Listening Log

Sonata No. 2 for Harp

  • Composer: John Parry
  • Year of composition: 1981
  • Performed by: Judy Loman
  • Listened to: 28.05.2022

The first moevemt starts with a rapidly played joyful theme, the contrasting melodic lines of both hands seem equally important, mostly moving in opposing directions. A small theme which is mainly present in the right hand at the beginning of the piece can be heard several times over the whole movement.
The second movement “Siliciana” has a much slower pace. This time, the left hand is mostly used to accompany the right hands melody with chords and arpeggios.
“Allegro Assai”, is the name of the third movement. In traditional style kept similar to the first movement by having two independently moving melodic lines again, as well as a faster pace and a light mood.

Through the soft sound of the Harp, all three movements created a relatively calm character Nonetheless, the textural changes between the different movements create clear contrasts. It would be interesting to create a piece for harp that tries to create a more dramatic chracter, moving against the sound color of the instruments. Apart from this, I will try to place the Harp in calmer pieces, creating a more relaxing atmosphere.

Elogio de la Danza

  • Composer: Leo Brouwer
  • Year of composition: 1964
  • Instrument(s): Guitar
  • Performed by: Pilippe Bertraud
  • Listened to: 09.06.2022

The piece seems to start with alternating themes of single notes, played an octave apart, and rapidly played arpeggios followed by a jazzy sounding theme. As the piece continues, these initial themes seem to expand to more complex musical ideas, mostly playing dissonant chords. I only recognised some already used themes at the end of the piece again. Even though no note was played on its own (apart from the octave – movement introduction), a fine outline of a melody could be recognised, lead by the upper notes of the mentioned dissonant chords.

I personally found this piece very interesting, even though I really enjoyed the sound colour of the guitar, it was difficult to completely the presented contrasting parts of the piece. Nonetheless, the short breaks which were placed between the different parts sometimes, created a small dramatic effect, as if the following part would promise a resolution to the previous dissonant chords.

6 Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin

  • Composer: J.S.Bach
  • Year of composition: 1703 – 1720
  • Instrument(s): Solo Violin
  • Performed by: James Ehnes
  • Listened to: 09.06.2022

Whilst the Partitas have the basic outlines of baroque dance structures, all of the sonatas have four movements, layed out in the classical slow – fast – slow – fast structure. Especially noticeable are the often occurring descending fifth sequences, which seem to appear in every piece apart from the second partita in D – minor. I really enjoyed listening to this small collection for solo violin. Especially interesting was, how Bach created structured chord – movements by either alternating a higher pitched melody with a single lower note or letting the violin play two notes at the same time. Furthermore, the layout of the melody is so varied and colourful, that all 6 sonatas stay equally interesting, even though they’re all just played by a single instrument.


  • Composer: Jaques Ibert
  • Year of composition: 1916
  • Instrument: Solo Harp
  • Performed by: Sofia Ansuncion Claro
  • Listened to: 09.06.2022

This piece is rather short and mainly stays in the same dreamy character. It is structured in a simple A – B – A’ form. Nonetheless the transition between these parts, especially from the first “A” part to “B” are more fluently and can only be noticed by a change from one arpeggio – theme to another. On the other hand, the transition to the second A – theme seems more abrupt. Funnily, the starting rapidly played arpeggios reminded me of the sound of an alarm clock, due to the light and dreamy character of the piece. Furthermore, most of the arpeggios were moving from the lower towards the upper register in a fluent motion, which I associated with calm movement of water.

Violinconcerto in D-major

  • Composer: Johannes Brahms
  • Year of composition: 1878
  • Instruments: Orchestra, Solo – Violin
  • Performed by: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Listened to: 13.06.2022

As with many other violin concerts, the vituosic capabilities of the solo intsrument is in the main focus. Nonetheless, it seems that the violin doesn’t only accompany the instruments, some thematic developments seem to move from the orchestra to the violin.

The first epic sounding, colourful movement has a duration of 20 minutes and involves a simple 3 – note – movement at the beginning which is followed by a side theme featuring syncopes and ends with a melancholic theme. The tender sounding second movement starts with wind instruments playing a theme,which is only developed after the violin starts to take the melody again. The last movement provides a conversation between the violin and the orchestra, played with a faster pace again.

For my personal liking, some of the solo passages were slightly too long, even though the musical lines were written wonderfully, I enjoyed the sound of the violin more when it was accompanied by the rest of the orchestra

Waltz of the flowers

  • Composer: Tchaikovsky
  • Year of composition: 1892
  • Performed by: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Listened to: 13.06.2022

The piece starts with a rapidly played passage for the harp, seemingly preparing for the entrance of the waltz movement by the orchestra. Whilst the strings seem to provide the 3/4 – time signature, some wind instruments start playing a joyful jet slightly mysterious sounding melody, which shortly after leads to an warm side theme which is mainly led by the strings.

Overall I hugely enjoyed the piece, even though the harp was only heard at the beginning, nonetheless it still standed out as it was the only solo part. Just as it was with the previous pieces involving a solo harp, the warm sound created a dreamy/ watery character. As it obviously quite effective to write fast arpeggios for the instrument (which is also done in this piece), I would find it interesting to write a piece for solo harp which only uses a small amount of arpeggios or scale movements.

Dissolving Light

  • Composer: Mikis Theodorakis
  • Year of composition: 1998
  • Instrument: Solo Guitar
  • Performed by: Elena Papandreou
  • Listened to: 14.06.2022

This short piece for a solo guitar has a incredibly calm character. Even though it seems to also be created by different ideas put together, the overall structure seemed to be more organised as it was in Elogio de la danza. This is probably caused by a chord movement which seems to appear at the end of a few sections. Furthermore, I noticed that the composer tried to use a wider range on the guitar, often having a clear, leading melody with an accompaniment underneath. Overall a really enjoyable, relaxing piece.

Recuerdos de la Alha

  • Comoser: Francisco Tarrega
  • Year of composition: 1899
  • Instruments: Solo Guitar
  • Performed by: John Williams
  • Listened to: 14.06.2022

The whole piece consists of a melody played in tremolo accompanied by a simple arpeggio theme. Again, the warm sound of the guitar in combination with a calm character of the melody create a warm, comforting character. Interestingly, even though I’ve perceived some other examples in the past, I never considered to write a tremolo part for a guitar. Nonetheless, I thought it gave the piece a more “southern” sounding character, thus I might try it for future compositions.

Caprice No. 24

  • Composer: Niccolo Paganini
  • Year of composition: 1805 – 1809
  • Instruments: Violin
  • Performed by: Itzhak Perlman
  • Listened to: 14.06.2022

The piece involves arpeggios, scales in major and minor. Nonetheless the sound is overall rather dramatic. Furthermore Paganini included several double stops to support the melody with a hint of a chord, parallel octaves appear as well. I personally have a weakness for descending fifth sequences, which is a feature appearing rather often within this piece, thus I really enjoyed listening to it. Nonetheless, at some parts I also had the impression, that the sound of the violin on its own was rather empty and could have done with some further accompaniment.

Cello Concerto No.1

  • Composer: Dmitri Shostakovitch
  • Year of composition: 1959
  • Instrument: Solo Cello, Orchestra
  • Performed by: Gautier Caprucon, Valery Gergiev, Mariinsky Orchestra of Saint Petersburg
  • Listened to: 14.06.2022

The composition seems to involve some rapidly changing rhythms, with adapting time signatures, nonetheless, maybe also caused by an almost constantly appearing four – note movement, the music still seems quite fluent. The impelling characters of the first and third movement stand in contrast to a more melancholic second movement. As the piece was overall more tense sounding than the previous ones, I needed some time to get used to the overall harsher character. Nonetheless, I found myself enjoying especially the quirky rhythmic character and motif – dominated structure of the first movement.

Symphony No. 1 in C – minor (4th Movement)

  • Composer: Johannes Brahms
  • Year of composition: 1862 – 1877
  • Performed by: Berliner Philharmoniker
  • Listened to: 14.06.2022

The Introduction combines several aspects which where already used within the first movement. In bar 20 the piece seems to get more tense as faster movements and a crescendo working towards a forte are used. A soloistic timpani – parts leads to the second part of the movement. Another part standing out more than others is a solostic, heoric sounding horn – melody, which is taken over by a flute slightly afterwards. The horns and flutes seem to fight over the main theme, which creates an interesting contrast between the warm strong sound of the horns and the light airy sound of the flutes. A strong hymn – like theme which is firstly presented by horns and strings establishes itself as the most dominant theme of the movement. The coda seems to consist of small parts from different motifs used over the whole movement. Overall a really enjoyable piece, where I especially liked the mostly dramatic transitioning – phrases between the different parts.

Dido’s Lament

  • Composer: Henry Purcell
  • Year of composition: 1689
  • Performed by: Emmanuelle Haim, Le Concert s’Astree
  • Listened to: 16.06.2022

One of the most outstanding motifs of the piece is probably the descending semitone – movement, which seems to appear quite often in different formats all over the piece. The overall melancholic and dramatic character, mostly caused by sustained dramatic chords, accompanying a single female voice. The leading melody is overall really adaptive and harmonizes well with the other instruments. Nonetheless, the melody still seemed independent enough to really stand out. I hugely enjoyed listening to it.

Looking for the piece, I also accidentally stumbled upon a version from Annie Lennox, and even though I already enjoyed the original version, I found her version incredibly moving.

String Quartet, op 76, no 2

  • Composer: Jodeph Haydn
  • Year of composition: 1796 – 1797
  • Instruments: 2 Violins, Viola, Cello
  • Performed by: Quatour Mosaiques
  • Listened to: 17.06.2022

Starting with a rather dark, yet rapid theme, the first movement of this quartet often switches between minor and major themes, constantly keeping a fast pace. Noteworthy is also the melody mostly involving fifth – movements. Furthermore I found it interesting, how the composer sometimes added general rests to provoke a tenser character. The following lyrical andante slowly works its way to a lovely sounding melody by the first violin accompanied by pizzicato – chords. The third movement has a darker and quirkier character again, I was surprised often by the occurring pace – changes. The finale sounds stylistically similar to the first by alternating major and minor motifs.

String Quartet No. 9 in A

  • Composer: W.A.Mozart
  • Year of composition: 1785
  • Instruments: 2 Violins, Viola, Cello
  • Performed by: Hagen Quartett
  • Listened to: 17.06.2022

This string quartet had a much brighter character than the last one, even though it similarly started with a more dramatic theme, it quickly transitions to a fast paced bright theme. I had the impression that the mix between different tempos especially for the first movement were well balanced. The second movement involves a slower darker theme with the first violin mostly playing a melancholic leading melody. The third movement was especially interesting to listen to, consisting of several variations based on a short motif, which also modulates to a minor and is lead by the cello at the end. The finale is written in thigh harmonies, often working towards a peak point.

String Quartet No. 2 in G – Major

  • Composer: L.v.Beethoven
  • Year of composition: 1799
  • Instruments: 2 Violins, Viola, Cello
  • Performed by: Emerson String Quartet
  • Listened to: 17.06.2022

The first movement starts with a hopeful theme accompanied by a side – motif in D – major. Written in sonata – form the exposition end rather abruptly with a dramatic peak – point. Throughout the rest of the movement the violins an the cello seem to fight over the melody. The transition between the development and the recapitulation is fluently. The second movement starts with a soft melody in C – major, lead by the violin. The melody is shortly after taken from the cello, which eventually leads to an alteration between those two instruments at the end of the movement. The scherzo creates another technically contrasting yet melodically similar theme to the second movement. The fourth theme was in my opinion the most entertaining one, starting with a simple theme played by the cello, which is always answered by a tutti passage. I consider using this idea of thematic development for my next composition. After these two parts seem to slowly melt together, the piece closes with a brisk fortissimo – motif.

Der Tod und das Mädchen (String Quartet No, 14 in D – minor)

  • Composer: Franz Schubert
  • Year of composition: 1824
  • Instruments: 2 Violins, Viola, Cello
  • Performed by: Jerusalem Quartet
  • Listened to: 17.04.2022

The introduction of this piece is, fitting to its title (translated “Death and the Maiden”), dark themed and incredibly dramatic. Memorable here is also the slightly unsettling and propulsive triplet – motif, which can be heard almost throughout the whole movement. The second movement is traditionally kept in a slower pace, with a sad and dramatic theme continuing the dark mood of the first movement. The introduced theme at the beginning is presented in several variations, all giving a new, sometimes more vivid character to the piece. I especially liked the transition between the arco and pizzicato accompaniment within the first variation. The third movement had a harsher, stormier sound again, where the main melody seems to jump from the higher ranged instruments to the cello. The finale starts rapidly and strong with a theme which I associated with a running horse, due to the dotted note rhythm played at a fast pace. Towards the end, Schubert uses this motif again, moving from a pianissimo to forte-fortissimo, increasing the tension until he finishes the piece with a strong peak – point.

Serenade in C – major

  • Composer: Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky
  • Year of composition: 1880
  • Instruments: strings
  • Performed by: Vienna Chamber Orchestra
  • Listened to: 21.06.2022

Even tough I’m personally not always too keen on Tchaikovsky’s works, I really enjoyed listening to this piece. He managed to set a vast amount of energy and life in just a small amount of instruments, which made the piece really enjoyable. The first movement reminds of a piece from the classical era, even though, through a well considered placement of dynamical changes and rests, the instruments almost seemed to breathe. The second waltz is a slowly forward – marching waltz. Soft harmonic structures are put against a high, hopeful melody. For the third movement, which seems to be the most dramatic one, the composer seemed to have used a choir – like structure for the beginning. Several voices can be heard at the same time playing a slow, mournful melody, shortly after an alteration of this melody is passed through several instruments. The last movement is opened with a slow introduction, opening up to a colourful sounding melody.

Serenade in e – major, op 22

  • Composer: Antonin Dvorak
  • Year of composition: 1875
  • Instruments: Strings
  • Performed by: Prague Chamber Orchestra
  • Listened to: 21.06.2022

The first movement starts with a simple theme played by the first violin which is shortly after echoed by the cello. Shortly after this short motif is developed further and seems to bloom in warm colours. The second and third movement are dance – movements, mostly creating a melancholic character. Nonetheless, the third movement, seemed cheerier again, with a slightly faster and jumper melody. The scherzo seemed more gripping than the previous parts, involving several joyful melodies. For me, the most moving movement was probably the fourth one, slowly moving with a dramatic melody towards several mournful peak – points at the end. The piece is ended with a fiery sounding finale. Some themes from the previous movements can be heard alternating with the always reappearing introduction theme of this last movement. At the end the beginning of the first movement can be heard again, closing the whole piece.

I found it interesting that this piece didn’t have the usual four, but five movements. I personally felt that all the pieces combined seemed somehow unbalanced,even though the third movement functions as a “centre” of the piece.

Adagio for Strings

  • Composer: Samuel Barber
  • Year of composition: 1938
  • Instruments: Strings
  • Performed by: New York Philharmonic
  • Listened to: 21.06.2022

Even though the overall slow tempo, and dark colour of sound of this piece create an incredibly sad mood. I personally think that this piece stands out from other “dramtatic” sounding examples, maybe caused by the fact, that it seems like it will constantly stay in this exact same mood, without wanting to change to a brighter theme. Interestingly, the theme introduced at the beginning is played in varied forms throughout the whole movement in different constellations without sounding monotonous, this maybe due to the seemingly “breething” melodic lines.

This piece is used in several films due to its highly emotional character.

Funeral Music

  • Composer: Witold Lutoslawski
  • Year of composition: 1958
  • Instruments: Strings
  • Performed by: Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra
  • Listened to: 21.06.2022

Instead of parting it in four different movements, the composer decided to use one movement which seemed to have four different sections, which are all parted by a general rest. The time signature changes several times during the piece. Looking over the score I also noticed, that he started with a twelve – tone scale. Due to the overall disharmonic structure, the piece has a rather harsh and unpleasant character. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed some often introduced surprising elements such as a sudden change to pizzicato movement and different kinds of sound colours which always seemed to appear for a few bars.

Funnily enough, I think if I would have heard this piece at the beginning of my studies, I wouldn’t have liked it at all. Nonetheless, after the progress I’ve made throughout the last few years and all the different pieces I’ve listened to, I actually found myself enjoying (more or less) a disharmonic piece for the first time.

Introduction and Allegro for Strings

  • Composer: Edward Elgar
  • Year of composition: 1905
  • Instruments: Strings
  • Performed by: Allegri String Quartet
  • Listened to: 21.06.2022

The piece starts with a hopeful tutti – theme. Moving from a major scale. Even though the piece started brightly, it slowly transitions towards a more melancholic theme, which’s melody is lead by the viola, often echoed by the other instruments. This very expressive section seems to move to a theme similar to the beginning again.

I found the two movements within just over 3 minutes rather compact, yet in terms of listening to a highly varied piece really effective.