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Time and style

Frederick Stocken discussed Western classical music at the British Council


FREDERICK STOCKEN, examiner of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, took a group of teachers and students through a "whistle-stop tour of three styles of Western Classical music" on Friday evening at the British Council.

Though he's more of a composer rather than a concert pianist, he brought out contrasts of style and technique with his demonstrations of pieces from the Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods of music. He drew the audience, consisting of music teachers and students, through the intricacies of the Baroque period (1600 to 1750) — the elaborate finger work, rather stable but patterned musical moods and the consistent tempo.

He played Mozart to explain that the Classical period (from 1750 to the early 1800s) emphasises melody accompanied by harmony. Singing some soppy lyrics he'd made up for the balcony scene of "Romeo and Juliet", he showed that music of the Classical period was rather dramatic, almost operatic and that the player had to be imaginative to bring out the passionate and lyrical nuances of the music. "Classical music relies on harmony and has wonderful clarity. So use the rests to allow the music to breathe and the pedal to warm the music and open up the resonances of the piano," said Stocken, explaining how students could add a sense of style to their playing.

Lyadov's Mazurka in F Minor demonstrated the strong melody, altering tempo and smoothness of the Romantic era's music. "The Romantic era has a highly nuanced style. Each note is a juicy bit of feeling, so you need to squeeze enough emotion out of every note," he said, explaining that music of the Baroque age required more finger work, while the Classical period needed wrist movements and the Romantic era depended on the weight of the entire arm to shape the melody. "Music is a form of communication that expresses things you cannot say with words or paint. Pure music without lyrics is almost mystical with the many ways in which each listener perceives it," he concluded.

SHALINI UMACHANDRAN

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