Friday, May 25, 2018

#ClassicsaDay #SovietaDay Week 4

For May 2018, some of us contributing to #ClassicsaDay decided to mark May Day. Reason enough to post works by Soviet composers. I decided to go a little farther with my #SovietaDay posts and concentrate on Soviet prize winners.

Here are the posts I shared for week 4.

Boris Lyatoshinsky (1895-1968) - Piano Quintet "Ukrainian Quintet" Op. 42

Lyatoshinsky, inspired by Scriabin, continually pushed the boundaries of tonality. His early works were sometimes accused of "formalism." In the 1920s he began incorporating folk elements of his native Ukraine into his work. His Piano Quintet Op. 42, the "Ukrainian Quintet" is the best example of this folk-inspired style. It won the Stalin Prize in 1946.

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) - Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 60 "Leningrad"

Shostakovich started work on his seventh symphony in 1939. He was working on the second movement when he was trapped in the Siege of Leningrad. During the war, the symphony was considered a symbol of resistance. Though around 80 minutes long, it was frequently performed in the West as a sign of support. Interest in the symphony declined after the war. Symphony No. 7 was awarded the Stalin Prize in 1942.

Alexander Arutiunian (1920-2012) - Cantata about the Motherland

Artuiunian's best-known work is his 1950 Trumpet Concerto in A-flat Major. In the Soviet Union, this Armenian composer was known for his concert works as well as his film scores. His Cantata about the Motherland won the Stalin Prize in 1948.

Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) - On Guard for Peace, Op. 124

The cantata "On Guard for Peace" marked Prokofiev's return to political acceptance after the 1948 Zhdanov Decree. Although some of his works remained proscribed, new compositions were deemed safe to perform. The cantata won the Stalin Prize (second class) in 1951.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Line Mar Match Box Construction 089 - Revolving Crane

I found a Line Mar Match Box Construction Set from the 1930s, complete and with instructions. The box claimed the set made 100 different toys. I decided to test that claim -- one toy at a time. You can read all the posts for the Line Mar construction project at 100 Toys.

089. Revolving Crane

The series almost ended with this model. The crane assembly was too fragile to handle any stress, or even the weight of the bucket. It took quite a bit of work (and a little Stick-Um) to get everything to stay in place. 

You may notice an extra piece at the top of the tower. That was necessary to keep the crane assembly from toppling over backward. Because of the horizontal dowel anchoring the crane, I couldn't use a vertical dowel to secure the assembly. A little tape in the back did the trick.

And I won't even go into the problems trying to thread the string through all the points of contact while trying to hold the rickety thing together!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Niccolò Paganini Chamber Music for Strings with Appealing Performances

When he died in 1840, Niccolò Paganini was considered one of the greatest violinists in the world -- a reputation that endures even today. His virtuosity as a guitarist isn't as well-known today. But it was to his audiences.

Paganini would include some of his guitar pieces in his concerts and salons. Like Paganini's violin compositions, the music is uniquely crafted for one performer -- himself.

The music is challenging to play, but not to listen to. Sure, there are plenty of fireworks, but it's all for a purpose. His melodic lines have the easy affability of Mozart's (at least superficially).

Violinist Roberto Noferini ably handles Paganini's music. He plays with energy and conviction. And he also plays with sensitivity. The phrasing, especially in the Six Preludes for violin and guitar are beautifully shaped.

Guitarist Giulio Tampalini perfectly compliments Noferini. No matter how complex the music, he plays with a sure, light touch.

Violinist Anna Noferini and cellist Andrea Noferini are also worthy of mention. The familial connection between the Noferinis gives their ensemble playing a chemistry that adds to the music's appeal.

This isn't the first recording of Paganini's chamber music. But these performances make this one of the better ones.

Niccolò Paganini: Chamber Music for Strings 
Roberto Noferini, violin; Anna Noferini, violin II; Andrea Noferini, cello; Giulio Tampalini, guitar 
Brillant Classics