Critical Entertainments: Music Old and New by Charles Rosen

By Charles Rosen

A very talented musician and author, Charles Rosen is a peerless commentator at the background and function of song. "Critical Entertainments" brings jointly a few of the essays that experience validated him as the most influential and eloquent voices within the box of song in our time.

These essays hide a huge diversity of musical types, historic sessions, and issues--from Bach via Brahms to Carter and Schoenberg, from contrapuntal keyboard track to opera, from functionality practices to track background as a self-discipline. They revisit Rosen's favourite matters and pursue a few much less normal paths. They courtroom controversy (with robust critiques approximately functionality on historic tools, the so-called New Musicology, and the alleged "death" of classical song) and supply enlightenment on topics as different as track dictionaries and the aesthetics of level fright. All are unified by way of Rosen's abiding matters and incomparable type. In sum, "Critical Entertainments" is a treasury of the large studying, wit, and perception that we have got come to anticipate from this outstanding author. it is going to satisfaction all track enthusiasts.

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The public genres of eighteenth-century music, like the Handel operas, are skeletons that need to be fleshed by improvised ornament; the condi3. The forms and the textures of the early eighteenth century altogether are closer to improvisation than those of any other time in Western music before jazz; in spite of Mozart's and Beethoven's fame as improvisators their "planned" forms differ radically from their "improvised" ones, as we can see from written cadenzas and from their fantasias. Keyboard Music of Bach and Handel 31 tions of public performance, indeed, demanded a continuously varying and ever more elaborate ornamentation.

It is for this reason that the pages on Handel and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach are much briefer than those on Johann Sebastian Bach. I have had great pleasure in reading the work of Handel and C. P. E. Bach at the piano, but have performed little of it in public. The chapter makes no pretensions to incorporate any original research, but I seized the opportunity to explain the difference between counterpoint on paper and for the ear, and to clarify the private nature of Bach's keyboard music and the consequences for his style.

Bach is the only composer who represents a genuine synthesis of both national styles (apart from religious music, the German tradition had very little strength at that time). Even the other great German, Handel, while his mastery of the French tradition was undeniable, relied principally upon Italian forms. Bach was able to combine the expressive ornamental weight and grace of French style with the sustained line and dynamic rhythm of Italian music; except for the operatic field, where Handel and Rameau were supreme, and the still infant proto-classical "sonata" style, Bach summed up the entire musical life of his time.

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