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Thread: Classical Listening

  1. #91
    Quote Originally Posted by Petrarch's Love View Post
    a really enjoyable performance of a fragment of Scoenberg's Pierrot Luniare. "Enjoyable" not usually being an adjective I use to describe that piece, it was either an unusually fine performance or I'm maturing in my musical tastes (or both). One of the music professors present also gave some helpful background about the way the Sprechstimme style was heavily influenced by cabaret performance (being a group of artists and academics, a debate about the proper lighting for the performance at hand ensued). Here's the excerpt I was enjoying last night:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aERSzX9W5Qo
    I'm a Schoenberg fan, and I've always loved Pierrot. It does sound like acid cabaret. If you forget that this is big, bad, scary Schoenberg, it's a delightful, eccentric composition. Every time I hear Pierrot, I want to crawl into its weird cartoon world and stay there forever.

    Mondestrunken

  2. #92
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    I have long been fascinated with German Expressionism... especially as it developed in the visual arts. While Picasso and Bracque must be credited with having developed the formal language of fragmentation (Cubism) that would become central to Modernism, it was the German Expressionists who recognized its expressive potential... merging it with the brilliant and even shocking colors of Fauvism and the distortions of space and the human form of the German Gothic tradition... to perfectly convey the twisted and shattered experience of the era between the two world wars. Babbalanja's analogy to a "weird cartoon" world is certainly apt for there is a great connection between German Expressionist art and cartoons which drew from the Expressionists' brilliant colors, spatial distortions, and graphic elelements.













    And of course one can't forget the great German Expressionist films such as M, the Cabinet of Dr. Caligary, Nosferatu, etc... Incredibly, one can access the whole of these films (which predate the copyright cut-off) on YouTube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrg73BUxJLI

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcyzubFvBsA

    Many of the artists of this period embraced American jazz... and there is certainly something jazz-like to the work... and yet I have always felt that the music suited to such art would need to be more "acidic" as well. To my mind some of the best "Expressionist" music includes works by Kurt Weill:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTaO_...eature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7CU4yi-lJk

    Ravel's La Valse... in which the elegant Viennese waltz has somehow gone all wrong:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmboD...om=PL&index=12

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGn5h...om=PL&index=52

    I would also think of Shostakovitch's brilliant opera, The Nose, excerpts of the marvelous new Gergiev recording of which can now be found on YouTube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFPqO...eature=related

    Certainly I can see, however, how Webern, Berg, and Schoenberg fit into this artistic movement:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKZt6nPrKJQ

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOcEFn_052E

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrjg3jzP2uI

    I've always found their music, however, to be far more abstract... closer in nature to Abstract Expressionism than German Expressionism. Nevertheless... it is interesting to note that Glenn Gould... the great performer of Bach... would be also attracted to this music... which not unlike Bach... strikes me as decidedly cerebral. Indeed, Gould can be seen offering up his own thoughts on the "holy trinity" of the Second Viennese School.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhKWTVTl5Y4

    I must say that I have put forth the effort to understand and appreciate it... but I think I'll still be sticking with the First Viennese School of Mahler, Zemlinsky, Richard Strauss, etc...
    Last edited by stlukesguild; 12-06-2009 at 06:54 PM.
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  3. #93
    Clinging to Douvres rocks Gilliatt Gurgle's Avatar
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    Last night I spent a pleasant evening listening to my son (violin) and the rest of his high school orchestra perform at this years Christmas concert. A few of the selctions included:

    "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" - Mozart
    "Yuletide Carols for Strings" - Arr. Williamson
    "Fantasy on an English Carol" - Traditional/ arr. Story
    "For Unto Us" - Handel/ Frost
    "Sing We Now ofChristmas" - Traditional / arr. Monday

    Fetaure piece:
    "Pictures at an Exhibition" - Mussorgksy
    included "Promenade", "The Gnome", "The Castle", "The Tulleries - Children Quarreling at Play", "Ballett ofthe Unhatched Chicks", "The Hut of Baba Yaga" and "The Great Gate of Kiev"

    Finale:
    "Shepards Dance" - Menotti / Conley

    They performed very well and provided an uplifting start to the holiday season!
    "Mongo only pawn in game of life" - Mongo

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKRma7PDW10

  4. #94
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    While choral music... followed by the other aspects of vocal music (opera, chanson, lieder, etc...) is quite probably my favorite genre of classical music (all music begins with song!) I find myself listening to even more choral music at this time of year. Perhaps it has something to do with the holidays and childhood memories of Christmas carols and midnight masses and Lutheran hymns and Bach cantatas; perhaps it has to do with something of the enveloping feeling of this music that seems perfectly suited to these cold days when the sun goes down early and most of my waking hours are spent with the lights on and candles lit. Nevertheless, I have been recently padding out my collection of choral music (as if it needed any padding) with pieces ranging from the Middle Ages to the most recent. One disc I am particularly impressed with is entitled Lassus... by the Hilliard Ensemble. The Hilliard Ensemble have long been one of the best vocal/choral groups renowned for their performances of "earlly" music (medieval through the Baroque) as well as the latest efforts in the field (including Arvo Part, Stephen Hartke, James MacMillian, etc...). Among their more recent recordings are any number focusing upon the works of a single early composer. The magnificent recordings, Perotin...



    Gesualdo:Tenebrae...



    ... both of which I have written about earlier. Today I received the latest Hilliard work, Lassus, a splendid recording of Orlando Lassus' Missa pro defunctis and Profetiae Sibyllarum.



    Orlando Lassus (c.1532– 14 June 1594) was born in Mons in the province of Hainaut, in what is today Belgium.



    The Franco-Flemish composer was a major developer (along with Palestrina, William Byrd, Josquin des Prez, etc...) of polyphony. Polyphony is music composed of two or more independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice (monophony) or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords (homophony). Early experiments with polyphony can be traced back to 12th century composers such as Léonin and Pérotin who developed the organum or plainchant melody with at least one added voice to enhance the harmony. By the 13th century the plainchant melody was becoming even more fragmented wit the addition of a third and even fourth voice. European polyphony especially expanded during the period of the Western Schism, or the split that occurred within the Roman Catholic Church dating from 1378 to 1417. Avignon, the seat of the anti-popes, was a vigorous center of secular music-making, much of which influenced sacred polyphony... almost as if they embraced the form that fractured the single homo-phonic melody just as they has fractured the Church. The Roman Church not only considered harmony and polyphony frivolous, impious, and lascivious, but an obstruction to the audibility of the words. Instruments, as well as certain modes, were actually forbidden in the church because of their association with secular music and pagan rites. Dissonant clashes of notes give a creepy feeling that was labeled as "evil", fueling their argument against polyphony as being the "devil’s music". Thus Lassus would have been seen as a purveyor of satanic music certain to undermine the morals of the pious but naive parishioners who would certainly have been susceptible to the seductions of such music... just as the youth of America succumbed to the temptations of Elvis and Rock n Roll during the 1950s. (As a side note, the church was just as suspicious at the time of the seductions of visual images... especially of those sexually attractive young saints and less-than-virginal Virgins... and many were calling for the enforcement of strict iconoclastic guidelines.)

    And what doe the music of which we are speaking sound like? Here's a marvelous video of the Hilliard Ensemble in the appropriate setting:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-75Cd...eature=related

    Highly recommended to any Medieval Music admirer... or lover of choral music.
    Last edited by stlukesguild; 12-12-2009 at 04:49 PM.
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  5. #95
    Outlook Gloomy Neely's Avatar
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    What a lovely piece, thanks for posting that. I have been listening to a bit of Gregorian chant recently, could I ask what your thoughts on Gregorian chant is and where do you see this in relation to choral music in general? I mean, does its simpler form necessarily reduce it in some ways to later, more complex examples of choral music, or do you see it as being as strong in its own right?

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  6. #96
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    I'm something of a sworn lover of early music and so Gregorian Chant is certainly among the music I love. The term Gregorian Chant refers to a form of plainchant or a monophonic (as opposed to polyphonic) liturgical music within Western Christianity that accompanied the celebration of Mass and other ritual services. Gregorian chant was organized, codified, and notated mainly in the Frankish lands of western and central Europe during the 11th to 13th centuries, with later additions and redactions, but the texts and many of the melodies have antecedents going back several centuries earlier. Although popular belief credited Pope Gregory the Great with having personally invented Gregorian chant, scholars now believe that the chant bearing his name arose from a later Carolingian synthesis of Roman and Gallican chant, and that at that time the attribution to Gregory I was a a means of investing the form with a sanctified pedigree to assure the use of a single musical vocabulary throughout the whole of liturgical music of the Holy Roman Empire.

    The chants were structured upon one of eight modes or scales from which all the notes of the melody needed to be selected. The music never breaks outside of this mode... switches chords as it were... and so it has a droning, dirge or prayer-like sound that can be found in other modal music ranging from Middle-Eastern music to Minimalism to elements of Miles Davis' Kind of Blue. The music also avoids any form of polyphony. There is a single melody (although sung by multiple voices) without a harmony. The intention of this was to make the text abundantly clear. Instrumental accompaniment was also strictly forbidden... due to its use in secular music and pagan rituals.

    The rules of Gregorian or Plainchant undoubtedly act as limitations... but artists quite often achieve the greatest results under such limitations. One need only think of the rigid rules for the sonnet, Dante's terza rima, etc... The effect of the music can be very meditative... even hypnotic... not unlike, perhaps, the repetitive structures of Gothic architecture or certain art forms such as the mandala or the Japanese zen garden. Polyphony certainly brought about many new possibilities... just as the intentional use of dissonance and serial music have wrought in our time.

    I don't think I could listen endlessly to Gregorian chant or Plainchant. Even among my collection of medieval music I have some works that are quite removed from the form including especially the music of Spain which quite often builds upon Middle Eastern and North African traditions and often employs some unexpected instrumental accompaniment... especially of drums and other rhythm instruments:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jq9Ry...eature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-i2hK...eature=related

    Nevertheless... there are times when I truly am in the mood for plainchant and Hildegard of Bingen would be among my first choices:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eFPJa95qQE

    Of course already Hildegard is breaking from the strict rules of the Gregorian chant by employing an instrumental accompaniment.

    Here, by way of contrast, is a true Gregorian Chant:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRLIz897DzY
    Last edited by stlukesguild; 12-13-2009 at 12:08 PM.
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  7. #97
    Outlook Gloomy Neely's Avatar
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    Thanks - yes I've found that I can work to chant pretty well, with a lot of other music I can often get distracted, but the chant appears, at the moment anyway, to have a very calming and settling effect upon me. I find it pretty hypnotic and like the fact that it is stripped of complexity - which is perhaps why I can write essays while under its influence. Sometimes I can work to other music, but I can find myself tuning into the music more than the thing it is I am supposed to be writing.

    Other than that I have been listening to various Mozart piano concertos with great pleasure.

    Oscar Wilde (1854-1900).

    I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.
    Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.

    Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.

  8. #98
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    If you found that you enjoy medieval chants you might wish to look into any number of contemporary composers such as Eric Whitacre, Morten Lauridsen, John Rutter, John Adams, John Tavener, James MacMillian, Arvo Part, and Henryck Gorecki. These composers all tend to fall under the rubric, "Minimalism"... sometimes "Holy Minimalists"... and they often draw upon far earlier musical traditions than the dominant modes of Post-Romanticism and Modernism.

    Eric Whitacre:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ggQuU7ApjY

    Morten Lauridsen:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nn5ke...eature=related

    John Rutter:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMyiCip_oX0

    John Adams (one of the greatest contemporary composers) uses Emily Dickinson's poetry in his iconic work of Minimalism, Harmonium. Here is an excerpt with brief commentary by Simon Rattle:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51wgChtHoDI

    More recent Adams' works include an elegy for the victims of the World Trade Center attacks (Transmigration of Souls) and an opera dealing with John Oppenheimer and the atomic bomb (Doctor Atomic).

    John Tavener:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9NfFcZ7b10

    James MacMillian:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcp16-8phJ0

    Arvo Pärt... one of the greatest living composers (in my opinion). The gravitas of this eastern European composer (Estonian) is perfectly suited to the equally melancholic imagery of these images from the films of Tarkovsky:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dweiGyjxhHs

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoWMMPuRX8U

    Henryk Górecki (the only composer of those listed not still living):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKk-w_0SpSw

    There are actually more than a few contemporary composers of real reputation whose works are truly accessible and avoid the extremes of certain aspects of Modernism (not that these are without merit).
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  9. #99
    Do we need a "Maunfacture of Pope Gregory" thread?

  10. #100
    Outlook Gloomy Neely's Avatar
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    Thanks Stlukes, I'll check those out when time permits.

    Oscar Wilde (1854-1900).

    I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.
    Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.

    Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.

  11. #101
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    Do we need a "Maunfacture of Pope Gregory" thread?



    And surely Léonin, Pérotin, Orlande de Lassus, Guillaume de Machaut, Josquin des Prez, and others were all inventions of some conspiracy involving the rivals of the Roman Catholic Church set to undermine and fragment the "Holy Mother Church" through the introduction of the frivolous and satanic element of polyphony into the liturgical music. The conspiracy continues today with the support of the Illuminati, the Church of Latter Day Saints, the Scientologists, and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster with the dastardly goal of cornering the market upon the medieval music "industry" with the intention of blackmailing the international consortium of Renaissance re-enactment groups.
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  12. #102
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    That was a nice write up on Gregorian chants StLukes.

    By the way I was at the NY Philharmonic premier of John Adams' "On the Transmigration of Souls"
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6nrJ...eature=related
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  13. #103
    Alea iacta est. mortalterror's Avatar
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    That Gregorian chant number StLukes posted reminded me of a modern number by Ennio Morricone sung by Il Divo: Nella Fantasia
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Uqw0eTXcos
    Last edited by mortalterror; 12-14-2009 at 12:42 AM.
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  14. #104
    When December rolls around, we always play Beethoven's festive 7th symphony while trimming the tree. And we may be missing the irony in Mahler's 4th, but the sleigh-bells and soprano song seem very appropriate to old Yuletide.

    The Michael Tilson Thomas recording of Mahler's 4th has been criticized for being overly subtle and fussy, but I hear a welcome wealth of melodic detail in this reading, particularly in the theme-packed first movement.

    Regards,

    Istvan

  15. #105
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    Now Mahler's 4th has yet to really grab me... so I guess I must give it another listen. The BBC Music magazine rates the Tilson-Thomas recording (and the entire cycle) quite highly... but in thinking of finally getting around to purchasing an entire cycle (I have individual recordings of everything) I'm looking at the acclaimed Bernstein and the Chailly. I'd also like to give a few of the Boulez recordings a listen.
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