Paganini: Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 6

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Looking at the history of western classical music, it seems that great composers were often great instrument players, some even virtuosos at their times. Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, Brahms and Rachmaninoff, just to name a few. On the flip side, however, … Continue reading

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Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat major, S.124

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Of many legends of great classical pieces coming out of of long gestation, Liszt’s first Piano concerto would probably stand out on top thanks to the number of years he had spent on the piece, 26 years! From the year … Continue reading

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Brahms: Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98

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This last symphony of Brahms was actually the first of all his symphonies I started with years ago, and it’s one of those pieces that have both the beauty of lyrical lines and the complexity of its texture and inner … Continue reading

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Brahms: Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73

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Right after Brahms completed his 15-year long journey of writing his first symphony in 1876, as if finally being freed from the long-lasting shadow of his predecessor Beethoven, the genie was let out of the bottle, Brahms finished his 2nd … Continue reading

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Brahms: Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68

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When Brahms published this first of his symphonies in 1876, he was already 43 years old, rather late for a classical music giant in the Romantic era. What’s more astonishing is that this symphony took about 15 years to complete. … Continue reading

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Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16

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Grieg’s only piano concerto is not a grand, sophisticated piece and far from being technically challenging, but it’s masterfully crafted (he made hundreds of edits after its premier), refreshingly lyrical, and rich in folk music spirit of the composer’s homeland, which … Continue reading

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Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 21 (Waldstein) in C major, Op. 53

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This sonata was composed in 1804, in Beethoven’s middle period, during which his works took on great leaps in transitioning from late classical idioms to romantic era, with innovation in many ground-breaking works, such as his “Eorica” Symphony. I would … Continue reading

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Bruch’s Violin Concerto No.1 in G minor, Op. 26

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Max Bruch wrote three violin concertos, most of us (myself included) are only aware of his first, which is extremely popular on concert playbills as well as recordings. To average classical music lovers, what’s attractive of this piece can be … Continue reading

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Brahms: Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90

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It took me a while to gradually get familiar with, and start to appreciate Brahms 3, maybe because his first symphony has been much documented over the years on how it was much influenced by Beethoven’s fifth symphony. The most … Continue reading

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Tchaikovsky’s fantasia “The Tempest”, Op. 18

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Tchaikovsky wrote three program music works based on William Shakespeare’s plays, among which Romeo and Juliet overture was undoubtedly the most famous; the other two are far less known, one of them is this symphonic poem (fantasia) “The Tempest”, and … Continue reading

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Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 36

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The popular opinion seems to be that Beethoven’s 2nd symphony is further down the road of innovation than his first. The much extended and rich Adagio introduction of the first movement, the witty and humorous sforzanti in the scherzo, and … Continue reading

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Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21

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Beethoven’s first two symphonies are mostly inheriting the form and style of classical era works. Indeed, many consider Beethoven as an innovator bridging classical and romantic times, and these two pieces reflected just that early phase of his long period … Continue reading

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“Rach 3” – The Ultimate Piano Concerto

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In my years of listening to classical music works, there are pieces that just more complex than others, and take more time to get a sense of its inner working (both structural and emotional wise), and appreciate its beauty. Rachmaninoff’s … Continue reading

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“Winter Daydreams”: Tchaikovsky’s 1st

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Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1 in G minor, Op. 13, was completed in 1874; it took him 8 years to complete after he started writing it in 1866, when he was only 26 years old. Though not necessarily the most famous … Continue reading

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Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G (excerpt)

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The solo English horn seems more appropriate for playing those long slurs of slow melodies of the 2nd movement, with complete tranquility and elegance. The whole middle movement presents a stark contrast to the rest of the piece, which is … Continue reading

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