composer of the Tallis Fantasia and The Lark Ascending suddenly become a modernist – in his sixties? Where had all this rage, violence and sullen brooding come from – these garish, acerbic colours and vicious dissonances?

This reaction shows, however, that a lot of people hadn’t been paying very close attention to what the composer had been doing of late. Way back in the 1920s, in such seemingly Arcadian works as A Pastoral Symphony and Flos Campi, he had experimented with non-tonal harmonies, with new ways of creating and employing dissonance.

 

 

Then in the Blake-inspired ballet – or, rather, ‘Masque for Dancing’ – Job (1927-30), the portrayal of evil, suffering and alienation had elicited all sorts of new devices: complex, free-floating polyphony; bitter parody (unctuous saxophone, sneering ‘blasphemous’ chant parodies on brass); ‘demonic’ obsessive repeated rhythms, grotesquely scored.

From this it was a short step to the gritty, ultimately enigmatic Piano Concerto (1931), which so impressed the arch-modernist Béla Bartók. And, by another step, to the Fourth Symphony, in which it sometimes sounds as though Blake’s Satan has won after all, and that it is the putative Christian Quietism of the earlier Mass in G minor that has finally been flung out of Heaven.

 


BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra perform Vaughan Williams's Symphony No. 4 under Andrew Manze at the 2012 BBC Proms

 

Influences

Vaughan Williams was not a composer who was interested in innovation for its own sake. If he strove for the new, it was because he had something new to say, which required new means with which to say it. The fact that Vaughan Williams’s musical language became noticeably more turbulent and hard-edged as Europe entered the 1930s struck some listeners fairly quickly. The appearance of the anti-war cantata Dona nobis pacem (‘Grant us peace’) in 1936 was surely ample confirmation.

Deep in his prophetic soul, Vaughan Williams had sensed what was coming, and was making no secret of it. Was it warning, protest, or an explosion of fury and despair from one who had hoped that humanity might have learned its lesson from the ‘War to End All Wars’ – whose horrors he had experienced at first hand?

 

 

But there may have been other influences. One friend thought she heard in the Fourth Symphony a direct expression of Vaughan Williams’s terrible temper – the composer didn’t argue. There were reasons why that volcano might have been building up.

Vaughan Williams was devoted to his wife, Adeline, but there were huge strains in the relationship: Adeline was more or less crippled with arthritis for much of it, and her husband was scrupulously attentive. Emotional and sexual frustration, coupled with what some psychologists call ‘carer’s rage’, may also have found a safety valve in these big 1930s works. Whatever the case, there were soon to be immense changes.

 

 

Premiere

Composed: 1931-4
Premiere: 10 April 1935, Queen’s Hall, London, BBC Symphony Orchestra/Adrian Boult

The new mood of the Fourth took many people by surprise. Apparently, it was a newspaper review of a new work by a European modernist that set Vaughan Williams’s imagination firing. Thus he experimented with complex rhythmic counterpoint, non-tonal harmonies and intricate working-out of two four-note motifs that at times comes close to serialism.

Yes, there is a great deal of violent, desolate and sarcastic music in this symphony, but what makes it really remarkable is how alive the music sounds. It’s as though a magnificent predatory beast, long kept caged or leashed, has at least been allowed its freedom.

 

Recommended recording

BBC Symphony Orchestra/Vaughan Williams
Dutton CDAX8011 

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