D MAJOR

Part 1 Mozart Haffner Symphony

Part 2

Part 3

Hello and welcome.  You will have picked up that the key for this programme is bright and energetic. That’s D major. D major is brassily bright. It has the brilliance of gold, of the sun, the summer sun, yellow fields of wheat. There is no key so positive as D major; so confident that all is well with the world. D major is a Handel chorus. Hallelujah! Amen! God save the King! (more of that later), but, look – here comes the golden sun!

Haydn Sunrise from The Creation

Odd planet this – here comes another sun!

Debussy La Mer Sunrise

2 effulgent D major suns. The first to rise was a representation of the first sun ever to rise – the sunrise from Haydn’s Creation. And the second was a sunrise over the sea from La Mer by Debussy. So you can see that this is going to be very bright programme. Let’s start with the brightness of the D major Haffner Symphony by Mozart that introduced the programme. Hit it, Wolfgang!

Mozart – Haffner Symphony First movement

The 1st movt of Mozart’s Symphony no 35 known as the Haffner.  Even old, serious Johannes Brahms couldn’t resist the exuberance of D major. The final movement of his D major 2nd symphony starts softly but the true character of the key soon has to break out.

Brahms Symphony 2 4th movement

Brahms – liberated by D major in the last movement of his 2nd symphony. Prominent trumpets at the end there really enjoying themselves. We’ll have some more D major trumpets later. At the beginning of the programme I spoke of D major’s golden colour. William Walton used D major when he set gold to music in Belshazzar’s Feast. He slips into a flat key for silver but the whole section ends in a riotous D major. Gold does not lose its lustre in Williams Walton’s hands. ‘Praise ye the Gods’ and do it in D major.

Walton Belshazzar’s Feast – Praise Ye the Gods

The height of Belshazzar’s Feast by William Walton. I think a change of pace of called for. There is another side to D major. Bucolic, a little bumbling, more relaxed, always good-natured. Still bright, too, but now the brightness of yellow leaves and an Indian summer. This is Beethoven. His Pastoral – not symphony, but sonata for the piano. The 4th movement gives a good idea of this aspect of D major’s character.

Beethoven – Piano Sonata (Pastoral) Last movement

And if you’re looking for other examples of D major the bucolic key look no further than the first movement of Mahler’s 1st Symphony, the first movement of Brahms’ 2nd Symphony, Alven’s Swedish Rhapsody No 1 and almost any Trio section of almost any third movement of almost any symphony in D major or D minor. Here’s a nice example from Grieg:

Grieg – Wedding Day at Troldhaugen

Wedding Day at Troldhaugen by Grieg illustrating D major’s rural side. Now it’s time for our dose of Shostokovitch – if that’s the right word. Prelude and Fugue in D major. The prelude has the sunniness we’ve come to expect from this key, and the fugue is a very light hearted affair – it chuckles from beginning to end.

Shostokovitch Prelude & Fugue in D

Chopin’s Prelude in D is gone in a moment, a mere puff of air. Just a stretch of the fingers for a pianist limbering up for stronger meat.

Chopin Prelude in D

Tossing off Chopin’s Prelude in D in 30 seconds. There is a seraphic side to D major.  A foretaste of heaven. Here is In Paradisum, literally In Heaven, from Faure’s Requiem. I follow that with another paradisial work: the second movement of Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet. So a quiet interlude in an otherwise bright and confident programme. There’s another kind of confidence here:

Faure – Requiem In Paradisum

Mozart  – 2nd movement from Clarinet Quintet

The 2nd movement of Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet.  Before that we heard the In Paradisum from Faure’s Requiem. And if you’re looking for other D major Paradisial pieces try the last movement of Mahler’s 3rd Symphony or the Ave Verum Corpus by Mozart. The Angels’ farewell in Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius is also in a heavenly D major.

Now back to big, bright, golden, brassy D major. Here’s the Overture to the 1st Orchestral Suite by JS Bach. A chance to hear some wonderful Baroque trumpets in D. This piece is somewhat longer than the pieces we usually play in these programmes but it makes up for the fact that we will not be sampling one of Bach’s Preludes and Fugues.

Bach – Overture to Orchestral Suite Number 1

Well, I hope you’re full up with golden D major and golden Bach. Back to choral music now. Beethoven of course and obviously cast the Ode to Joy in his Choral Symphony in D major and large parts of his grand Missa Solemnis are in the key, but in this programme, let’s hear the choral efforts of his mentor, Franz Joseph Haydn as he exhorts the harp to wake up in D major.

Haydn – Awake the harp

Awake the Harp from The Creation by Haydn. But if anyone made D major his own key for choruses and trumpets, it was George Frederick Handel. And so let’s end the programme with Handel and a chorus and brightness and kings and amens and for evers and hallelujahs….

 Handel ‘…..and blessing’

–  yes, and blessings – in D major.

Handel – Zadok the Priest, Hallelujah, Worthy is the Lamb, Amen all mixed up

My excuse is that I didn’t have time to play them all and couldn’t decide which one to play! The four Handel D major choruses included were the Hallelujah Chorus, Zadok the Priest, Worthy is the Lamb and of course the Amen Chorus. And now D major, Keynotes and I will make a rapid exit left. Amen and Goodbye!