Monday, November 27, 2017

November 27, 1896: Richard Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra premiered

Last updated August 31, 2018.

Also Sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zoroaster), tone poem for orchestra, Op. 30 (TrV 176)

Richard Strauss (composer)


Composed: 1896


First Performance: November 27, 1896


Sales: --


Peak: --

Quotable: --


Genre: classical > orchestra


Parts/Movements:

  1. Einleitung (Introduction)
  2. Von den Hinterweltlern (Of the Backworldsmen)
  3. Von der großen Sehnsucht (Of the Great Longing)
  4. Von den Freuden und Leidenschaften (Of Joys and Passions)
  5. Das Grablied (The Song of the Grave)
  6. Von der Wissenschaft (Of Science and Learning)
  7. Der Genesende (The Convalescent)
  8. Das Tanzlied (The Dance-Song)
  9. Nachtwandlerlied (Song of the Night Wanderer)

Average Duration: 33:30

Review:

Strauss, like many of his contemporaries, was enthralled with Richard Wagner. Many of his works exhibit “an intent on Strauss’ part to re-create the spirit of the older composer’s works.” AMG However, in adapting Friedrich Nietzsche’s tone poem Also sprach Zarathustra to music, “Strauss’ music soon took on a distinct identity.” AMG A former Wagner devotee, Nietzsche had become his most vocal critic. By aligning with Nietzsche, “Strauss forever removed himself from the camp of ‘true’ Wagnerians.” AMG

“Like most of Strauss’ tone poems, Also sprach Zarathustra employs massive instrumental forces; however, it provides a contrast to Strauss’ more strongly narrative works in its deployment of the orchestra in a more subtle and deft manner. The relative concision of its musical material suggests the composer’s attempt to mirror the nature and character of his literary source.” AMG He completed it “in the summer of 1896 and premiered in November of the same year…Iit was among the works that forever solidified the composer’s reputation and distilled the essence of his singular orchestral language.” AMG

Opening of 2001: A Space Odyssey

The first of nine sections kicks off with an introduction which has been immortalized in Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Three distinctive episodes follow, each exploring an element of Nietzsche’s text, “from Von den Hinterweltlern (From the Back-world People) to an expression of intense yearning (Von der großen Sehnsucht) and a portrayal of joy and passion (Von den Freuden und Leidenschaften). At the center of the work is Das Grablied (Song of the Grave), which sets the stage for the clever and ironic Von der Wissenschaft, in which a truncated fugue gently pokes fun at science by – perhaps prophetically – including all twelve chromatic pitches in its subject. Der Genesende (The Convalescent) slowly regains its strength, bursting forth into the energetic Das Tanzlied (Dance-Song), led by a solo fiddle.” AMG

“The final section, Nachtwandlerlied (Song of the Night Wanderer), makes subtle use of tonal and thematic cues (most notably, a return to the tonality of the opening section) to suggest that the journey of the unnamed Night Wanderer is cyclic – eternally returning to its beginning.” AMG


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Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Top Albums by Some of the Top Classic Rock Acts

Here are various classic rock acts and their top albums. Lists are determined by rankings in Dave’s Music Database, which compiles sales data, chart info, and appearances on best-of lists to generate its figures. Click on an act below to go directly to its list.
The Beatles: Top 10


David Bowie: Top 10


Eric Clapton: Top 10

This list was originally posted on the Dave’s Music Database Facebook page on 3/2/2010. It has since been updated.


Led Zeppelin: Top 10


Pink Floyd: Top 10


Lou Reed/Velvet Underground: Top 10


The Rolling Stones: Top 10


Bruce Springsteen: Top 10


The Who: Top 10


Neil Young: Top 10

This list was originally posted on the Dave’s Music Database Facebook page on 2/19/2010. It has since been updated.


Friday, November 10, 2017

Taylor Swift released Reputation

Originally posted March 7, 2019.

Reputation

Taylor Swift


Released: November 10, 2017


Peak: #14 US, #11 UK, #13 CN, #12 AU


Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 0.1 UK, 4.5 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: pop


Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

  1. Ready for It? (9/3/17, 4 US, 26 AC, 10 A40, 7 UK, 7 CN, 3 AU, worldwide sales: 2.5 million)
  2. End Game (with Ed Sheeran & Future, 11/14/17, 18 US, 14 A40, 49 UK, 11 CN, 36 AU)
  3. I Did Something Bad
  4. Don’t Blame Me
  5. Delicate (3/12/18, 12 US, 110 AC, 14 A40, 45 UK, 20 CN, 28 AU, worldwide sales: 1.44 million)
  6. Look What You Made Me Do (8/24/17, 13 US, 19 AC, 7 A40, 12 UK, 13 CN, 12 AU, worldwide sales: 5.6 million)
  7. So It Goes
  8. Gorgeous (11/11/17, 13 US, 15 UK, 9 CN, 9 AU, worldwide sales: 0.77 million)
  9. Getaway Car
  10. King of My Heart
  11. Dancing with Our Hands Tied
  12. Dress
  13. This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
  14. Call It What You Want (11/25/17, 27 US)
  15. New Year’s Day (11/27/17, 33 CW)

Review:

For her sixth album, Taylor Swift turned to producers Jack Antonoff, Max Martin, and Shellback – all of whom she’d worked with on 1989 album. While that album completed Swift’s transition to pop stardom, this album is arguably her “first self-consciously ‘adult’ record,” AMG “preoccupied with sex, betrayal, and the scars they leave behind.” AMG Previous albums focused on “the singer/songwriter who grew up in public” AMG as “ a babe in the woods” AMG while this one deals with themes such as “handling fame and media coverage of celebrities.” WK

Sonically, Reputation has been described as “brash, weaponized pop” (Neil McCormick, The Daily Telegraph) WK and “another shift, this time into electronic pop” (Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune). WK Rolling Stone’s Rob Sheffield said this album “builds on the synth-pop of 1989.” WK Reputation “achieves a steely, nocturnal sound,” AMG “dwelling on drum loops and synthesizers.” AMG

This sound is established from the opening song, Ready for It?, which has been described as and “electronic-inspired…industrial pop song with elements of tropical house, dubstep, and trap music.” WK Swift said the song is “about finding your own partner in crime” WK and that it “introduces a metaphor you may hear more of throughout…this kind of Crime and Punishment metaphor.” WK

Look What You Made Me Do, the lead single, treads similar electro-pop territory, interpolating “I’m Too Sexy” by the British dance-pop group Right Said Fred. The song started as a poem “about realizing that you couldn’t trust certain people, but realizing you appreciate the people you can trust.” WK The song hit #1 in at least 15 countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom and amassed more than a billion views on YouTube.

Delicate, another single, was about “what happens when you meet somebody that you really want in your life and then you start worrying about what they’ve heard before they met you.” WK Swift wanted to use the vocoder on the song to create “an emotional and vulnerable sound for the track.” WK

Nearly “every song on Reputation has a cool, gleaming patina that’s designed to put an alluring distance between Swift and the listener.” AMG The exception is “the delicate closer New Year’s Day,” AMG a song which “explores the flip side of the romanticism of a New Year’s Eve kiss.” WK It is about the person who “sticks around the next day to give you Adil and clean up the house.” WK

There is some “awkwardness that’s distracting upon first listen but less so on revisits” AMG and “what’s left is a coming of age album anchored by some strong Swift songs” AMG which “carry Swift’s trademark blend of vulnerability, melody, and confidence.” AMG “They are deeply felt and complex, signs that all of the heavy-handed persona plays of reputation were a necessary exercise for her to mature as a singer/songwriter.” AMG


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Thursday, November 9, 2017

November 9, 1901: Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2 premiered

Last updated August 31, 2018.

Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18

Sergey Rachmaninov (composer)


Composed: 1900-01


First Performed: November 9, 1901


Sales: --


Peak: --

Quotable: --


Genre: classical > concerto


Parts/Movements:

  1. Moderato
  2. Adagio Sostenuto
  3. Allegro Scherzando

Average Duration: 33:40

Review:

Rachmaninov suffered a series of failures at the end of the nineteenth century. He was expelled from music school in 1885 and, after the failure of his first symphony in 1897, he turned to drinking. RD By 1899, his alcoholism was threatening his career – his hands shook to the point of hampering his ability to play. In 1900, he turned to neuropsychotherapy, hypnosis, and trance therapy to turn things around. It worked – not only did he compose this concerto, but over the last 40 years of his life, he never succumbed again to depression. RD

“The opening, C minor, movement in sonata form was composed last; structurally it is the most conventional. Ten bars of unaccompanied keyboard chords lead directly to a palpitant principal theme for violins, violas, and clarinets — motivic rather than tuneful, despite a melismatic extension for cellos. An episode links this to the second theme, in E flat, one of Rachmaninov’s most celebrated melodies, introduced by the piano. Following the development and a maestoso alla marcia reprise, there’s a brilliant coda — but no solo cadenza, yet.” RD

“In the E major, Adagio sostenuto movement, after four bars of Tchaikovskian string chords, piano arpeggios introduce a two-part principal theme, played first by the solo flute, then by the solo clarinet. Piano and orchestra develop both parts before a Tchaikovsky-like theme for bassoons nudges the tempo a bit. Further development goes even quicker, culminating in a solo cadenza that’s been teasingly postponed, after which the original material returns, soulfully.” RD

“The finale is an Allegro scherzando in C major. The strings play a rhythmic figure that builds to a staccato climax. The piano enters with a flourish, setting up the principal subject — again, as before in I, motivic rather than tuneful, but admirably constructed for developing. This is followed by another of Rachmaninov’s signature melodies, lushly undulant, sung by the solo oboe and strings. (In the postwar 1940s, this was garnished with words and performed unrelentingly by big-band vandals as Full Moon and Empty Arms). A fugato brings back the principal subject, followed by a Maestoso statement of ‘The Tune.’ Accelerating fistfuls of piano chords set up a crowd-rousing conclusion.” RD

The first performance of this concerto was “on November 9, 1901, with Alexandre Siloti conducting the Moscow Philharmonic Society.” RD


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