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CLASSICAL  March 2000

CLASSICAL March 2000

Subject:

Re: The End of the Affair

From:

Peter Goldstein <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 22 Mar 2000 11:56:55 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Richard Pennycuick's comment that Dvorak's 8th is his favorite ending leads
me to suggest a thread on favorite/distinctive endings.  My own thoughts:

On Dvorak, I've always thought that of all major composers he had the most
trouble with his endings, drawing them out too much or getting the tone
wrong.  The ending of the 9th, for example, has always seemed curiously
undignified to me.  But I love the ending of the 6th, which goes on for
quite a while but is perfectly proportioned.

One of the great weird endings is that to a Britten string quartet (I can't
remember the number--someone help here), which consists of a grand chord
repeated several times with remarkably long pauses in between.  I remember
when working at my college radio station, I had to announce a concert with
this quartet, and the engineer and I kept looking at each other helplessly,
unable to figure out whether the work was actually over yet.  Eventually we
just waited it out.  The Sibelius 5th Symphony has a similar widely-spaced
ending, but it's clear which is the final chord.

Vote for most overstated ending: Beethoven's 5th.  For me, one of his
more unintentionally amusing endings is the first movement of the Triple
Concerto, which hammers dominant and tonic at you with the air of making
some grand architectural statement.  The ending of the Saint-Saens Piano
Concerto No. 1 goes a bit crazy too, especially considering the relative
slightness of the musical material.  And I'm afraid I find the last two
chords of Mahler's 1st (one of my favorite works) a bit silly.

I'm not sure I have a single favorite ending, but ones that come to mind
for different reasons are:

Bartok, String Quartet No. 4--the last chords bring the work full circle
powerfully and inevitably

Verdi, Overture to "La Forza del Destino"--one of the great
hell-bent-for-leather who-gives-a-darn-about-subtlety rousing finishes

Mozart, Divertimento for String Trio K. 563--short and ultra-simple, but
finds just the right motif to round off the piece Best,

Peter Goldstein
Juniata College
Huntingdon, PA

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