Johann Straus II - Vergnügungszug (Pleasure Train), op. 281

Johann Strauss II , known for his waltzes and lively compositions, had a unique approach to his creative process. He consistently sought contemporary and relevant themes to serve as the driving force behind his new musical compositions. This approach ensured that his work remained fresh and connected with the audiences of his time.  One notable instance of this creative approach was the composition of this polka, composed in 1864. This piece of music was specifically crafted for a summer concert held in the picturesque Russian town of Pavlovsk. It's fascinating to note that Strauss drew inspiration for this composition from the world around him. In this case, he found it in the emerging technology of the time, namely, the steam locomotive. The composition itself is a testament to Strauss's ability to capture the essence and energy of the subject matter. The rhythm of this dance piece mirrors the rhythmic chugging and movements of the old-fashioned steam trains that were prevale

Ravel - Tzigane (Gypsy)

The hungarian violonist Jelly d'Aranyi

In 1922, Maurice Ravel was deeply impressed by the hungarian violonist Jelly d'Aranyi, when he heard him play the gypsy music of his homeland. The composer's interest in this style resulted in this workd for violin and piano - and later for orchestra - which he composed in 1924. The work contains many elements of gypsy music.

A long and complex solo segment on violin, begins this wonderful and unusual concerto rhapsody. The passionate play of the soloist, immediately takes us to old Hungary. The oriental scales with the strangeness for the western ear style, which so fascinated Ravel, dominate dearly here from the beginning.

Other features are the chords of the violin and a multitude of string techniques, which make up this wonderful concerto-style work.

A long trill leads to the second half of the play. At first we hear the harp that combines fiery grabs and glisanti with the violin trills. We alos hear the exotic string techniques. At one point, the soloist plays bows and pizzicati (with his left hand) at the same time.

The second half of the play is more "amiable", as the virtuoso part of the beginning is replaced by simpler melodies for the violin and the orchestra.