Strings In Numbers: Stay-At-Home Musical Suggestions #28

From the Southwest Florida Symphony: Until circumstances allow us to meet again, please enjoy these wonderful links and sites full of amazing orchestral music and activities!

“The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.”-W. A. Mozart

Sometimes, less is more, and here, string orchestras minus woodwinds, brass or percussion manage to say it all.

Click on the link to enjoy:

  • Grieg- Holberg Suite
    This “suite in olden style” is five movements composed in 1884 after 18th century dance styles for the 200th anniversary of Holberg’s birth. The Norwegian playwright Ludvig Holberg is considered the founder of modern Danish and Norwegian literature. I love the clean simplicity of this orchestra’s totally memorized performance, as well as their expressiveness, communication, and obvious enjoyment.
  • Bach- Brandenburg Concerto No. 6
    Bach wrote and dedicated these six concerti, all with different instrumentation, to the Margrave of Brandenburg- Schwedt in 1721. This one is unusual, being written without parts for violin, but instead for two viole de gamba (‘for the leg,’ i.e. cello -style), and two viole de bracchia (‘for the arm’). The viole de gamba was already out of style, but it is suspected that one of these parts was written for the benefit of and played by Bach’s employer, Prince Leopold. The inclusion of a harpsichord makes this not quite a string orchestra, but the unique instrumentation makes it interesting, beautifully played here on standard modern violas.
  • Barber- Adagio For Strings
    Barber arranged the second movement from his string quartet for a string orchestra in 1936, and it remains famously recognized for its pathos and passion today, full of tension and suspense, sadness and uncertainty. Be prepared!
  • Dvořák- Serenade for Strings
    After receiving a large and freeing commission from Prague, Dvořák took just twelve days in May, 1875 to compose his five-movement Serenade. “It is believed that Dvořák took up this small orchestral genre because it was less demanding than the symphony, but allowed for the provision of pleasure and entertainment.” The Amsterdam Sinfonietta exudes much energy here, in the often-used standing configuration.
  • Tchaikovsky- Serenade for Strings
    Tchaikovsky wrote his four-movement serenade in 1880. In his notations, he asked for the maximum number of performers, but this intimate live version is gorgeously satisfying. Don’t you wish you were in the front row for this one?
  • Bach- Air On the G String
    In the late 19th-century, German violinist August Wilhelmj arranged the second movement of Bach’s 3rd Orchestral Suite so that this moving melody was played by a single violinist from the section, on the lowest and richest string, the G string. Here, Croatian cellist superstar Stejpan Hauser (above) brings it to life superbly.
  • Pachelbel- Canon
    Composition date estimates range from 1680 to 1706, but there is no question about the power and beauty of this timeless work. Although popular during his lifetime, the work became obscure for centuries until a chamber orchestra recorded it in 1968, and it slowly grew to its amazing current popularity. Although the circumstances of its composition are unknown, it has been suggested that it was written for J. C. Bach’s wedding, as he was Pachelbel’s pupil, and also J. S. Bach’s eldest brother.
  • Bartók- Romanian Folk Dances
    Six short pieces based on Romanian folk tunes, Hungarian composer Béla Bartók composed these in 1915 for piano, and 1917 for small ensemble. He spent two or three years with a phonograph collecting and arranging folks songs from throughout Eastern Europe. On this link, one reviewer gushes, ” I want to embrace and dance with the world when I listen to this!” See if you feel the same way!

Take the time to enjoy these great reminders of all we love and miss hearing, until we can meet again safely at Southwest Florida Symphony live concerts.

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