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The classical music catch-all

post #1 of 45
Thread Starter 
So here's the thing, I really love a lot of classical music, but am by no means any kind of expert on the subject. I've grown up with my parents owning the odd cd and record I used to enjoy (went through a period of doing my homework to the 1812 Overture as a kid), had a grandmother live with us for a few years through my childhood who listened to nothing but classical fm radio and have often found myself listening to the same radio stations she did now as an older man. Seeing Uncle Walts Fantasia when it was rereleased to the cinemas made a big impression on me as a young'un as well. The life of a film buff developed a passion for orchestral scores for movies as well which fed into my appreciation of classical as well obviously.

Frankly, I don't know much about classical but have a vague idea of what I like.

Now, since I'm really one of the only people I know in my life who's keen on the classics, I thought maybe I'd start a bit of a catch-all classical thread here at chud to reach out to other fans here on the boards. Think of this thread as a chance to share some favourites of yours, ask questions about pieces or composers or make recommendations to people along the "if you like this you'll love that" variety.

A few favourites of mine: I have a weakness for the epic musical pieces (like the 1812 as mentioned above) and the liltingly beautiful ones that take me away. If I had to pick a favourite piece or symphony, I would probably have to say Gustav Holsts The Planets as it covers both those aspects I love beautifully. Thanks to Fantasia A Night On Bald Mountain is another massive favourite, and more generally I'd say I'm more a Beethoven man that a Mozart man.

So what are yours? Who would you recommend people get into around here? I've just gotten my hands on a crappy old paint splattered radio here at work that I've had on classics fm for the last few days and my mood has improved exponentially I must say - I'm typing this as Strauss's Blue Danube Waltz plays in the background for example, so thought I'd reach out and share the classical love and hopefully get some recommendations of other composers and pieces we can fall in love with or rediscover.
post #2 of 45
A lot of music of the sort you like turns up in ballet scores from the early part of the 20th century.

Stravinsky's The Firebird is a favorite of mine (I prefer the complete score, as opposed to the Suite, which excerpts about half of it). I'd also suggest a couple from Prokofiev: Cinderella and Romeo and Juliet, along with Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe and Bartok's The Miraculous Mandarin. Less well-known, but a more or less direct descendent to The Planets would be Vaughan Williams' Job: A Masque For Dancing.

A few other suggestions would include Respighi's The Pines of Rome and The Fountains of Rome, Debussy's La Mer, Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique, Grieg's Suite of Incidental Music from Peer Gynt, and Sibelius' Lemminkäinen Suite.

If you like what you hear, all of those composers are worth exploring more deeply.

ETA: this would be easier to think about if I weren't trying to watch a Clash concert on PBS right now. I'll probably have a few more suggestions tomorrow.
post #3 of 45
You'd probably also really like Mahler's Symphony of A Thousand which is one of the most vast and complex symphonies I've ever heard. It's not quite as bombastic as Tchaikovsky or Prokofiev but there's a sense of scale and power to it which is quite amazing.
post #4 of 45
I've been getting into lots of smaller works like quartets and trios recently, as opposed to the "big" stuff like symphony, ballet, and opera, specifically the shorter works by Gabriel Faure. He's a composer that not very many recognize these days, but I love his work so much. He's a late-nineteenth/early twentieth century fellow, but he's less apt to break from harmony as some other turn of the century Frenchmen, and he still manages to sound modern by dint of his own originality. In fact, his work really reminds me of much of Clint Mansell's work on The Fountain, very sparse at times and quite beautiful, albeit usually with less cello. My enthusiasm for Faure had also lead me into other stuff from that period that I really admire. Janacek is also a great composer of smaller works with big feelings.

Also a big lover of baroque-era stuff. Bach is, of course, great. Lately I've been listening to Gluck's Orfeo ed Eurydice almost nonstop.
post #5 of 45
No offense to Spike, but I'd suggest saving Mahler for a while, building towards him, as he represents the apex/conclusion of the sonata-based symphony form. You'll have a better appreciation of what he does after you get to know predecessors like Beethoven and Schubert.
post #6 of 45
The modern work that evokes the same sort of feeling I find in the best Romantic and Baroque pieces is John Adams' Violin Concerto. Saw Adams himself conduct it here in St. Paul and I seriously felt as though I were being transported during the performance. I recommend at least one serious listen of it to hardliners who insist only dead composers are worth paying attention to.

Recently I've been digging piano works, mostly by a lesser-known guy called Alkan. He was a virtuoso pianist himself, and his works are complicated enough to engage interest without becoming so complex as to court needless flourish. Far from essential, but a joy for me to listen to.

Nice idea for a thread.

Quote:
specifically the shorter works by Gabriel Faure.
His Requiem is one of my favorite choral works.
post #7 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by bendrix View Post
Recently I've been digging piano works, mostly by a lesser-known guy called Alkan. He was a virtuoso pianist himself, and his works are complicated enough to engage interest without becoming so complex as to court needless flourish. Far from essential, but a joy for me to listen to.
I heard Marc-Andre Hamelin play some Alkan and Sorabji a few years back and thought his interpretations colorless and boring. Do you have a recommendation for an Alkan recording that will knock my socks off?
post #8 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeb View Post
Stravinsky's The Firebird is a favorite of mine...[big list of really well orchestrated pieces snipped]...If you like what you hear, all of those composers are worth exploring more deeply.
Your list is pretty much what I'd have written if I hadn't been feeling lazy. I'd toss Rimsky Korsakov's Scheherezade on the pile, as well as Beethoven's sixth (the grandaddy of this style of music).

Quote:
Originally Posted by D.S. Randlett
Faure
Faure is special. The hyperion label released some fantastic Faure chamber recordings about a decade ago. The piano quintet is desert island material.
post #9 of 45
I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Alexander Nevsky's soundtrack among all the Profokiev suggestions.

The San Francisco Symphony has very high-quality recordings of excellent Mahler performances--No.5 is the one I recommend most highly--and I highly recommend getting into them when you get into Mahler.

If you want to build up your appreciation for the sonata as a form and/or knowledge of Germany's contribution to the classical tradition prior to Mahler, a great and cheap way to start would be to go for the "Bach Edition" box set at Amazon. It features recordings of the entirety of the latest accepted version of the BWV and they are played with period appropriate instruments. It gets you, essentially, a few gigabytes worth of Bach for about $100. Think of it as paying about $1 per awesome classical recording of Bach.
post #10 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Shade View Post
I heard Marc-Andre Hamelin play some Alkan and Sorabji a few years back and thought his interpretations colorless and boring. Do you have a recommendation for an Alkan recording that will knock my socks off?
The disc of Alkan's I've been listening to most, Les quatre ages, actually is Hamelin playing, so not sure if I'd recommend it to you if you were bored in the past. I have a few others at home I haven't listened to in a while. I'll get back to you when I find them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cuchulain View Post
The San Francisco Symphony has very high-quality recordings of excellent Mahler performances--No.5 is the one I recommend most highly--and I highly recommend getting into them when you get into Mahler.
I second this recommendation. Tislon was my entry point for Mahler--those discs and a perfomance of no. 3 by the Minnesota Orchestra broadcast live last year.
post #11 of 45
I don't know the composer that well, but I seem to recall Ronald Smith's Alkan on Phillips being the sort of "reference" recordings for a while (I believe he also did a more or less complete Alkan cycle for Arabesque?).

John Ogdon did a gorgeous recording of the "solo" Piano Concerto which I think is on EMI.
post #12 of 45
Also for people who live in or near major cities, I would recommend attending some concerts--many have community programs and discount subscriptions for students and groups--and going to the pre-concert talk. If you subscribe to a season at a major city's concerts with pre-concert talks, you can get a guaranteed seat of your choosing and what ammounts to a college course in classical music for about 100-400 dollars, depending on the section. Note: Your section assignment does not apply for most venues' pre-concert talks. That's "first come, first serve," which usually works in your favor if you have cheap or moderately priced seats.
post #13 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeb View Post
John Ogdon did a gorgeous recording of the "solo" Piano Concerto which I think is on EMI.
I've heard chunks of Ogden's Sorabji Opus Clavicabugaalinicum, and was very impressed, so I'll definitely check out his Alkan.
post #14 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cuchulain View Post
Also for people who live in or near major cities, I would recommend attending some concerts--many have community programs and discount subscriptions for students and groups--and going to the pre-concert talk. If you subscribe to a season at a major city's concerts with pre-concert talks, you can get a guaranteed seat of your choosing and what ammounts to a college course in classical music for about 100-400 dollars, depending on the section. Note: Your section assignment does not apply for most venues' pre-concert talks. That's "first come, first serve," which usually works in your favor if you have cheap or moderately priced seats.
I can't find it online, but in a recent issue of The New Yorker, Alex Ross (not the comic book artist; actually one of the best writers on classical music working today) had a piece about a club in New York that was presenting classical (chamber) music in a nightclub-type setting, and the prospect for that sort of approach helping to introduce the music to audiences not enamored of the static concert-hall experience.
post #15 of 45
In terms if Chopin the Idil Biret recordings are outstanding. Never could connect with Chopin until I heard those recordings. What's great is that they really showcase the precision and passion of the pieces.
post #16 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeb View Post
I can't find it online, but in a recent issue of The New Yorker, Alex Ross (not the comic book artist; actually one of the best writers on classical music working today) had a piece about a club in New York that was presenting classical (chamber) music in a nightclub-type setting, and the prospect for that sort of approach helping to introduce the music to audiences not enamored of the static concert-hall experience.
Ross has been harping on the concert-hall experience for a long time. I don't go to orchestral concerts anymore. They're too expensive and too stuffy. At the very least folks shouldn't be hissed at for clapping between movements.
post #17 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Shade View Post
Ross has been harping on the concert-hall experience for a long time. I don't go to orchestral concerts anymore. They're too expensive and too stuffy. At the very least folks shouldn't be hissed at for clapping between movements.
The East Coast concert experience is that bad? In LA and SF, the dress is usually very casual, outside of black tie events, and people only clamp down on the noise from the audience during recordings, which is understandable.
post #18 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cuchulain View Post
The East Coast concert experience is that bad? In LA and SF, the dress is usually very casual, outside of black tie events, and people only clamp down on the noise from the audience during recordings, which is understandable.
It can get pretty bad. From Ross' piece:

Quote:
I cough; a thin man, reading a dog-eared score, glares at me. When the movement is about a minute from ending, an ancient woman creeps slowly up the aisle, a look of enormous dissatisfaction on her face, followed at a few paces by a blank-faced husband. Finally, three grand chords to finish, which the composer obviously intended to set off a roar of applause. I start to clap, but the man with the score glares again. One does not applaud in the midst of greatly great great music, even if the composer wants one to! Coughing, squirming, whispering, the crowd visibly suppresses its urge to express pleasure. It’s like mass anal retention. The slow tread of the Funeral March, or Marcia funebre, as everyone insists on calling it, begins. I start to feel that my newfound respect for the music is dragging along behind the hearse.
There's way too much solemnity at these events. And way too many rich, snobby, old folks (bless their souls). And prepare to be treated like a leper for inquiring about rush tickets at the boxoffice.
post #19 of 45
Rather than a long comment, I'm just going to list my favorites:

Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27: III Adagio by Rachmaninov (conducted by Mardjani)

This is one of the best late Romantic pieces, I think. If you like Debussy and Berlioz, this symphony (and particularly this movement) is for you. Lush, haunting, and dare I say, cinematic. It's breathtakingly beautiful and visual, bottom-heavy and lightheaded simultaneously. Some moments are low and longing, others sweet and assured. 15 minutes of bliss.

Bolero by Ravel (conducted by Mardjani)

A staple. Here the trick is to find an arrangement that respects the slow, steady build of the piece, rather than one that marches through it at high volume. It should sound deeply erotic, I think.

Symphony No. 6 in A Minor by Mahler

I actually found this one through Velvet Goldmine (when Mandy discovers that Brian and Curt have abandoned the tour and hotel for some private sexy time). Some of it is bombastic, but the 3rd movement is lovely and fascinating.

I also highly recommend Stokowski's orchestral transcriptions of Bach's organ pieces. Grand and intricate. Bach is like the stained-glass window of music.

Finally, Rachmaninov's Vespers. The most haunting music I've ever heard. And "Rejoice O Virgin," Op. 37 of the Vespers (particularly that recorded by the Estonian Philharmonic) will transform you. The most heartbreaking, soul-wrenching piece of music I've ever heard. Just devastating.
post #20 of 45
This is beautiful.

This is fun.
post #21 of 45
Misirlou as a string quartet is incredible.
post #22 of 45
I know! Isn't that great? I love the bit where they slow it down in the middle and make it heart-breakingly beautiful before shredding it again. I love Quatuor Ebene.
post #23 of 45
A whole metric assload of free and legal classical music downloads, courtesy of the European Archive. Poorly cataloged but there's no need to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Free downloads of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos.

Free downloads of Bach's Organ music.

Enjoy, gentlemen.
post #24 of 45
Very cool-- thanks!

When I first saw the link, I expected some of the no-name Eastern European musicians that show up on the various low-budget labels (some of which are actually quite good), so I was very surprised to see Casals, Furtwangler, Toscanini, Krips, and a few others (I guess the older mono stuff has moved into "public domain"). It's also nice that they (mostly) give you a lot of format choices (Furtwangler's Schubert, though, for some reason, is among the selections available only in .wav format).

Starting off with the Kreutzer stuff, as it's least familiar to me.
post #25 of 45
Regarding quality, I've found that even in classical recordings with a lesser pedigree, the quality remains consistently good at least. The stricter rules and the more regimented training classical musicians have means that the gap between the merely OK and the exceptional is less pronounced than in other genres. It still exists but the difference between classical music's Nickelback and Pearl Jam isn't as abysmal.
post #26 of 45
Stelios' metric assload link is not available in my jursidiction, apparently. Boo! (to the caprice of fate, not to Stelios)

Anyway, here's a great concert featuring members of Sigur Ros and Wordless music (among others). Great, beautiful stuff. The show is called "Credo in Credo," which means something like "I Believe in I Believe," so that should give an impression of the thematic thrust of the event.
post #27 of 45
Rain Dog if you're into the 1812 I'd suggest a further foray into Tchaikovsky, namely the 5th and 6th symphonies. And if you like that, all the epic romantic works are going to be a pretty good place to live for awhile. Dvorak 7th, 8th, and 9th, Rimsky-Korsakov, Brahms' symphonies, Beethoven 6-9, Shostakovich's 5th. Can't go wrong with Wagner in terms of epic romance.

The minor serenades of the great composers are also a good place for symphonic music in somewhat of a different key. Dvorak and Strauss in particular have some great stuff for strings and winds.

And, don't clap between movements.
post #28 of 45
This is one of my favorite pieces from one of greats of the Romantic Age: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ibd1-...eature=related

Also can't go wrong with this masterpiece being led by one of the great maestros of the last century: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6K_IuBsRM4
post #29 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCynic View Post
Rain Dog if you're into the 1812 I'd suggest a further foray into Tchaikovsky, namely the 5th and 6th symphonies. And if you like that, all the epic romantic works are going to be a pretty good place to live for awhile. Dvorak 7th, 8th, and 9th, Rimsky-Korsakov, Brahms' symphonies, Beethoven 6-9, Shostakovich's 5th. Can't go wrong with Wagner in terms of epic romance.

The minor serenades of the great composers are also a good place for symphonic music in somewhat of a different key. Dvorak and Strauss in particular have some great stuff for strings and winds.

And, don't clap between movements.
Contemporary audiences did, though.
post #30 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeb View Post


Contemporary audiences did, though.


This is the worst part of classical concerts. There are these parts written in to certain symphonies the feel almost incomplete these days because people aren't going wild and clapping and hollering. Instead it's a bunch of coughing old people. Opera shows are a little better though, as those clappy bits tend to be written into the ends of certain scenes and acts, which is what the end of a movement is, really, the end of a scene.

post #31 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by D.S. Randlett View Post




This is the worst part of classical concerts. There are these parts written in to certain symphonies the feel almost incomplete these days because people aren't going wild and clapping and hollering. Instead it's a bunch of coughing old people. Opera shows are a little better though, as those clappy bits tend to be written into the ends of certain scenes and acts, which is what the end of a movement is, really, the end of a scene.



You'd need to educate the audiences all over again for this not to suck, though. Or the conductor would actually have to turn around and guide the audience too, the way it happens in the New Year's concert in Vienna during Radetzky March.  

post #32 of 45

Thread necromancy!

 

If there are any Wagnerians in the house, they should know that PBS is going to be running live broadcasts of all of the Met's "The Ring" production next week starting on Sep. 11 running through the 14th. An opera a night, basically.

post #33 of 45
It seems that this thread hasn't seen action in quite a while.

I'm a big classical music guy. I travel up to Lincoln Center two or three times a year to attend Metropolitan Opera performances (in the past year, I caught both LULU and MADAMA BUTTERFLY, and I'm planning on catching JENUFA, RUSALKA, and SALOME next season).

I enjoy catching orchestra performances as well. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is my favorite of the American orchestras; their sound is exceptional.

One lesser-known piece I've always wanted to hear performed live is Samuel Barber's "Medea's Dance of Vengeance." I don't know why this hasn't been used in a movie yet.
post #34 of 45
Given a choice between making a thread and raising it from the dead, I'll always choose the irresponsible option.

I've been deliberately building a classical collection over the last 18 months. I'm far from complete, even though I've built it around a fairly basic rubric. The pleasure it's given me has far exceeded my expectations. Like learning Latin or Ancient Greek, it resembles mainlining an entire civilisation. A dead one, perhaps? The corpse continues to twitch but maybe we are at the point of a fixed canon.

Anyone else still around open to the sound of vibrating sopranos, or slashing strings?

For a taster, these were my post-video delights



post #35 of 45
You have my sword, sir.

I recently watched this excellent recording of IL TRITTICO. All three of the operas are extraordinarily well-cast and staged.

The first opera of the trio, IL TABARRO, is a wholly modern achievement, musically and dramatically. I don't know that the medium has evolved much in the century that has passed since Puccini wrote it.
post #36 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by jhp1608 View Post

Given a choice between making a thread and raising it from the dead, I'll always choose the irresponsible option.

I've been deliberately building a classical collection over the last 18 months. I'm far from complete, even though I've built it around a fairly basic rubric. The pleasure it's given me has far exceeded my expectations. Like learning Latin or Ancient Greek, it resembles mainlining an entire civilisation. A dead one, perhaps? The corpse continues to twitch but maybe we are at the point of a fixed canon.

Anyone else still around open to the sound of vibrating sopranos, or slashing strings?

For a taster, these were my post-video delights



 

What one may call dead, others call a cornerstone. 

post #37 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Agentsands77 View Post

You have my sword, sir.

I recently watched this excellent recording of IL TRITTICO. All three of the operas are extraordinarily well-cast and staged.

The first opera of the trio, IL TABARRO, is a wholly modern achievement, musically and dramatically. I don't know that the medium has evolved much in the century that has passed since Puccini wrote it.

I'll add that to the list!

I've been taking a fairly systematic approach to learning about classical music, using an old Gramophone list as a guide, and focusing on a few pieces a month to select a library recording but also to immerse myself in them from a listening perspective. I've engaged with most of the major symphonies up to Shostakovich, and have a pretty decent collection ripped to my server now. I decided to change up a bit and focus on opera, although I've only just started. It's Orfeo and Poppea (the final aria is astonishing) this month, although I have a few recordings already, hence the Rossini and Wagner fandango last night.

Going through this process has been an absolute pleasure. Although I'm only dipping my toe in the water in terms of musical understanding, even just getting a working grasp of how symphonic music evolved from the early classical age to the twentieth century has been fascinating. As has realising just how much (rightly) feted film music has been inspired by what came before.

I'm also lucky to be close enough to London to be able to fit in a few live experiences a year. In terms of resident orchestras, the king of the hill is the London Symphony at the Barbican, which Rattle is about to take over, and on a rung down there are the Philharmonia and London Philharmonic at the Festival Hall, and the Royal Philharmonic at Cadogan Hall. The latter bands are pretty good in their own right, and often attract pretty decent guest conductors. I went to hear Sibelius' first and second symphonies by the Philharmonia last year, and they got Osmo Vanska to conduct, who is pretty much the top Sibelian around at the moment. Argerich, Mutter and Perahia are also around shortly.

I had my first opera experience the year before last. Saw La Traviata and Figaro at the Royal Opera House. Extraordinary venue and wonderful musicianship and showmanship. It's the expensive end of the hobby for sure, but it was worth every penny.
Quote:
Originally Posted by stelios View Post

What one may call dead, others call a cornerstone. 

Absolutely - and I'd say the same about Latin and Greek, and the literature originally written in them. I was more making a short handed comment that I wonder whether it is still a living art form in terms of new composition, or whether, arguably like jazz, what constitutes "classical music" has hardened into a fixed canon.
Edited by jhp1608 - 1/14/17 at 6:55am
post #38 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by jhp1608 View Post

I've been taking a fairly systematic approach to learning about classical music, using an old Gramophone list as a guide, and focusing on a few pieces a month to select a library recording but also to immerse myself in them from a listening perspective. I've engaged with most of the major symphonies up to Shostakovich, and have a pretty decent collection ripped to my server now.
Make sure you have the Haitink/ Concertgebouw Orchestra recording of Shosty 5. It has never been bettered.

The Bernstein recording is all wrong.
post #39 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by jhp1608 View Post

I was more making a short handed comment that I wonder whether it is still a living art form in terms of new composition, or whether, arguably like jazz, what constitutes "classical music" has hardened into a fixed canon.
It's hard to say. There are new, notable operas being produced, but all you have to do is go to the opera and look out over the sea of gray-haired patrons to know that the medium is (tragically) on life support.

Even film music, once the refuge of young composers, no longer offers the opportunities it once did, and you rarely see noteworthy classical composers working on films anymore.

So, yes, I'd say we're approaching a fixed canon, though the latter half of the 20th century still presents a lot of room for debate and discovery.
post #40 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Agentsands77 View Post


Make sure you have the Haitink/ Concertgebouw Orchestra recording of Shosty 5. It has never been bettered.

The Bernstein recording is all wrong.


I actually picked up the Barshai set on Brilliant. It was during a period where I was feeling a little impatient and couldn't muster the enthusiasm to work through all fifteen individually. 

 

Bernstein is a funny one. On the one hand, I really like the fact that he always provides a recognisable interpretation of a piece. I find there is a time and a place for the way he takes things to extremes. I also think he was a really valuable person to have around in terms of his desire to educate and popularise, especially amongst children. However, yes, there are some recordings of his that are very hard to get comfortable with. I find his latter Beethoven set much harder work than the earlier recordings. In fact, in general I've found his stuff with the NY Phil to be infinitely more engaging and his interpretations still very much his own, but not as self-indulgent.


Edited by jhp1608 - 1/14/17 at 6:59am
post #41 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Agentsands77 View Post


It's hard to say. There are new, notable operas being produced, but all you have to do is go to the opera and look out over the sea of gray-haired patrons to know that the medium is (tragically) on life support.

Even film music, once the refuge of young composers, no longer offers the opportunities it once did, and you rarely see noteworthy classical composers working on films anymore.

So, yes, I'd say we're approaching a fixed canon, though the latter half of the 20th century still presents a lot of room for debate and discovery.

 

Interestingly in London I think the concert venues and the opera have had some success in broadening the demographic. In particular the LSO has a second venue at St Luke's church which it uses for a lot of outreach aimed at people whose knowledge of classical music is more limited and also things aimed at kids. It's pretty popular. Also I notice there are a lot of younger concertgoers at the Festival Hall - tickets tend not to be too expensive and the auditorium, although far from the last word acoustically, offers a good view from a lot of seats. They also mix in more populist concerts with the higher brow stuff - I took the older boy to a night of James Bond themes, and they do other nights dedicated to pop cultural composers like Williams or a concert of the Lord of the Rings soundtrack.

 

The opera is less of a broad church, and the prohibitive cost does make more of a difference in terms of bringing a wider social and age spectrum, but even there the two times I've been to the ROH there have been a decent number of people under the age of, say, fifty. Which is young in classical terms. The English National Opera should, in theory, be even more accessible, both in terms of its founding purpose, ticketing prices and the fact all the operas are sung in English. But it is struggling mainly because amongst a declining audience, those who want to go to see opera want to see it in its original language. 

 

Glyndebourne is always sold out, although a lot of attendees are there on the corporate shilling, and the Proms is obviously massive. There are probably about eight or nine material music festivals around the country from spring to summer, and they remain relatively popular although fairly small scale when compared to the big pop and rock festivals.

 

I bought some things by Howard Goodall and Howard Shore recently. The latter has a new album of non-film related music. I can't any of it particularly moved me, or was massively inspiring. I'm quite a fan of minimalism and the more mystical end like Part and Gorecki.

post #42 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by jhp1608 View Post

I bought some things by Howard Goodall and Howard Shore recently. The latter has a new album of non-film related music. I can't any of it particularly moved me, or was massively inspiring.
I'm not overly enthusiastic about either composer.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jhp1608 View Post

I'm quite a fan of minimalism and the more mystical end like Part and Gorecki.
Both are wonderful composers.

I love John Adams, who may be the most popular and widely-celebrated of living classical composers.

In truth, though, my heart belongs to those who exist on the border of the Romantic era and that of the 20th century. Y'know, Rachmaninoff and Puccini and R. Strauss, which all bled into the musical legacy of folks like Berg and Shostakovich and film composers like Bernard Herrmann (who really should be more widely-performed in concert form). Dramatic and rich and intoxicating.

I balance that out with unflinching devotion to J.S. Bach, who is, I think inarguably, the greatest musical genius of the classical tradition.
post #43 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Agentsands77 View Post


I'm not overly enthusiastic about either composer.
Both are wonderful composers.

I love John Adams, who may be the most popular and widely-celebrated of living classical composers.

In truth, though, my heart belongs to those who exist on the border of the Romantic era and that of the 20th century. Y'know, Rachmaninoff and Puccini and R. Strauss, which all bled into the musical legacy of folks like Berg and Shostakovich and film composers like Bernard Herrmann (who really should be more widely-performed in concert form). Dramatic and rich and intoxicating.

I balance that out with unflinching devotion to J.S. Bach, who is, I think inarguably, the greatest musical genius of the classical tradition.


I really like some of the motifs in Shore's Lord of the Rings scores, and it is improving a bit on each listen, but it's atmosphere without much else going on. Goodall did nothing for me. 

 

I've not yet formed a strong preference on era, as I'm doing a fairly shallow trawl in the sense of covering quite a lot in a short space of time. I am finding the strictly classical material exemplified, say, by Haydn and Mozart harder to get into than either the Baroque period, or Romantic or 20C symphonies. I'll exclude opera from that - I'm a huge fan of the Mozart/del Ponte operas and Rossini, all the way through to Norma and so forth, although bel canto doesn't line up perfectly with the rough classical/romantic divide.

 

Medieval polyphony will always have a place thanks to umpteen Sunday evenings listening to the college choir during Evensong. Byrd's masses, Davy's Stabat Mater, Tye's ​Omni gentes plaudits manibus and Taverner's Missa Gloria Tibi Trinitas are particular favourites. Strauss I don't know very well yet, and my Rachmaninoff is pretty limited to the second symphony and the second piano concerto, which is to say I know the famous tunes! 

 

To be frank, if I were to do a list of favourite pieces it would cover a ridiculously expansive period. There are things I really, really like from each era, although to be fair as a neophyte I'm still engaged primarily by melody. 

 

I'm currently spending a lot of time listening to La Traviata to decide on a library recording. The MYTO remastering of the Callas 1958 Lisbon performance is astonishing. I always assumed I wouldn't purchase "vintage" versions on the basis that I don't do well with reedy sound, but this is an exceptional remastering. I also found an outfit called Prestige Recordings run by an ex-BBC engineer who cuts CDs to order of the remastering he has done of out of copyright stuff. The problem is that you can't preview them anywhere, so you're reliant on reviews to be convinced.

 

Anyway, I'm torn between Callas and the Cortrubas/Domingo/Kleiber recording, since even though Sutherland is probably a slightly less wobbly singer, I have a lot of Pavarotti in Puccini and not much Domingo, and Carlos is my jam. Callas, though. It's trite to say, but wow. There's a lot of hype and melodrama surrounding her, but get the right recording and you really can see what the fuss was about. Shame her voice was weakening at the beginning of the stereo era so you're so dependant on fabulous remastering to get a listenable sound. 

post #44 of 45
I may have to seek this recording out.

As it stands, I'm not a big Callas fan.
post #45 of 45

So great.
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