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The NY Times music critic A. Tommasini is wondering about our favorite magical moments in classical music. "I’m not talking about big climactic blasts or soaring melodies, but about some fleeting passage, an unexpected twist in a melodic line, a series of pungent chords, a short theme that reappears briefly in a new musical guise." So, what would be yours?
This next passage is really unique. He doesn't play what's written. Instead of rolling the chord up to the grace note on the beat, he plays the grace by itself before the beat into a staccato chord. Disloyal to the score but I think had Chopin heard it he would have changed his mind. Honestly.
I don't know about all-time favorite(s), but I can say that, most recently, it has been 1:10-1:24 of Mozart K332 1st mvt.
Also, off the top of my head, the beginning of the end of Islamey.. 6:35-6:58 using Berezovsky's YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5raMK4Z9co. (Not saying I like his performance best, but it was easy to find.)
For all-time favorite, there are two: when the Russians break the French line in Tchaikovsky's 1812, and the big D-major recapitulation at the end of the Rach 3. A positive catharsis does it for me every time... not to mention, who doesn't like cannons? But these are both huge climactic resolutions, so I believe that they do not count.
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.
A magical moment for me - among many - has been captured on a recording of Verdi's I due Foscari with Katia Ricciarelli, usually a very serviceable but not usually an exceptional Verdi soprano, in the role of Lucrezia.  Shortly into her first act scena "Tu al cui sguardo omnipossente" the chorus is singing softly in close harmony (thirds) with shimmering violins doubling the voices, all in lilting triplets as only Verdi can craft them; then Lucrezia comes in with a long-held high A, floating into the fabric of sound with pin-point accuracy in an astonishing pianissimo that would make Caballe green with envy! Her entry is so pure and so seamless one hardly hears the exact moment the voice enters, but suddenly you notice it is there.
It really is musical magic!
 Verdi, I due Foscari with Ricciarelli, Carreras, Cappuccilli and Ramey, ORF Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Lamberto Gardelli, on Philips 422 426-2 (1977). (Track 7 at 2:04)
Joined: Nov 2009 Posts: 21,345Mark_C
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Joined: Nov 2009
Originally Posted by Thracozaag
....So, what would be yours?
Great topic, Thrac! (And I guess some props should go to Tommasini too.)
I have to pick two....
The first won't be any surprise to some of our members, because I've mentioned it about a thousand times, including in a thread of its own: Chopin 4th Ballade, measures 175-176 -- the two measures with the fancy slightly-hidden cross rhythms....At 19:00 on here (sorry for the narcissistic link but those measures are not too bad in an otherwise pretty crappy performance).
The other is from the end of Schubert's E-flat major Trio, and sort of echoes and expands on one of the examples given by DameMyra in the little A major Sonata. The tragic and beautiful theme of the slow movement had entered the movement previously -- a great moment in itself -- and again appears in the final recap.....and then at the end, it is topped off by a glorious modulation to the major, at 12:09 on here.
Originally Posted by Nikolas
If it had boobs and stuff, THEN I'd watch it.
Funny that you said that, because the Schubert link that I just gave sort of has boobs and stuff. Why, I have no idea.
Last edited by Mark_C; 11/19/1203:51 AM. Reason: adding the last part
The way the solo violin emerges from the orchestral texture in the opening of Szymanowski's 1st violin concerto can be a stunning magic moment if done right - it's like the violin is some kind of ectoplasmic creature that materializes out of nothing right in front of your eyes. Or ears, I should say.
Another example in Szymanowski - there are lots in his music - is in the 3rd piano sonata, where there's a fast trill that has an arpeggio pass right through it in such a way that they actually merge for a nanosecond, but just for two notes. It's an amazing moment, but talk about fleeting...
The first thing that crossed my mind when reading the OP was a passage for bass clarinet, of all things - it's that little descending scale that leads into the final dance of Stravinsky's Le Sacre. In a good performance, it can make my hair stand on end.
By the way, not meaning to derail the thread, but am I the only one who stumbles on the idea that somebody could actually dance themselves to death in a few minutes, as some kind of tribal sacrifice (especially a young person)? Surely the dancer would simply drop from exhaustion before actually dying, no? I've never heard of any real human sacrifice based on this idea, either. Speaking of real human sacrifice, I think there are documented cases in Russia all the way into the 19th century (but they didn't kill sweet young virgins - instead, they sacrificed their shaman if the crops failed (makes sense to me)). Maybe Stravinsky was closer to all that kind of stuff than we realize.
Although it's the most overplayed piece in the symphonic repertoire, I truly love the segue from the third to the fourth movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony:
The quiet, legato string theme in fast 3/4 time played above the tympani, leading into the triumphal opening theme of the last movement. That theme works so well because of how you get to it, and those few moments of the segue are magical.
But I could as easily name a number of moments from the Beethoven 9th Symphony, or the Mahler 2nd, or from the Chaconne of BWV 1004, or...
"People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."
There's an old recording of Ashkenazy's 2nd Chopin Sonata in which he rolls the half-diminished ii chord in the final cadence of the first movement. (6 bars before the end)
I was familiar with the recording before I ever saw the score, and I always assumed that it was marked as arpeggiated. To this day, hearing people *not* arpeggiate the chord just seems wrong.
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)