Haydn: Sonata in C major, Hob.XVI:48
Szymanowski: Variations in B-flat minor, Op.3
Brahms: Eight Pieces, Op.76
Albéniz: Lavapies, from Iberia, Book III This programme can be seen as one of antipodes. Haydn's C major sonata is a true example of the succinctness and cleverness we associate with the composer, who shows us how he can say so much with so little. Often in this sonata, the pauses say more than the notes. Szymanowski/s Op.3 variations, on the other hand, is a prime example of sumptuous late romanticism, overflowing with sensuousness and passion. The next two works, Brahms's Eight Pieces, Op.76 and Albénix's Lavapies, are contrasting in a slightly different way: one is music "for its own sake", the other is highly descriptive. The eight short pieces of Op.76 don't describe anything extramusical, at least not overtly. It is self-sufficient music, where patterns, harmonies, and melodies are the drivers of inspiration in a century dominated by programmatic works such as the Symphonie fantastique and Pictures at an Exhibition. Lavapies couldn't be any more different. Here, we hear the description of a working-class neighbourhood of Madrid, in all its raucousness and fervour. Or, as my late teacher Hamish Milne said about Iberia, "one can feel the sand coming into the eyes when hearing it".
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