Sunday, May 1, 2011

My two favorite musical passages

In addition to my favorite piece of music, there are also short passages of music that I absolute love. Below are my two favorites. Of course I love the entire pieces in which they appear, and recommend you listen to the whole pieces, since part of what makes these passages so wonderful is the parts they play in the overall pieces.

I've mentioned before that I think Bach is at his best when he writes for solo instruments, and his cello suites are no exception. Here is the prelude to his sixth suite performed by Yo-Yo Ma. The video is kinda freaky. The passage that I love is from 2:55 to 3:04. Prior to this point the piece is in a fairly standard 12/8 time signature (I assume), divided into four beats with three eighth notes per beat: 3 + 3 + 3 + 3. In the passage I love, he divides it up differently: 2 + 5 + 3 + 2. Perhaps the 5 could be divided up as 2 + 3, but I'm not sure. Regardless, this is insane. And no one could have pulled it off except Bach. The man was an absolute genius.

The next piece is the first movement from Mendelssohn's violin concerto in E minor, with Sarah Chang on the violin. In my opinion, Mendelssohn is one of the most underappreciated composers in history; he's famous, but he should be as famous as Mozart and Beethoven. My wife is not as appreciative of the minor keys, but when she heard this she was just in awe: "The violin just sang" she said. The passage I love is from 8:56 to 9:42. Here, you really have to listen to the whole piece because what makes the passage so amazing is that it repeats the main theme from the piece in a different and utterly brilliant format.

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