Listening Log

Clara Schumann – Piano Trio

This piece for a violin, cello and a piano was written in 1846 by Clara Schumann (1819-1896) and probably had its first publication in 1847. The key is G-minor and it takes about 30 minutes for the four movements: Allegro moderato; Scherzo. Tempo di menuetto – Trio; Andante; Allegretto. 1

The version I listened to was performed by Anna Kalandarishvili on the violin, Bridget MacRae on the cello and Masako Otha on the piano, it was recorded in Munich on the 19th of February 2016.

The first movement is the longest one. The music is generally really calm, often involves chromatism and echoing themes. Even though all the instruments seem to be equally important, they all have at least one solo, whilst the remaining instruments fill the background.

The second movement can be divided into three parts: One, more funny sounding one, probably a scherzo, a more dramatic sounding slower theme in the centre and is finished by a scherzo theme again.

For the third movement a long piano introduction is put in front of the movement. The melody played is shortly after taken over by the violin and it takes another short period of time until the cello makes an entrance as well. This part of the piece seems to be the most emotional one. Unlike the two previous ones, a melody can always be heard clearly.

The fourth and last movement is similar to the very first one, but towards the end it seems to be really difficult to find.

I generally really enjoyed listening to this piece, but the movement I liked most was definitely the third. The way the melody is passed on from one instrument to another one I found particularly interesting. I was also surprised by the piccicato for the cello and violin, which created a nice change at the end of the movement.

1 IMSLP-Perucci music library, Piano Trio n G minor, Op. 17 (Clara Schumann) [online]. Available at:,_Op.17_(Schumann,_Clara)  [Accessed 21.08.2019]

Die schöne Müllerin – Franz Schubert

„Die schöne Müllerin “is a lieder cycle involving 20 lieder telling a story of a young miller who is unhappily in love with a girl. Unfortunately, she is unaware of his feelings and chooses to be with a hunter instead, whereupon the miller kills himself.1

The recording I listened to is from 1957, with Ritz Wunderlich singing and Kurt Heinz Stolze on the piano.

The whole cycle takes up about an hour. All the parts are for one voice and piano accompaniment.

  1. Das Wandern (To Wander)

Generally, the miller is singing about how much he enjoys wandering, he compares himself to a stream (always travelling) and rocks (never moving).

The first lied has a cheery tune, involves 5 stanzas, which always have the same structure.

  1. Wohin? (Whither)

This part is slightly calmer, some sequences seem to become slightly more dramatic.  The story continues with the miller going along a stream and/or asking it in which direction to go.

  1. Halt! (Stay)

The miller takes a break from his journey to look at a mill from distance, he enjoys the view as the sun shines onto it and spots a woman, who he instantly falls in love with.

After a long piano intro, with a theme which stays the same until the end of this lied, the voice starts, adapting to the piano part. Even though the stream is rarely mentioned in this part, the voice of the piano seems to represent one.

  1. Danksagung an den Bach (Thanks to the Brook)

In the fourth poem the protagonist gives thanks to the stream for leading him to the mill, he wonders whether the stream was sent out to find him.

This part was the calmest and most emotional one so far, really slow. Listening to it, one really gets the feeling as if the miller was incredibly thankful to have found the woman. The lied includes two stanzas, which are quite similar to one another. One difference can nevertheless be noticed as the second stanza starts in minor instead of major, but after a short while it modulates back to a major key-signature.

  1. Am Feierabend (The Hour of Rest)

Whilst the day comes to an end, the miller starts to become tired. He seems to be complaining a bit that he doesn’t have any energy left and claims that he would do much more if he had any strength left.

This lied includes several different characters. Starting with a strong piano intro, just playing forte minor chords, it quickly modulates to something cheerier sounding as soon as the voice starts singing. In the centre of the piece the music suddenly becomes really slow and calm, fitting to the title. Rather suddenly Schubert jumps to a forte for both voices again.

  1. Der Neugierige (The Eager Questioner)

In this poem the miller is wondering whether his feelings are reflected by the lady.

This slightly longer piece is overall really calm there are two different kind of stanzas Schubert includes but generally it stays quite monotonous.

  1. Ungeduld (Impatience)

This part is a bit longer than the previous ones. The miller now starts to wonder if the woman is even aware of his feelings. He complains, that it should actually be obvious to anyone, that he’s deeply in love.

Suitable to the title the piano introduces with an urging theme, which the voice adapts to and is being kept until the end of the lied. Whenever a phrase “Dein ist mein Herz” (=My heart belongs to you) the music becomes louder and slightly more dramatic.

  1. Morgengruß (Good Morning)

I found it difficult to interpret this part of the poem properly. The miller either went up to the lady to greet her, or he imagines doing so. In the end he watches her from the distance, sees her crying and speculates about what might be worrying her.

Making a huge contrast to the previous part, this one presents an incredibly slow theme, which is only “spiced up” by the sometimes occurring staccato-movements by the piano.

  1. Des Müllers Blumen (The Miller’s flowers)

In this part he talks about how he could pick flowers near the stream and plant them beneath her windowsill, so that she would have something nice to look at when waking up.

A calm character again, a rather long piano solo opens the lied. The dynamic overall stays the same. In terms of structure there are four stanzas, always sung with the same melody, whilst the piano intro is played in between them.

  1. Tränenregen (Shower of tears)

He managed to persuade the “millers-girl” to come out but just as they’re having a romantic moment, she leaves him.

This part is quite similar to the previous one, with a calm character and barely changing melodies for the sung stanzas, always separated by a short theme played on the piano. The only difference in dynamic and mood makes the very last stanza, which is in minor and starts much louder than the previous ones.

  1. Mein! (Mine)

He doesn’t understand the rejection and claims, that the lady belongs to him and shouldn’t see anyone else.

Schubert introduces this part with an urgent theme, sounding slightly impatient. The piano as well as the singing voice are performing very fast. One can notice that there’s an accent any time the singer comes across the word “mine”.

  1. Pause (Interlude)

This part of the piece has had the longest piano intro so far, fitting to the title, the music is really slow. As the second part of the lied starts, Schubert often modulates between forte and piano parts. The only thing, which seems to be memorable is the movement of the piano, which always plays the same motif in varied ways.

  1. Mit dem grünen Lautenbande (With the Green Lute-riband)

The end of „Pause“ seems to be well connected by the piano. The character is much brighter but the music is nevertheless staying calm.

  1. Der Jäger (The Hunter)

Even though it’s one of the shortest poems of the cycle, the emotions the miller is confronted with are clear to understand. The singer lets the audience know that he’s upset, even ready to confront his opponent. (The hunter)

  1. Eifersucht und Stolz (Jealousy and pride)

Not surprisingly, this part is similar to the previous one, almost aggressive sounding. There are only a few moments which are in piano.

  1. Die liebe Farbe (The Favourite colour)

This part is in minor. It consists of three stanzas, anytime something is sung the piano doesn’t only accompany but also play the melody alongside the singing voice.

The miller starts singing about the colour green, which reflects the hunter and is therefore the “millers-maid” favourite colour. He realises, that the lady seems to be enjoying the hunter’s company.

  1. Die böse Farbe (The Hated colour)

A lied in minor as well, nevertheless slightly more aggressive than the previous one.

The protagonist sings about the exact same colour, only from his point of few this time. As he is really jealous of the hunter he obviously describes “green” as an awful colour.

  1. Trockene Blumen (Withered Flowers)

This part is really slow and sad sounding again. For the first two stanzas the piano only accompanies with slow played chords, at the end of every stanza it echoes the three notes from the singing voice. The second two stanzas are slightly different; the piano sometimes plays another melody along with the singer and ends the piece with a long outro.

  1. Der Müller und der Bach (The Miller and the Brook)

The character is similar to the previous one. A sudden mood change gives the piece an interesting change, as if the miller had found something good in killing himself. At the end of the lied, Schubert comes back to the first theme. The piano finishes again with a long outro. This is one of the most emotional parts of the piece, not only in terms of music but also in terms of the plot.

  1. Des Baches Wiegenlied (The Brook’s Lullaby)

This part is the only part which is not sung by the miller but by the stream.

Working really well with dynamics and mostly chords for the piano the stream is reflected really well. Unlike the interpretation of it at the beginning, it is now flowing much slower and calmer. There are several stanzas which are always performed in a similar way, the only difference probably makes the slightly louder verse as the very last stanza is played.


Even though Schubert’s music isn’t my personal favourite, I generally enjoyed listen to this piece, mainly to follow the story. What I really liked (as a German native) about this lied-cycle, is that the text was easy to understand, which is not often the case, especially with Romantic music. Even though most of the piece sounded like a classical “Schubert-style” I had the feeling that he involved other stylistic techniques from other musical periods as well; for example, n. 14 (“Der Jäger”) sounded similar to something Bach could have written.

1 Küllmer, E. Schuberts “Die schöne Müllerin“. [online] WDR. Available at: [Accessed 20.08.2018]

Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98 – Johannes Brahms

This symphony, written by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), was composed around 1885, it had its first performance in Meingen, Germany. It takes about 40 minutes and is traditionally separated in 4 movements.

The instrumentation includes 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, triangle and strings. 1

I listened (and watched) a recording from the Proms in London 2011, the piece was conducted by Bernhard Haitink and performed by the “Chamber Orchestra of Europe”.

1: Allegro non troppo (E-minor)

The motif of the first theme consist of a sequel of downwards going thirds and upwards going sixths. This theme is being held throughout the whole symphony in varied ways. Brahms tried to follow the rules of the traditional sonata form, involving Exposition; Development and Recapitulation of the theme. The only thing that changes, is the Development, which starts in the tonic instead of another, to the tonic related key. Furthermore, one can notice question-answer motifs as well as arpeggios for the stings, which give the intention of a flowing “wavy” melody.

2: Andante moderato (E-major)

The second movement is more melancholic sounding. Before the main theme starts, an introduction is made by the oboe and horn, giving away the slow steady pace of the movement. After a second, more vivid theme is being presented, both themes are woven into one another at the end of the movement with more expression.

3: Allegro giocose (C- major)

The scherzo theme comes rather unexpected. Brahms presents a much cheerier sounding theme, creating a huge contrast to the previous two movements. Again, its separated into two themes, the second one being a bit calmer than the first one this time.

4: Allegro energico e passionate (E-minor)

The last movement is incredibly emotional, dark themed and in a minor key (e-minor = tonic of the piece) again. Its seems that one theme is varied in many ways. The very last alteration seems to contain the strongest, deepest emotions of the whole symphony. I personally would have expected that Brahms might modulate back to a major key, but he stayed in minor throughout the whole movement.


Overall I found it rather difficult to concentrate listening to this piece, which ironically indicates, that I really enjoyed it; through the flowing themes, which were mostly woven in within one another, I felt really relaxed listening to it. In the end I had to play it twice to make all the notes from above about it. Furthermore, I would consider the third movement as my favourite, even though I usually prefer pieces in minor, but I thought it made a nice contrast to the rest of the piece.

1 IMSLP-Perucci music library, Symphony No.4, Op. 98 (Brahms, Johannes) [online]. Available at:,_Op.98_(Brahms,_Johannes) [Accessed: 20.08.2019]

Chopin Nocturnes

Between 1827 and 1846 Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) wrote 21 “nocturnes” (A composition that suggest a nocturnal atmosphere…An expressive melody in the right hand is accompanied in the left by broken chords – Kennedy, M; Kennedy, J and Rutherford Johnson, T (2013)). 1

Out of the 21 nocturnes I found seven particularly lovely to listen to: Op. 9 No. 1; Op. 9 No. 2; Op. 37 No. 1; Op. 37 No. 2; Op. 55 No. 1; Op. 72 No. 1 and P 1 No. 16.

I listened to recordings from different people to hear different interpretations, one person I often came across with was Arthur Rubinstein.

I would have found it difficult to describe the nocturnes in detail, seeing that they’re in terms of structure and character all quite similar to one another.

Generally, Chopin’s’ Nocturnes are incredibly eclectic. The melodies for the right hand are usually the centre of the piece, whilst the left hand plays some arpeggios, or other versions of a chord-partition. As most of his other pieces, Chopin’s Nocturnes are written for the piano only. Furthermore, I noticed that most of the pieces are in an A-B-A form.

I personally count Chopin as one of my favourite composers. As a pianist I already had the opportunity to play a few of Chopin’s Nocturnes; His first one (Op. 9 No. 1), the second one (Op. 9 No. 2) and Op. 55 No. 1. Whilst listening to all of them again, I repentantly came to the opinion that it is incredible how much passion and emotion one can put in one short of piece of music which is also just written for one instrument. I certainly enjoyed both: playing and listening, presumably because of the relaxing atmosphere.

¹IMSLP-Perucci music library, Nocturnes (Chopin, Frederic) [online]. Available at: [Accessed: 23.08.2019]

Paganini- 24 Caprices for Solo Violin

As well as for Chopin’s Nocturnes I didn’t always stay with the same performer for all 24 caprices, but always tried to look for someone new, to have a variety in performances.

This collection of short violin pieces, written by Niccolo Paganini (1782-1840), were composed from 1802 to 1817 and published in 1819.1 All of the 24 pieces are musically and technically (for the instrument/ performer) incredibly sophisticated. Their key signatures and terms are the following:

  1. Caprice in E major ‘L’Arpeggio’: Andante
  2. Caprice in B minor: Moderato
  3. Caprice in E minor: Sostenuto – Presto – Sostenuto
  4. Caprice in C minor: Maestoso
  5. Caprice in A minor: Agitato
  6. Caprice in G minor ‘The Trill’: Lento
  7. Caprice in A minor: Posato
  8. Caprice in E-flat major: Maestoso
  9. Caprice in E major ‘La chasse’: Allegretto
  10. Caprice in G minor: Vivace
  11. Caprice in C major: Andante – Presto – Andante
  12. Caprice in A-flat major: Allegro
  13. Caprice in B-flat major ‘Devil’s Laughter’: Allegro
  14. Caprice in E-flat major: Moderato
  15. Caprice in E minor: Posato
  16. Caprice in G minor: Presto
  17. Caprice in E-flat major: Sostenuto – Andante
  18. Caprice in C major: Corrente – Allegro
  19. Caprice in E-flat major: Lento – Allegro Assai
  20. Caprice in D major: Allegretto
  21. Caprice in A major: Amoroso – Presto
  22. Caprice in F major: Marcato
  23. Caprice in E-flat major: Posato
  24. Caprice in A minor: Tema con Variazioni (Quasi Presto)

After having listened to all of them I picked out a few I enjoyed most listening to:

  1. Caprice in B minor: Moderato

What I liked about this Caprice is, that it has a very classical character. Paganini alters between very high and very low notes. Even though the high notes, which also create the melody of the piece, are sometimes played in thirds, low and high ones are never played together. The deep tones create the bass. In very few occasions, for example at the end of the first theme or the end of the piece, there’s a short passage where only the melody can be heard.

  1. Caprice in C minor: Maestoso

With around 6:30 minutes, this is one of the longest pieces from this collection. Apart from a few exceptional moments, the piece is for two voices, being woven into one another. The first few bars have a slow and dramatic character, which suddenly jumps to a staccato movement, creating a new theme. The melody of this second theme only develops slowly. Rather smoothly Paganini comes back to the first theme, only to jump back to another quick staccato theme, which is slightly different this time and finishes the piece.

  1. Caprice in A minor: Agitato

The piece starts in quick legato waves, reaching incredibly high and low notes, before it continues in staccato, also playing scales up and down incredibly quickly. In the end the music comes back to a legato movement, always emphasising the highest played tone. Except for the chord at the end all notes are played on their own.

  1. Caprice in G minor ‘The Trill’: Lento

This was the first caprice where I got wittingly noticed dynamic changes. It starts and ends in piano, becoming louder towards the middle. The whole piece contains thrills played all the way through, which gives it an ‘insecure’ character. Nevertheless, the constant flow of a sad melody played above the thrills kept me hooked to it.

  1. Caprice in A minor: Posato

The melody of this caprice is clearly defined. Starting in legato, high pitched and in octaves, creating a strong sound. After s short into, one can hear staccato scales moving down which ‘interrupt’ the melody, creating a nice contrast. Towards the end there’s a long run of staccato notes moving in waves, before the piece comes back to its second, and lastly to its first theme.

  1. Caprice in A minor: Posato

I chose this piece because with its medieval character it seemed somehow familiar. First starting with a solemnly melody, which is repeated slightly altered and lower pitched right after. To this theme all the emphasised notes are for two voices, mostly with another harmonic note under the melody. The middle part consists of an alteration of high/low and staccato/legato theme, which sometimes include parts of the main theme. In the end Paganini comes back to the initial solemnly motif.

  1. Caprice in C major: Andante – Presto – Andante

This piece starts with chords being played, always followed by the continuation of a soft, slow melody. This motif is repeated before the centre part starts, which is contrary to the previous one; Again, Paganini uses a mixture of high/low, staccato and legato notes, before coming back to the first theme.

  1. Caprice in E-flat major: Moderato

This caprice starts with a melody creating a “fanfare-like” sound, and therefore has quite a heroic character. I had the intention, that this starting theme is pulled through the whole piece, apart from a few exceptional moments when the violin was playing a short solo theme in between two different “fanfare-parts”.

  1. Caprice in E-flat major: Sostenuto – Andante

This piece a an A-B-A form. Similar to no ??? this caprice generally has a very classical character. One might initially have the feeling, that the melody needs a bit of accompaniment. The melody mainly consists of scales going down interrupted by five or less longer, deep pitched notes. The short middle part of the piece is constructed by arpeggios moving in waves, always emphasizing the very high and very low notes. At the end it comes back to a slightly altered first theme.

  1. Caprice in E-flat major: Lento – Allegro Assai

After a short intro by four notes being repeated an octave apart, a cheery quick melody can be heard. As well as for previous pieces, the first melody is often “interrupted” by harmonically fitting low pitched notes played in thirds.  The middle part s played without any rests at all and with an increased pace. At the end the violin also comes back to its initial theme.

  1. Caprice in A major: Amoroso – Presto

A slow staring almost “singing” melody in minor, which almost takes over the whole piece. Only at the very end a difference can be noticed: Paganini jumps rather abruptly to a much faster paced theme, which doesn’t seem to have any connection to the previous theme. Instead of coming back to the A-part, the piece finishes with two short chords, which are still part of the second theme.


Even though I usually don’t prefer the sound of a solo violin to other solo string- instruments, I was really amazed about the complexity of all of those pieces. Initially I was wondering whether it would be a good idea to listen to all 24 consecutively, in case I couldn’t concentrate anymore, listening to the last few ones. I was surprised that the pieces kept me interested until I finished the last one.

¹IMSLP -Pettruci Music Library, 24 Caprices for Solo Violin, Op.1 (Paganini, Niccolò) [online]. Available at: [Accessed: 23.08.2019]

            Tchaikovsky- The nutcracker

“The nutcracker” is a Ballet from Alexandre Dumas, based on a story by E.T.A Hoffmann, with music written by Russian composer Pjotr Iljitsch Tchaikowski (1840- 1893). It was first performed on the 18. 12.1892 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Tchaikovsky started working on the piece about two years before the premiere. The ballet has always been considered as a classic for Christmas and is after over a hundred years still played regularly. Tchaikovsky uses a wide range of instruments 1,2,3,4:

It is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets (in A, B-flat), bass clarinet (in B-flat), 2 bassoons + 4 horns (in F), 2 trumpets (in A, B-flat), 3 trombones, tuba + 3 timpani, tambourine, triangle; cymbals + celesta, harp, violins I, violins II, violas, cellos, and double basses. 5

I listened to only the soundtrack of “The Nutcracker”, which was recorded on the 23rd of December 2010 in De Doelen te Rotterdam, played by the “Rotterdams Philharmonisch Orchestra.

As I found out later on, there are different interpretations of the story, the one I personally heard of first, was the following: The plot of the ballet is about a young girl, Louise, whose parents want her to get married with to the son of some (presumably wealthy) guests, coming for Christmas. Louise nevertheless, feels much more attracted to Karl, the nephew of the guests, who was invited as well. As Louise gets a nutcracker as a present from her little sister, the guests start an argument and leave the house. Shortly after Louise and her sister fall into a deep sleep. In their dreams they experience the Christmas evening in a magically changed way; The nutcracker comes to live and one of the guests, the father of Louise’s potential husband turns into an evil magician. 5

Some of the most famous parts of the ballet are probably the March:

And the “Danse of the Sugar-plum fairy”


Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to see The Nutcracker live, but listening just to the music was really interesting as well. Through my former musical education, I already knew the story of the ballet as well as a few parts of the piece. Overall I would definitely say that I enjoyed listening to it, especially because Tchaikovsky didn’t only use the ‘usual’ instruments for orchestra and therefore created a wider ranged kind of music, which of course was also emphasised through his compositional skills.

1 Bourne, J. (2013). The Oxford Dictionary of Music. (6 ed.) [online]. Oxford University Press: Available at: [Accessed: 25.08.2019]

2 Kultur-fibel. Der Nussknacker. [online] Available at:;Der_Nussknacker,Tschaikowsky.htm [Accessed: 25.08.2019]

3 Schwarm, B. The Nutcracker-Ballet by Tchaikovsky [online] Encyclopaedia Britannica. Available at: [Accessed: 25.08.2019]

4tchaikovsky-research, (2019). The Nutcracker (suite). [online]. Available at: [Accessed: 25.08.2019]

5 Steinböck, I (2016). Der Nussknacker. [online]. Kultur in Essen. Available at: [Accessed: 25.08.2019]

6Tchaikovsky, P. (1892). The Nutcracker. [online] Rotterdam. Available at: [Accessed 25.08.2019]


Farrenc – Piano trio

After having listened to several of Louise Farenc’s (1804-1875) trios my personal favourite ended up being Op.45 in e for flute, cello and piano. It was composed in 1857 and published for the first time in 1862.

The piece has a duration of around 22 minutes and consists of four movements; Allegro deciso, Andante, Scherzo, Finale: Presto.

After a short intro, which sounds similar to a fanfare the main theme of the first movement can be heard, which has a dramatic but somehow soft, mellow character. For the second movement the flute mainly plays the melody, whilst the cello and piano accompany. A contrast is created by a stormy middle section before coming back to the first theme of the movement. The third movement “Scherzo” not surprisingly has a very vivid character. The piano and flute have rather quickly played notes, arranged as scales or arpeggios, whereas the cello plays long “dark” notes, which create an interesting contrast. Later within the movement the cello takes over a high melody and is therefore accompanied by the other two instruments. For the last movement Farrenc introduces another rather vivid theme, which’s pace is increased quickly. A second theme is played near the end of the piece before it comes to an end.

1IMSLP-Petrucci Music Library, Trio for Flute, Cello and Piano, Op.45 (Farrenc, Louise) [online]. Avilable at:,_Cello,_and_Piano,_Op.45_(Farrenc,_Louise) [Accessed: 25.08.2019]

2Tischhauser, Andres P. (2005) Louise Farrenc’s Trio for Flute, Cello and Piano: A Critical Edition and Analysis. [PDF] Florida State University College of Music. Available at: [Accessed: 25.08.2019]