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The Classical Music Recommendation Thread

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6 hours ago, Steve McQueen said:

Have been listening to Carl Vine lately.  

His 5th String Quartet is quite excellent.  Mature writing, a full realization of ideas he had been exploring in his other quartets.  Some very interesting harmonies to start things off in the 1st movement.  Remarkable use of harmonics throughout.  Absolutely gorgeous 2nd movement, and a surprisingly lively dance based 3rd.  Pleasure to listen to.

 

 

I love this composer!  Not so familiar with his chamber works but own a box set of his symphonies.  I quite like anything else I've heard of his.  Lots of drama and energy.  He's a great neo-romantic.  Thanks for posting this. 

 

Also check out Sean O'boyle.  River Symphony and Didgeridoo concerto are quite exciting reminding me of Ralph Vaughan Williams' Sea Symphony.

 

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One of my favorite deep cut Copland pieces is "An Immorality," a song for chorus and piano.

 

It's in that great mid-1920s Copland sound of being slightly jazzy and dissonant, very syncopated.  One of his secret best melodies.

 

The text is an Ezra Pound poem.

 

 

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Generally, if we're talking British composers, I consider myself more of a Britten man, the Interludes from Peter Grimes and the Spring Symphony especially, but I do find myself drawn to the straightforward emotions of Elgar at times (which I don't mean as a criticism, he's just less ambiguous than someone like Britten).

 

But yeah, all those recordings in that boxset are available streaming so I can just recreate it as a playlist ;) 

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8 minutes ago, Disco Stu said:

Generally, if we're talking British composers, I consider myself more of a Britten man, the Interludes from Peter Grimes and the Spring Symphony especially, but I do find myself drawn to the straightforward emotions of Elgar at times (which I don't mean as a criticism, he's just less ambiguous than someone like Britten).

 

Then you should check out EMI's 37 CD Britten box! :)

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I went to the BBC Proms on Friday for a concert of music by Parry, Holst and Vaughan Williams performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Martyn Brabbins.  I was truly captivated by Ralph Vaughan Williams's third 'Pastoral' symphony which ended the concert.  Vaughan Williams served as an ambulance driver during the First World War and the symphony was intended as an elegy to the friends he lost in that terrible conflict rather than as a paean to the English countryside, as one might expect from the title.

 

Fortunately the concert was also broadcast and selections are now available on YouTube for the time being.  The symphony includes an off-stage natural trumpet [listen around 13:55] and a soprano [listen around 25:00] which both sounded amazing at the Royal Albert Hall, as they hide the soloists high up at the back of the gallery in one of the arches behind the organ.  Do yourselves a favour and watch this.

 

 

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Aside from the Venusberg music, the arrival of the Guests at the Wartburg Hall is my favourite musical interlude from Tannhauser. I love how each little musical phrase has its own distinct personality, as if describing each of the various characters coming to watch the festival.

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Strauss' "Die Frau Ohne Schatten" (Woman without a Shadow) may not be for everyone, with its hyper-dense orchestration and thick counterpoint...but the Emperor's aria from Act Two, Scene Two (1:15:12 - 1:28:28), has no business being as good as it is. It's Strauss at his finest.

 

(Btw, anyone else hear the similarity between this and the Droid Invasion from TPM? I'm mainly thinking about the D->C# appogiatura, and the incessant upward arpeggios in both (in the above video you can hear the arpeggio at 1:15:46, a recurring motif throughout the opera) .)

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3 hours ago, Loert said:

Strauss' "Die Frau Ohne Schatten" (Woman without a Shadow) may not be for everyone

 

 

Haven't listened to the clip yet, but as a huge admirer of the Strauss/Hoffmansthal pairing, it pains me that I still haven't heard a single note from this opera. I would've picked it up on CD long ago, but apparently it has a pretty troubled production history and every available recording has at least one shortcoming (more or less excessive cuts, or a problematic cast). Any pointers?

 

They're bringing it back to the Vienna State Opera next year, with Thielemann and a cast that includes Stephen Gould, Camilla Nylund and the fantastic Nina Stemma, so I must not miss that.

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2 hours ago, Marian Schedenig said:

Haven't listened to the clip yet, but as a huge admirer of the Strauss/Hoffmansthal pairing, it pains me that I still haven't heard a single note from this opera. I would've picked it up on CD long ago, but apparently it has a pretty troubled production history and every available recording has at least one shortcoming (more or less excessive cuts, or a problematic cast). Any pointers?

 

My first encounter with FROSCH was with the live Bohm 1977 recording which, despite terrific orchestral playing, suffers from the cuts that you mention. Many people swear by the Bohm 1955, mainly for the excellent cast, though I've only listened to parts of it.

 

I am very happy with the Sawallisch recording I linked above - it is complete, cast is excellent to my ears, and the mixing of the orchestra is impressive, with almost every line Strauss wrote being audible, more so than Bohm 1977 for instance. I don't really know about Solti's studio recording...I have heard that the playing is boring.

 

Overall, I would go with the Sawallisch as a start, but I would also give the Bohm recordings a go as they both seem to have their particular qualities.

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37 minutes ago, Loert said:

Overall, I would go with the Sawallisch as a start, but I would also give the Bohm recordings a go as they both seem to have their particular qualities.

 

Seems like the Sawallisch is what I'll put on my list for now, thanks. I did have the 17 June 1964 Karajan recording on order at Amazon for half a year, for something like €5, but they never got it back in stock. Apparently this goes for up to €164.68 now. It supposedly hasn't just cuts but also other structural changes, and the cast is uneven, but it has Janowitz, so it remains on my must hear list.

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2 hours ago, Loert said:

 

My first encounter with FROSCH was with the live Bohm 1977 recording which, despite terrific orchestral playing, suffers from the cuts that you mention. Many people swear by the Bohm 1955, mainly for the excellent cast, though I've only listened to parts of it.

 

I am very happy with the Sawallisch recording I linked above - it is complete, cast is excellent to my ears, and the mixing of the orchestra is impressive, with almost every line Strauss wrote being audible, more so than Bohm 1977 for instance. I don't really know about Solti's studio recording...I have heard that the playing is boring.

 

Overall, I would go with the Sawallisch as a start, but I would also give the Bohm recordings a go as they both seem to have their particular qualities.

 

Solti's is the recording I have.  It's superb and intense.  Also get Elektra.  These two are my favorite Strauss operas.

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10 minutes ago, karelm said:

 

Solti's is the recording I have.  It's superb and intense.  Also get Elektra.  These two are my favorite Strauss operas.

 

If you say so! :) I LOVE Solti's Elektra. Easily one of my favorite classical recordings of all time.

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11 hours ago, karelm said:

Solti's is the recording I have.  It's superb and intense.  Also get Elektra.  These two are my favorite Strauss operas.

 

Solti is a bit hit an miss for me. I often like him, but I quite dislike what I've heard of his Wagner. But Solti's Elektra and Karajan's Salome are two definitive Strauss recordings.

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14 minutes ago, Richard said:

The early '60s Solti Ring, is the one that I always return to. I've heard the Barenboim, and, frankly, it can't cut it.

 

It is the one to which all others are compared to. One Ring to rule them all.

 

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2 hours ago, Richard said:

The early '60s Solti Ring, is the one that I always return to. I've heard the Barenboim, and, frankly, it can't cut it.

 

Okaay...I grant that much, but I would also argue that Barenboim is one of the best modern recordings.

 

Solti's Ring is for sure a masterpiece, particularly Das Rheingold, Siegfried, and Gotterdammerung. 😛

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6 hours ago, karelm said:

It is the one to which all others are compared to. One Ring to rule them all.

 

*One of those* which all others are compared to. Of the two big studio productions from its era, I'm happy with the Karajan version. From the bits and pieces I've heard of Solti's version, I dislike his bombastic jumpiness, making a big deal out of every minor moment in the score. I miss the long dramatic lines of Karajan (or also Böhm, who is more on Solti's energetic side). Apparently Solti's entire recording was made in small chunks that were then stitched together in post production.

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2 minutes ago, Marian Schedenig said:

Apparently Solti's entire recording was made in small chunks that were then stitched together in post production.

 

That's how most studio recordings of orchestral music are made, for better or worse.

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14 minutes ago, Jurassic Shark said:

That's how most studio recordings of orchestral music are made, for better or worse.

 

I understand that they're not going to record 2 hour stretches of music in one take. And that they may assemble final cues from multiple takes depending on what worked and what didn't in different spots (especially for live recordings, obviously). But as far as I understood, the point was that with Solti's Ring the planned cuts happened right in the middles of cues.

(That is, if I remember correctly what a friend told me - who is in fact a fan of the Solti recording)

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13 minutes ago, Marian Schedenig said:

But as far as I understood, the point was that with Solti's Ring the planned cuts happened right in the middles of cues.

 

Exactly that is a very common approach for studio recordings and has been so since the introduction of magnetic tape. I'd be surprised if Karajan the perfectionist didn't do it too.

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16 hours ago, Marian Schedenig said:

 

I understand that they're not going to record 2 hour stretches of music in one take. And that they may assemble final cues from multiple takes depending on what worked and what didn't in different spots (especially for live recordings, obviously). But as far as I understood, the point was that with Solti's Ring the planned cuts happened right in the middles of cues.

(That is, if I remember correctly what a friend told me - who is in fact a fan of the Solti recording)

 

Before you get too enamored with the idea of avoiding cuts and edits within a long flowing line, note that Karajan was famous for lip syncing his broadcasts with fake production.  This concert, for example, is a fake.  https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/206 

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It's staged, the audience is literally a poster of people.  The music heard live is in fact a studio recording to which they are acting with hence from multiple sessions stitched together.  It is still a wonderful lively performance but they were firmly aware this is an "act" as part of the product of the music making business.  There was some documentary, I forget which, that showed the behind the scenes of the recording with it being in stage with the fake audience being shown.  In the footage, they are out of focus or mostly off frame. 

 

To clarify my point, these are some of the great interpreters of this repertoire in recent history.  I agree with you Karajan has a more lyrical approach and Solti is more bombastic (which I think it is simply an interpretive approach that is equally respectable) and I don't mind bombast in Richard "bombast" Wagner.  It is THE white hot version.  There are very few recordings you have heard that are not edited.  Certainly all modern live recordings have edits. For example, the MTT/SFO Mahler cycle that won many grammys was a combination of each night's concert performance followed by a pickup session without an audience to fix any lingering issues.  It is an amalgamation and each is called a "live concert recording".  I have no problem with you preferring Karajan or Bohm's interpretation...just the reason you cite.

 

This is sort of like photoshopping of models.  The norm is that every beautiful picture has had the rough edges manipulated somehow.  It is still the person but sort of a hyper realistic idealized version of them because tools of the trade were used to cover most blemishes.

-----------------EDIT: GRRRR the website combined these two totally unrelated posts into a single thread.

This is a wonderful CD and I LOVED the Rosenman suite.  What an imaginative and fantastic concert.  I just love its range.  I need to explore Rosenman further.  I know him mostly from his sci fi scores to Fantastic Voyage, Star Trek, Meteor, Twilight Zone (I always loved and feared " And When the Sky Was Opened" music).

 

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20 hours ago, karelm said:

 

Before you get too enamored with the idea of avoiding cuts and edits within a long flowing line, note that Karajan was famous for lip syncing his broadcasts with fake production.

 

Oh, I know that his video recordings were completely staged and the parts of the orchestra often filmed separately. But I do assume that he approached the audio part, i.e. the actual music, as a cohesive whole as far as possible? There's a difference between recording multiple takes, perhaps even of particularly difficult passages, but largely performing a full piece, and actually cutting the whole thing into small chunks right from the start and recording those separately. At least that's what I've been told about the Solti Ring, and apparently the cast wasn't very happy with the approach either. But perhaps it's just a necessary byproduct of doing a studio recording of the Ring at all for the first time. I don't think I fully appreciate the logistic complexities, having grown up with recordings of big classical works.

 

20 hours ago, karelm said:

This is a wonderful CD and I LOVED the Rosenman suite.  What an imaginative and fantastic concert.  I just love its range.  I need to explore Rosenman further.  I know him mostly from his sci fi scores to Fantastic Voyage, Star Trek, Meteor, Twilight Zone (I always loved and feared " And When the Sky Was Opened" music).

 

I guess Adams must be really fond of Rosenman. It's not the first time he's recorded the Rebel Without a Cause[/url] suite.

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As usual, Adams' fanfaric chords absolutely sparkle:

 

 

(I'm sure this is also available on Spotify if the video isn't available in your country)

 

Haven't been able to get into the last 2 movements yet, though. First one, however ... hot damn it's good. As frenetic as it is lushly romantic.

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At nearly 50 minutes in duration, this is a piano quintet on a massive symphonic scale yet taught.  It is very beautiful and finely crafted.  The composer must have thought of this as a symphony for piano quintet. 

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2 hours ago, Disco Stu said:

I went to the first rehearsal of the Fall season for the community wind band I play trumpet in.  The highlight was playing an excerpted, transcripted section of the final movement of Dvorak's New World symphony.

 

BOY IS THAT FUN TO PLAY IF YOU'RE IN THE BRASS SECTION

 

All Dvorak you can play is good fun.  Even if you don't do much, it is so well written that you feel you are saying something important.  In contrast to Robert Schumann, where you play nonstop but can't even hear yourself with all the doubling.

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33 minutes ago, karelm said:

 

All Dvorak you can play is good fun.  Even if you don't do much, it is so well written that you feel you are saying something important.  In contrast to Robert Schumann, where you play nonstop but can't even hear yourself with all the doubling.

 

Yessss.  It's similar to how I feel about playing Copland (which I've only had the pleasure of once as part of an ensemble).  Composers who know how to write so that every player feels that they are contributing something vital to the themes.  Not like "Well they had to give those sections something to do"

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I have never heard Bernstein's symphonies, but greatly enjoyed No. 1 just now.  It was the first orchestral work composed by the 24 year old Bernstein in 1942.  It reminds me somewhat of Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem in its structure and high quality, tautness, expressive range, and dramatic effect.  It's a very high quality symphony by a young musician full of promise. 

 

Edit: Ok, I've just listened to No. 2 and also enjoyed it.  It is a unique hybrid concertante/symphonic works.  Definitely shows a developing artist with a voice.  Again, I think the model is Britten with his Symphony for cello and orchestra but with Bernstein it is piano.  I still find it very enjoyable.  With the Symphony No. 3, I feel we are in theater territory.  This was composed during West Side Story so might have explained the theatrics.  Hearing Bernstein's symphonies has definitely expanded my understanding of the composer.  Until now, my understanding of him was the excellent Candide overture, the fantastic West Side Story, (symphonic dances based on West Side Stories which I've performed in concert so experienced on a personal level) and his blazing score to On the Waterfront which I thought overshadowed the film.  He really is a unique composer.  Sort of a mix of Gershwin/Schoenberg/Copeland.  I wonder what might have been if he focused on composition instead of split his efforts to conducting/composing.  There is definitely a mid century American awareness present in his music.  It is influenced by William Schumann for example since they are both of the New England school.  But part of me also wonders if he is the heir to Mahler/Schoenberg as a philosophical religious composer who pushes the boundaries of genres and acceptable tonality. He was a fantastic conductor and wanted to be taken seriously as a composer and in Symphony No. 3, it seems this desire supersedes inspiration. 

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Some of you might enjoy this little glimpse into how music used to be demoed.  In this clip, Rachmaninoff is playing his last work, Symphonic Dances, to the conductor of the Phili Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy, who would lead the premiere.  The Rach hums and sings the themes and comments on details for the conductor as Ormandy follows in the score.  Apparently someone taped this even unbeknownst to those involved.

 

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