Friday, October 16, 2020

Exciting Finishes In Classical Music

Repeat post from a couple of years ago.

Hans Graf, HSO previous director
In Houston we are lucky when we go to a concert to see and hear our great Houston Symphony Orchestra in Jones Hall to have this pre-concert talk called prelude about 45 minutes before the beginning of the concert.  

The fetching Mrs. B and I always look forward to those informative and many times humorous presentations of the composers and or pieces we are about to hear.  I remember this one prelude a little over a year ago when Hans Graff, the director at that time of the Houston Symphony Orchestra, who was in his final year with HSO, gave the talk.  He asked for questions at the end and someone asked why he chose this certain piece on the program.  Maestro Graff, said humorously, that "we conductors are human.  We like the pieces that have the big exciting finishes to bring the crowd to their feet with a big ovation." 

As we soon [in March] will be into the NCAA Basketball Tournament with its so many great exciting finishes, I thought about Hans Graff response in doing this post on exciting finishes also. Not on the basketball court but in the concert hall.  While there are many, many pieces that I could have chosen, I decided on these five: a piano concerto, a violin concerto and three epic symphonies.  Every piece has a stirring, exciting finish that I think you will agree would have you give a big ovation with shouts of Bravo, if you were in the concert hall.  In giving these five pieces, I am not trying to say these are the pieces that have the most exciting finishes or even the most exciting finishes in their genre. In fact, I bet if I had wrote this post on another day, five other pieces would have come to my mind. These just happened to immediately come to mind on this day.

The piano concerto I chose is from the early 20th century Russian/Soviet Union composer Dmitri Shostakovich.  Shostakovich' piano concerto #1 has a very exciting finish [in the final of this short four movement concerto] using the trumpet to go along with the piano in a rousing flourish. As in some of Shostakovich pieces, this concerto does not have a lot of beautiful melodies, but it is still a wonderful piece, very satisfying with the excitement exuded in the climax.

Also, from Shostakovich I included his popular, energetic 5th Symphony in D minor with it's loud timpani pounding climax.

The violin concerto I chose is from the great Russian Romantic composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.  It is one of the greatest violin concertos ever written in my opinion.  It is certainly one of the top four concertos, to go along with the violin concerti by Brahms, Mendelssohn and Beethoven.  This concerto is unique as it not only has an exciting finish at the end of the final third movement, but it has an exciting end to the first movement.  In fact, we saw the great Joshua Bell perform this concerto a few months back at Jones Hall and for the first time in our years of concert going, we saw the audience at Jones Hall give Joshua Bell a "standing ovation" after the first movement.  As this post is called exciting finishes, I will have the third movement's exciting finish that ends the concerto.

My favorite composer, the classical/Romantic German composer, Ludwig Van Beethoven, had many of selections I could have chosen for exciting finishes.  I chose the finale to his Symphony #5.  While some say that Beethoven's 9th symphony may be the greatest symphony ever composed, I believe his 5th symphony may be his most well known, and ranks right up there with the ninth as beloved by the world.  This symphony certainly has one of the greatest stirring, triumphant, exciting finishes that will bring concert goers to their feet in a loud ovation.  I remember after seeing a great performance of Beethoven's 5th Symphony, the conductor [I cannot remember who] would signal for certain sections of the orchestra to stand for the applause, then for the whole orchestra to stand, and then he picked up the score of music from Beethoven and pointed at it.  When he did that and to hear the thunderous ovation from the patrons, it gave me goose bumps. 

One of the giants in composing epic symphonies is the late Romantic Austrian composer and conductor, Gustav Mahler.  Listen to the rousing climax of Mahler's "Titan" symphony #1 in D-Major. If you were in attendance at a concert featuring this symphony it would bring you to your feet in applause at this greatness. 

Please turn up the volume and enjoy just a few of the many exciting finishes in classical music.

Dmitri Shostakovich: Piano Concerto #1 in C-minor, movement 4, Allegro con brio:

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Violin concerto in D-Major, Movement 3, Allegro vivacissimo:

Ludwig Van Beethoven: Symphony #5 in C-minor, Movement 4, Allegro:
Gustav Mahler: Symphony #1 in D-Major, "Titan", Movement 4, "agitated - energetic":

Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony #5 in D minor, Movement 4, Allegro non troppo:

Bonus Update:  Jan. 15, 2016The fetching Mrs. B and I just arrived home from a free concert given by the Houston Symphony Orchestra at Houston Baptist University.  It was really a great concert and the final piece was the Tchaikovsky 4th Symphony which the Houston Symphony played brilliantly.  Also, talk about an exciting finish.  Once I heard the climax of this great symphony I knew when I got home I would have to add this to my exciting finishes in Classical music post.  

So, please, once again turn up the volume and enjoy another exciting finish in classical music that would bring you to your feet if you were in attendance.

P.I. Tchaikovsky:  Symphony #4 in F-minor, movement 4, Allegro con fuoco:


Unknown said...

Beethoven! Absolutely my favorite without a single doubt in my mind! Nobody does it better in any music genera. I was watching BBC documentary on him last night and seeing his tomb stone in Austria brought tears to my eyes. If a man can do that to me after 187 years his death, I surrender! He's my forever man, and I'm never alone ever.

Big Mike said...

Connie your words are like poetry like Beethoven's music. I'm with you!!

Unknown said...

Thanks Mike! Happy you agree! ;-)