Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Settings of Robert Frost Poems on Youtube

 My settings of "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SDAPyhhBzo) and "Acquained with the Night" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GS0XlbdbeVA) are now available on Youtube. I hope to add a third setting soon!

Friday, April 5, 2019

Video of Live Performance!

For the first time since 2012 I have appeared in a concert. Rachel Shiryayeva (violin), Jennifer Klauder (cello), and I performed Beethoven's Trio in D Major, Op. 70, #1, better known as the "Ghost," at Salem State University on 16 February (2019). We were part of a program sponsored by the North Shore Chamber Music Society. 

The camera was set up behind the violinist and up above the stage, possibly in the balcony(?). Because of this positioning, the violinist's tone is somewhat compromised, and even the cellist does not always come through quite as well as she actually did. The actual balance -- according to musicians in the audience -- was considerably better than this video. 

I shall also append my program notes: 

<< Beethoven’s Trio in D Major, Op. 70, #1, remains one of his most popular works for the genre. It was published in 1809, or roughly a year after the debuts of his fifth and sixth symphonies. 

The ponderous second movement has given the trio its name, “Ghost.” The composer was reportedly also sketching an opera based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth(a project that quickly aborted); Carl Czerny (a student of Beethoven) later wrote that the trio’s slow movement reminded him of the ghost’s first appearance in the Bard’sHamlet.Whether either Shakespearean allusion has any validity is open to conjecture. Then again, it is certainly well known that Beethoven never called his Op. 31, #2 piano sonata, “The Tempest,” yet the sonata now carries that name! 

The first movement is an accessible Allegro vivace e con brio with a delightful first thematic area. The second thematic area, however, is noteworthy more for its rather weak melodic material, which is totally ignored in the development. Moreover, we find further evidence of the composer’s deafness; his dynamic scheme is impractical, notably in dialogues between cello and piano. Nevertheless, the individual parts are well scored, and notes lie comfortably under the performers’ fingers.

Most musicians count the second movement in a rather slow “8,” with the 16th-note getting one beat. It is often a challenge simply to maintain concentration as the dramatic piece unfolds, yet the rewards justify the pains required. Alas, it is clear that Beethoven was not altogether conscious of physical limitations; a number of passages, notably those with the lengthy tremolos in the piano part, simply cannot be played as written.

In the third movement, also, we find passages that are simply beyond physical limitations, although here the problems are more easily circumvented. Beethoven returned to sonata form, this time even more successfully. 

Notwithstanding the difficulties and apparent shortcomings, most performers find the “Ghost” a delightful experience. For over two centuries it has justifiably been considered one of the great works for piano trio, and it gives us yet another important glimpse into the heights Beethoven reached during his “middle” period. >>

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

First Sale of "Reconstructed" Haydn Announced!

Ben Ayotte of Ayotte Custom Musical Engraving sent out the good news over Facebook on 27 February: << Shout out to my friend Lenny Cavallaro, whose reconstruction of Haydn's Clavier Concertino in C Major (Hob. XVIII: 5) just sold its first unit on Sheet Music Plus! >>

While other compositions, notably my English horn (cor anglais) pieces, have had a number of sales, I take particular joy in this one. It was my desire to see this particular work in print that prompted me to seek publishers more than seven years ago, and I am both profoundly grateful and truly gratified by this result. I hope others will follow!

Friday, November 3, 2017

My "Reconstructed" Haydn Concerto Is Now Available!

Ayotte Custom Musical Engraving accepted my submission and has recently released my "reconstruction" of Haydn's Clavier Concerto in C Major, Hob. XVIII:5. It is available here: https://www.ayottemusic.com/products/4166-haydn-clavier-concerto-in-c-major-hob-xviii-5-reconstructed-by-lenny-cavallaro/

I am most delighted by this latest publication, as it was very much on my mind when I began the project more than nine years ago. I submit my Preface to the volume below.

Joseph Haydn's keyboard concerti include some rather short works, for which the designation "concertino" is probably more accurate. I have even heard the less flattering term, "toy concerto." Nevertheless, this C Major composition is a charming little piece and truly deserves an occasional performance, if only as a novelty. 

Haydn scored the "orchestra" simply for first and second violins plus cello. Since it is quite likely the concerto was intended for harpsichord, the accompaniment may have required as few as three musicians. Naturally, I had a somewhat larger force in mind, thinking originally of seven (paired first and second violins, with one each of viola, cello, and bass), and I eventually performed the concerto accompanied by 28 strings. That said, it would surely "work" with just a string quartet, even as Mozart's 12th, 13th, and 14th piano concerti are sometimes played!

My changes were generally rather minimal. I "corrected" a couple of chords from the original score (Nagels Edition), mostly in the second movement. The bass part is merely the cello part, doubled an octave lower, while the viola part either doubles an inner voice or enriches the harmony. 

My only audacious gesture comes in the first movement. In m. 76, Haydn's development passes very briefly through a six-four chord, resolving quickly to the dominant harmony and proceeding thence into the recapitulation in the tonic key at m. 77. I extended the passage by inserting a ritardando a few beats earlier and then placing a fermata over the six-four chord. This enabled me to interpolate a piano cadenza, very much in the style of Haydn, though hardly where we should expect to find it! However, there was no other place to add one without damage to the structure of the movement.

The bowings for strings are somewhat inconsistent in the Nagels original, and while I have copied these precisely (save for the viola part), I feel they are best left to the good judgment of the conductor and/or concertmaster. I have also changed one figuration from the original, in the interest of simplicity. Where (in the first movement) we find a half-beat consisting of two thirty-second notes plus a sixteenth-note, I have rescored these as three sextuplets. [NB: Some musicologists maintain that the figuration I replaced should in fact be executed precisely as I have revised them!]. 

These points aside, the music remains Haydn's. I can only hope that my modest efforts have elevated the work somewhat closer to full "concerto" status.

Friday, August 18, 2017

"Suggested Changes" to 4th of Schubert's Moments Musicaux

My "suggested changes" to this work are at long last available (a free pdf file). Again, I shall thank any keyboard players who wish to give them a try. Here's the link:


Thursday, August 17, 2017

My "Suggested Changes" to B Minor French Suite

My audacious "suggested changes" to the B minor French Suite (Bach) are now available (and free) online. I shall, of course, welcome any comments. Many thanks in particular to the keyboard players who may wish to read through this.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Nine Songs by Alfonso Cavallaro Uploaded

At long last, these "trifles," as my father described them, are ready to share.  The descriptions on my Youtube channel provide considerably more information.  The links are as follows:

Six Neapolitan Songs:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHfG_JqJjYI

There English Songs:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gFVCV2-9WE

I should note that I transcribed one of the Neapolitan Songs -- "Canzone a Maria" -- for piano solo, and two of the English songs -- "Tears" and "A Man-Child's Lullaby" -- for oboe (or flute) and piano.  In fact, my father's Op. Posthumous 1 includes yet another song, "Far Away," also for oboe (or flute) and piano.  This, however, was never recorded for voice because of problems with the text.