Honourable mention: “Concerto for two trumpets in C major, RV 537” by Antonio Vivaldi
We begin the week with one of the greatest names of the Baroque era, namely Antonio Vivaldi. He was a very prolific composer, having composed more than 500 concertos, several sacred works and over forty operas. Out of the 500, forty are for two instruments. However, this is the only concert composed for two trumpets, probably due to the needed reliance on the performers’ skill and the restricted range of the instrument, trumpets being without valves in that period. Staying true to his style, the concert begins with a veritable umph, continuing in a brazen rhythm and drawing us in with its fanfare vibe.
No. 3: “Piano Trio no. 5 in D major, op. 70 no. 1 (Ghost)” by Ludwig van Beethoven
Moving on in time, in third place we have one of the biggest names of the Classical era, Ludwig van Beethoven, with a trio for piano, violin, and cello. I especially love the second movement Largo assai ed espressivo, which gave the work its nickname, due to its eerie piano. This one takes me instantly on an empty rocky beach, in a chilly summer night, with a full red moon on the horizon. It also reminds me of the book “On Chesil Beach” by Ian McEwan.
For 1st place Beethoven, have a look here.
No. 2: “Piano Concerto in G major” by Maurice Ravel
“The opening theme came to me on a train between Oxford and London” said Maurice Ravel about his Piano Concerto in G major, and the first movement, Allegramente, sure feels like a train ride, a jazz infused thrilling musical ride. However, it’s the second one, Adagio assai, that brings the work so high in this week’s top. The rhythm changes drastically into a beautiful slow piano tune. It is then followed by a soft flute solo interspersed with gentle piano droplets and the entire section intensifies more and more until the piano calms everything down again into a reverie.
No. 1: “Symphony no. 1 in D major, op. 25 (Classical)” by Sergei Prokofiev
Grandiose, youthful, playful, optimistic: all these perfectly describe this week no. 1 choice, the Symphony no. 1 in D major by Sergei Prokofiev, also known as the “Classical” symphony. It’s a short work of only ten minutes, but flooded with life and energy. He wrote it with Haydn in mind, imagining what he would have composed, had he lived in the 18th century:
‘I thought that if Haydn were alive today he would compose just as he did before, but at the same time would include something new in his manner of composition. I wanted to compose such a symphony: a symphony in the classical style’
Disclaimer: This is not an exhaustive list of all the works curated by Clemency Burton-Hill in the book “Year of Wonder: Classical music for every day”. To enjoy the full catalogue of pieces proposed by the author along with her comments on the composers and the music itself, feel free to pick up her awesome book here (not affiliated, nor sponsored).