Classical Piece of the Week: Piano Concerto No.5 “Emperor”, 2nd mvmt

Classical Piece of the Week

Missed the last one? Here’s a link to Tzigane.


If there is one thing I’ve learned from attending Symphony concerts, is that it’s always a good idea to listen to the piece prior to attending the performance. Back in May, the pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii performed Piano Concerto No.5 in E flat Major, Op.73 by Ludwig van Beethoven with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. It was a magnificent portrayal of the magnitude of art, yet I cannot say I enjoyed it to the fullest. There was a lot of hype surrounding the 2nd movement, but the music didn’t touch me as deeply as I thought it would.

After that night, I went on Youtube and searched up the 2nd movement myself. And I don’t know if it was during the first listen or the fourth, but suddenly the piece spoke to me. It spoke with eloquence and modesty, profoundness and delicacy.

The 2nd movement begins with a sweet serenade by the strings, and as it swells, the winds and brass join in to create a wondrous canvas for the piano to lay its foundation. The piano’s entrance is serene and extremely free, its notes gliding through the phrases with an unsung coherence. As the movement continues, it is obvious that piano and orchestra are leading a harmonious conversation between themselves, but the latter does not steal any light away from the virtuous solo passages. The introductory theme returns with its little swells, and the piano takes over with an overwhelmingly fulfilling reply that leads to another thoughtful exchange between piano and orchestra. As the movement comes to a close, the orchestra ends quietly on an unresolved chord, and the piano blesses us with one last breath of candid, ethereal music.

To me, this piece evokes a simplicity in beauty that did not seem achievable. There is no sense of elaboration in this piece. Every note belongs, and every note is created with a remarkable sensibility that helps sustain the relationship between neighbouring notes. The phrases float with unconditional freedom, but remain grounded and attentive at its core. This music reminds us that ultimate beauty transcends physical barriers.


7 thoughts on “Classical Piece of the Week: Piano Concerto No.5 “Emperor”, 2nd mvmt

  1. As a long-time fan of Nobuyuki Tsujii, I am sorry to read that you didn’t enjoy his “Emperor” with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra as much as your thought you would. But yes, to enjoy a performance fully, it makes a big difference to acquaint yourself with the works being performed beforehand. I am a big advocate of that, based on my own experience.
    By the way, here is a piece about that performance by Nobu that appeared in La Liberte:

    1. Oh thank you for the article link, I am subscribed to that newspaper but somehow didn’t come across that article! And honestly, the only reasons my expectations fell slightly was that firstly, like I’ve said, I am not an ultimate classical musical connoisseur so I don’t understand pieces off the bat, and second I tend to prefer Romantic era music, so that could have been a reason. But, it is undeniable that Nobu is a true talent, and from the reaction of the audience that night, I could tell it was an incredibly successful performance.
      Thanks for stopping by,
      Grace :)

  2. I absolutely love your blog!! Everything you write is so introspective and beautifully crafted, and you’ve definitely given me a fresh perspective on classical music – I’m a violinist too, but I’d always shrink off classical music in favor of whatever was on the radio. I’ve just followed your blog, and I’m looking forward to reading more of your amazing work. :)
    -Meghna (

    1. Meghna, it is so nice to meet you! Thank you for your kind words, I’ve browsed through your blog and it is super awesome as well, can’t wait to see more of your posts! And yes, pop can be super addicting (I am always a victim haha) but I listen to our local classical music radio station and it has really opened my eyes (or should I say ears) to some new artists, styles, etc.
      Thanks again for the comment, and I hope we’ll really get to know each other better!
      Grace :)

      1. Thank you! That means a lot, considering that I’ve literally started my blog 4 hours ago and am not generating much traffic :). Same here! It’s funny though – my sister is actually the one who told me about your blog because she’s friends with Amy Li… whom you knew in Canada I think? Anyway Amy told my sister about your blog, who told me, and that’s kind of how it went. It’s a crazy small world :).

      2. Oh my goodness, that is crazy! I still remember Amy, she’s such a sweet girl. Wow is the world ever so small. Please send my well wishes to your sister and Amy! :)

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