Music by Franz Schubert (1797-1828), Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) and David Del Tredici (b. 1937) provides vehicles for Beth Levin, a pupil of Leonard Shure, Rudolf Serkin and Dorothy Taubman, who relishes classic as well as contemporary scores. The Schubert A Major Sonata, D. 959 is one of three from his last year, 1828, and alternates epic, broad, declamatory statements and intimate, lyrical gestures. The Andantino mvmt is quite special, a brooding meditation that takes on polyphonic, painful thickness in the style of Bach. When the main motif returns, it seems even more mournful. The Scherzo is light, plastic, with an occasional dark moment. The Rondo: Allegretto seems quite Viennese, touched by the composer’s sense of lyrical improvisation. |
The Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op.24, was written by Johannes Brahms in 1861. It consists of a set of 25 variations and a concluding fugue, all based on a theme from George Frederic Handel's Harpsichord Suite No. 1 in B-flat Major, HWV 434. Handel’s theme, in two four-bar periods, is a model of harmonic and structural simplicity. The 25 variations follow rigorously its formal basis. Brahms restricts himself to B-flat major with occasional excursions into the tonic minor. He establishes ironclad unity, building a structure that explores the widest emotional and intellectual range. Often the variations are paired: some are full of chromaticism, some free canons, many are virtuoso; others lyrical. One (XXII) is a "music-box," and one resembles gypsy music with its free ornamentation. The last three build continuously up to the concluding monumental fugue. The theme reappears often, sometimes as inversion, augmentation or stretto (quicker). The fugue's conception is remarkably free. It builds, measure by measure with irresistible force into a chiming and pealing coda.
Del Tradici’s Ode to Music is a piano arrangement of a wind quintet, Belgian Bliss. Del Tradici adopts Schubert’s song An die Musik (“To Music”) as the basis of a grand piano fantasy. He claims the piece has the ambitions characterizing Liszt and Wagner in their treatments of original Schubert ideas.