Music Post: Inside chamber music


Call it an occasional running theme on “Howard’s Day Off,” the “Inside” series, looking at the inner movements of multi-movement works.

It started with several programs on inner movements of symphonies, all scherzos one week, and on another occasion the “extra” movements of symphonies with more than the usual four movements. Concertos usually have three, and at the end of November I did a show on those movements.

This week it’s inner movements from sonatas, trios and quartets.

The first thing I noticed when stacking up samples for the program was how many popular tunes can be found in the inner movements of chamber music: the slow middle movement of Beethoven’s “Pathetique” Sonata; the slow movement from Borodin’s Second String Quartet, also known as “This is My Beloved” from the musical “Kismet”; the “Funeral March” from inside Chopin’s B minor Sonata, Op. 35, No. 2; and the middle movement of Samuel Barber’s sole quartet, better known to all as “Adagio for Strings.”

I’ll play a scherzo from Schumann’s E flat major Piano Quintet, the minuet from Mozart’s E flat major Quartet, and, from Brahms’s Second String Sextet, a movement that is supposedly also a scherzo but only sounds like one in the central trio section.

Mendelssohn’s Octet, one of the finest classical works of all time and composed by a teenager, contains one of the great Mendelssohnian airy scherzos, and after it I’ll offer inner movements from trios by Joaquin Turina and Dmitri Shostakovich, and later from Maurice Ravel.

Francis Poulenc composed numerous sonatas for various wind instruments backed up by piano and we’ll sample two; Schubert’s “Trout Quintet” will give us a movement to play. Debussy, von Weber, Hindemith, Britten and Bartok come later.

And we’ll hear an inner movement from a quartet by Jay Greenberg (1991- ). Try not to be distracted by thoughts of what you had accomplished by the time you were his age.

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