Music Note:
Rebuilding a Playlist I
10 September 2018

¶ One of my favorite playlists is centered on Brahms’s two sets of Liebeslieder Walzer, songs for vocal quartet (or chorus) with two-piano accompaniment. I’ve known the Liebeslieder since my teens and they have never failed to sweep me up. The older I get, the more intrigued I am by the wildly contrasting accompaniment to many of the songs (“Vom Gebirge,” for example).  Brahms poured a lot of invention into these ditties. 

The other works on the playlists are all agreeable and only occasionally unusual. There are a few that I didn’t know at all well when I put the playlist together. Some, like Beethoven’s Piano Trio, Op 70 No 2, I didn’t know at all. I’ve become rather crazy about the Trio’s third movement, with the descending piano figure that always reminds me of the quilting pattern, “Drunkard’s Path.” Some, like Saint-Saëns’s Carnival of the Animals, I knew but hadn’t heard very often. I think that I’m going to have to replace it. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s good for two listenings a year, maximum. 

Otherwise, I’m so fond of the playlist that I play it too often. 

So I’ve decided to construct a “matching” playlist, with another recording of the Liebeslieder and very close substitutions of everything else. Handel’s Keyboard Suite HWV 427 takes the place of the only other suite that I have that’s recorded by Angela Hewitt, HWV 433. Where Daniel Barenboim played Mozart’s K 570, he now plays K 533. (There’s a lot of piano in this playlist, including all four Chopin Ballades played in a row.)

So far, I’ve completed the part of the playlist that stretches between the Liebeslieder; what precedes and follows them remains to be dealt with. There have been a few shocks along the way, such as discovering that I have only John Barbirolli’s recording of Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro, the same recording that taught me the work in high school. Perusing Arkivmusic’s offerings, I couldn’t settle on another. But I think it’s time to hear someone else’s performance. 

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