Gabriel Kanengiser's Blog

An Oberlin course blog

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Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition

May 2nd, 2011 by Gabriel Kanengiser · Uncategorized

Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition is a piece that I really enjoy. The main reason for why I enjoy this piece so much is that it feels so thematically driven in way that I don’t necessarily associate with being Russian – which is a tendency that much of the quintessentially Russian music often embodies. However, later in the piece I found that more Russian folk-like themes were shown, and in conjunction with a mood in the “Promenede” which I would normally associate with a more French nationalistic style, I quite liked it. I did find this music to be extremely expressive, and certainly showed how dedicated to a realistic representation of that which he wanted to evoke, Mussorgsky was. As with a lot of Russian music the dance-aspects of this music really showed through in many of the pieces, and it was really delightful when the musical motives and motion indicated so precisely, physical motion. One of the most delightful aspects of this music though, were the sustained chords and melodies – those struck me most.

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April 25th, 2011 by Gabriel Kanengiser · Uncategorized

I saw that someone before me posted the Strauss conducting “Der Rosenkavalier” so I won’t post those links, but I thought that it was pretty cool that these exist. It seems to me, that he is probably the first composer we have studied thus far for whom we may have this type of situation – video footage of them working or conducting. I like this opera a lot, it is a nice change of pace from the other Strauss we listened to for class, which was much darker, and not nearly as “lightly” enjoyable than this. There were elements of this that seemed to me – although I am open to the fact that I am bias against German music after Wagner, and tend to favor French and Italian counterparts – a little bit more “French” sounding that say, Salome, which sounded German a-la Wagner. I was reminded in listening to this opera of a piece by Marcel Mule for four saxophones. In regards to the story, about a young man and an older woman, it is strange that the music reminds me of french music, which is often associated with a more romantic feel. The accompaniment and horn melodies in Strauss’s opera are really fun here as well, and at some points seems to contrast the the comedic aspects of the plot in a way that offers a commentary on it.

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Wagner’s Parsifal

April 18th, 2011 by Gabriel Kanengiser · Uncategorized

As someone who is often very much disliking much of Wagner’s work due to many factors, one of which is that I often connect with and enjoy work by Verdi much more, there is no denying the awe that is inspired from the orchestration in Parsifal. This opera certainly synthesizes his efforts as an orchestrator. There is dramatic intensity within the slow pieces, and of course, there is also a sense of heroism found the the horns, and then a more intense and active section that is quite enjoyable. The vocals in Parsifal reminded me much more of older music, and some fo the accompanying attributes of the music sounded too, like they were more Beethovenian at some point than they were, what we consider Wagnerian. I think my view of Wagner’s works is skewed – I expect his works to be so vastly complicated, that when I hear portions of pieces that sounds more in line with the classical and romantic music that I have come to love, I am surprised and find it almost jarring. One aspect of Wagner’s work that is most interesting is how clearly the emotions he intends his listeners to experience comes across. Often, with very little, the addition of a horn part to a section changes the emotion displayed from solemn to hopeful, or protective to violent, etc. This, more than anything else, makes Wagner, and his works intriguing beyond all measures.

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Verdi’s Don Carlos

April 17th, 2011 by Gabriel Kanengiser · Uncategorized

I was very intrigued by Verdi’s Don Carlos because of all of his operas that have thus far listened to, this one was most impressive in the way that emotions were accurately expressed and transferred around the orchestra. I enjoyed and appreciated the way that this felt as if it were built atop of so many other of his pieces. One of the most enjoyable aspects of this was the continuity and togetherness of the expression between the orchestra (musicians) and the libretto (lyricists) – this makes for an “experience” – something almost, heightened, emotional, and connectable – for the audience member while listening.

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Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel and Clara Schumann

March 21st, 2011 by Gabriel Kanengiser · Uncategorized

The dramatic themes Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel employs in the Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 11, (especially the main theme which is doubled between the piano and violin about 3/4 of the way into the first movement) is most expressive and embodies that romantic spirit and approach to music that we have spoken about. Interestingly enough, my initial impression was that this piece was not nearly as romantic or sublime as most others we have listened to, but in the array of expressed emotions, articulated ideas, and succinct development of thematic ideas lies a virtuosic ability required to play these pieces, which, when played correctly, speak directly to the listener. The often surprising and odd contrapuntal and accompanying style with which Mendelssohn-Hensel writes can be off-putting, however, it does suffice to separate her from other composers. The cello, violin, and piano, have moments that are lyrical like the song cycles of Schubert or Schumann; have moments of interaction that are reminiscent of symphonic works; yet, are still contrasted with moments of confusion for the listener – which makes for a delightful piece of music. Overall, the first and fourth movements were by far my favorites due to the expressive development of themes.

While Clara Schumann’s piece did remind me of Mendelssohn-Hensel’s (at least at the beginning), there was a slightly reserved quality to her composition that made it feel less tantalizing, yet less enjoyable. The emotions were easier to understand, which for me, could be interpreted in two ways: The composition is so clearly stated and articulated that there is no confusion attached to it, or, the emotions and expressionistic qualities to the piece are not so complex that they need an overarching, and clouding sublime confusion attached to them. However, that sort of sublime effect is quite enjoyable and requires the listener to delve deeply into the music.

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Rossini, La Cenerentola

March 7th, 2011 by Gabriel Kanengiser · Uncategorized

Act I of La Cenerentola was very energetic and entertaining to listen to, the Rossini style is really quite delightful. After listening to the overture and arias in Act I, for example, “Miei rampoli demminini” sung by Don Magnificio as well as the aria, “Non piu Mesta” in Act II, I could help but think very much of “Una voce poco fa” from Il Barbiere di Sivgilia. On account of the lecture and our class discussion on the aria from Il Barbiere di Siviglia, the pieces from La Cenerentola emphasized the complex relationships between Rossini’s orchestral accompaniment, vocal melodies, and libretti that make his music stand out so much in terms of Italian opera. The thematic changes from scene to scene, as well as in various sections of pieces is especially entertaining for the listener. However, after noticing the similarities, I immediately thought of how we spoke about the fact that for the most part (except maybe one of two) Rossini’s least favorite parts of his operas and of his music in general were the overtures to his operas. Perhaps this is because in the overtures he was able to play, or rather, experiment and express himself through the entire use of the orchestra without worrying about overpowering the vocalist; but at the same time also denied him the ability to show his virtuosic skill of writing engaging orchestral accompaniment for his melodies fit to the precise words and moods set forth in the libretti.

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February 28th, 2011 by Gabriel Kanengiser · Uncategorized

While the Piano Quintet in A Major “Die Forelle” (Trout) obviously conjures the image of the trout swimming through a stream, with a jovial and gliding movement that is contrasted with a playful danger that does embody the journey of the trout. However, its difficult not to be influenced by the Irving’s “Invention of Tradition,” where he states that the sonata is a means for “attaining an expressive purposeā€¦perhaps extra-musical in its claims, perhaps, for the composer, an interior journey.” Perhaps, this might hold true with the Piano Quintet as it the image of Schubert’s swimming in the water is very much a part of the song. However, there are other examples of such an “interior journey,” as in the fourth movement which seems to evoke something a little more pastoral than the actual gliding motion of the Trout (or, perhaps, Schubert) and the extra-musical idea could be from the perspective of one walking along the banks of the river, watching the fish swim by, ultimately though, enjoying a different experience. Despite the clarity of each movement, the idea driving fifth movement surprised and confused me most, but was nonetheless beautiful, animated, and expressive as the other movements. Die Forelle, however, although evoking similar images, painted them in a very different light – contrasted by the nature of the solo piano against the piano quintet. I much preferred the Piano Quintet at first because I felt that it embodied a spirit much more graceful and moving than Die Forelle, but as the solo piano piece progressed, the contrapuntal melodies and the alternative approach to a relatively similar piece of music grew on me.

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Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis

February 22nd, 2011 by Gabriel Kanengiser · Uncategorized

Upon hearing this piece through the first two movements for the first time, what surprised me most about this piece was the fact that Beethoven considered it to be is favorite, his masterpiece. Yet there is something very interesting about the contrasting sounds and styles in the piece that does draw the listener in very easily. I was struck by this and instantly thought of this piece as some sort of gateway, personal to Beethoven. Between the expansive contrapuntal melodies, the heroic sounding homages to Mozart and Haydn, and the text setting, not to mention the operatic sound that would be explored most fervently in the next century, could this be some sort of synthesis of all of these composers skills? Of course, still, an homage to them as well. Beethoven, the ultimate (or at least considered to be first) romantic composer rejuvenates old styles and ideas in this piece which he makes, inherently, new. And in the Credo, is perhaps where Beethoven allows we, the listeners, into his emotional complex writing the piece. It sounds like it is stricken with both the heroic and joyous as well as the solemn and reflective, and in this way he ropes his listeners in and carries them to the piece’s end. Or perhaps it is the fact that the piece requires such highly advanced skill that makes him so fond of it. I am particularly interested in knowing in which of their own pieces is a composer most fond because it helps to tap into the specific energy with which the composer originally intended the piece. I am still unsure of Beethoven’s intentions though.

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Hello world!

February 16th, 2011 by Gabriel Kanengiser · Uncategorized

Welcome to your blog. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

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