'Der Freischütz' Overture
Der Freischütz is widely regarded as the first real German Romantic Opera. Weber, with his pioneering use of the typical features of German Romanticism, created a magical atmosphere, embracing German folklore, the supernatural and the rustic and it is widely acknowledged that Der Freischutz established a German opera lineage that would eventually lead to Wagner. The overture offers dramatic shifts between the major and minor modalities in the key of C and sets the tone for this significant opera. Dark, soft chromaticism from the cellos swiftly moving to dramatic arpeggios and repeated, frantic chords which are later juxtaposed with the sweet melody of the clarinet as it represents our heroine, Agathe. The overture is regularly performed as a self-contained piece of music.
Trumpet Concerto in E♭
In the late eighteenth century the trumpet was beginning to be recognised as a significant solo instrument. Technical advancements, culminating in it becoming a truly chromatic instrument, meant limitations were overcome and the repertoire grew. At this point the trumpet was a keyed instrument – the valves that we know today only came into use in the 1830s – and it was for this keyed instrument that Haydn wrote his Trumpet Concerto, for his long time friend Anton Weidinger. Consisting of three movements, the concerto offers a wealth of virtuosic moments – from the lyrical and hugely demanding slow movement to the thrilling fireworks of the cadenza. The final movement demonstrates a restrained exuberance typical of all Haydn’s concerto finales. This concerto found little popularity when it was composed (possibly due to the strange sound of the keyed instrument) but nowadays it is a favourite of the trumpet repertoire and possibly one of Haydn’s most popular concertos.
Symphony Nº3 ‘Eroica’
Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony is also known as the "Eroica" – a title which fits well, as to many this is one of the greatest symphonies ever composed. It forms the foundations of Romanticism – grand themes, powerful gestures, stirring emotional content and a structure which almost ignores the accepted convention of the sonata form. It is considered a landmark piece, marking the transition from Classical to Romantic. It was originally written as a tribute to Napoleon until, upon hearing that Napoleon had crowned himself Emperor, Beethoven tore out the title page and rededicated it to Prince Lobkowitxz. The symphony is in E flat major and consists of four movements. The first (like his fifth symphony) opens with thunderous chords before the cellos sweep in and introduce the first theme. By the time we have reached the development there is harmonic tension, dissonance and long passages of syncopated rhythms. The second movement is a funeral march, with an aura of dignified despair. It follows the ternary form (A-B-A) structure. However, before returning to the "A" theme, Beethoven offers a moving and grand fugue based on an inversion of the second theme. The third movement is a fast-paced and lively scherzo with trio – with dramatic dynamic contrasts. The triumphant final allegro consists of variations on a theme and is hugely exciting, as it journeys through extremes of exhiliration to deep misery. This would have been very new to the music goers of the early nineteenth century. This symphony is a preview to a new ‘programme music’ i.e. music with a story to tell.