Music Paper 2

Music Paper 2 - Music Paper 2 One of the finest musical compositions of the Baroque era was originally composed by Johann Sebastian Bach The piece

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Unformatted text preview: Music Paper 2 One of the finest musical compositions of the Baroque era was originally composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. The piece was titled Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 and since it was composed, many different recordings of the piece have been made by conductors throughout the world. In the late forties, for example, Dimitri Mitropoulos and the NBC Symphony Orchestra arranged there version of J S Bach's concerto. Wendy Carlos then demonstrated the use of a moog synthesizer in her recording of the concerto in the late seventies. Then, Rinaldo Alessandrini made his recording, which was performed by his ensemble, Concerto Italiano in 2005. Although these three recordings were renditions of the same piece, each had unique aspects that differ from each other. Each recording of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 featured a different/unique assortment of instruments. Rinaldo Alessandrini's recording followed the ideas of the historical performance movement. Using these principles, he decided to perform the concerto in a way that was very similar to how it may have been performed when it was originally written in the Baroque era. Alessandrini therefore used period instruments in his recording, such as brass instruments without valves, baroque violins, and harpsichords, which were all typical instruments of the Baroque era. Differing from Alessandrini, Dimitri Mitropoulos' performance was non-historically informed. The instruments played by the NBC Symphony Orchestra were therefore not characteristic of the Baroque period. Instead, the assemblage of Mitropoulos' recording consisted of a more modern set of instruments. For example, a piano was present in the concertino rather than a harpsichord, which provided a much different sound. Although the flute and violin were still played in the Mitropoulos' concertino, more modern designs of the instruments were used. The flute for instance, differed from its baroque predecessor because it was made out of metal rather than wood and has a higher dynamic range. Unlike either Alessandrini's or Mitropoulos' assortment of instruments, Wendy Carlos' recorded her rendition with the help of a very different and unique instrument. The instrument was an analogue monophonic synthesizer called the Moog synthesizer. Provided that this piece was performed with an electronically-rendered instrument, it differed greatly from the other recordings. Each recording shared a similar fast-slow-fast arrangement, and flexibility about the time element only differed slightly from each group. The treatment of the underlying beat, however, was approached much differently in each recording. In the episodes of Dimitri Mitropoulos' recording the ripieno played along with the concertino which provided background support. An instance of this could be heard in the first episode. As the flute and violin exchanged phrases you could hear the concertino underlying the ripieno as they played along. This approach by Mitropoulos' provided a less clear illustration of the ideas the concertino tried to portray. Differing from this composition, in Rinaldo Alessandrini's and Wendy Carlos' recording only the concertino was played in each episode. In each episode that fell between the statements of the ritornello, the ripieno stopped playing which allowed the solo instruments to be given complete attention. This treatment used by the two composers allowed a clear view of the new direction in which the theme was developed by the episodes of the concertino. In this way, Alessandrini and Carlos treated the underlying beat differently than Mitropoulos did. These recordings, however, were not quite as noticeably different in how the tempo changed throughout the song. Although Wendy Carlos used a much slower tempo than the other composers, they all shared very similar patterns in the change of tempo. With the use of different instruments in each recording it was understandable that the concepts of dynamics were treated dissimilarly by each composer, which consequently affected how convincing the dramatic trajectory was created. With the assistance of more modern instruments, Dimitri Mitopoulos' reproduction had a very wide dynamic range which created a very exciting and dramatic performance. As the unifying timbre throughout the work, for instance, you could constantly hear the range in vibration of the strings that the piano had. This allowed it to be played with a very soft to a very loud dynamic. The build up in Mitropoulos' recording to the cadenza, with the intensity increasing in the pianos part, displayed a wide dynamic range that emphasized the song's punch, emotion and clarity. A less wide range in dynamics is displayed in Alessandrini's recording. His use of the Baroque era instruments, such as the harpsichord, limited the length of dynamic range that was able to be achieved. The period instruments of the Baroque, more specifically the flute and harpsichord, lacked the ability to produce notes as loud and soft as its modern successors. This inability, especially of the virtuosic position of the harpsichord, made Alessandrini's recording much less dramatic and less tense than Mitropoulos'. The cadenza was therefore not as powerful and was unable to hold up my interest as long as the piano's had. Differing from these two recordings, Wendy Carlos treated the dynamics with an overall lower range, but the ripieno's presence of a moog synthesizer made this composition very interesting, holding my interest indefinitely. Although the build up to the cadenza in this performance was not as intense or dramatic, the originality of Carlos's use of an electronic instrument to play classical music created a very entertaining and fascinating piece. After listening to three recordings of Brandenburg Concerto No.5, and studying the differences between them, I found out that there were many characteristics that differ from each of them. After analyzing these differences I have come to appreciate each piece for its own uniqueness and dissimilarities to each other. Dimitri Mitropoulos' recorded a fantastic composition that I admired for its drama and tension that was elegantly portrayed especially in the ritornello and cadenza. I enjoyed the use of a piano in the concertino, which helped provide a wide dynamic range that portrayed emotion very clearly. Rinaldo Alessandrini's use of period instruments, such as the baroque violin, flute, and harpsichord provided a very authentic performance. His use of principles of the historical performance movement made it a delightful experience to be able to hear this concerto played by musicians who strive to play it as accurately as they did in the Baroque era. Wendy Carlos undoubtedly made an enjoyably interesting recording of Brandenburg Concerto, that really displays virtuosity behind its creation. The use of the moog synthesizer created freshness in sound, which appealed to me because of its originality and uniqueness. I admire her use of a synthesizer in classical music, and her achievement in making it sound as genuine as the rest of the recordings. ...
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This essay was uploaded on 04/22/2008 for the course MUS 15 taught by Professor Johnson during the Spring '07 term at UCSB.

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