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Thread: Classical Listening

  1. #1066
    Registered User WyattGwyon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stlukesguild View Post
    Recently, I've been making some forays into the realm of the "classical era" beyond Haydn, Mozart, and early Beethoven. I absolutely loved Hoffmeister's clarinet quartets. The sonatas for flute and piano are quite enjoyable as well. Rococo bon-bons, certainly... but sometimes one is in the mood for bon-bons and Hoffmeister is quite masterful as providing what is desired.
    Have you tried C.P.E. Bach? He has some stunningly good and beautiful music. Among the most adventurous and expressive is a set of six symphonies for string orchestra (W. 182), the early, highly experimental "Prussian Sonatas" (keyboard) (W. 48), and a number of really good keyboard concertos. Among the best is one in D minor (W. 23) that is, IMO, more interesting than most of Mozart's. If you aren't impressed with the latter, he is probably not your cup of tea.

    There are also trio sonatas, lots of chamber music involving flute, and oodles of choral music.

  2. #1067
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    A magnificent performance of a marvelous body of music by a composer who really ought to be better known... or better appreciated. All too often it seems as if Gluck is simply the name of a historical personage recognized as instrumental in the transition of opera from Handel and the Baroque to Mozart. What is often ignored is that he achieved this as a result of some damn good music.

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

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhRbdKLorZ8

    Any fan of Mozart... or Handel... or opera in general... should seriously explore the works of Gluck.


    Currently I'm listening to another under-appreciated repertoire:



    Strauss was one of the greatest song-writers of the 20th century... perhaps the last great master of the traditional German lieder. Unfortunately his efforts in this genre... with the exception of the famous Last Four Songs are often forgotten... dwarfed by his more famous achievements in the realm of opera and orchestral music. These really should be heard more often:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grYxkrOI1do

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rClvREl_mvM
    Last edited by stlukesguild; 02-19-2012 at 10:14 PM.
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  3. #1068
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    Have you tried C.P.E. Bach? He has some stunningly good and beautiful music. Among the most adventurous and expressive is a set of six symphonies for string orchestra (W. 182), the early, highly experimental "Prussian Sonatas" (keyboard) (W. 48), and a number of really good keyboard concertos. Among the best is one in D minor (W. 23) that is, IMO, more interesting than most of Mozart's. If you aren't impressed with the latter, he is probably not your cup of tea.

    There are also trio sonatas, lots of chamber music involving flute, and oodles of choral music.


    Yes... I have a couple of C.P.E. Bach discs. I like J.C. (Johann Christian) Bach even more... but then that may be because I am such a fan of vocal music and J.C. Bach was an opera composer and wrote several lovely choral works as well. Among other "classical era" composers I have been listening to, I would include Boccherini, Cherubinui, Galuppi, and Paisiello:



    These composers are all slowly being "rediscovered"... rather like Handel 20 years ago... and Vivaldi at present. There are few top-notch performances of the work... but give it time.
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  4. #1069
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    I've recently been exploring Richard Strauss' lieder which, with the exception of the justly famous Four Last Songs, are unjustly known far less than they deserve. Listening to these absolutely exquisite orchestral songs beautifully realized by Diana Damrau I seriously doubt that there has been a single song writer within the classical realm to rival Strauss since. These songs throb with a lush sensuality and a late Romantic gushing forth of emotion that cannot help but move all but the most hardened cynic.

    I could have posted a few videos of Damrau performing selections from these lieder... but then I discovered that today is Renee Fleming birthday (a valentine's Day baby!) and she, after all, is the unrivaled Strauss performer of our time:

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

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHeI1LfujbY


    *****************************

    Returning to Strauss (did I ever leave?):



    As an avowed Straussian... one who would place Strauss just behind Mozart and Wagner in his personal pantheon of opera composers, and who holds the composer as the greatest of the 20th century... someone who has at least 8 or 9 versions of The Last Four Songs and more discs by the composer than by any other composer since Brahms... it is not common for me to come upon something/anything by the composer... outside of a minor work... that I am unfamiliar with.

    However I must admit that this disc represents an entire repertoire by Strauss of which I was fully unaware. The Deutsche Motette Op.62 of 1913 is a terrifyingly complex twenty part setting of a Friedrich Rückert poem. Lasting nearly nineteen minutes of hugely taxing unaccompanied writing - spanning a full four octave compass. It is quite likely that one of the main reasons for its relative neglect is that only the very finest and bravest choruses can tackle it.

    The two other longer works included here (clocking in at nearly 12 minutes each) are Der Abend and Hymne. The two works make up the Zwei Gesänge Op.34 of 1897. By date of composition they sit between Also Sprach Zarathustra Op.30 and Don Quixote Op.36. Der Abend is to a text by Schiller and the narrative follows the sun-god Phoebus as his fiery chariot sinks into the sea and he abandons himself to the arms of Tethys the sea-goddess. This text gives Strauss, master of the orchestral tone poem, a wide range of opportunity for word-painting from the gently lapping sea, the radiance of the setting sun to the ultimate calm of night. Hymne is another setting of a Friedrich Rückert poem... this one based upon the passage in Genesis where Jacob laments the loss of his favourite son Joseph sold to the Ishmaelites. Enshrined in the poem is the message of hope: “Sorrow no more." Both of the Zwei Gesänge are far less complex than the Deutsche Motette... but exceedingly beautiful.

    The last work included, Traumlicht Op.123 No.2. is another Rückert setting and reflects the wider problems Strauss was having at the time of its composition – 1935 – getting his opera Die schweigsame Frau staged due to the perceived ‘jewishness’ of the librettist Stephan Zweig. There is a direct linkage between Strauss’s current experience and the message of the poem – “let not the powers of darkness be victorious over the inner light”.

    Some critics have suggested that Accentus, a French choir, would do better in employing some deeper male voices ala German and Eastern European orchestras... and this criticism is not without merit. Accentus does not have a fully-filled out lower-register... still this is a matter of personal preference. Another criticism I have come across in reading up on this disc is that the text is not clear. Then again... I find this is not a major issue in a majority of choral music... especially when the music washes over you with such lush beauty.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLE6eefNiK8
    Last edited by stlukesguild; 02-15-2012 at 12:32 AM.
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  5. #1070
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    We're carrying over the Valentine's Day celebrations from yesterday. My wife had bought some marvelous T-bone steaks not knowing I had planned to take her out... so we had these tonight. I actually grilled these up on the barbecue grill even though its snowing out. We had these with baked potatoes, a salad, the chocolate-covered strawberries from our local chocolatier, Malley's, and some great beers: Samuel Smith Imperial Stout, Young's Double Chocolate Stout, a banana bread beer (it sounds weird but tastes great), and a bottle of Chimay.

    I'm enjoying these drinks all to the accompaniment of great American classics:





    And what a classic cover that Brubeck LP had!
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  6. #1071
    Registered User PoeticPassions's Avatar
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    Coltrane... that's the stuff.

    I just recently went to see a concert by my local Philharmonic Orchestra... it was quite wonderful. They had some Austrian pianist as well, though I did not like his choice.. he played Berg's Sonata op. 1... it just sounds too disharmonious and harsh to me... it kept me feeling a bit uneasy.
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  7. #1072
    Registered User Emil Miller's Avatar
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    Here's Yundi Li playing Chopin in probably the finest performance of this piece ever recorded. Rubinstein's take, also on Youtube, might match but doesn't surpass it.

    http://youtu.be/tvm2ZsRv3C8
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  8. #1073
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    I have fallen in love with Adagio in G minor, by Tomaso Albinoni & Remo Giazotto. It may be my favorite classical song ever. It's just so emotional and beautiful, and when the organ and strings really kick it in at 7:45, it almost makes me hurt it's so amazing.

    Too bad there isn't more from Giazotto.

  9. #1074
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    I'm giving a second spin to this one (or at least of disc one) and this time I got all the way through. Netania Davrath is quite special... but I think I prefer the elegance and fluidity of Veronique Gens. On the other hand... it could simply be that I was merely impatient to get at this disc which just arrived:



    I eventually plan to pick up an HIP or period recording of this work. The set I have my eye set on is that by William Christie... however when I looked at it the other day on Amazon I discovered that it was currently priced somewhere around $35 US. The John Eliot Gardiner set (my second HIP choice) was not much cheaper. But as I browsed through the recordings of The Seasons on Amazon I came upon the recording by Herbert von Karajan with Gundula Janowitz and Walter Berry made immediately after the legendary recording of The Creation... priced at a little over $3 US... and I immediately pounced. Good thing... as I see that currently the cheapest new recording is going for almost $80 US!! At the same time... this set, with Bohm was going for about $7 US... so I could not resist grabbing it as well. Years ago when I first was shopping for a Seasons, this set was nearly $30, the Karajan was out of print, and the Christie and Gardiner recordings hadn't even been made. I ended up going with Marriner, who was the cheapest... and beside, I loved his Haydn symphonies.

    This recording, however, is something else! The soloists are great. The orchestra has the grandeur and power that one would expect of Beethoven... and considering that this is one of Haydn's later works, perhaps this is not out of place. The choir, however... they are hair-raising. My first thought on hearing this was "Damn!!!"

    The Seasons may not be as great of a work as The Creation... but you would never know it from Bohm's recording. Bohm is at times criticized for his overly slow or labored approach that can undermine drive of a work. This, however, is as muscular as it gets: Haydn on steroids. Forget the effete puff in a white wig and his elegant Rococo manners... this is Haydn meets Beethoven in a bad mood... Haydn meets rock-n-roll! If Haydn had written a few more of these it might be his name, and not Mozart's, that we think of along side Bach and Beethoven.

    Highly recommended.
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  10. #1075
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    Okay, looking for recommendations again, because I just seem to wander aimlessly on Amazon. I'm looking for composers/works that are (having one or all of these traits) fast, dark, and energetic. Something along the lines of this, this, this, and this.

    It's not that I haven't found any artists like that (I've obviously found some), I'm just looking for more. And it's not like I limit myself to only classical that's within this vain . . . it's still my favorite, though.
    Last edited by Mutatis-Mutandis; 03-01-2012 at 12:39 AM.

  11. #1076
    Dance Magic Dance OrphanPip's Avatar
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    Ah some Bartok maybe.

    Have you listened to Berlioz's "Symphonie fantastique"?
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  12. #1077
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    Nope. I've heard some Bartok and liked it. I'll have to check out Berlioz.

  13. #1078
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    I picked up the third volume of the Busch Quartet performing Beethoven's quartets on the classical Dutton label. The quartet plays no.s 7 & 12. These recordings are one rare example in which a recording of this age (1942 and 1936) would be my first pick for this repertoire... if the whole of the quartets were available. As I noted earlier, chamber music... and especially string quartets (trios, quintets, etc...) are not among my favorite musical forms... but these recordings of Beethoven's quartets are surely awakening a greater degree of interest.

    **********

    Local boys (George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra) make good!



    Some marvelous playing by Fleisher... whose career was tragically cut short when he lost the use of his right hand, due to a condition that was eventually diagnosed as focal dystonia. Fleisher commenced performing and recording the left-handed repertoire as well as teaching while searching for a cure for his condition. In the early 21st century, Fleisher regained the use of his right hand through a combination of Rolfing and botox injections.

    This recording is most certainly deserving of being placed on CBS roster of "Great Performances". It showcases both Fleisher and Szell with the Cleveland Orchestra at their finest. Recently I have been listening to Fleisher/Szell's recordings of Beethoven's piano concertos...



    and their performance of Barhms' concertos...



    ...which have once again awakened a real interest in Brahms in spite of my sworn allegiance to Wagner and his heir, Richard Strauss.

    Highly recommended!
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  14. #1079
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    OK Mutatis... dark, heavy, bombastic classical music? Your focuse will be primarily upon Romanticism and Modernism (the 19th and 20th century):

    I've always loved this one myself:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZB3sd2BAxys

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goeOUTRy2es

    Originally written for solo piano, this orchestration by Leopold Stokowski is absolutely brilliant!

    While we're on Stokowski transcriptions, why not this transcription of Bach's organ masterpiece, the Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YjoE...eature=related

    Bartok:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNMO2...eature=related

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

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srz8p...eature=related

    Lutoslawski:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1-02...eature=related

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

    Wagner:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0PpTPvbr-4

    Zoltan Kodály:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXKz6...eature=related

    Karl Amadeus Hartmann:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2q6BHPGKbo&feature=fvsr

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nk5kUVtpmY

    Benjamin Britten:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXVqN...FDA3A1FB76B44F
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  15. #1080
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    The Prokofiev is actually one of my favorites. Love it.

    Liszt is one of those artists I've always wanted to get into. I find a cool little set of his rhapsodies for orchestra on Amazon that's going on my wish-list.

    The Bach was beautiful. A disk of Stokowski transcription also going on wish-list.

    I have a recording of Bartok's concerto, and it's a wierd piece, because as I listen to it, I'm thinking "I should be getting into this," but I never do, and I don't know why. I'll give it another try sometime. I love the piano concerto, though.

    Ditto for Lutoslawski.

    I have a Wagner compilation I've been meaning to return to, and then delve deeper into his music from there. There's just so much to listen to, he got a bit lost in the shuffle.

    As for the Kodály, I like it, but I've found that if any solo piece lasts longer than 6-7 minutes, I lose focus and get bored. It's just how I am. Still, I'll have to check out some of his orchestral stuff.

    I liked the Hartmann, but it was a bit avant-garde for my tastes (admittedly, I didn't listen to all of the violin concerto). Maybe as my tastes grow, I can get into him more. Still going on wish-list for later.

    Same goes for Britten as for Kodály, though that piece was the perfect length for my waning attention span. Even though the cello is my favorite of the orchestral instruments, that was a bit out there.

    Thanks as always for such a great list, StLukes! It'll keep me bust for a while.

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