Concert Critique #1The Hungarian Dances are an intriguing group of works by JohannesBrahms.
They are characterized by frequent changes in tempo and volume. These pieces are focused on the melodies created when the instruments areplayed together. Each piece also contains more than one melody. Newmelodies, or themes, usually include a change in tempo and a change indynamics within each piece. The volume differences also stand out on thetracks. They usually go from soft to loud almost suddenly.
The change wasstartling to me the first time I heard it. Certain instruments are singledout in every section also. In some parts you will hear the polyphony in thepiece come together very nicely. The plagal cadence used throughout the 4tracks gives them a storybook feeling. I can imagine any of these piecesbeing used as score or even background for a song in a just about anyDisney animated movie.
The theme-and-variations form that is utilized alsoadds to the feeling. The differences in these pieces, however places themin different movies. Track two sounds like it belongs in a movie such asAnastasia or Cinderella. It sounds like something that I would hear at oneof those old-fashioned formal dances. While listening to track three, Icould imagine the seven dwarfs hard at work. Track four almost sounds likeMr.
Brahms copied it straight out of Fivel Goes West. I could think of anymovie other than Fantasia for track 1 though. Overall, these pieces wereenjoyable to me because they painted that picture in my mind. I could seethe action being played out in my head while listening to the HungarianDances. Bolero by Maurice Ravel is a very long piece.
It is not mind-numbingeven though it is very repetitive. Ravel prevents this work from becomingboring by changing the pitch or increasing the volume of the piece forevery couple of times the beat repeats itself. The fact that the beat isnot boring to begin with, also helped to hold my attention. This piecepaints a picture in mind. In fact, it almost directs an entire scene fromany war movie. When the piece starts off very quiet, it is almost like thecalm before the storm when soldiers are preparing for battle.
As the piecegets louder the troops are marching forward until at the end when theyfinally make to the war zone. I did not like, however, how the piece endedso suddenly. It was like the battle and began and ended with one shot. Itleft me wanting more. Other than the fact that this track ended too soon, Ienjoyed everything leading up to the end.
The two tracks by Claude Debussy have an overwhelming sense ofurgency to them. The tempo of these tracks is what creates that feeling. The crescendos in these tracks, coupled with the loudness of them, are themain ingredients in the urgent feeling that is given off. The frequentchanges in melody are sudden and often confusing. It is sometimes hard forme to catch what is going on in the pieces. I did not enjoy these piecesvery much.
Track number eight and tracks eleven through fifteen were pianotracks with faster tempos. The melody was quick, much like the Debussytracks, but it just sounded much better on the piano. The faster notesflowed instead of jumping around. The song texture comes togetherbeautifully on these tracks. I could not find a story in these pieces, butI enjoyed them simply for their sonic value.
Track fourteen was a slowerthan the others, but it was not slow to the point where it lulled me tosleep like tracks nine, and ten. These tracks were so slow to the pointwhere I was just waiting for them to end. Track sixteen was also slow but it was somehow different from theothers. The changes in pitch and melody kept me interested. The crescendoin the middle of the piece is what caught my attention.
When I firstlistened to it, I thought it was just like the other tedious piano pieces. That crescendo gave the piece and entire storyline. It had a beginning, ithad rising action, a climax, closing action, and a conclusion. I enjoyedthe piece. I don’t have a very good background in this kind of music, but frommy standpoint, this CD was pretty good. When I listen to rap or rhythm andblues music, I judge albums by if I enjoy listening to every song or not.
Even if I do not enjoy listening to a song, I will listen to it anyway tofind out what the lyrics are. I enjoyed twelve out of sixteen tracks onthis CD. That is a good ratio in my book. If was an avid listener toorchestra and piano music, I would spend my money on this collection ofworks.