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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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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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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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