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Category: Andrew Lloyd Webber

twice upon a violin concerto – Beethoven / Paganini


  “The Violin Lesson (1889) 

         Tom Roberts


to juxtapose two things for consideration
to my mind, is the best way to sharpen 
both one’s aesthetic and, therefore, 
spiritual personality, here, thus, are 
two contemporaneous, essentially,  
violin concertos, concerti, if you like, 
Paganini’s 5th, 1830, Beethoven’s
Only, 1806

let me point out that the Classical Era
is over at this point, this isn’t music 
for the courts any longer, but music 
as spectacle, you can hear it, it’s like 
moving from Frank Sinatra‘s 
nightclubs to David Bowie’s stadiums

noteworthy about these two pieces is 
that the structure in each is identical, 
the same lengthy introduction in the 
first movement, followed by an 
articulate, and eventually mesmerizing, 
elaboration on the initial melody by 
the soloist, with divergent, however, 
intentions, Paganini starts with a 
fanfare, promises histrionics, delivers
fireworks, Beethoven begins with 
portent, goes instead for drama, 
which is to say, your heart, as well

both their second and third movements 
are essentially, then, indistinguishable 
conceptuallytheir last movement in 
either is even a rondo

the challenge in the Paganini is physical,
the glory is in the player’s technical 

with Beethoven the requirements are 
both physical and emotional, he 
punches for the heart, which the 
player musttherefore, with equally 
astounding panache, incidentally, 
also conquer 

style, in other words, over substance,
substance over style, which is to say
The Phantom of the Opera“, for
instance, or Cirque du Soleil,
Rachmaninov, maybe, versus 
Liberaceyou are the judge

history has sided, however, with 
substance, Beethoven’s Violin  
Concerto is everywhere, it isn’t at 
all easy, conversely, to come up  
with any of Paganini’s, despite 
their incontestable magnificence

maybe it’s time for a Paganini 
revival, they did that several years 
ago for the inimitable Rossini, an 
effervescent light in an otherwise 
mostly dour 19th Century, listen,
with counts and countesses here  
in attendance, at very, can you 
believe it, Versailleswow

R ! chard

“Requiem” – Andrew Lloyd Webber‏

a friend sent me a video of an unlikely
international trio wowing the judges
on “America’s Got Talent”, of all
places, with as unlikely a musical
choice, something called Pie Jesu“,
not at all, I thought, prime time
but I was also wowed
the Pie Jesu“, I learned, is one of the
chants in, of all people, Andrew Lloyd
Webber’s Requiem“, to my mind now
his undisputed masterpiece, despite
his other more notable but less
convincing, I thinksuccesses
it consists of a series of chants, much
as movements in music, incidentally,
which is probably where music itself
would originally have copied that
more formal, and decidedly potent, 
the Pie Jesuis the last chant in this
from its stunning, Oscar-ready,
conductrix to its other soaring
musical heights 
but it seems to me that the last part 
as written,the Libera me“, for some
reason or other was not included,
though you’ll find the rest here will
already, and quite triumphantly,
indeed indisputablyperfectly do  
wow, indeed
psst: note the white triangles of the
        hymnals, the music books, like
        origami angels, Miro abstracts,
        or artful representations of,
        indeed, the very Christian
        also, thanks Norm