Friday, June 22, 2018

#ClassicsaDay #SchumannsCircle Week 3

Robert Schumann was born on June 8, 1810. Some of us contributing to the #ClassicsaDay feed decided to celebrate that birthday. For the month of June, we encouraged folks to post works by Schumann and his circle. Schumann worked with several major composers of the day. He also reviewed up-and-coming composers in his magazine. 

Here are my selections for the third week of #ClassicsaDay #SchumannsCircle

Robert Schumann - Etudes after Paganini Caprices, Op. 3

When he was 20 years old, Schumann saw Nicolo Paganini in concert. It inspired him to pursue a career in music. That same year he began piano lessons with Friedrich Wieck. The Etudes were published in 1832. A second work based on Paganini's music followed in 1833.

Nicolo Paganini (1782-1840) - Violin Concerto No. 4 in D minor

Paganini wrote his fourth concerto for his 1829-30 tour of Germany, although it was officially premiered in Paris the following year. A twenty-year-old Robert Schumann saw Paganini in concert during that tour.

Robert Schumann - Papillons, Op. 2

Schuman's "Butterflies" is based on a masquerade in Jean Paul's novel, Die Flegeljahre. Schumann also conducted a masquerade in his 1831 essay on Chopin's own Op.2. He adopted three different personalities who engaged in a heated discussion of the work.

Frédéric Chopin ( Variations on "Là ci darem la mano" for piano and orchestra, Op. 2

Chopin wrote this set of variations when he was 17. Schumann heard the work in 1831. His famous review of it in Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung proclaimed "Hats off, gentlemen! A genius!" Clara Wieck, age 12, wrote "[Chopin's Op. 2] which I learned in eight days, is the hardest piece I have ever seen or played till now."

Heinrich Dorn (1804-1892) Das Mädchen an den Mond

Schumann studied counterpoint with Heinrich Dorn in 1834. Dorn was the conductor of the Leipzig Opera and a friend of Franz Liszt. He wrote numerous art songs, as well as ten operas. His opera "Die Nibelungen" premiered in 1853, decades before Wagner's version.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Line Mar Match Box Construction 092 - Trip Hammer

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.

092. Trip Hammer

What you see below is only an approximation of the illustrated trip hammer. As with many of the more complex constructions, there aren't enough pieces.

Plus, the illustration wasn't all that clear -- certainly not enough for me to build this with any confidence.

Here's what I think was the intent. When the crank is turned, it rotates the 3-hole girder (1). The shaft attached to it would rotate in a circle, pulling the 5-hole girder up and down.

That girder is attached to a 3-hole girder (2). The motion causes the 3-hole girder to move out and down. This girder is attached to the box that represents the hammerhead.

The other 3-hole girder (3) pivots on the other girder (4), attached to the inside of the frame. Thus, the hammer extends out and down to the surface.

The critical part of the machine, (2) isn't shown. I'm not quite sure how that 3-hole girder attaches to the frame, the 5-hole girder, and the hammer.

In a way, it doesn't matter. This toy requires three 3-hole girders. Only two come with the set. Plus, the dowel and collar construction is too flimsy to actually turn anything.

Since this was a non-working model, I just fudged the connections to the 5-hole girder at (2). So below is about as close as I could get with the material at hand.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Martinu Early Orchestral Works, Vol. 3 Provides Context

The major work of this release is "Vanishing Night." Martinu revised it with the help of his teacher Josef Suk. The music is a compendium of Martinu's early impressionist style.

Originally, it was thought that only a portion of "Vanishing Midnight" survived. Recently orchestral parts for the missing movements were rediscovered. For the first time, the work can be heard in its entirety. It's well worth hearing.

This three-movement composition shows a composer in transition. It doesn't quite have the Czech character that Martinu's mature works would exhibit. And it doesn't quite have the syncopations, either. But it's very close.

"Ballade after Böcklin’s picture: Villa by the Sea" is the only surviving movement from a 1915 set of symphonic dances. The music is as impressionistic and indefinite as the image itself. Böcklin created five different versions of "Villa by the Sea," each one slightly different.

Martinu's score is also somewhat ambivalent. Shifting key centers, shimmering harmonies, and irregular melodies remind me of Debussy's soft-focus impressionism. And yet there's something about this work that hints at the symphonist Martinu would become.

"Dream of the Past," written five years later, presages more strongly Martinu's mature style. It's a somewhat somber work, with a heavy dose of chromaticism.

Conductor Ian Hobson and the Sinfonia Varsvia turn in some fine performances. These may not be the best works by Martinu, but this recording makes that case that they deserve more than just an occasional listen.

Bohuslav Martinu: Early Orchestral Works, Volume 3
Sinfonia Varsivia; Ian Hobson, conductor
Toccata Classics