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The Classical Music Recommendation Thread

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On 10/4/2018 at 7:59 AM, Disco Stu said:

Has anyone heard Jonathan Leshnoff's Clarinet Concerto?  I've been listening to the Marine Band recording off and on this year and I kind of think it's extraordinary.  One of my favorite classical pieces of the decade?

 

 

Well, I have now!

Quite good indeed.  Anything else you would recommend from Leshnoff?

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7 minutes ago, Steve McQueen said:

Well, I have now!

Quite good indeed.  Anything else you would recommend from Leshnoff?

 

I'm quite new to him myself!  I haven't had time to devote to any of his symphonies, but I really enjoy his percussion concerto:

 

 

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I think I did awhile back, will have to revisit it.

 

I also attended the premier of a Percussion Concerto written by Brian Del Signore, the principal percussionist of the Houston Symphony.  Wrote a review of the concert for one of my courses.  Here is what I said:

Spoiler

 

The concert got underway when conductor Brian Runnels and Houston symphony Principal Percussionist Brian Del Signore took the stage for the World Premiere of Mr. Del Signore’s Concerto for Percussion, with the composer as soloist.  The piece follows the traditional three movement, generally fast-slow-fast concerto form, though dynamics vary even within the movements.  It is a Post-Modern work, perhaps Post-Modern Romantic.  As Mr. Del Signore mentions in the program notes, he did not strive for extreme musical complexity, though some rhythmic and harmonic choices seemed quite interesting.  He did, however, attain a good deal of originality.   The orchestration for the piece is rather vast.  A full orchestral percussion section complements the extensive array of percussion at the soloist’s disposal, which includes gongs, to (what I believe to be) a rack of tom-toms, to chimes, and a marimba and vibraphone.  Both percussion sections included instruments I don’t think I’ve ever seen or even heard before.  Timpani and brass are also prominent in Del Signore’s score, which also includes parts for piano.

The first movement seemed to be in fluid sonata form.  It opened with a quite thunderous passage emphasizing a full variety of solo and orchestral percussion, timpani, and brass.  This segues to the more placid secondary and closing themes, an evolving, more melodic, but not quite lyrical, section where the soloist plays the marimba against a string backdrop.  A development section follows, generally quite loud, employing a full array of percussion, and going through several thematic and rhythmic ideas.  The recapitulation presents the ideas of the exposition in a somewhat truncated form, leading to a coda where a new idea emerges: Del Signore calls for cello bows to be played across the sides of the vibraphone bars, creating a very interesting ethereal sound.  This atmosphere does not last, however, and the movement comes to a powerful, resounding close with a final orchestral and percussive crescendo, which ends rather abruptly, which seemed to have left some of the younger members of the audience in awe.

For the second movement, Del Signore opens with an extended cadenza for marimba.   The tempo is generally slower, but it soon increases a bit as the orchestra comes back in for a rhythmically intense passage.  The energy of this portion fades away slightly as the movement goes on, being interspersed with allusions to the thematic material of the cadenza.

The third movement starts off with a full fff fanfaric theme and development.  While Del Signore mentions the presence of several allusions and quotations of other works in the program notes for the concerto, I was only able to detect this here, as the central fanfare motive of the third movement clearly owes a great deal to “The Grand Gate of Kiev” from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.  This segues into what I feel is the highlight of the composition, as the strings take center stage musically, playing an evolving, harmonically rich theme that brings to mind some of the colors and textures found in the string writing of Horner and Morricone.  Del Signore then adds the ethereal bowing technique for the vibraphone bars from the coda of the first movement to create a quite striking soundscape.  A brief chromatic cadenza is then played on the vibraphone, before, out of the blue as it were, a bag of ping-pong balls is randomly spilled over the instrument.  Then, there is a restatement of the passage for marimba and orchestra from the first movement, which builds back up to the third movement’s fanfaric opening theme.  To conclude the piece, Del Signore draws on material that sounds a great deal like the percussive batteries and brass statements that opened and concluded the first movement, if somewhat brighter, bringing things full circle and ensuring the piece ends with a quite literal bang.

Del Signore’s work and performance was quite entertaining.  The audience was vocally appreciative, giving him and the orchestra sustained applause.  Del Signore appeared quite in his element playing his music on his instruments.  There were some drawbacks, though.  Throughout the piece, but particularly in the first movement, there were long, awkward pauses in the music that felt quite abrupt and detached from the overall musical structure and texture and appeared almost as if they were written merely to give the soloist a chance to walk from one end of his rather sprawling percussion set up to the next.  Also, the brass seemed to overwhelm the other instruments at times, though this may well be a consequence of the hall’s acoustics.  Reservations notwithstanding, Del Signore’s work was still very enjoyable, and one which I would not mind hearing again.

 

 

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Sidenote: If all goes to plan, I should be attending two Richmond Symphony concerts this coming Spring that feature Copland on the program.  The first will be that classic (and great) repertoire-filler Billy the Kid Suite, but I'm most excited about seeing them perform the fantastic, and far less commonly performed, Music for the Theatre, his first Koussevitzky commission at age 24!.  I'm still hoping to one day be able to see the third symphony performed live, I kind of just have to wait for the Richmond Symphony to program it, being the only orchestra anywhere near me, which might never happen.

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32 minutes ago, TGP said:

Check out Corigliano's percussion concerto.  Here's a good masterclass he did on it.

 

 

 

That one's a whole beast of its own.

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I've been exploring Morricone's non-film music recently. I came across this interesting set of three pieces for children's choir, titled "Il silenzio, il gioco, la memoria" (= Silence, game, memory), based on three texts by the Italian musicologist Sergio Miceli (who was a friend of the great composer and wrote important books and essays on his works). I find the second piece, "Zum Beispiel" (the "game" part) particularly interesting. It starts at 7:18 and ends at 11:25. In the central section of that piece, the 25 boys forming the choir sing the same modal melody, but they must individually delay their entrances (by an amount fixed by the composer), creating a sort of 25-parts canon that achieves a nicely chaotic effect (that mimics the noise of a crowd of children playing and shouting outside, I guess). It's a good example of the kind of experimental (albeit tonal!) writing that Morricone applied to his most unconventional film music as well.

 

Enjoy (the audio file is not great, unfortunately):

 

 

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Episode, a very obscure Copland piece for solo organ from 1941.

 

It's an interesting little piece, I especially like it from 3:51 - end below.

 

Lovely melody that gets wonderfully disrupted with dissonant stabs at 4:42.

 

There's only one other recording to be found on Youtube and the organist takes the piece WAY too fast.  This one I linked sounds just right to my ears.

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I’ve had a few beers, the power’s still out, and  I’m listening to Copland’s Third loud enough for the neighbors to hear on my battery powered speakers.  The Oue/Minnesota Orchestra recording remains stunning.

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15 hours ago, Disco Stu said:

I’ve had a few beers, the power’s still out, and  I’m listening to Copland’s Third loud enough for the neighbors to hear on my battery powered speakers.  The Oue/Minnesota Orchestra recording remains stunning.

 

As John Adams might say, Copland's Third has a long shelf-life.

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Did you know there was an opera written about the Apollo 11 moon landing?  Unfortunately, as far as I know, there is no recording yet but I admire this composer and hope it is eventually recorded.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man_on_the_Moon_(opera)

 

For example take a listen to an excerpt from this cantata of his which I find thrilling: http://www.jonathandove.com/works/orchestra/hojoki/  Both works were composed the same year (2006) and I find the cantata thrilling and lyrical.  Interestingly, Dove's Moon opera is more about Buzz Aldrin.

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On 10/12/2018 at 4:55 AM, Loert said:

Something makes me think that JW takes a lot of inspiration from this piece:

 

 

Yeah, maybe from the orchestration of this piece. But I prefer JW🤷‍♂️

 

👻

On 10/18/2018 at 7:56 AM, karelm said:

Did you know there was an opera written about the Apollo 11 moon landing?  Unfortunately, as far as I know, there is no recording yet but I admire this composer and hope it is eventually recorded.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man_on_the_Moon_(opera)

 

For example take a listen to an excerpt from this cantata of his which I find thrilling: http://www.jonathandove.com/works/orchestra/hojoki/  Both works were composed the same year (2006) and I find the cantata thrilling and lyrical.  Interestingly, Dove's Moon opera is more about Buzz Aldrin.

I hear some Jupiter in the first few minutes of Man on the Moon. Interesting🤔🤗

 

👻

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Does anyone recognize whether this recording comes from a complete Les Sylphides album? Also, if anyone is knowledgeable: whose orchestration is this? I find it very similar to Glazunov's except for the removal of the brass at the beginning.

 

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:music: Beethoven's Egmont Overture to commemorate the '56 Revolution of Independence on this national holiday. The main radio office was the place the fight broke out, so for a few weeks broadcast came from a mobile truck, where they could only play a few records they found in the Parliament building - the Anthem, an operetta and the Egmont Overture, and mostly they played the latter because of its mood, so it has become inseparable with the events, often pops up in documentaries, too.

 

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This beautiful, crisp autumn morning I'm listening to Purcell's King Arthur, the Deller recording.

 

268x0w.jpg

 

 

Goodness gracious the passacaglia is perfect.  PERFECT!

 

(although this performance is a little fast for my taste, I couldn't find the Deller recording on Youtube which is much more appropriately plodding in tempo)

 

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1 hour ago, Holko said:

:music: Beethoven's Egmont Overture to commemorate the '56 Revolution of Independence on this national holiday. The main radio office was the place the fight broke out, so for a few weeks broadcast came from a mobile truck, where they could only play a few records they found in the Parliament building - the Anthem, an operetta and the Egmont Overture, and mostly they played the latter because of its mood, so it has become inseparable with the events, often pops up in documentaries, too.

 

The opening of this is one of the greatest things ever written.  I was in awe when I heard it for the first time.

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Some Nino Rota I listened to this morning.  Rather good to say the least.  Broadly neoclassical with a few more daring moments and some romanticism thrown in for good measure.

Rota does seem to create some interesting textures with the instrumentation.

 

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Any fans of Malcolm Arnold (1921-2006) here?  He's a very unique composer who is quite twisted but can also be traditional.  His 9 symphonies are substantial and deep works with few moments of levity yet simultaneously he showcases a great wit and sarcasm as in his aptly named "A Grand, Grand Overture" which is scored for a modern orchestra in addition to organ and 3 vacuum cleaners, 1 floor polisher, 4 rifles!  It actually reminds me of something that would be conducted by Victor Borge - great music disguised as comedy and way over the top.  The final moments sound like the conductor lost the ending of the piece and had to improvise. :)

 

 

His Concerto for Two Pianos reminds of Bernard Herrmann's Concerto Macabre.  They had much in common personality wise and were both straddling film music and concert music at the same time.  Arnold's "Fantasy on a Theme of John Field" reminds of me of the sweeping melodies of a Rachmaninoff concerto (that's high praise) and his final Symphony No. 9 is a dark and anguished send off like the final symphonies of Tchaikovsky, Mahler (No. 9 not 10), and Vaughan Williams.  Like all great symphonists, I don't recommend starting at the end but rather going in order as the composer takes you on a journey well worth exploring.  At times hopeful or wistful but there is a trajectory towards greater introspection and reflection.  Sadly he spent his last years with either dementia or schizophrenia.  His life is documented beautifully in Tony Palmer's film "Towards the Unknown Region" which is very much worth watching.  It was shot a year or two before his death and is a very well made film about a creative artists descent. 

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Greetings Jwfans.  I am looking to hire a well spoken classical fan to do some album notes for an upcoming album consisting of a piano concerto and an orchestral suite.  It was recorded at Abbey Road.  After reading through this thread I know many of you would be great choices. 

 

Please PM me. 

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This is an absolutely gorgeous album of modern music. The Cello Concerto has a wide range of emotion and is complex and deep and the final two works are absolutely gorgeous!  Highly recommended.  I can't find it on youtube but here it is on spotify.

 

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22 hours ago, karelm said:

This is an absolutely gorgeous album of modern music. The Cello Concerto has a wide range of emotion and is complex and deep and the final two works are absolutely gorgeous!  Highly recommended.  I can't find it on youtube but here it is on spotify.

 

Very engaging.  

Currently listening to his Viola Concerto

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On 10/5/2018 at 1:19 PM, Disco Stu said:

 

I'm quite new to him myself!  I haven't had time to devote to any of his symphonies, but I really enjoy his percussion concerto:

 

 

 

Leshnoff was one of my undergraduate music theory professors!

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20 minutes ago, Joe Brausam said:

 

Leshnoff was one of my undergraduate music theory professors!

 

Very cool!  He's one talented dude.

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