Listening Log


  • Composer: Daniel Dorff
  • Year of composition: 2010
  • Instruments: Piccolo flute
  • Performed by: Gudrun Hinze
  • Listened to: 05.01.2021

Appropriate to the title, the piece “Tweet” sounds really cheery, is high pitched and, being played by a solo-piccolo reminds the listener of birds. It is separated in 3 main parts,  The first and the last part each include the main theme, being played twice with a short side theme in the middle and give a clear idea of a structure.  Whilst, on the other hand, the second part of the piece seemed to include several different ideas, it varies between slow and fast as well as staccato and legato.

The main theme can be easily recognized by two really shortly played notes (probably appoggiaturas) followed by one slightly longer note. This short three-note-motive repetitively works its way up and down on a scale, which builds the main theme. Both side motives in part 1, consists of scales being played upwards, which are not always fully completed.

The second part of “tweet” starts with the same motive that can be heard in the middle sections of parts 1 and 3. This is being followed by a very short motive which slightly resembles to the main theme. After that a contrasting, comparatively slow staccato theme is being played, which is shortly interrupted by a fast played downwards going scale until it continues. The theme becomes faster and louder towards the end, two more downwards scales are being included, but the melody always immediately jumps back to very high notes. This part of the piece eventually ends as it started, slowly.

I personally had the feeling, that Dorff gave quite a clear image of a small bird flying around, which is captured well by the high pitched sound of the piccolo. Especially in parts 1 and 3 with the main theme. One can imagine that every short 3-note-motive could symbolize one wing beat of the bird, seeing that especially small birds have to flap their wings often the tempo in which Dorff decided to have the main part in, seems absolutely appropriate. Interestingly, I personally expected, that the piece would sound more shrill and unpleasant due to the used instrument. Iwas surprised, that the piece had a lovely, cheery character.

Sonata for Flute and Piano (Orchestrated version)

  • Composer: Francis Poulenc
  • Year of composition: 1957
  • Instrument: Solo flute, orchestra
  • Performed by: James Galway
  • Listened to: 05.01.2021

Overall this piece has a very calm and romantic character. The first movement processes a melancholic sounding leitmotif with a cheerier sounding contrasting theme. The second movement is more songful. The third movement gets surprisingly cheery, but reminds with a Subito piu lento towards the end of the melancholic character from the first movement. I personally had the impression, that the sound of the flute was especially effective within the low register. The airy sound, which is only produced for the flutes’ lower notes, created a soothing effect, fitting to the character of the piece.

Lilies of the Lake

  • Composer: Michael Hoppé, Tim Wheater
  • Year of composition: 2011
  • Listened to: 05.01.2021

After a short introduction by the accompanying instruments, the alto flute introduces a short closed theme, which is repeated shortly after but ended with an open chord. This scheme of question – answer motifs carries itself throughout the whole piece. Overall it has an incredibly calm and relaxing character. With the used breath – rests, it seems as if the alto flute would be singing a ballad.

The Seaside Cavern

  • Composer: Luke Pickman
  • Year of composition: 2009
  • Instruments: Bass flute
  • Performed by: Luke Pickman
  • Listened to: 05.01.2021

This piece for solo bass flute starts with a slow wavy movement played in pianissimo, the initial created mood is somewhat mysterious. Occasionally the waves (arpeggios) move slightly higher with a rapid crescendo. Towards the centre of the piece this pattern gets more and more hectic but calms down again before it really reaches a peak point. Overall a calm piece. The instrument creates a warm, raucous sound.

Trio “Plöner Musiktag”

  • Composer: Paul Hindemith
  • Year of composition: 1932
  • Instruments: 3 recorders
  • Performed by: André Le Gall
  • Listened to: 05.01.2020

This piece has a somewhat quirky character as it constantly changes between a major and minor key. Even though each single instrumental line seems to have a clearly defined structure, the combination of the three recorders creates a slightly chaotic, sneaky mood. Single, short phrases for each instrument are repetitive and the changes between the different parts happen suddenly. Even though the recorders sound is much brighter in comparison to the concerto flute, it partially also sounds really shrill.

Concerto for Oboe and String Orchestra in A Minor

  • Composer: Ralph Vaughan Williams
  • Year of composition: 1943 – 1944
  • Instruments: Solo oboe, string orchestra
  • Performed by: Celia Nicklin, Academy od St. Martin in the Fields, Sir Neville Marriner
  • Listened to: 06.01.2021

The first movement “Rondo Pastorale” interestingly starts in dorian mode. One theme introduced by the strings at the beginning is used between two side movements. The melody line is consistent and rhythmic but has a soft character. The second movement “Minuet and Musette” is the shortest one. It is also written in dorian mode, but uses minor scales as well. The melodic line of the oboe, as well as the strings who partially play in pizzicato is more jumpy. The third movement, scherzo, uses a constant 8th – note movement played by the strings, which leads the melody forward constantly. The nasal sound of the oboe accompanied by the warm sounding strings is one of my personal favourite combinations. Especially within the high register the oboe can show its full potential with a clear, bright sound, but I personally think that it sound more distinguishable within the low register.

Oboe d’amore Concertos in A Major

  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Year of composition: 1730 – 1738
  • Instruments: oboe d’amore, Orchestra: 2 violins, viola, continuo
  • Performed by: Alexei Ogrintchouk, Swedish chamber orchestra, Reinut Tepp

The first movement has a simple A – B – A’ form and is overall very bright. The introduced, jumpy theme played by the accompaniment is echoed by the oboe. Even though it is part of the orchestra, the harpsichord plays some of its own thematic material. The slow second movement has a longing and sad character. Bach used simple, yet very effective chords with a continuous rhythmic pattern. The last movement has a much faster tempo and is in a major key again. Similar to the first movement, the introduced theme from the orchestra is echoed by the oboe. As this oboe is slightly longer than the previous one, it is able to play lower notes. I initially thought, that the two instruments would sound similar but the oboe d’amore seems to create a much stronger, yet more sonorous sound.

Concerto da Camera

  • Composer: Arthur Honegger
  • Year of composition: 1948
  • Instruments: Flute, English horn, String orchestra
  • Performed by: Jean Fornet, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra

Even though the introduced themes by the strings seem slithly disharmonic, the motif played by the cor anglais alongside the flute has a warm character. The whole piece doesn’t seem to have a direction to go to, but it some themes can be heard several times. Whilst the second movement has an even more melancholic character, the finale sounds cheery again. Interestingly the piece sounded overall really harmonic, even though Honegger switched between several keys.

The combination of the bright sounding flute and the nasal sound of the English horn is rather interesting, as both instrument appear dominant within their role. Thus, they are perfect to use for musical “conversations” between instrumental groups.

Konzertstück für Basset Horn, Clarinet and Piano

  • Composer: Felix Mendelssohn
  • Year of composition: 1832
  • Instruments: Basset horn, Clarinet, piano, orchestra
  • Performed by: The clariotts, wiener virtuosen streichensemble
  • Listened to: 06.01.2021

The first movement, a stormy “Allegro con fuoco” starts with a theme for the clarinet and for the basset horn. The whole movement seems unsettled, which involves a few calming passages. The second movement is a calming andante and reminds of a song. The last movement “rondo” is full of runs and has a rapid tempo, unlike the previous ones, this movement has an incredibly cheery character and is ended by an octave movement. The basset horn and the clarinet create a similar colour of sound as the basset horn, which makes them an ideal combination for similar phrases.


  • Composer: Heitor Villa – Lobos
  • Year of composition: 1948
  • Instruments: soprano saxophone, horns, strings
  • Performed by: Asya Fateyeva, Ruben Gazarian, Wüttenbergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn
  • Listened to: 06.01.2021

The piece reminded me of background music from an old film, shifting between rapid and melancholic characters. The first theme introduces a rhythmic character, which is contrasted by a melodic, mysterious sounding second theme. A third theme moves back to the light character from the beginning. Even though I wasn’t able to find a score, I assume that the second movement in a mode instead of a major or minor scale, which created an interesting new atmosphere. The last movement has a simple A – B – A’ form again. The soft sound of the soprano saxophone which may normally be associated with a more jazzy character, creates a warm atmosphere for this piece.

Six Bagatelles for wind quintet

  • Composer: György Ligeti
  • Year of composition: 1953
  • Instruments: flute, oboe, clarinet, cor anglais, bassoon
  • Performed by: Jaques Zoon, Douglas Boyd, Richard Hosford, James Sommervillen Matthew Wilkie, Claudio Abbado
  • Listened to: 08.01.20201

The first quintet has arapid movement and uses the higher pitched instruments to play a jumpy quick melody. Due to the fast tempo the piece sounds almost like a scherzo.

The second bagatelle is started by the lower pitched instruments and has a more serious character. Ligeti worked with long diharmonic chords, which gives the piece a misterious character. One simple theme consisting of four notes is played throughout the whole piece in varied ways, altered with slow unison parts. One can notice, that Ligeti worked with the contrast of the higher and lower pitched instruments.

The third movement has a faster tempo again. A nordic sounding melody played by the flute is accompanied by a rapid quaver note movement played by the clarinet and bassoon. As the flute starts with the quaver note movement as well, the slow melody is continued by the oboe and clarinet. This alteration of the theme between several oices is kept throughout the whole piece.

The fourth bagatelle starts with a long disharmonic shrill chord and is continued with a rhythmic, rapidly played theme. It only lasts for a few seconds and just evolves around this short rhythmic theme.

The fifth bagatelle intorduces with long sustained notes and quickly changes to a collection of dissonant chords played in different tempos. The mood is unsettling and misterious. Interestingly, the bassoon sounds like a driving car, with would fit to the mood of a city at night.

The last bagatelle starts with a melody in the bass line accompanied by short staccato chords played by the other instruments.

Wind Quintet Op. 43

  • Composer: Carl Nielson
  • Year of composition: 1922
  • Instruments: flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon
  • Performed by: Emmanuel Pahud
  • Listened to: 08.01.2021

Over the whole piece, Nielson alternates with solo parts for each instruments and tutti passages. The first movement is is in sonata for and starts with the main theme, played as a solo played by the bassoon. An asnwer follows played by the higher pitched instruments, before the theme is repeated by the horn. A side theme, which is accompanied by triplets played by the flute. As the flute’s sound sticks out slightly more it was initially difficult to find the melody.

The second movement is more rusty than the first. It introduces a duet between the clarinet and bassoon. A second theme is introduced played by the flute and oboe. The last movement starts with a Praeludium, which is followed by variations of this theme. The cor anglais has a slightly more important role than in the previous movements, which adds a welcoming change to the texture of the piece.


  • Composer: Leos Janacek
  • Year of composition: 1922
  • Instruments: flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon, bass clarinet
  • Performed by; Belfiato Quintet, Jindrich Pavlis
  • Listened to: 08.01.2021

The first movement starts with a jumpy, cheeky sounding melody, which seems to jump from instrument to instrument. The accompaniment is a rhythmical octave pattern. The centre part of the first movement is much calmer, but still has a slighlty unsettling character. I personally had the impression, that the accompaniment worked best when it was played by the bass clarinet.

The second movement introduces a deep, hopeful theme, played by the bass clarinet. This theme is echoed by the higher pitched instruments shortly after. The introduced rhythmical pattern is kept throughout the whole piece for variations of the theme.

The third movement again uses an in octaves structured accompaniement, although with a slower pace than the first movement. This hectic sounding part is taken over by a melodic, songful passage lead by the oboe before moving back to the initial hectic motif.

The last movement uses a wavy pattern as accompaniement and some of the lower pitched instruments to play a partially calming and hopeful theme. A rapid switch leads into a heroic character where at least one instrument continuously plays one note whilst the other instruments try to create a melody around it.

I already noticed over the previous two pieces, that every combination of instruments from a woodwind ensemble is unique. Thus it is possible to create different kinds of characters/moods.

Prélude à l’apres-midi d’un faune

  • Composer: Claude Debussy
  • Instruments: 3 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets (A), 2 bassoons
    4 horns (F), 2 harps, 2 crotales, strings
  • Date of composition: 1891-1894
  • Date of first performance: 1894
  • Performed by: Bernard Haitink, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
  • Listened to: 10.01.2021

The whole piece basically consists of one single theme, using a chromatic scale. After the entry of the flute solo, which already created a mysterious, somewhat quirky character, the other instruments start to join. Due to the breathy sounding flute, especially in combination with the oboe and a harp playing arpeggios, this character is kept throughout the whole piece. Trying to tell Mallarmé’s poem, Debussy moves through several different keys, but still manages to let the piece sound structured.

Symphony No. 3, second movement

  • Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Year of composition: 1801
  • Performed by: Berliner Philharmoniker
  • Listened to: 10.01.2021

The movement starts with the strings playing a dramatic, lamenting theme. In bar 9 the theme is repeated by the oboe, which has a bright and clear sound over the rest of the orchestra. Over the second theme the key switches from c- minor to c – major, a second theme is introduced. Towards the end of this movement, the first movement comes back again. Even though, the oboe may not have the most important, carrying role, it seems to add a little extra effect on th dramatic nature of the piece.

The Swan of Tuonela

  • Composer: Jean Sibelius
  • Year of composition: 1895
  • Performed by: Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic
  • Listened to: 10.01.2021

This is probably one o Sibelius’ most well – known works. The movement from the “Lemminkainen – Suite, op. 22” is distincted by the long solo from the English – horn. The orchestra uses rather dark colours, which lets the bright, nasal sound of the solo – instrument stand out even more. I often had the impression, that the English – horn wasn’t only playing, but also seemed to sing. Similar to Debussy’s Prélude à l’apres-midi d’un faune, an harp playing arpeggios as accompaniment adds a mystical flair to the piece.

Symphony No. 2, third movement

  • Composer: Sergei Rachmaninoff
  • Year of composition: 1907
  • Performed by: Valery Gergiev, London Symphony Orchestra
  • Listened to: 10.01.2021

The movement has a stormy, heroic character, which is initially lead by quaver runs from the strings. When all instruments suddenly come to a halt, a short clarinet solo can be heard. This motif is shortly after echoed by the orchestra. The mood of the piece has changes to a more calming character. Interestingly, I didn’t have the impression that the sound of the clarinet could be heard as well as the previous solo instruments in combination with the orchestra, it blended in perfectly nonetheless.

The rite of spring

  • Composer: Igor Stravinsky
  • Year of composition: 1913
  • Instruments: woodwinds: piccolo, 3 flutes (3rd doubling piccolo 2), alto flute, 4 oboes (4th doubling cor anglais 2), cor anglais, clarinet in E-flat and D, 3 clarinets in B-flat, A (3rd doubling bass clarinet 2), bass clarinet, 4 bassoons (4th doubling contrabassoon 2), contrabassoon.
  • Performed by: New York Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Listened to: 06.01.2020

This piece starts with the bassoon playing a solo. Even though I would have expected it to have a similar character to the English horn, it created its own tone colour. The other instruments from the rest of the orchestra were all added very slowly. From that point on, the bassoon seems to be moved in the background increasingly, but still has a supporting role for the piece. Interestingly, the piece also often changes its time signature. Stravinsky worked with repetitive motifs, where one motif is used by different instruments in a canonic form. Furthermore, all dynamical changes happen rapidly, with no transition and often unexpectedly. Overall Stravinsky seemed to have used several different themes within every movement, worked with them until a peak point is reached and then quickly moves onto the next theme. I rather enjoyed listening to this piece due to its huge diversity in character.

The Formula

  • Composer: Bekah Sims
  • Listened to: 11.01.2021

All starting notes of the 4 higher pitched instruments are Cs, although, due to the instruments, different in texture, creating a mysterious atmosphere. Passages of long sustained notes are often interrupted by sharp, staccato chords. In my opinion, the use of pitch bending and air tones, were a very effective technique, which blends in with the rest of the piece very well. Even though it was difficult to find a structure, the frequent use of the note C suggested a main key for the piece. I was surprised at the details within the score, which sometimes even indicated how much air the performers should use.

BWV 527: Adagio

  • Composer: J.S. Bach:
  • Year of composition: ~1730
  • Instruments: Organ
  • Performed by: Anthony Newman
  • Listened to: 19.01.2021

The second movement is really lyrical. Bach used three voices; A bass voice, mostly moving with dark, heavy steps and two higher voices, which seem to “comunicate” with one another by playing short distinctive phrases before resting on long notes again. Even though the piece is only played by one instrument, the piece sounds lyrical and full.

BWV 1044: Adagio

  • Composer: J.S. Bach
  • Year of composition: 1738 – 1740
  • Instruments: flute, violin, harpsichord, strings, continuo
  • Performed by: Robert Levin, Mario Videla, Michael Behringer, Boris Kleiner, Isabelle Faust, Jean-Claude Gérard
  • Listened to: 19.01.2021

In addition to the three voices above, a fourth voice for accomaniment was added to the piece. Interestingly, Bach didn’t use the same instrument for the first voice, but let the solo instruments alternate. The high pizzicato create an unusual soft character for the piece. Due to the higher amount of instruments, Bach also put more focus on dynamics between the different phrases. I personally had the impression that the violin was least effective with the main melody, as the bright sound of the flute, seemed to trump over the melody with staccato notes.

12 Notations pour piano

  • Composer: Pierre Boulez
  • Year of composition: 1945
  • Instruments: Piano
  • Performed by: Pi- Hsien Chen
  • Listened to: 19.01.2021

The 12 Notations pour piano is a collection of 12 short pieces, each of them having 12 bars. The structure and harmonics slightly remind of Schönberg’s serialism. Even though there is a visible “row” Boulet used, he doesn’t always apply all the rules of the 12 – tone technique.

Notations I-IV and Notations VII for orchestra

  • Composer: Pierre Boulez
  • Year of composition: 1978 – 1980
  • Instruments: Orchestra
  • Performed by: Ensemle Modern Orchestra
  • Listened to: 19.0.2021

Even though, the piece has been extended by another 12 bars, with only 2,20 min, it is still rather short for an orchestral piece. The original template of melody and rhythmic stay the same. Nonetheless, the variation of the sound colours in addition to some small alterations, gives all those pieces a completely new character. Boulez mostly used either a small amount of instrument groups for the “lighter” sounding parts, or the whole orchestra. I think, that the added percussion had an especially effective input to the character and rhythm of the pieces.

Sequenza VI

  • Composer: Luciano Berio
  • Year of composition: 1967
  • Instruments: viola
  • Performed by: Christophe Desjardins
  • Listened to: 19.02.2021

This piece seems to explore all different technical abilities and textures the instrument is capable of. Even though, it is difficult to find any structure by listening to the piece, the result can be parted into the following: Most of the time, the viola plays tremolos, either in chords or as a single notes. There are a few small “calmer” passages which involve only one melodic line.

Musica Ricercata/Six bagatelles

  • Composer: György Ligeti
  • Year of composition: 1951- 1953
  • Instruments: Piano
  • Performed by: Pierre-Laurent Aimard
  • Listened to: 28.01.2021

From the 11 parts of Musica ricercata Ligeti rearranged 6 for a woodwind – quintet (Listening Log entry above: 6 bagatelles for windquintet).

Allegro con spirito: The flute and clarinet of the woodwind ensemble cover the bright sound of the upper range from the piano. In addition the bass notes at the beginning of each bar played by the clarinet, horn and bassoon, the piece sounds interestingly much less serious than the piano version. The quaver – third movement from the piano also seems to sound more clumsy than the same bars played by two different instruments.

woodwind – ensemble

Rubato Lamentoso: The piano part already introduces a slowly moving, virtuously sounding melody, played in octaves, sometimes interrupted by jazzy sounding chords. This slow theme is developed over the progress of the piece and seems to be extending the register of the piano.

The nasal sound of the oboe gives it an eastern sounding character, which also fits well to the used scale an octave movement. For the first few bars Ligeti also added a note; a perfect 5th to the C#, played by the horn. This causes a slightly heavier colour of sound.

Allegro Grazioso: For me this was one of the most interesting parts of the piece to compare. The left hand of the piano version is meant to be playing a continuous rapid movement without any accents and independent movement from the rhythm of the right hand.

As it is written for more instruments, rhythmical independence becomes, of course, much more difficult. In order to copy the left hand of the piano, Ligeti chose a simple quaver – note rhythm which alternates between the clarinet and the bassoon. The bright sound of the flute captures the soothing sounding melody of the piano version really well. Within several other parts, the melody is also played by the horn, which automatically turns the light sounding character into a more ensured sounding atmosphere.

Presto ruvido: This cheery sounding tune seems to constantly have a pedal note alongside it, as there is always one note within each bar which is played alongside the melody. (an “E” in the example below).Apart from a view exceptions the same rhythmic pattern is kept throughout all the bars. In some parts a melody, fitting to the harmonics but rhythmically independent can be heard.

For the alterations of dynamics Ligeti alternated the amount of instruments used for the woodwind quintet. Otherwise he made use of staccato notes for each instrument and balanced the voices in an appropriate way, thus no voice, apart from the melodic parts would stand out more than others.

I overall noticed, that, even though he always used the same notes for the woodwind ensemble, Ligeti sometimes changed some octaves. This enabled all the instruments to show their technical abilities and also underlined, depending on the used instruments and octaves, the character of each piece effectively well.

Adagio Maestoso: Even though this piece mostly consists of dissonant harmonics, a rhythmical structure and a strong, forceful melody can easily be distinguished. In order to make it more audible over the other instruments, Ligeti used the horn to play the mentioned melody. Due to its strong, deep voice the music suddenly appears much more confident.

Vivace Cappricoso

This piece has a more quirky sounding character at the beginning but becomes more and more serious towards the end. Within the piano version especially the low played quaver thirds seem to not be able to fulfill their potential, as the produced sounds are too low and to close together. As he wrote the Musica ricercata before the six bagatelles, this may even have been on purpose.

The horn and the bassoon take over the role from the low thirds, whilst the flute, oboe and clarinet play the melody in octaves. Even though those three instruments play at the same time, the airy sound of the flute can still be distinguished from the other sounds, which seems to be lifting up the dark spirit of the piece. The piano version on the other hand, stays to the dark, heavy sound by using sf notes which creates a hard metallic sound in almost every register.

Csónakázás (Boating)

  • Composer: Béla Bartók
  • Year of composition: 1926 – 1939
  • Instruments: Piano
  • Performed by: Pásztory Ditta
  • Listened to: 28.01.2021

The quaver – movement of the left hand reminds of waves on an ocean, even though the notes are not meant to be played legato. Even though the piece doesn’t have a specific key and the melody initially appears dissonant to the accompaniment, the pace and melodic line of the right hand indicate a calm character. At bar 24, the melody starts to alternate between the right and left hand, especially dominant here is the 4 – note motif from the beginning of the piece. Towards the end the piece becomes slower and ends with another version of the beginning motif.


  • Composer. Béla Bartók
  • Year of composition: 1926 – 1939
  • Instruments: Piano
  • Performed by: Pásztory Ditta
  • Listened to: 28.01.2021

This short, rapidly played piece reminds of a scherzo from the Classical era. As both hands are playing in a stave for the tremble clef until bar 25, it overall stays within the middle/high register. The melody, often consisting of a short three – note – motif is passed on from one hand to the next. The main motif is played an octave and a perfect 4th lower by the tight hand in bar 26, whilst the left hand continues to accompany above. Towards the end of the piece, the used range is expanded slightly more. The mood nonetheless stays jumpy, yet cautious.