1.Schubert:Symphony No.8 "Unfinished"
The first movement of this two-movement work is one of the most
tragically touching of all symphonies. Its agitated opening features tremelo strings sounding like a current
of unrest beneath the beautiful wind-writing and the closing is a picture of utter grief and despair.
2.Schumann:Piano Concerto in A Minor
This is one of my favourite pieces of all time! Initially written
as a wedding gift to his pianist wife Clara, this lovely work presents Schumann at his spontaneous best. One reviewer commented
the piece sounds as if the players were all doing an improvisation together. I think what touches me the most is the dreamy
tenderness found in its every page.
3.Mendelssohn:Violin Concerto in E Minor
Concerto is probably the most exquisitely crafted work of this genre. The opening movement is passionate (but never overly)
and melancholic, the slow movement calm and really beautiful and the finale lively and full of vitality, it does bring to
mind the "fairy music" of his "Midsummer's Night Dream".
4.LV Beethoven:Piano Concerto No.1
I think there are only two composers who could make their music speak so eloquently and naturally, one is of course Mozart,
and Beethoven comes in a close second. There is also something youthful and spontaneous in Beethoven's music and this
first concerto of his definitely abounds in sprightly melodies and catchy rhythms.
5.WA Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor
The first movement is a real gem. One of the stormiest music Mozart ever wrote, the wind writing is very beautiful, colouring
the tragic mood most touchingly. This is the only Mozart concerto where I think the orchestra writing overshines the solo
6.WA Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 23 in A
Mozart's late piano concertos (20-27) are all masterpieces but this one is rather special. The middle movement is amongst
the most touching music Mozart's ever written. It is a moving picture of pathos that makes the heart swell.
This work is originally from a flute work by Bach but now exists in several other
versions including piano duet and piano solo. Its atmosphere can be best desrcibed as that of subtle melancholy. There is
so much pathos beyond the surface and yet it remains wonderfully restrained. Sometimes, feelings get expressed better when
they are not thrown point-blank in your face and that is what happens here.
8.Bruch:Violin Concerto in G Minor
This popular concerto has a second movement that is second to none in its heartfelt melodic beauty. It is often played
during the weepy moments of soaps and is certainly one piece that can stir up our deepest emotions of tenderness and love.
I don't really like the finale of this concerto though, it sounds too folkish and incomparable to the nobility of the first
two movements. However, it would be difficult to pull off a heart-stopping finale that would match the genius of the previous
two, really. The only exception is Mendelssohn's (see above).
9.Schubert:Piano Trio No.1 in B flat
This is a really sunny work and the 2nd subject, first introduced by the cello is simply the most beautifully lyrical
melody ever written by anyone, really!
Dvorak rewrote the last movement of this work after learning the death of his
sister-in-law (he had been in love with her before eventually marrying her sis instead). What results is a passage of the
most earnest beauty, a gentle condolence for the woman he had loved but could never be with. The final held note which begins
pianissimo on the solo cello before the tutti joins in is probably the most sincere and beautiful note of music ever written
by anyone, for me, it symbolizes the farewell look at someone you love so dearly before bravely accepting the truth and turning
11. Prokofiev:Violin Concerto No.2
Prokofiev, like his contemporary Shostakovich wrote music that reflects very much on the cruel political situuation in
early 20th C Russia. Many of his works suggests military harshness, with his usual dose of ironic undertones and
wry acerbities. The second violin concerto, however, displays a more lyrical side of the composer (as in R&M).
The second movement in particular is a gem. There is this glowing tenderness that is infinitely touching, it paints
a picture of trying to smile through tears-a brave spirit emerging from a tragedy and made a better person.
12.Bellini:Finale from "Norma"
Norma is Bellini's greatest opera and the finale, where the stained heroine
begs forgiveness from her father before she walks into the pyre with her lover, is a real emotional knock-out, it so engages
every ounce of your sentiment.
(to be continued...)