Depiction of Ring of the Nibelungen myth
As Shelter in Place is extended to at least the end of April, I mourn the loss of some potentially fantastic concerts in San Diego. To replace those experiences, I’m considering a few listening projects which I’ve nurtured for years.
Here are my weekly listening projects for April.
Week one ends on Sunday, April 5, and I intend to listen to all of Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas. I must admit that I have not listened to every piano sonata Beethoven wrote. My listening has been haphazard and without intention. I’ve listened to a few of the sonatas repeatedly. I’ve started this project even as I write this.
My choice is Claudio Arrau on YouTube. Total listening time, 11 hours and 25 minutes.
Playing Beethoven Piano Sonatas
Week two ends on Sunday, April 12, and the task is to listen to Wagner’s Ring Cycle within a 24-hour period. This is a tricky one because it leaves most of the week open. I started to watch the Metropolitan Opera’s livestream of the Ring Cycle during the last week of March but I couldn’t stand most of the singing and all of the acting.
My schedule will be to listen to Das Rheingold on Saturday and listen to the remaining three on Sunday. In the meantime, I’ll be listening to introductions to the Ring such as the Seraphim Guide to the Ring.
Seraphim Guide to the Ring
An introduction to Wagner's Ring operas
My choice will be Wilhelm Furtwängler conducting at La Scala in the early 1950s. I make this choice because the singers are superior to anything that came later. The total listening time, including the introductions, is about 17 hours.
The Ring cycle at La Scala in early 1950s
Conducted by Wilhelm Furtwangler
Nothing else ever written will compare with the grandeur and intensity of Wagner’s Ring Cycle so week three's goal is to go the other direction and listen to seven baroque composers I’ve neglected, one for each day of the week. The seven are Antonio Vivaldi (save The Four Seasons), Georg Philipp Telemann, Arcangelo Corelli, Domenico Scarlatti, François Couperin, Claudio Monteverdi, and Henry Purcell.
The final week, ending on Sunday, April 26, will be to fill in my symphonic gaps. I’ll listen to the Shostakovich symphonies I’ve skipped. I’ll listen to the Schubert symphonies which have escaped my notice. Plus a slew of other composers such as Mendelssohn, Nielsen, and Sibelius.
During this final week, I’ll listen to symphonies by Soviet composers which have long been forgotten such as Nikolai Myaskovsky and Gavril Popov.