10 Best: Symphony movements, no. 6

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Symphony no. 3 ‘Liturgique’, mvt. 3 by Arthur Honegger

Setting aside the fact that I’m borderline obsessed with anything even remotely “dona nobis pacem” related at this time, the concluding movement to Honegger’s greatest symphony makes this list with ease. Composed in the wake of World War II, it’s a work of absolute savagery and cold brutality, which of course makes the tender episode that concludes the piece that much starker in its beauty. This symphony is woefully underrated, and in spite of its unrelenting intensity and brazen dissonances, I would think audiences today would eat this shit up as the visceral sonic journey that it is. Continue reading

I was at a concert: Mostly Brahms, most of the time

Not pictured: absolutely terrifying amounts of highway construction every single place you look

Not pictured: absolutely terrifying amounts of highway construction every single place you look

Being single isn’t really all that cool. There’s freedom to be had and you can choose to get off with any number of people without being held responsible to society’s pressure to live monogamously and you can watch whatever you want on TV or whatever, but for the most part it isn’t nearly as appealing as those who are in long-term relationships want it to be. That isn’t to suggest that it’s a completely lost cause, though, because tied into the whole idea of freedom is the Southwest Airlines notion of feeling free to move about the country. Last month I visited a friend in Atlanta, enjoyed a weekend of good company, football, and the best burger in America. Next month I have a train trip into the heart of what is sure to be a blindingly cold Chicago to hear my first ever live Bruckner performance (how I’ve come this far without hearing any live Bruckner says something about both myself AND Bruckner, I think). This past weekend marked a return to the place that spawned my singlehood some 7 months ago: Dallas, Texas, home of USCIS Basic Training, a repulsive professional football team, and a top-15 American orchestra playing in one of the most notable halls in the country. Continue reading

10 Best: Symphony movements, no. 7

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Symphony no. 2, mvt. 4 by Johannes Brahms

It’s pretty obvious that Brahms was going to end up on here at some point. It’s also pretty obvious that choosing a single one of the sixteen symphonic movements that Brahms composed could essentially come down to a coin flip if you lived in a dimension with 16-sided coins. Brahms probably has the highest compositional “batting average” of anyone who ever lived and wrote music; pretty much every surviving work is a varying degree of great. The symphonies in particular are each among the very finest in the entire output, and not surprisingly they’re performed with Metamucil-like regularity. Continue reading