Theme and Variations

Thoughts and experiences of exploring classical, jazz, and other art music.

Friday, July 24, 2009

New Mozart Works Found

Read about it here.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Nicola Benedetti

I have a couple of CD's by the Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti (I know, sounds Italian, she looks it, too).

Benedetti's 2007 release starts with a favorite violin work of mine, Vaughn Williams The Lark Ascending. It's a pretty work, but I get the feeling not just anyone can pull off a clean performance the way Benedetti does. The rest of the recording is given over to works of composer Sir John Tavener, who has done all sorts of works, including a recessional for Princess Diana's funeral. One of the works, entitled Dhyana, was written especially for Benedetti. Also included is a five-part work, Lalishri, which is inspired by the 14th-century Hindu saint Lalla Yogishwari.

Tavener also composed a work entitled Fragment for the Virgin for her 2005 release. This earlier CD starts out with a violin concerto (No. 1, Op. 35) of Karol Szymanowski, which has a taste of the atonal music that has come to be associated with the music of the 20th century. The rest of the CD is really nice, including the "Meditation" from the opera Thais by Jules Massenet. In fact, the last track of the CD is a performance track, without the solo violin part. I guess this is so you can play along; supposedly you can download the sheet music from her web site (, but, at the time of this writing, I could not access the site.

With all due respect for Sir Tavener, I prefer her earlier CD hands down. There are more lyrical pieces and Benedetti plays them beautifully. She has a 2006 release which I do not have, but which looks pretty good!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Beethoven's Choral Works

Not much to say here...I'm not really into choral music. So why did I get it? Well, it was a bargain collection, and, well, I didn't used to like opera, but now I do, so my tastes sometimes change.

The first work of the collection is a funeral cantata on the death of Emperor Joseph II, followed by a cantata on the Accession of Emperor Leopold II. Neither of these pieces were published in Beethoven's lifetime.

I wrote about the evening of the premier of Herr Ludwig's Fifth and Sixth symphonies, and this collection includes the Choral Fantasy that ended that busy night.

Well, that covers Beethoven, and, in fact, I will be posting my next artist soon.