Listening Log


  • Composer: George Enescu
  • Year of composition: 1906
  • Instruments: Trumpet, piano
  • Performed by: Hans Gansch
  • Listened to: 03.02.20201

This short piece has a really melancholic character. The accompanying piano mainly plays a constellation of slightly jazzy sounding minor chords, which seem to communicate with the melody line of the trumpet. Before listening to this piece, I always associated the bright sound of a trumpet with cheery, motivational music. Thus, I was really surprised, that the trumpet is also able to create a dramatic, melancholic character very effectively.

Sonata for Trumpet and Piano

  • Composer: Peter Maxwell Davies
  • Year of composition: 1955
  • Instruments: Trumpet, piano
  • Performed by: Gerard Schwarz, Ursula Oppens
  • Listened to: 03.02.2021

Even though this piece has a structure which leans onto the Classical era, including 3 different movements (Allegro moderato, Lento, Allegro vivo), it has a more modern, character sounding similar to serialism. Whilst the outer two movements were slightly faster and seemed more related to a modern composition technique, the second movement appeared to be calmer. Contrasting to the last one, the trumpet didn’t cause a calmer atmosphere, its sound almost seems to imitate the high pitched metallic sound of the piano.


  • Composer: Susan Mutter
  • Year of composition: 2008
  • Instruments: Trombone
  • Performed by: James Boldin, Richard Seiler
  • Listened to: 03.02.2021

Within this piece the piano and trombone seem to describe a person aging, with the movement names 6,15,34,66 and 92. Even though the piano mainly functions as an accompaniment, it also often plays the melody alongside the trombone. I personally had the impression, that the music was adapted very well to the different years. Whilst “Six” still sound really cheery and playful “fifteen” seems to become more serious and unsure, yet really adventurous.In my personal opinion the warm sound of the trombone fits really well to the whole register of the piano, which is a combination I will probably use for my own future compositions as well.

Trombone Sonata

  • Composer: Paul Hindemith
  • Year of composition: 1941
  • Instruments: Trombone
  • Performed by: Ensemble Villa Musica
  • Listened to: 03.02.2021

In comparison to the previous piece, this one seems more harsh and slightly discomforting, which is probably caused by the a- tonality. Instead of playing together, the piano and trombone seem to complement each others phrases. Even though the overall structure is difficult to determine, I was still impress by the effective sound combination of the piano and trombone which again managed to evoke a somewhat relaxing feeling.

Appel Interstellaire

  • Composer: Oliver Messiaen
  • Year of composition: 1974
  • Instruments: French Horn
  • Performed by: Dylan Skye Hart
  • Listened to: 03.02.2021

As this piece is written for a French Horn only, one can focus well on the produced sounds, which appear very different from one another with every new part. Especially noticeable for me were the overtones created by the instrument, which seemed to appear stronger than overtones produced by other instruments. There appear to be several versions for this piece, thus, it seems to be interpreted in different ways.

Horn Sonata in F major, Op. 17

  • Composer: L.v. Beethoven
  • Year of composition: 1800
  • Instruments: French Horn
  • Performed by: Hermann Baumann, Leonard Hokanson
  • Listened to: 03.02.2021

This piece has three movements and lasts for about 15 minutes. The first movement is in sonata form. Especially the second movement seemed really emotional with a combination of long, strong notes from the horn and rapidly played minor arpeggios played by the piano. I furthermore also really enjoyed echoing parts, where the piano would introduce a short motif and the horn repeats it. I personally would have expected that the sound combination is similar to the trombone and piano, but the horn appeared to be much stronger and created a more heroic, sometimes warmer character than the trombone.


  • Composer: Oystein Baadsvik
  • Year of composition: 2002
  • Instruments: Tuba
  • Performed by: Oystein Baadsvik
  • Listened to: 03.02.2021

This tuba solo was really mesmerising to listen to, as the composer showed a huge amount of different techniques in which a single tube can be played. Starting with simple double tonguing within the low register, he moved on to singing, playing and producing percussion simultaneously. Even though most of it was played within a very low register, the notes could be heard fully and clearly.

Concerto for Bass Tuba and Orchestra

  • Composer: Ralp Vaughan Williams
  • Year of composition: 1954
  • Instruments: Tuba, Orchestra
  • Performed by: The Royal Ballet Sinfonia orchestra
  • Listened to: 03.02.2021

Before listening to this piece, I really underestimated the strength a tuba is capable of. Similar to a horn, it is able to create a strong, heroic sound but is even more effective when played within the low register. Even though the orchestra is often in the background to accompany, towards the end of the first movement, the tuba plays a long, longing solo, which is only ended when the orchestra joins in for the last two bars of the movement. Interestingly I personally didn’t think that the accompaniment was chosen very well for the second movement. I somehow had the impression, that the tubas sound was slightly too strong for the really quietly, romantic accompaniment of the orchestra. The instrument functioned very well n combination with the orchestra. I personally enjoyed the combination with the tuba and accompanying strings most.

Concerto for Piccolo Trumpet

  • Composer: James Stephenson
  •   Year of composition: 2016
  • Instruments: Piccolo Trumpet, piano
  • Performed by: Joshua Ganger, Harlan Parker
  • Listened to: 05.02.2021

Similar to the previous piece, this piece was written for a piccolo trumpet and the piano. Due to the jumpy pace and jumpy melodic movements, this piece seemed much more vivid. The piccolo trumpet seemed to have lost most of is warm character, even in the lower ranges. Interestingly, the piano doesn’t really accompany the trumpet, but seems to guide the melody by playing a fragment of it beforehand.


  • Composer: Richard Peaslee
  • Year of composition: 1991
  • Instruments:  Flugelhorn, Piano
  • Performed by: Joseph Foley, Bonnie Anderson
  • Listened to: 05.02.2021

This piece has a calmer nature again. Interestingly, the sound of the piano and the flugelhorn seem to be melded so well, that it’s not always clear which instrument is more dominant. In the Centre of the piece, the melody and accompaniment moves away from the key and becomes more dissonant and hectic. The shrill trills from the flugelhorn create a threatening effect. Once the music moves back to is original, calm melody, the piano becomes slightly more expressive as well.

Trio for Tenor Trombone, Bass trombone and Piano

  • Composer: Eric Ewanzen
  • Year of composition: 1954
  • Instruments: Tenor Trombone, Bass teombone, piano
  • Performed by: Dede Decker Yossi Itskovich
  • Listened to: 06.02.2021

This piece has a really warm, melancholic atmosphere. The whole piece consists of parts for the two trombones playing a 2- voiced melodic line, accompanied by the piano and solo piano parts. The combination of the tenor trombone and the bass trombone somehow reminded me of a medieval fanfare.  The short solo – Piano parts in between seemed to „answer“ the melody of the trombones. Towards the end of the piece, the piano plays the melody alongside the tenor trumpet and the rhythmical and melodic lines of the trombones drift apart for the first time.

Concerto for Alto Trombone and Strings: 1: Allegro moderato

  • Composer: Johann Georg Albrechtsberger
  • Year of composition: 1769
  • Instruments: Alto trombone, strings, continuo
  • Performed by: Latvian Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Listened to: 06.02.2021

The piece suits with the leading strings the the classical epoch very well. It is in Sonata Form and interestingly, the two presented themes are not as contrasting as I expected. The hard sound of the accompanying chembalo also reminded me more of a piece from the Baroque period, rather than the Classical. In comparison to the tenor and bass trombone, I was surprised how mellow and damped the Alto trombone sounded. The introducing strings, which sound rather sharp due to the higher pitches used are also softened when the Alto trombone plays ist first notes.

Horn Sonata im F – major opm17, III: Allegro Moderato

  • Composer: L. v. Beethoven
  • Year of composition:
  • Instruments: Piano, French horn
  •   Performed by: Albert Linder, Ongenmar Bergfelt
  • Listened to: 07.02.2021

The horn has an even warmer, softer character than the trombone. Throughout the whole piece Beethoven seems to play with echoing motifs which are passed on from the piano to the French horn and vice versa. The tight, melodic main theme is rather slow but determined. Unlike the previous pieces, the horn sound, at least in this movement, not as agile and rather obtuse.

Weihnachtsoratorium BWV 248. I Jauchzet, frohlocket, auf, preiset die Tage

  • Composer: J. S. Bach
  • Year of composition: 1734
  • Performed by: Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden
  • Listened to: 14.02.2021

This piece has a very fast pace and a cheery, festive character throughout. One can notice, that the focus lays on the choir, as the biblical, repetitive text is transported is put in the foreground. In my opinion, the strings were the most dominant instrument as they always seemed to be playing along with the melody of the choir. The winds were used to create a fuller sound. Nonetheless, most entries of the choirs are introduced by fanfare like motifs from the trumpets. Another added powerful effect are the timpani, often playing alongside the trumpet.

Symphony no. 9, III. Rondo – Burleske

  • Composer: Gustav Mahler
  • Year of composition: 1909
  • Performed by: Lucerne Festival Orchestra
  • Listened to: 14.02.2021

The rondo starts with a dissonant motif, played by the trumpet, which is played over the whole movement and thus, becomes the refrain of the rondo. At some parts, the hectic movement seems dissonant and chaotic. The often appearing motifs seem clear but disjointed from the rest of the orchestra. This piece’s Brass section was much more dominant than the previous one. It seemed as if Mahler sometimes used it to create a threatening atmosphere. A bass tuba furthermore partially functioned as a bass. Interestingly, there were also some parts in which the higher brass instruments (trumpets) played fanfare – like sections.


  • Composer: Karlheinz Stockhausen
  • Year of composition: 1957
  • Performed by: Berliner Philharmoniker
  • Listened to: 14.02.2021

The most interesting thing about this piece, is probably, that it’s written for 3 orchestras. At the beginning, a collection of different notes and sounds seem to be introduced in different tempi at the same time. The piece is not written in any key, but seems be trying to create different noises and sounds as well as transitions between them.Even though I found, that the piece sounded mostly distorted due to the lack of key, I found it interesting to see the sound effects which can be achieved by organic instruments. No group of instruments seemed to be more important than another, they all equally contributed to the resulting sound.


  • Composer: M. Davis
  • Instruments: Soprano cornet in Eb, 9 cornets in Bb, Flugelhorn in Bb, 3 Tenor horns in Eb, 2 Baritone horns in Bb, 2 Tenor trombones, 1 Bass Trombone, 2 Euphoniums, 4 tubas, percussion
  • Performed by: Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band
  • Listened to: 19.02.2021

This short piece has a jazzy character with a slow, forward leading melody, which is altered between the higher instrument sections. The lower brass instruments communicate with the melody in question – answer motifs (antiphonal). With each new entry of the melody, a new feature, such as extra percussion or a further instrumental section is added. The slightly softer B – part creates a great contrast to the sharp melody.

Tournament for Brass

  • Composer: Eric Ball
  • Year of composition: 1954
  • Instruments: Soprano cornet in Eb, 9 cornets in Bb, Flugelhorn in Bb, 3 Tenor horns in Eb, 2 Baritone horns in Bb, 2 Tenor trombones, 1 Bass Trombone, 2 Euphoniums, 4 tubas, percussion
  • Performed by: Williams Fairey Engineering

The piece is divided into three movements: The first one is stylistic similar to the previous one: Different sections of instruments seem to converse with antiphonal verses. Here again, Ball made use of putting higher and lower instrument sections against one another. The second movement introduces a short, melancholic theme which functions as the introduction of a variation. Most of them are played within different solo sections, having the other instruments accompany the theme. The final movement, a scherzo, seems to be the first movement where the music focuses on the whole ensemble instead of a single instrument or a section, although, several solo – phrases appear as well.

Mass in B – minor

  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Year of composition: 1733
  • Performed by: Gewandhausorchester Leipzig
  • Listened to: 17.08.2020

Traditionally the kyrie is in three parts. Between the surrounding kyre – parts is the Chritste, which is distinctively different than the outer parts and creates and interesting contrast. Whilst the words from the kyrie melt with one another, sung by all five voices several times, the Christe is arranged as a duet. During the Gloria the sopranos have colourful arias to sing, although as they are thematically closely related to one another there does’t seem to be much harmonic change. The trumpets, which are played for the first time during this part help to emphasize the heroic character of the Gloria. The Credo is the centre part of the mass and interestingly seems to be constructed in a symmetric ways as well. The Sanctus has six instead of the usual five voices and is therefore slightly different than the Sanctus part from other masses. There was a strong emphazise on making the words more audible, which wasn’t always the case within the previous movements. The overall mood of the mass is gloomy and melancholy, creating dramatic contrast and making it therefore highly entertaining to listen to. I really enjoyed the solo – parts, as they seemed to create full, warm but dramatic harmonies.

Neptune from the Planets

  • Composer: Gustav Holst
  • Year of composition: 1914 – 1916
  • Performed by: The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Listened to: 19.02.2021

The orchestra starts with a wavy pattern moving through different instrumental sections, creating the sound of a cold, mysterious atmosphere. The whole piece is in pianissimo, which also makes it appear slightly further away. A choir featuring female or children’s voices only seems to be even further in the distance. The singers seem to slowly take over the orchestra. Unlike in Bach’s mass, there aren’t any words being sung, instead the choir just uses the vowel “a”. Towards the end, the choir is the only part that can still be heard, as it slowly fades away.

Daphnis et Chloé – Part II

  • Composer: Maurice Ravel
  • Year of composition: 1909 – 1912
  • Performed by: Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
  • Listened to: 19.02.2021

The piece starts with fast arpeggios played by woodwinds, and long dark underlying notes from the strings. Slowly, more and more instruments are added, nonetheless, the volume is kept really quiet, which adds further effect to the mysterious, yet lively atmosphere. The choir, which starts in pianissimo as well, almost seems to melt with the sound of the orchestra. Also only singing vocals, it’s the choir supporting the orchestra instead of the orchestra supporting the choir. After a long flute solo, accompanied by pizzicato strings, and a section which features some percussion for the first time, an reminded me of a “hunting” theme the piece ends rather abruptly.

Fugue en Ré Mineur

  • Composer: Bach, new cover by The Swingle Singers
  • Year of composition: 1703 – 1707 (1963)
  • Instruments: voices, drum kit, double bass
  • Performed by: The Swingle Singers
  • Listened to: 19.02.2021

Only accompanied by a plucked double bass and a drum kit, the Swingle Singers perform a 6 – voiced piece from Bach, which was originally written for organ. Interestingly, with the added instruments in the background, the piece becomes an, for a Bach piece unnatural sounding jazzy character. Similar to the previous pieces, no words are used. As the notes are sung really rapidly the singers often used sounds like “Ba” and “Da”, similar to scat singing, to reproduce the notes.


  • Composer: Luciano Berio
  • Year of composition: 1969
  • Instruments: Orchestra, Amplified voices
  • Performed by: Roomful of Teeth
  • Listened to: 19.02.2021

Unlike the previous pieces, this one is from the Contemporary Classical epoch and has overall more dissonant features. The first three movements seem to involve the 8 singers more than the 4th and 5th. Interestingly, Berio didn’t just let them sing, but also focused on the sound of languages. Within the first movement, the singers alternate with talking in French and singing vocals, which creates a somewhat quirky effect in addition to the orchestra. The following to movements are similar, but one can hear the English language instead of French.

Gold Mine

  • Composer: Take 6
  • Year of composition: 1988
  • Instruments: Acapella (6 male voices), body percussion
  • Performed by: Take 6
  • Listened to: 19.02.2021

This piece has a swinging, jazzy character. Even though most of the high voices sing the melody (this time with text) rhythmically together, they all sing at different pitches, which creates the effect of having one main melody, sung by the highest voice, with chords lying beneath. The only difference to a “normal” song, is that these chords involve the melody as well. The only voice which is rhythmically more independent, is the bass voice, which also sings sounds like “ba” and “da”, similar to the Swingle Singers and therefore seems to function as a plugged double bass.

Music for 18 musicians

  • Composer: Steve Reich
  • Instruments: violin, cello, 3 female voices, piano, maracas, marimba, xylophone, metalophone, clarinet, saxophone
  • Year of composition: 1976
  • Performed by: Eighth black bird
  • Listened to: 24. 05. 2020

Over the whole piece the music seems to wander slowly from one chord to the next one. The first movement is slightly quieter and less jumpy than the second one. I thought the female voices created and interesting impact on the overall calm sounding mood. I initially thought, that the repetitive motifs might become boring after a while, but the constant sound on similar chords produced a hypnotic circular sounding theme. The piece is parted into different sections, whereas every section seems to have another instrument in focus. Furthermore, Reich also alternated a lot with the dynamics, to keep the piece interesting.

Throughout my studies with the OCA, I have already discovered, that the sound of the marimba often has a calming effect. The metalophone, marimba and xylophone probably have the most dominant, distinguished sound from all the instruments above, yet all instruments, including the voices are blending in with one another, creating a completely new mix of sounds.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed listening to this piece, even though it was difficult to focus on a structure. I enjoyed the calm atmosphere it created, especially by just moving slowly to different chords.


  • Composer: Iannis Xenakis
  • Year of composition: 1933
  • Instruments: flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion
  • Performed by: Pierrot Ensemble
  • Listened to: 28.02.2021

The piece starts with dissonant harmonics played by the violin, cello, flute and clarinet, some cluster chords are added by the piano. After a few alterations of these instruments with solo passages of the piano, a drum solo follows, also accompanied by cluster chords from the piano. I found it interesting, that even when the other instruments were playing, the percussion still seemed to be in the foreground. Within the mix of different sounds a few other solo passages can be heard, sometimes forming a melody which even seems to be bound to a key signature. For these solo passages, the flute, clarinet and violin are alternating in an, what seems to be antiphonal structure with one another.

Ave Mavis Stella

  • Composer: Peter Maxwell Davies
  • Year of composition: 1976
  • Instruments: flute, clarinet, piano, marimba, viola, cello
  • Performed by: Pierrot Ensemble
  • Listened to: 28.02.2021

The piece starts with a solo from the cello, but the other instruments slowly join in one after another. As already mentioned within an earlier post, the sound of the marimba is often easily distinguishable and, in my opinion, often creates a calming atmosphere. It also has a central role in this piece. Even though the piece doesn’t have a key signature, there are some short motifs which seem to reappear in variations. Unlike the previous piece, the piano also has a more dominant role and stings out slightly more by playing shroff staccato notes. I overall noticed, that the instruments which would “normally” have a more dominant role (such as the flute, and clarinet) seem to hide in the background and blend with one another instead of the other instruments.


  • Composer: Julia Wolfe
  • Year of composition: 2015
  • Instruments: male voice, clarinet, piano, cello, double bass, e- guitar, body percussion, drum – kit
  • Performed by: Bang on a Can
  • Listened to: 02.03.1021

Reeling starts acapella with a male voice performing something similar to a recitative, a melodic pattern can be found in it as well. The other musicians start to snap and stamp rhythmically to the mans voice. Shortly after, a clarinet can be heard imitating the man’s voice. As barely any sounds are used, yet there is a strong rhythmic feeling present, the music has a forward – moving, encouraging yet relaxed character. More and more instruments join in one after another giving the piece more depth, the musical motif stays the same.

The first instrument which plays rhythmically independently is the e-guitar. Interestingly, the electronic sound over the otherwise organic instruments blends in really well and adds another calming feature to the piece. Instead of playing something different, the guitar plays the same harmonic pattern, but slightly delayed echoing the other instruments. After the entry of the e- guitar some of the other instruments start to move more independent as well becoming more and more distorted until it seems to be one big cluster chord.


  • Composer: Philip Glass
  • Year of composition:1981
  • Instruments: 2 flutes, 2 soprano saxophones, 2 tenor saxophones, 2 horns, synthesizer
  • Performed by: Philip Glass Ensemble
  • Listened to: 02.03.2021

Even though Floe starts softly, and with slow repetitive patterns, all creating one chord, it rapidly expands to a vivid sounding mix of different instruments. Similar to the previous piece “Reeling” there are some non – organic instruments used as well, in this case an electric organ (synthesizer)n, which nonetheless blend well with the other instruments. Although, I personally found that it had a stronger impact on the mix of sounds than the e- guitar, as the organ created louder, stronger notes. The mostly arpeggiated melodies seem to dance around one another, some alteration to the music can only be found when the amount of instrument or one note in the played chords change. Interestingly, apart from the saxophones and the organ, I personally would have found it difficult to find out which instruments were used for this piece, which is probably due to the well balanced mix of the ensemble.

Shostakovich Waltz No. 2

  • Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich
  • Year of composition: 1938
  • Instruments: 2 oboes, 3 English horns,
  • Performed by: Fredonia Oboe Ensemble
  • Listened to: 02.03.2021

This version for 2 oboes, 3 English horns was arranged by Jacob Nathan. I personally think that, with the given instruments, the arrangement is written quite well, although in my opinion lacks in dynamical colours. The whining sound of the English horn fits very well to the melancholic melody of the waltz. Nonetheless, I personally think, that the strong bass played by the brass section in the original version plays a very important, supporting role, which the oboe playing the bass voice is not capable of, thus the arrangement sounds slightly “empty”. Furthermore, when the music switches from minor, to major, the dynamics increase drastically in Shostakovich’s version, with the added percussion it has the effect of a knot being released. The key switch of the oboe – version isn’t quite as fulfilling in my opinion, as the amount of volume and instruments playing stays the same. For this piece, I even think that it might be quite useful to know the original version in order to understand the aim for depth.

The sound of music medley

  • Composer: Richard Rogers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Irwin Kostal
  • Year of composition: 1965
  • Instruments: 6 flutes
  • Performed by: IF – Ensemble
  • Listened to: 02.03.2021

This version is written for an ensemble of 6 flutes. I was surprised by the amount of harmonic layers one type of instrument is able to produce. The light, uplifting, airy sound of the flutes fitted very well to the light nature of the piece. Similar to the previous one, I had the impression, that some wider dynamical changes got lost within the arrangement. Interestingly, even though it is just one group of instruments playing (similar to the previous piece), I didn’t have the impression at all that the piece sounds empty. I noticed, that the arranger added quite a few trills and turns, which made the piece sound more full and rich. Obviously, the original version was written for a one or several voices in the foreground, but as one or more of the flutes are more in the foreground “singing” the melody, one doesn’t really miss the words. I think it would be very important to know the original version of this piece, to know what the flute playing the melody wants to recreate. Though, not having the text of the original composition allowed me to focus more on the harmonic and chord progression of the played pieces.

Toccata & Fugue in DmArrangement for guitar orchestra

  • Composer: J.S.Bach
  • Year of composition: unknown (between 1704 – 1750)
  • Instruments: e – guitars
  • Performed by: Sinfonity
  • Listened to: 02.03.2021

Finally, during my search for different ensembles, I stumbled over Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in d- minor written for an ensemble of e – guitars covered by the group “Sinfonity”. I hugely enjoyed listening to this version of Bach’s piece. The distorted sounds of the e – guitars fitted very well to the dark notes of the intro. I sometimes had the feeling, that some of the bass from the original version for organ is missing, even though there are some parts featuring deeper notes from one of the guitars.

I found it interesting, that the timbre of e – guitars, a fairly modern instrument, is quite similar to a church organ, both create a somewhat dissorted sound, yet the organ sounds more “bell” – like. Whilst the sound of the organ stays the same throughout, Sinfonity often altered the amount of guitars playing according to which voice is used in the original version, creating a welcome change. Even though Bach’s original version is a well – known piece, which is often used in media, for example for Halloween – settings, I personally don’t think it is necessary to know the original in order to enjoy this version.

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