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Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart completed this piano concerto in 1786 with the premiere being given in April the same year at the Burgtheater in Vienna. As Mozart intended to be the soloist at the premiere performance the manuscript for the piano score was incomplete, however Mozart would remember the entire work without issue and simultaneously conduct the orchestra at the same time.

This is one of only two piano concertos Mozart would complete in a minor key, and would feature the largest orchestra accompaniment.

This concerto is comprised of three movements:
I. Allegro
II. Larghetto
III. Allegretto

Prelude in F sharp minor, Op. 23, No. 1 by Sergei Rachmaninoff

Rachmaninoff would complete his collection of 10 preludes for solo piano published as Opus 23 between the years of 1901 and 1903. While this collection would only include 10 preludes, each in a different key, when combined with his later Opus 32 and his independent prelude in c sharp minor, Rachmaninoff would have composed a piano prelude in all 24 major and minor keys.

Sonata in A minor for violin and piano by Ralph Vaughan Williams

This sonata for violin and piano was completed in 1952 to be performed by Frederick Grinke, a Canadian violinist. The premiere performance would be given via a BBC radio broadcast in 1954 on the day of Vaughan Williams’ birthday with Grinke playing the violin and Michael Mullinar playing piano. This would be one of the final works Vaughan Williams would compose before his death in 1958.

This sonata is comprised of three movements:
I. Fantasia: Allegro giusto
II. Scherzo: Allegro furioso ma non troppo
III. Tema con variazioni: Andante

Album Leaves, Op. 28 by Edvard Grieg

Grieg completed the individual piano works which comprise this collection in the years between 1864 and 1878. The term ‘Album leaves’ was originally intended to refer to music a compose wrote to be given to a friend or loved one and included in their ‘album’. Over time the name was applied to any collection given to another person.

This work is comprised of four pieces:
I. Allegro con moto A flat major
II. Allegretto espressivo in F major
III. Vivace in A major
IV. Andantino serioso in C sharp minor

Symphony No. 19 in D major, Hoboken I/19 by Joseph Haydn

Haydn completed this symphony in 1761 while essentially acting as the Kapellmeister for the Esterházy family, despite not officially holding the role.

This symphony is comprised of three movements:
I. Allegro molto
II. Andante
III. Presto

Valse-Étude, H. 56 by Gustav Holst

This short work for violin and piano would be completed in 1904 during the first 12 months of his new role as teacher at the James Allen’s Girls school in Dulwich. This work would be dedicated to the English violinist Marie Hall.

The Valse-Étude is comprised of a single movement.

String Quartet No. 13 in B flat major, Op. 130 by Ludwig van Beethoven

Beethoven would complete the first version of this string quartet in 1826 at the age of 56. The premiere of this version of the quartet took place the same year in Vienna with the quartet being dedicated to Nikolai Galitzin, a Russian aristocrat and patron of Beethoven.

The first version of this quartet was comprised of six movements, with the final movement being a ‘Große Fuge’ (Grand Fugue) of considerable length. The public reception to the premiere in March of 1826 made it clear to Beethoven’s publishers that the final movement was too long and intricate compared to the rest of the quartet. At their behest Beethoven removed the fugue, giving it its own publication number (Grande Fugue Op. 133) and composing a new simple final movement, an allegro in B flat major.

By age 56, Beethoven was almost entirely deaf and would have intermittent bouts of fever, jaundice and difficulty moving due to swollen and arthritic limbs. Beethoven had never married, and the closest person he would ever have to a son was his nephew Karl, a troubled young man who attempted to commit suicide in 1826, which fortunately failed. The relationship between Beethoven and his sister-in-law Johanna van Beethoven (mother of Karl) was not pleasant, and it is clear from correspondence from both Beethoven and Johanna that they never felt like family.

Despite the tragic family circumstances and the debilitating medical issues Beethoven would experience towards the end of his life, the new ending for his string quartet No. 13 would be a brisk and joyous contradance (country dance). Much like the ending to his 9th symphony, Beethoven would show his defiance to ‘fate’ (as he would call it) through is music, turning pain and suffering into music of incredible beauty and optimism. It would seem that Beethoven never forgot the declaration he made to himself in 1802 when he was first told he was going deaf:

“(He will) seize Fate by the throat, it shall certainly not crush me completely”.

The new 6th movement to this quartet would be the final work Beethoven would compose before his death in March of 1827.

The new version of this quartet (which is the recording you are listening to) is comprised of six movements:
I. Adagio, ma non troppo – Allegro
II. Presto
III. Andante con moto, ma non troppo. Poco Scherzando
IV. Alla danza tedesca. Allegro assai
V. Cavatina. Adagio molto espressivo
VI. Allegro

String Sextet Op. 23, No. 6 in F major, G. 459 by Luigi Boccherini

Boccherini completed a set of 6 string sextets for dual violin, viola and cello in 1776, making this collection one of the earliest if not the earliest collection of music for string sextet composed. Boccherini was in the service of the Infante Don Luis of Spain at the court in Madrid while composing this collection.

This work is comprised of four movements:
I. Andantino grazioso
II. Allegro assai
III. Tempo di minuetto – Trio
IV. Finale. Prestissimo

Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 120 by Gabriel Fauré

Fauré completed this trio for piano, violin and cello in 1923, with the premiere performance being given in May the same year by the Société Nationale de Musique in Paris to honour the 78th birthday of the composer. Fauré had begun work on the trio in 1920, but it would take him three years to complete the work partly due to Fauré travelling to his favourite holiday locations in southern France and also due to a serious bout of pneumonia. Fauré would dedicate the work to Mademoiselle Maurice Rouvier, the widow of the former President of the Council for France.

This trio is comprised of three movements:
I. Allegro ma non troppo
II. Andantino
III. Allegro vivo

Horn Trio in E flat major, Op. 40 by Johannes Brahms

This composition for Natural horn, violin and piano was completed in 1865 with the premiere performance being given in November of 1866 in Zurich. Brahms composed this work to commemorate the death of this mother Christiane Nissen Brahms in early 1865. Brahms felt that the sound of the Natural horn, which did not use a valve system like the French Horn, gave a more sombre feel to the work that better represented his intention to mourn the loss of his mother.

Brahms would later rework this piece into a trio for viola, violin and piano and would comment that the horn section could also be replaced with a cello.

This trio is comprised of four movements:
I. Andante
II. Scherzo: Allegro
III. Adagio mesto
IV. Allegro con brio

Eternal Longing, Op. 33 by Vitezslav Novak

Novak completed this tone poem for orchestra in 1904 and would be one of a number of works Novak dedicated to fellow composer Antonín Dvořák. The tone poem itself is based on the Hans Christian Anderson book ‘A Picture book without Pictures’, which is a collection of fairy tales the author published in 1848 that included stories such as ‘My Boots’, ‘Pegasus and the Post-Horses’ and ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’.

This work is comprised of a single movement.

Havanaise in E major, Op. 83 by Camille Saint-Saëns

French composer Camille Saint-Saëns completed this work for violin and orchestra in 1887. It was composed to be performed by Cuban violinist Rafael Díaz Albertini, however at the premiere performance in January of 1894, Belgian violinist Martin Pierre Marsick was the soloist.

This orchestral piece is comprised of a single movement.

Prelude No. 6 in B minor, Op. 28 ‘Tolling Bells’ by Frédéric Chopin

Chopin completed a collection of 24 preludes 1839 which were given the Opus number 28. The 24 preludes cover the complete collection of all major and minor keys. Chopin began work on this collection in 1835. It is thought that the work was inspired by the “Well Tempered Clavier” by J.S Bach as Chopin had a copy of this collection with him while composing the majority of these preludes in Mallorca.

Each work was given an epithet by the publisher with the consultation of Chopin.

From Meadow to Mayfair Suite by Eric Coates

Coates would complete this suite for orchestra in 1931. At this time Coates was now in demand to conduct his own compositions at venues in the cities of Bournemouth, Scarborough and Hastings and popular among the public and among other composers. It is said that fellow composer Sir Edward Elgar would buy the records of Coates’ compositions as soon as they were available. Coates would also be recorded as saying that he was more productive when composing at his city residence on Baker Street in London.

This suite is comprised of three movements:
I. In the Country: Rustic Dance
II. A Song by the Way: Romance
III. Evening in the Town: Valse

Symphony No. 2 in C major, Op. 61 by Robert Schumann

Evidence from the period indicates Schumann began work on his second symphony in 1845, but did not finish the work until October the following year. During the same period Schumann would experience severe tinnitus and depression, making his ability to compose a symphony at all remarkable, let alone a symphony based on a conventionally ‘triumphal’ theme. The work is dedicated to Oscar I, the King of Sweden and Norway from 1844 to 1859.

This symphony is comprised of four movements:
I. Sostenuto assai
II. Scherzo: Allegro vivace
III. Adagio espressivo
IV. Allegro molto vivace

String Symphony No. 13 in C minor by Felix Mendelssohn

Mendelssohn completed a set of 13 string symphonies by 1823 at the age of fourteen. The collection features several tributes to composers such as Haydn, Bach and Mozart. The majority of the collection is scored for string orchestra only, however a few of the symphonies contain instruments from other musical families.

This symphony is comprised of three movements:
I. Fuga: Grave – Allegro
II. Andante
III. Allegro molto

String Quartet in F major by Mikhail Glinka

Glinka completed this work for two violins, viola and cello in 1830 at the age of 26. Glinka would complete this work before his trip to Italy where his musical style would be heavily influenced by the Italian composers and the legacy of artists such as Mozart and Beethoven. As such this work represents a more Russian style of music, which is possibly why the composer would use motifs from this work in his opera Ruslan and Ludmila which he would begin composing in 1837.

This work is comprised of four movements:
I. Allegro spiritoso
II. Andante con moto
III. Menuetto. Allegro brillante
IV. Rondo. Allegro moderato

Missa Brevis by Giovanni Palestrina

It is likely that Palestrina completed this mass in 1558 while working as musical director at the St John Lateran church in Rome. Three years earlier Palestrina was forced to resign from his post as a papal chorister as the then pope, Pope Paul IV, decreed that all papal choristers should be of the clerical order.

While this work has been given the title “Missa Brevis” it is actually one of the longer musical adaptations of the Mass.

This contrapuntal work is comprised of six movements:
I. Kyrie
II. Gloria
III. Credo
IV. Sanctus
V. Benedictus
VI. Agnus Dei 1 & 2

Symphony No. 18 in F major, K. 130 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart completed this symphony in May of 1772 at the age of 16. The work would be composed in-between the two trips that Mozart would take to Milan with this father partly for his own education and partly to promote the young Mozart and his incredible talents. The second Milan visit in late 1772 almost resulted in Mozart receiving a position within the court of Archduke Ferdinand, son of Holy Roman Emperor Franz I, but this suggestion was refused by Empress Maria Theresa.

This symphony is comprised of four movements:
I. Allegro
II. Andantino grazioso
III. Menuetto – Trio
IV. Allegro molto

First book of Préludes, No. 9: ‘La sérénade interrompue’ (Interrupted Serenade) by Claude Debussy

Debussy complete his first book of Préludes in 1910. Unlike previous notable collections of preludes by composers such as Bach and Chopin, this collection is not intended to display a composition in each of the tonal keys. Each work in this collection is given an artistic title, however this title is provided at the end of the manuscript as Debussy wanted the performer to experience the piece without being influenced by the name of the work.

Concerti Grossi, Op. 3, No. 2, HWV. 313 by George Frederic Handel

Handel would begin this collection of concerti grossi for strings and woodwind, with various instruments taking a solo role in each concerto, in 1710, with the best estimate on when the collection was finished being in 1718. Handel did not publish the collection himself, with the English music publisher John Walsh releasing the official collection in 1734. Some historians suggest Handel did not intend for these works to be compiled into a single collection, and that Walsh was attempting to pique public interest with a new concerti grossi collection, a format which was popular at the time.

This concerto is comprised of five movements:
I. Vivace
II. Largo
III. Allegro
IV. Moderato
V. Allegro

Overture in D major, D. 26 by Franz Schubert

Schubert would complete this overture in 1812 at the age of 15. This overture is notable in the use of three trombones in the orchestra and also for the fact that it was not the only overture the young Schubert would complete in 1812.

This overture is comprised of a single movement.

Spring Fire Symphony by Arnold Bax

English composer Arnold Bax completed this work for orchestra in 1913 and intended to premiere the work in Norwich in 1914. The outbreak of the first world war delayed the premiere, and while several subsequent dates for when the work would finally have a public performance were propositioned, it is likely the work was never played before Bax died in 1953.

Bax commented that the work was inspired by the poem ‘Atalanta in Calydon’ by Algernon Swinburne and is scored for a large orchestra. The symphony is comprised of a single movement.

Andante appassionato for string quartet in F major, B. 40a by Antonin Dvořák

In 1873, Dvořák would compose his string quartet No. 6 in a lengthy single movement. The composer would later revise the work, as he did for many of his earlier compositions, and in 1874 the work would be split into four movements, with the ‘Andante appassionato’ section being isolated as a stand-alone work.

Allegretto for Piano Trio, WoO. 39 by Ludwig van Beethoven

Beethoven completed this short work for piano, violin and cello in 1812 as a gift for Maximiliano Brentano, the daughter of Antonie Brentano, an art collector, patron and friend of Beethoven. Beethoven would gift the work to the Brentano family at their residence in Karlsbad in the west of what is now the Czech Republic in June of 1812 before continuing his journey to Prague.

This work is comprised of a single movement.

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