Richard Wagner, 1843.
The Flying Dutchman - Overture.

Richard Wagner was most notably known for his powerful and dramatic operas. His works were extensive and while there are many to chose from, The Fying Dutchman should not be left off any list of his greatest works. For the opera, Wagner drew a great deal of inspiration from the legend of the ghost ship "The Flying Dutchman". A rather compelling story, the legend tells of a ghost ship, its captain and crew, and their damnation to sail the seas until the coming of judgement. The overture as heard here opens with a powerful storm/sea motiff, which is followed by short motiffs introducing the Dutchman, and other characters. The Flying Dutchman truly is a compelling story of love and redemption (which Wagner will use in subsequent operas) with a remarkable underlying legend.

Selected recordings recommended for purchasing:
Royal Opera House Orchestra (conducted by Dorati) version available here.
New Philharmonia (conducted by Klemperer) version available here.

Artwork: Albert Ryder // The Flying Dutchman


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1785.
String Quartet in C Major, K. 465 "Dissonance" - IV. Allegro molto.

Perhaps the most famous of all of Mozart's quartets are the six that are often termed the Haydn Quartets. Writen in response to the meeting and befriending of Joseph Haydn, and the subsequent publication of Haydn's imensely influential Opus 33 quartets, Mozart's Haydn Quartets are among his finest. Perhaps the most famous is the 19th String Quartet also called "Dissonance". The innovative work gets its name from the dissonant opening of the first movement, where the four instruments enter in a different key. Here in the remarkably strong 4th movement Mozart is full of bright elegance and rich intonation. The Emerson Quartet selection below also includes two other quartets from the Haydn Quartets. A truly great value.

Selected recordings recommended for purchasing:
Emerson String Quartet version available here.

Artwork: Canaletto // The Bucintoro at the Molo on Ascension Day

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Tan Dun, 1997.
Symphony 1997 - III - Dragon Dance.

Tan Dun has had a vast and diverse history of classical composition. Some might know him best as the composer of the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero soundtrack scores. Others might know him best for the work on display here. Symphony 1997 is the work that Tan Dun wrote when commissioned by his native China to mark the re-unification of Hong Kong with mainland China in 1997. The work marks the duality, yet unity of the two entities. In the opening passages of the symphony, the duality is marked by the dragon and the phoenix. These two distinct figures serve as representations of many things; China/Hong Kong, The Emperor/The Empress among them. This piece is a true blending of eastern and western styles along with the "new" and the "old", making it a wonderful piece to mark the ceremony it was commissioned for.

Selected recordings recommended for purchasing:
Premier performance by the Imperial Bells Ensemble w/ Yo-Yo Ma (conducted by Tan Dun) available here.

Artwork: Lei Li // Untitled

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