Listening Log

  • Piece: Water music in F (Suite in F major HWV 348)

  • Composer: Georg Friedrich Händel
  • Instruments: piccolo, flute, 2 oboes, bassoon, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, strings, continuo (harpsichord)
  • Date of composition: 1717
  • Date of first performance:1717
  • Performed by: The English concert
  • Listened to: 05.08.2019 1

Water music in F is a suite put together by 11 short pieces for the orchestra. Generally, the whole piece has a calming, relaxing character, which suits its name well. One thing that especially caught my attention, was the rapid switching of contrasting themes. Also notably were the jumps of fifths, which I found is an often used motif, that several composers used throughout the Baroque era. I personally enjoyed the way in which Händel used the instruments, especially his usage of the oboe as a solo instrument sometimes, which created a more “mysterious” atmosphere. The only part of the suite I wasn’t too pleased with, was the 8th, which I found was rather monotonous.

1 Water Music, HWV 348-350 (Handel, Georg Frideric), 2019, IMSLP: Petrucci Music Library. Available at:,_HWV_348-350_(Handel,_George_Frideric) [Accessed: 05.08.2019]

  • Piece: Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 In F major, BWV 1046

  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Instruments: 3 oboes, bassoon, 2 horns, violino piccolo, strings, conitinuo
  • Date of composition: 1721
  • Performed by: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
  • Listened to: 05.08.2019 2

The emotional colours are incredibly contrasting whenever a movement changes: The first movement is dramatic, but also has a high pitched melody and is played rapidly, whereas the second movement is slow and has a sad character. In comparison to the “water music in F” (above), the whole piece is brisker and wilder. The third movement seems to be built up like a fugue in parts, which can be especially noticed at the beginning. Towards the end of the movement one can notice some further imitation of already presented themes. The fourth and last movement is also the longest one, Bach include several general rests, which made me initially think, that he wrote more than 4 movements. The themes played in this movement were once again incredibly contrasting and were probably written to remind the listener of the previous movements. I personally enjoyed listening to it, even though I found it was one of the pieces, which one automatically starts to analyse, I therefore probably would only listen to it again, if I had to make further studies about it (or when I’m sitting in a concert hall)

2Brandenburg Concerto No.1 in F major, BWV 1046 (Bach, Johann Sebastian), 2019, IMSLP: Petrucci Music Library Available at:,_BWV_1046_(Bach,_Johann_Sebastian) [Accessed: 05.08.2019]

  • Piece: Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F major, BVW 1047

  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Instruments: recorder (or flute, depending on interpretation), oboe, trumpet, violin, strings, continuo
  • Date of composition: 7121
  • Performed by: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
  • Listened to: 06.08.20193

The first movement has a very cheery, uplifting character. Although, I personally found the tune slightly too penetrant after a while, I therefore enjoyed the parts again where the melody came to a rest for a few bars and deeper, warmer sounds could be heard. Even though I enjoyed the slow movement of the second movement, I found the shrill sound of the recorder unsettling. Similar to the first concerto, the third movement (which is also the last one) involves several imitational movements. I personally would have enjoyed the piece more, if Bach had used a concert flute instead of a recorder.

3Brandenburg Concerto No.2 in F major, BWV 1046 (Bach, Johann Sebastian), 2019, IMSLP: Petrucci Music Library. Available at:,_BWV_1047_(Bach,_Johann_Sebastian)  [Accessed: 06.08.2019]

  • Piece: Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major, BWV 1048
  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Instruments: 3 violins, 3 violas, 3 cellos, continuo (violone and harpsichord)
  • Date of composition: 1718
  • Performed by: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
  • Listened to: 06.08.20194

The intro for this concerto had a style, which reminded me more of Vivaldi rather than Bach. (Even though they both belong to the Baroque-era). Some parts of the first movement were incredibly penetrant, unsettled. Normally I find it easier to listen to and analyse homophonic pieces, seeing that there’s only one melody to follow. Nevertheless, in the case of this piece the second movement was much more relaxing, even though it was polyphonic. This effect was established by the huge contrast it made to the first. The third movement was similar to the first one again, even though it had a slightly more cheerful and vivid sounding character. From the 4 Brandenburg Concertos I’ve listened to, this one was my least favourite one, I found it too unsettling.

4Brandenburg Concerto No.3 in G major, BWV 1048 (Bach, Johann Sebastian), 2019, IMSLP: Petrucci Music Library. Available at:,_BWV_1048_(Bach,_Johann_Sebastian) [Accessed: 06.08.2019]

  • Piece: Brandenburg Concerto No.4 in G major, BWV 1049

  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Instruments: 2 recorders (solo), violin (solo), 2 violins, viola, cello, violone, concerto
  • Date of composition: 1719-1720
  • Performed by: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
  • Listened to: 07.08.20195

Similar to the second concerto I personally didn’t enjoy the sound of the recorders. The tune of the first movement sounded quite medieval to me, which was caused by the recorders as well. For the second movement Bach often used Echo-motifs, from the four concertos above, this was the movement I enjoyed most due to its dramatic but beautiful character. The strings give an intro for the third movement, which, at least at the beginning, has the structure of a fugue.

5Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major, BWV 1049 (Bach, Johann, Sebastian), 2019, IMSLP: Petrucci Music Library. Available at:,_BWV_1049_(Bach,_Johann_Sebastian) [Accessed: 07.08.2019]

  • Piece: Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007

  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Instruments: Cello
  • Date of composition: 1717-1723
  • Performed by: Yo-Yo Ma
  • Listened to: 07.08.20196

The first part “Prelüde”, is one of the most well-known pieces from Bach, which are still often used today on different types of media. It includes a clear, soft melody, interrupted by deep bass notes, which always create the underlying “chord” for the following short melody phrase. All the following parts are adapted to the style of the first introduced theme.

All in all, I personally have always found this piece enjoyable and am especially surprised, that Bach managed to give it such a full, vivid sound, even though only one instrument was used. Furthermore, I found it interesting, that the piece stays entertaining throughout all the six parts, even though they all work with the same motif.

6Cello Suite No.1 in G major, BWV 1007 (Bach, Johann Sebastian), 2019, IMSLP: Petrucci Music Library. Available at: [Accessed; 07.08.2019]

  • Piece: Cello Suite No. 5 in C-minor, BWV 1001

  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Instruments: Cello
  • Date of composition: 1717-1723
  • Performed by: Yo-Yo Ma
  • Listened to: 08.08.20197

Even though I chose particularly this piece, because I prefer minor to major keys, I didn’t find the first part too interesting. There are two different melodies played, one high and one low pitched, which are alternating. A proper structure can only be recognised after a several bars. In the second half of the first part the pace increases. The alteration of high and low pitched melodies can be heard again, either played as an imitative form, in a contrary way, or as two different question-answer-motifs. For the second part, a slower, more dramatic motif is introduced, which always starts with a deep note, followed by the octave, which is then continued with a new melody line. The third part is quite stormy and aggressive, but similar to the first one. The fourth part, on the other hand, is slower again, but stays rather monotonous throughout, I didn’t particularly enjoy listening to it. For the second last part Bach used quite a few double stops, which creates an interesting effect and makes the whole piece sound more vivid. The sixith part consists mainly of staccato notes, which makes the melody sound “jumpy”.

It seems to me as if Bach tried to use different musical textures for all the parts. He nevertheless managed to hold them all together by repeating melodies, which have been heard before. In comparison to Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G major (above), this suite sounded rather empty to me, apart from the double stops in the fifth part. It is obviously difficult to write a melody for a string instrument, but I would have expected it to be similar to the suite above.

7Cello Suite No.5 in C minor, BWV 1011 (Bach, Johann Sebastian). 2019, IMSLP: Petrucci Music Library. Available at: [Accessed: 08.08.2019]

  • Piece: Matthew Passion

  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Instruments/Voices: double orchestra: 1) 2 flutes, 2 oboes, oboe d’amore, oboe da caccia, strings, continuo. 2) 2 flutes, 2 oboes, oboe d’amore, oboe da caccia, vilola da gamba, strings, continuo. Soloists: SSATB. Double chorus: SATB + SATB
  • Date of composition: 1736, revised 1742, 1743-1746
  • Date of first performance: 1736
  • Performed by: Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Chicago Symphony Chorus.
  • Listened to: 08.08.20198

The tale is about the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. Seeing that the duration of this piece is almost three hours, I found it difficult to focus on it towards the end. Every soloist had a different role to play: the evangelist -tenor; Jesus- bass; two maids and wife of Pilatus- sopranos; two witnesses-alto and tenor; Simon Petrus, Judas Ischariot, pontiff, two priests, Pilatus – basses.9 Due to the amount of text being involved, Bach included many recitatives for then male voices and arias for the female voices. In terms of the sound, I definitely enjoyed the choral parts more than the solo-parts. The orchestra played a supporting role throughout the whole piece, was kept really quiet, when the text came to great importance, but also managed to create the right mood for more tense or inspirational moments. Even though the choral parts were, as already mentioned, more enjoyable, the text from the soloists was much easier to understand. I hadn’t informed myself beforehand about the piece and it took me a while to realize, that there were different roles. I am astonished by the detail Bach put into this piece and have to say I overall enjoyed listening to it.

8Matthäuspassion, BWV 244 (Bach, Johann Sebastian). 2019, IMSLP: Petrucci Music Library. Available at: [Accessed: 08.08.2019]

9Toll, W. Johann Sebastian Bach-Matthäus Passion [pdf]. Frankfurt: Frankfurter Kantorei. [online]. Available at: [Accessed: 08.08.2019]

  • Piece: Le Quattro stagioni (The four seasons)

  • Composer: Antonio Vivaldi
  • Instruments: Solo: violin; orchestra: strings, continuo
  • Date of composition: 1716-1717
  • Date of first performance: 1723
  • Performed by: The English Concert
  • Listened to: 09.08.201910


The spring starts off with a bright theme played by all the stings, this bright, lively mood is kept almost the same for the rest of the piece. Even though Vivaldi introduces several different themes, the first one comes up several times throughout the piece to remind the listener about this initial mood. For example, one very excited character, which could represent plants growing. Followed by a more “stormy” part, to which’s centre one is able to hear the first theme again, but modulated into minor.


The first movement from the summer surprised me with its slightly sad and longing character, as I would have expected it to be cheerier, seeing that the summer is the warmest time of the year. The second movement reminded me of a slow march with a high pitched lovely melody. This melody is sometimes interrupted by short deep notes, which I interpreted as thunder of a summers’ thunderstorm. The last movement has become one of my favourites with its dramatic character, which reflects the whole storm that started to build up in the previous movement.


This part, which I would have expected to start stormier, similar to the end of the summer, surprised me again with a cheery tune. Nearly at the end of the movement a completely new, much slower theme starts, which I initially considered as the second movement already. The beginning of the second movement is very dramatic and in my opinion much more suitable for the stormy weather. All the different sounds seem to be blurry, woven into one another. One sound which can be heard more clearly are the up and down moving arpeggios by the continuo. The third movement starts with a happier melody again.


From all the four seasons the first movement of “winter”, is my personal favourite. For the soloist it is probably also one of the most challenging movements to play, due to really rapidly played phrases. The quietly starting intro slowly builds up towards a climax which has a very vivid and strong theme. The beginning of the theme as well as the climax could be interpreted as snowdrops which are starting to fall slowly, and then end up as the beginning of a dangerous snow-storm.

Vivaldi’s four seasons is probably one of his most famous pieces. I was lucky to be able to listen to the concert a few years ago. It was one of several baroque/classical music concerts, which I enjoyed throughout.  Even though, I was surprised by some dark/bright moods Vivaldi has chosen (especially for the beginnings of summer and autumn), I personally think that Vivaldi managed it incredibly well to put the different colours and changes of a year into music.

10Le quattro stagioni (Vivaldi, Antonio) 2019, IMSLP: Petrucci Music Library. Available at: [Accessed: 09.08.2019]

  • Piece: Cantate, ariette, e duetti, Op.2

  • Composer: Barbara Strozzi
  • Date of first publication: 1651
  • Performed by: Catherine Bott, Janet Youngdahl, Cecilia’s Cicle
  • Listened to: 10.10.201911

Unfortunately, I was unable to find much about the background of the piece, which may be caused by the fact, that Barbara Strozzi is barely known. This is probably due to the fact, that it was highly unusual for a woman to produce music around that time.

I was glad to get to know this piece, even though I wouldn’t count it as one of my favourites. It is written for one voice, female, and one accompanying instrument. The character is very slow and dramatic. The text is Italian. One thing, which absolutely surprised me, only occurred at the end: Instead of finishing with a perfect cadence (V-I), which was the usual way to end a western piece in the Baroque era, Strozzi left the last chord unfinished. Even though I personally didn’t enjoy the piece hugely (due to it being rather monotonous), I found this very last chord created an unexpected change.

11Cantate, ariette, e duetti, Op.2 (Strozzi, Barbara). 2019, IMSLP: Petrucci Music Library. Available at: [Accessed: 10.10.2019]

  • Piece: Concerto grosso in G minor ‘Fatto per la Notte di Natale’, Op.6, No.8

  • Composer: Arcangelo Corelli
  • Instruments: 2 violins, cello, strings, continuo
  • Date of composition: ~ 1690
  • Performed by: The English Concert, Trevor Pinnock
  • Listened to: 10.10.201912

This concerto is divided into 5 movements. The first one introduces a very dramatic and sad motif, which I really enjoyed listening too. The major ending may already be an indication to the cheery, fast paced second movement. This also includes really high, acute, overlapping notes from the violins, which make the piece sound quite hectically. As I expected it, the character of the third part is similar to the first, incredibly lyrical. The fourth movement seemed surprisingly diversified to me; The key alters between major and minor and Corelli worked with echo-motifs. Unlike the other shifts from one movement to the next one, the transition from the fourth to the fifth movement is barely noticeable. The last movement comes back to the character of the first two parts and alters between a soft, longing melody, which alters between high, shrill and warm, deep sounds.

I enjoyed the high variety of sound-colour Corelli put into this piece, as well as the contrary motifs he worked with. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t be a piece I would be able to relax to.

12Concerto grosso in G minor ‘Fatto per la Notte di Natale’, Op.6 No.8 (Corelli, Arcangelo) .2019, IMSLP: Petrucci Music Library. Available at:’Fatto_per_la_Notte_di_Natale’%2C_Op.6_No.8_(Corelli%2C_Arcangelo) [Accessed: 10.10.2019]

  • Piece: Flute Concerto in A minor, QV 5:236

  • Composer: Johann Joachim Quantz
  • Instruments: flute, strings, continuo
  • Performed by: Mary Oleskiewics
  • Listened to: 11.10.201913

The first movement has an unusually long introduction before the solo instrument (flute) starts playing. From the entry of the flute, the orchestra seems to play with it in a supporting way. The melody moves up and down in waves and becomes more and more hectically towards the end.  The theme of the second movement creates a huge contrast to the first. After another introduction by the strings, the flute starts playing a calm, slow melody. Instead of supporting the melody of the flute, the strings seem to come to a conversation with it, working in a more contrary way. The third movement is faster again. After another intro by the strings, the flute imitates the melody from the intro. The repeated motif occurs again towards the end of the piece, even though, this time the flute starts and the strings imitate it.

I personally am not in favour of the sound of flutes, but was positively surprised by this piece. I especially enjoyed listening to the first movement.

13Flute Concerto in A minor, QV 5:236 (Quantz, Johann Joachim). 2019, IMSLP: Petrucci Music Library. Available at: [Accsessed: 11.10.2019]