Sunday, February 26, 2017

Soothing Brahms

As usual on the Tales classical music weekends, I like to reserve Sunday for some lighter soothing music appropriate for a restful Sunday.  After a stressful week for a lot of us, a little soothing music can be very relaxing.  

The beautiful 3rd movement of Johannes Brahms Symphony #3 is just such relaxing music.  While the great Romantic master Johannes Brahms 3rd symphony is scored in F Major [meaning at least the first movement and usually the ending of the symphony will be in F Major], the 3rd movement, Poco Allegretto, is scored in C minor.
Johannes Brahms [May 7, 1833 - April 3, 1897]
Please turn up the volume sit back and enjoy this soothing Sunday music from the great Romantic Era composer, Johannes Brahms.

J. Brahms: Symphony #3 in F Major, movement 3 [in C minor], Poco Allegretto:




Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Soft Close

This is a previous Tales classical music post from August of 2011-with additions.

'The Soft Close'

When going to the Houston Symphony at Jones Hall with my fetching wife Sheralyn, we never miss this pre-concert program called "prelude."  It is a lecture [and sometimes audio] about the program and composers of that night's concert. It is given by either a local music professor, the associate symphony conductor, one of the symphonies many gifted performers, one of the soloists on the night's program [if there is a concerto], or sometimes the Houston Symphony conductor himself, Hans Graff.  [Update - 2017:  For the last couple of years we patrons of the Houston Symphony Orchestra have been blessed to have our musical ambassador for the HSO, Carlos Andres Botero, do the prelude lectures.  He is fantastic!]

Maestro Hans Graf - former conductor HSO
I remember this one "prelude" with Hans Graf where he talked about the program of the night.  I remember him talking about this one piece on the program that he said, "we rarely perform".  I forget now which piece it was, but I remember him saying it is rarely performed, not because it isn't great music, but because he said of the slow, soft climactic end.  The maestro said, 'us conductors are human too, and we love those pieces with the loud, energetic endings that bring the patrons to their feet with a loud ovation."

While most pieces have those exciting climaxes [as the composers also want that loud approval of their music with a big ovation] there are some great, beautiful pieces that close softly, almost inconsequentially.   They still will get ovations, but maybe just not those immediate boisterous standing ovations that the piece with the exciting loud closings get.

There are many examples of great pieces with climaxes that have a softer close. While maybe these pieces don't end loud and energetic, that will bring the concert patrons to their feet immediately, they still have a certain, clear and impactful ending. 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in many [if not most] of his pieces ended them softly.  But while you may say the ending wasn't exciting, they ended precisely and perfectly.  I have one example here, the final movement of Mozart's Violin concerto #5, known as his 'Turkish' concerto for the rondo movement's "alla Turca" theme. 

Also I have an example with one of my favorite composers, Antonin Dvorak, in one of my favorite symphonies, his 9th symphony, "From The New World".   Ironically, the final movement starts off strong and stirring and is loud in many sections, but while the climax seems like it will have a loud ending, it surprisingly closes on a last note
diminuendo [i.e., getting softer].

The great master, Ludwig Van Beethoven, had some of the most stirring, exciting, and loud climaxes in his orchestral pieces, but listen how quiet, but perfect, his Pastoral Symphony #6 ends.

In a final example, [and I know I'm cheating in this example], Franz Schubert's Symphony #8 ends so peaceful and quiet.  Of course, this is Schubert's famous "Unfinished" symphony as Schubert never finished the third or fourth movements where the last movement, usually allegro would have had the "fireworks" ending.  But I love this beautiful piece so much I want to share it, even though the ending of this piece is from it's Andante con moto, 2nd movement. 

Please turn up the volume, put in full screen, and enjoy these great masterpieces with a soft close from the great masters, Mozart, Dvorak, Beethoven and Schubert. 

W.A. Mozart: Violin Concerto #5 in A Major, "Turkish", Movement 3, Rondo 'alla Turca' - Tempo di minuetto:



Antonin Dvorak: Symphony #9 in E minor, "From the New World", 4th movement, Allegro con fuoco:


L. Van Beethoven: Symphony #6 in F Major, "Pastoral", Movement 5, Allegretto:



Franz Schubert: Symphony #8 in B minor, "Unfinished", Movement 2, Andante con moto:



Friday, February 24, 2017

Alan Dershowitz: 'If Ellison Elected DNC Chair, The Dems Will Never Win Another Election'

Wow, on Don Lemon's CNN show at night, a 60 year life long Democrat, Professor Alan Dershowitz [Prof of Law at Harvard Law School], said that if the Democrats nominate Rep. Keith Ellison, D-MN, as chair of the Democrat National Committee, "the Democrats will never win another national election".

Professor of Law, Alan Dershowitz
He furthermore said that he, as a 60 year life long Democrat will resign from the Democrat Party, never donate again to it, and urge others of his fellow Democrats to not contribute to the party.  Talk about a man with intellectual honesty and integrity, I salute Alan Dershowitz. 

Professor Alan Dershowitz on Don Lemon, CNN, Feb. 23, 2017:


Bravo Alan Dershowitz!  There are too few Democrats and Republicans these days with the intellectual honesty as you.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Hadassah's Gift To Israel

Repeat Tales post from March 13, 2013

Hat Tip:  My sister in law Francine who, along with my brother Brad went to Israel in 2013 with the organization Hadassah to visit the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, Israel.

The Medical Center was built by the women of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America.  Hadassah continues to underwrite a large part of its budget today.  The medical center [according to Wikipedia] ranks as the sixth largest hospital complex in Israel.

Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem [village of  Ein Kerem]
I'm really proud of Francine for continuing the tradition of her mother by being such an active member in Hadassah and being a strong unwavering supporter of Israel.  Hadassah is really a great organization that does a lot of good work and if you are a young Jewish woman who loves Israel, you might want to look into joining Hadassah.

Please visit the Hadassah web site here.

Here is a video of  forty students from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance doing a FlashWaltz of Tchaikovsky's Waltz of the Flowers at the Hadassah Hospital.

Every Blessing to Francine, Hadassah and Israel!

Tchaikovsky: Flash "Waltz of the Flowers" from the Nutcracker at the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem: