Sight Reading


Lots of wonderful music—from classical favorites to jazz and salsa—weaves through Sight Reading.  Below is a partial list of works mentioned, in the order in which they appear.  I hope you’ll find time to take a listen.

Scheherazade, opus 35 by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov

This is the piece for which Remy wishes that she, instead of her stand partner, played the solo—the sensuous musical theme representing the storyteller Scheherazade herself.  Here’s the opening segment.

“the Sibelius”

Though I don’t mention which specific piece the orchestra is playing, I believe I had in mind Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43 and the somewhat grandiose climactic moment in the second half of the finale.  Here’s a taste.

“the Khachaturian”

I didn’t have a specific piece in mind, but a favorite of mine is the wonderful (and surely familiar) Gayane Ballet Suite

Bach Partita No. 2 in D Minor

I recently had the pleasure of watching Hilary Hahn play the “Chaconne” from this Partita live at Jordan Hall—one of the most exhilarating musical performances I’ve seen.  Here’s the Chaconne played by the late violinist/conductor Yehudi Menuhin.

“a late Beethoven quartet”

In an earlier draft of Sight Reading, I actually wrote out this entire scene, in which Remy and her dorm-mate Peter listen to String Quartet No.12 in E flat, Op.127, after which he declares, “Now you’ve been deflowered.”  I was deciding between that piece or the particularly wild and challenging Große Fugue, which Beethoven composed when already completely deaf.: 

Violin Sonata no. 3 in D Minor, Op. 108 by Johannes Brahms

A few months ago I heard the young Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang play this live at a recital here in Cambridge.  Here’s the opening movement played by Nathan Milstein with Vladimir Horovitz on piano.

Two-part Invention 2 in C Minor, by J.S. Bach:

When I decided to re-start piano lessons as an adult, it was in part to learn to play this piece—which my very exacting teacher said I wasn’t ready to take on (but I went home and learned it anyway.)  Here’s a recording by Glenn Gould.

Korngold’s Violin Concerto in D Major

Here’s a taste from the opening movement, compliments of Jascha Heifetz:

Symphonie espagnole in D Minor, Op. 21, by Édouard Lalo

I especially the love the 2nd and 5th movements, and have heard wonderful renditions for violin and guitar.  Here’s Isaac Stern playing the second movement, with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Schumann’s Fairy-Tale Pictures for viola and piano.

“My” instrument (the one I played from elementary school until I completed college) was the viola, so I continue to love pieces that showcase the viola’s deep, mellow sound.

César Franck’s Sonata for Violin and Piano

This is the piece that Remy learns in the master class and that she and Nicholas later play at home together.  Here’s the famous fourth movement, which I had in mind when writing Part Three of Sight Reading.

“On Green Dolphin Street”

Originally by Bronislau Kaper, also famous for the jazz rendition recorded by Miles Davis in 1958.  This one of the pieces Nicholas and Yoni hear at the club they hang out at.

Some of the salsa bands Paula recommends to Nicholas.  Time to dance!