Rota: Concerto for Double Bass, 3rd mvt.

Nino Rota, the great composer of film music, also wrote a huge amount of music for the concert hall. Here is the last movement of his Double Bass Concerto, from 1973, in a performance at the 2016 ARD International Music Competition in Munich.

Performed by Dominik Wagner (double bass) and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (5 minutes)

Ives: String Quartet No. 2, second movement, “Arguments”

Charles Ives

Today is the 143rd anniversary of Charles Ives’s birth. He was an American original.

Ives wrote experimental music that constantly plays with musical forms. A lot of his music tosses out traditional harmony. But almost none of his music is entirely abstract, for it was always tied to places, people, and events that Ives saw vividly in his mind’s eye. Knowing something about Ives’s inspiration for a piece can be a key to unlock the experience of hearing it.

His Second String Quartet is from 1913. Ives wrote that the piece is “one of the best things I have but the old ladies (male and female) don’t like it anywhere at all. It makes them mad. . . . (more…)

Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 7

This three-movement quartet is over in less than twelve intense and rewarding minutes. Dmitri Shostakovich wrote this piece in 1960 in memory of his first wife, Nina, who had died six years earlier. You might hear his grief in the first and third movements’ agitation, but there is also much serenity in this music. If Shostakovich meant the music to work out his feelings about the loss of his wife, it’s easy to believe that his relationship with her was rich, conflicted, and deep.

Performed by the Emerson String Quartet (12 minutes)