Ludwig van Beethoven (German, 1770-1827): Symphony no. 8, mvt. 2
I tell all of my students to practice with a metronome--everyone knows I believe it to be an indispensable tool, when used properly. It was invented during Beethoven's life, and Beethoven became the first composer to quantify the tempos he intended for his works using metronome markings. In the second movement of the eighth symphony, however, he is believed to be poking a little fun at the metronome; the woodwinds play even, repeated staccato notes, which mimic its ticking. But some musicologists believe he uses this effect rather to create a work in which texture--or the layers of musical material which make up a piece of music--is even more important than emotional expression. I suppose both could be true...
You can hear the "texture" very clearly in these recordings. In my hearing, Norrington emphasizes the elegance of the movement while Gardiner emphasizes the humor. Interesting, because from what I've experienced from Norrington and heard about Gardiner, in personality, Norrington is VERY funny and Gardiner is very serious! (I happen to prefer Norrington here, but I LOVE Gardiner's recordings in general--and I encourage you to listen to as many of both conductor's recordings as you can!) I'm also including a link to the whole symphony in case you want to listen to the rest of it too.
Roger Norrington, mvt 2 (on YouTube)
Norrington, complete (on YouTube)
John Eliot Gardiner, mvt. 2 (on Spotify)
In May 2017 I challenged my students to practice every day for 30 days in a row. In addition, I asked them to listen to 30 bite-sized musical selections I emailed daily. I collected my picks in this blog for posterity. So these are works I find particularly fun, interesting, or important, including a handful by composers who were born or who died in May. Please enjoy!