Rainy’s classical things, part five: Don’t be pathetic

“Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13 ‘Sonata Pathétique’, 3rd movement” by Ludwig van Beethoven | And for my final classical music write-up! Before I end Classical Week, I want you to know how hard it was for me to choose five pieces that I think you should hear. Narrowing it down took weeks to decide, and my lists were actually endless! So here’s a legit Classical era piece (because some pieces that I wrote about were from the Baroque or Romantic era, but they are nonetheless labeled as “classical”) for the finale: a Beethoven sonata. I chose the third movement of Pathetique because there’s a sense of finality to it; what with it being the final movement and all. On to the piece: if you’ve played O2jam before, then this will be all-too familiar for you. The badass song V3 is basically a modern remake of Pathetique. The third movement (a rondo) starts with a recognizable tune that speaks of stormy emotions and maybe even rage. Or is it just me? Although played in piano (a dynamic, meaning ‘softly’), the common use of sforzando created the perfect waves-crashing-on-rocks effect. Think: lightning bolts shooting here and there. That’s just for the main theme. Where the piece takes you is completely up to you. Nevertheless, I strongly recommend that you check this third movement out because well… it’s a classic!

Rainy’s classical things, part four: Little bell, long fingers

“La Campanella” by Franz Liszt | This is the third etude of six Grandes études de Paganini. “La Campanella” is for the long-fingered. I had long dreamed of playing this legendary piece but I couldn’t due to my love-hate relationship with the piano and… well, short and slim fingers. It opens with a sweet bell-like tune. The first sound tinkles like a warning, and the jaw-dropping part follows. Like I said, it’s not for the shorties. The note intervals are farther than an octave and it demands your right hand to jump and expertly prance around the keys. You will hear fancy grace notes, which in my opinion lightens the whole mood of the piece. If it weren’t for the graces then I would’ve labeled it ‘scary’. Never mind the fact that it is played in allegretto. Never mind that its nickname (yes, that’s only a nickname) translates to “the little bell”. Yes, if it weren’t for the graces that gave good graces. Nonetheless, “La Campanella” is one of the most stunning etudes ever written and (in my opinion) should be your dream piece as well. (Tomorrow: a piece that really is from the Classical era.)

Rainy’s classical things, part three: Vivaldi’s music for breakfast

“Concerto no. 3 in D Major ‘Il Gardellino’, op. 10 no. 3, 1st movement” by Antonio Vivaldi | A breathtaking flute concerto, also known as the piece that Rainy Martini almost played in a Christmas concert (a piano and flute arrangement, but things went wrong with the accompanist). The opening bars for the flute solo are a group of notes tailed with a swift trill. The redundance of those notes gives me a very vibrant feeling. Images of tiny birds popping out of the treetops in tune with the music invade my head. Perfect for a spring performance! It helps that the first movement is played in allegro. Like most pieces, “Il Gardellino” is pretty much a roller coaster of crescendos and dimminuendos… which gives me the playful impression that the conductor might be turning the imaginary radio’s volume knob up and down during those times. Ah, whatever. This Vivaldi makes for a nice cheesy breakfast soundtrack. That is, if you live in a green place. Just like me. (Tomorrow: a piece that might ring a bell…)

Rainy’s classical things, part two: Let’s watch the circus

“Rumba Toccata” by Paul Harvey | This is a huge leap from yesterday’s offering: “Rumba Toccata” is literally jumpy. With emphasis on “literally”. It kicks off with a bunch of detached g notes being pressed repetitively. It’s a cluster of staccatos and hand-overs if you ask me. Imagine tip-toeing to a rhythm of… say, 172 BPM. Or more. It depends upon the pianist, actually. When I played this though (by ear, I’ve never seen the sheet), I chose a slower tempo. Maybe allegrissimo as opposed to the original presto. Theme-wise, the piece could be placed along the lines of Ellmenreich’s “Spinning Song” or even Heinrich Lichner’s “Tulip”. It gives off that perfect circus-like vibe, you know? So imagine tip-toeing to a speed of 172 BPM wearing a top hat, red clown nose and a funny expression. Think Charlie Chaplin. Or is the imagery more suited to Joplin’s “The Entertainer”? Either way, Paul Harvey did magic with those bunch of g‘s. (Tomorrow: music to wake up and smell the roses to.)

Rainy’s classical things, part one: Chopin’s sweet stuff

“Nocturne in E flat, op. 9 no. 2” by Frédéric Chopin |  Rainy Martini, your resident pianist writing for Classical Week! From today until Friday, I will write about a few pieces from waaaay back that you should hear. This is also Niko’s introduction to classical music, since I promised I’d give him a little teaching. Here’s a Chopin to sweeten your Monday up: a 183-year-old nocturne. One of the most popular pieces from the Romantic era, and my all-time favorite as well. I play this during my birthdays, from my 8th year onward. I would say that this particular nocturne’s bass (left-hand notes) has a waltz-like quality to it. To the untrained ear it might even fall to the “slow waltz” category, what with the tempo being andante and all. Well, the piece is glide-y enough for a waltz, but it’s too soft and dreamy. It is, after all, a nocturne; music for the evenings. Could even pass as a lullaby. Chopin nocturnes all have this distinctive song-like melody in the right-hand notes. Decorated with trills, grace notes, crescendos and tempo changes. The climax is, of course, towards the final bars of the piece. Just like the ballads of today. It ends with two pairs of chords played in pianissimo possibile, as if putting the piano to sleep. (Tomorrow: a literally jumpy modern piece.)