Monday, April 11, 2005

Scherzo Capricioso for Orchestra, B 131

I'd say the most noticeable characteristic of the beginning of this piece is the huge, sudden contrasts in mood. There are many of them - most of the time, they are flowing melodies played softly by solo instruments or soli sections interrupted by tutti, forte punctuations.

I don't like this effect very much. It makes the piece sound disjunct and it's hard to listen to because it doesn't allow the listener to sit back and enjoy things passively. Also, I rarely felt like the piece was headed in one direction for very long. I may desire this because I've been listening to Wagner's The Ring a lot lately, and Wagner's music can move in one direction (building or dying) for half an hour.

The piece begins in a style that sounds like a demonic carnival waltz. Eventually, it becomes lyrical, flowing, and more passionate. In what perhaps the longest build yet, the piece reverts to it's contrasting nature before becoming quiet again, featuring a lovely flute melody accompanied by pizzicato strings. This doesn't last very long, as the strings soon take over again and the turbulence resumes.

The rest of the work is very similar in pattern. Basically, it builds in a fairly calm manner for a bit before some loud, crashing figure interrupts the music.

Eventually, the piece does die down and the french horns and flutes have a lovely call and response duet before the strings come back in to begin the finale section, which is the most gratifying crescendo in the whole piece. Dvorak wrote a pretty classic (not classic, but more cliche) ending, with a terminative section of PACs, which didn't really do it for me, given the nature of the piece and it's relatively short length.

Overall, I didn't enjoy the piece that much because of reasons I've discussed. I think that, because of its disjunct nature, non of the themes really 'grew' on me and I felt emotionally unsatisfied.

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