Texts from the App

Here you will find the texts from the app listed one below the other.

Wojciech Kilar – Orawa

Length: 09:25


A single, gentle violin opens Wojchiech Kilar’s ‘Orawa’ with a repeated, springy dance tune accompanied by two violins, as if they were keeping the beat by stamping their heels on the ground.


‘Orawa’, the title of the work, refers to a region in southern Poland, on the Slovak border. The Polish composer Kilar wanted to make the piece an ode to the rural setting and its farming population.


Just as the dance grows exuberant, the repetitive refrain retraces its steps to return to the modest beginning. Suddenly, the springy dance really bursts forth, with rough, jerky dance steps.


Suddenly, we hear a cello rise above the unceasing rhythm and play a second, simple melody. Underneath the melody, there is a turbulent whirlwind of fast notes.


Kilar was known mainly as a composer of film music. He wrote the music for the films ‘The Pianist’ and ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’. The gliding violins evoke the unruliness of the Carpathian landscape.


Kilar now combines the springy dance melody of the beginning with the simple second melody in the airy, high violin part. The second melody has a folksy edge, almost like a children’s lullaby.


From the lower strings, an increasingly massive string part builds up. The opening melody becomes a chilly grating sound, in which all the musicians join at a different pitch.


With the scraping sounds of the full orchestra, we are suddenly at the mercy of the elements. Is Kilar depicting the harsh winters that are typical of Orawa, the coldest region of Poland?


Suddenly, all the strings play open, unmuted strings, resulting in a loud, tinkling sound. The full orchestra seems to join unhesitatingly in Kilar’s exuberant dance.


The orchestra accelerates ever more feverishly, only to fade away and fall silent. Orawa closes with a solemn, deafening chorus of strings, answered by a mischievous shout (“Hey!”) from the orchestra.

Text: Rick van Veldhuizen

Sergei Rachmaninoff – Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor

Length: 43:45 min

  1. Allegro ma non tanto

Length of movement: 17:00


The pianist plays a nonchalant but melancholy melody. Rachmaninov begins his third piano concerto with this quiet before the storm. The strings surge, slightly menacingly, in the background.

0:54 faster piano runs

As if cranked up by an invisible force, the piano suddenly bursts into a stream of fast noes. The violas and one horn take over the melody, faster and more spirited than a moment ago.

1:40 oboe and bassoon’s countermelody

Rachmaninov wrote this work for his US concert tour in 1909. He had not been on tour for four years before that, and the expectations, thanks to the popularity of his Second Piano Concerto, were high.

2:18 piano remains

A wild outpouring of the piano seeks to free itself from the orchestra, but backfires. The bassoons and cellos call him to reason – like strict priests – accompanied by an organ of horns and oboes.

3:24 soft strings

The strings whisper a slow march tune. They engage in a question-and-answer interplay with the piano, which takes over their chords on a more heroic tone.

4:14 bassoon

The piano pushes and pulls the cart in this work. It plays the previous march tune, as if intoxicated, like a lyrical song. Sometimes one or two winds join in, as if to accompany it to its land of dreams.

5:05 orchestra with the piano

When he wrote this work, Rachmaninov had – after years of writer’s block – recovered his self-confidence with two orchestral works. This was another triumph on his own instrument, the piano.

6:04 strings return

The quiet song in the piano seems to melt away, along with the fading violins. The music then returns to the opening melody, whose deceptive movements now seem to lead the orchestra astray.

7:06 piano faster

The piano accelerates, sweeping up fragments of earlier melodies along in its whirlwind: the opening melody, as well as the staccato march and the lyrical song are enmeshed.

8:12 chords in piano, winds

The orchestra and piano burst out in a desperate tumult. After that violence, both are uprooted. Only a few fragments of the melodies are left behind in the exhausted swirl.

9:17 flute

The orchestra this out, while the piano keeps on with the same expression. It is as if the violence of a few moments ago had driven both composer and musicians to uncertainty and even inertia.

10:05 low clarinet

The solo passage (cadenza) we now hear is notorious among pianists. Josef Hoffman, the pianist to whom Rachmaninov dedicated this concerto, never played it, as he found it too difficult.

10:53 loud minor chord

Rachmaninov, with his famously large hands, found this concerto “more comfortable to perform” than his first two. Many pianists consider it the “Mount Everest” of the piano repertoire.

11:38 first theme in chords

The main melody is now heard in enormous, thundering and heart-rending chords from high to low across the piano. It’s as if the pianist were trying to exceed the volume of the whole orchestra.

12:48 arpeggios

The chords break down into elegant flowing brooks. Then – after all that vehemence in the piano – we hear a solitary flute that strike up the first melody: simple innocent like at the beginning.

13:46 second piano theme

Usually, the first movement of a piano concerto has one piano solo. But Rachmaninov also works the second, lyrical melody into a solo – lovely and sparkling, rather than aggressive.

14:40 lightning-fast piano runs

Rachmaninov, who himself played the solo at the e première in New York, had to practice his own very virtuoso piano part on a silent keyboard, since he could not take a piano along to America.

15:30 beginning returns

The simple opening melody returns. The music writer Michael Steinberg referred to it as “like a piano duet by Schubert, with the two hands in unison”.

16:22 faster piano

For a moment, Rachmaninov hints here at a climax, but soon the horn and trumpet calls, the strings and finally the piano fade away. This first movement, so fille with extremes, goes out like a candle.

  1. Intermezzo. Adagio. – 3. Finale. Alla breve.

Length of movement: 26:45


The strings make a halting attempt but ultimately it is a singing oboe melody that opens this slow second movement, accompanied by a choir of winds.

0:43 violins

Gustav Mahler conducted the second performance of this concerto. Rachmaninov was in delighted. “He devoted so much attention to the orchestra: they continued far beyond the end of the rehearsal.

1:50 viola melody

Plaintive, descending melodies criss-cross each other. After a long silence, the piano makes its entrance. It immediately grabs the spotlight with a tumbling, downward swirling solo.

2:44 low octave in piano (major)

It is clear that as a pianist Rachmaninov had experience with the classical piano composers Chopin and Liszt. Although the piano part is very challenging, playing it feels natural for a pianist.

3:42 fast runs in the piano

Rachmaninov wrote this concerto in Dresden, his home from 1906 onwards. He finished it just in time to board the ship to the US, where he would perform the work for the first time two months later.

4:42 piano loud

The initial reactions of the press were lukewarm. The New York Sun called it “sound music, though not memorable”, while the New York Times would have preferred another soloist than Rachmaninov.

5:30 piano remains (accelerando)

With passages such as this one, that revel and sigh while they err among searching harmonies, Rachmaninov inspired many a film composer.

6:20 climax violin melody, piano

Pianist Vladimir Horowitz received performance advice from Rachmaninov, and was the first to record the work, in 1930. “Without false modesty: I brought this concerto to light and to life”, he remarked.

7:25 strings return

The broad melodies immediately make way for staccato notes. Are we now hearing a sparkling waltz? It’s as if the piano was growing restless with all the swelling lyricism of this movement.

8:15 accents in the violins

It is ever more obvious that under all the piano shenanigans, we are hearing a familiar melody in the winds: the opening melody of the first movement. They look back nostalgically on the simple tune.

9:06 piano stops

At last, the pianist gets some rest. The murmuring oboe melody of the beginning returns. Reminiscent of Russian Orthodox church music, it was, said Rachmaninov, “all written by him”.

10:06 violin melody

The sultry violins are rekindled once again with the main theme of this movement. The piano then takes the lead with new energy. Its solo sounds a bit surly and grim, with nervous, staccato sounds.

10:52 (0:00) staccato winds

A graceful piano fanfare begins this final movement, a spectacular piece for the quick-fingered pianist. Repeated, staccato notes pound the upper half of the keyboard.

11:39 staccato in strings, winds

The journalist Alex Wade called this work “a relentless exposure to everything the keyboard can throw at anyone who dares to take it on.”

12:22 piano in major key

Rachmaninov leads us to a musical no-man’s-land of repeated piano chords. The winds thumb their noses at the piano with jocular, brutal interruptions.

13:30 block chords in the piano

De piano drives the orchestra to an exalted climax that seems to exhaust the orchestra. The soloist takes a quick break, while the orchestra slowly but surely comes to a halt.

14:17 piano return

Now the piano, with its capricious staccato melodies, is the mocking the strings’ sustained pulsation of the strings. But don’t we hear in its giggles echoes of the lyrical song of the first movement?

15:11 soft string rhythm

After Gustav Mahler had conducted the second performance of this work to Rachmaninov’s satisfaction, the two composers became close friends. Alas, Mahler died a year later.

16:09 piano solo

The jocular interruptions of earlier are back, each time in a different garb. The pianist now allows it to play out melodiously, though staccato notes in the flutes a bit lower still sound derisive.

17:07 viola and cello melody

The opening melody of the work now returns, plaintively, in the violas and cellos. The singing melody of the first movement is also back, and it is clear that all Rachmaninov’s melodies are linked together.

18:02 horn melody with piano

Though Rachmaninov considered all his music was Russian in character, this work, he said, “simply wrote itself”, without borrowing from folk music or church music: “I was thinking only of sound.”

19:02 flute

As the orchestra fades away, the piano tries again to frolic joyfully upwards. A timpani roll interrupts it menacingly. It is time to return to the lightning-fast fanfare that opened the movement.

20:16 piano returns

The piano and the orchestra leapfrog over each other, with the violins and horns occasionally throwing a sudden spanner in the works with harsh notes. Little by little the fanfare ramps up speed.

20:57 trumpet melody

The fanfare melody can at last be heard in the classic brass instrument: the trumpet. Is this really a triumphant fanfare? The piano suggests not, as it begins to wander above the sputtering strings.

21:54 lyrical theme in the piano

Rachmaninov wanted the piano part “to sound as if a singer were singing it”. He hesitated long about how he could colour the piano and orchestra “without the accompaniment undermining the song”.

22:58 diminished chord

The piano and orchestra feverishly drive each other on, until in the midst of the tumultuous cymbal clashes, the piano wrestles free. With thunderous piano chords, the soloist crashes into the depths.

23:54 low brass, timpani

Low trumpets and timpani sputter like a stalling motor. Nevertheless, the piano brings its melody, that writer William Runyan called ‘the great Rachmaninov melody’, increasingly into the spotlight.

24:26 very high violins

Rachmaninov’s piano sings out its triumphant song along with shrill violins. This victory deserves celebration: supported by timpani and cymbals, the piano and orchestra end this monumental work.

Text: Rick van Veldhuizen