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Programme Notes

Bach Prelude & Fugue in A flat, BWV 862 The Well-Tempered Clavier is a collection of forty-eight preludes and fugues in two volumes, with each containing twenty-four preludes and fugues in all the major and minor keys. The first volume was published in 1722 with the title Das Wohltemperierte Clavier, while the second volume appeared much later, in 1744, and was then called simply Twenty-four Preludes and Fugues. Thus, the forty-eight pieces represent a twenty-year process of maturation. Later generations came to view the two separate volumes as a unified whole, due to the extraordinary unity of Bachs musical vision of writing in just one form but in all keys. Known popularly as 48, the collection is now acknowledged as one of the greatest masterpieces of the Baroque era. This prelude begins with a short rhythmic and melodic motif that recurs throughout the piece. The mood is joyful and lively, with the melodic interest alternating between the right and left hand. The fugue is calmer, with a smooth and shapely subject. The layered voices produce a rich harmony and a high level of counterpoint. Beethoven Sonata in C minor, Op. 13 (Grande Sonate Pathetiqu) This piece was written in 1798 when Beethoven was twenty-eight years old, and published in the next year. This period is generally referred to as his early period, when Beethoven was living in Vienna and supported by many generous patrons including Prince Karl Linchnowsky, to whom this sonata is dedicated. The first movement of the sonata begins with a slow Grave introduction, a feature commonly found in symphonic works but never before used in a piano sonata. Ten bars later, it makes way for the dramatic and brilliant main section, in sonata form. Music from the introduction recurs twice, albeit briefly, punctuating the movement. The second movement provides relief from the agitated excitement of the first. The well-known opening cantabile theme, in the major key of A-flat major, is twice displaced by episodes in minor keys. However, both times it prevails, bringing the music back to its original, tranquil mood. The sonata ends with a rondo that, despite returning to the home key of C minor, presents a playful and light-footed character, contrary to the first movement. The tragic and solemn mood of the opening section only returns during the final moments of the piece.

Ravel - Pavane pour une infante defunt Composed in 1899, this work was the first of Ravels works to achieve real popularity. Ravel dedicated the Pavane to his patron, the Princesse Edmond de Polignac, a painter and wealthy member of the French aristocracy. Ravel described the piece as "the evocation of a pavane which could have been danced by a small princess in days of old, at the court of Spain". Indeed, the Pavane was a slow processional dance that enjoyed great popularity in the courts of Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Intended to express ceremonial dignity, this antique miniature is not meant to pay tribute to any particular princess from history, but rather expresses a nostalgic enthusiasm for Spanish customs and sensibilities, which Ravel shared with many of his contemporaries - most notably Debussy and Albniz - and which is evident in some of his other works such as the Rapsodie espagnole and the Bolro. Brahms Romance in F, Op. 118 No. 5 Brahmss Sechs Klavierstcke, Op. 118, consists of some of the most beloved short pieces that he wrote for piano solo. Completed in 1893 and dedicated to Clara Schumann, the collection was the second to last composition to be published during Brahms' lifetime. It was also his second to last work composed for piano solo. The opening section of this piece, while sounding like a simple lullaby, is built on the principle of invertible counterpoint. Two melodic lines are combined together, with either one being on top. One line is simply a descending scale followed by a jump and a downward sweep, while the other is a more songlike melody, often varied and doubled in two voices, ending with three repeated notes. The middle section is an episode in D major, with a melody in the treble. Brahms switches from compound meter to a simple duple alla breve, while the repetitive left-hand rhythm provides a stable background for the free-floating melody. The final section sees the return of the opening theme, though this time the texture is even more intricate, with further melodic embellishments. This results in a fuller, warmer and richer sound, while towards the end the music fades away into a subdued conclusion.