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Thread: My weekly batch of CDs

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    Senior Member Vesteralen's Avatar
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    Default My weekly batch of CDs

    I’m going to try a little experiment here, and I hope it doesn’t displease anybody too much. On another classical forum (a very, very quiet one) I got into the habit of posting a list of my weekly CDs. I select somewhere from 9 or 10 CDs from my collection to listen to repeatedly for one week. Listening can be done at work, in the car, at home (usually in the background) or at home on headphones. At any rate, I usually get to listen to each CD from 4 to 6 times in a week (with more or less concentration). This helps to get me familiar with some of the music I might otherwise listen to just once or twice in a year or two.

    Then, toward the end of each week, or at the beginning of the next, I post my reactions to what I heard – sometimes just a quick note, others more like a mini-review.

    I really do this more for my own benefit than anything else. It’s kind of like a diary, but I also welcome comments from others.

    The reason I don’t want to post this on the “Current Listening” thread is that most of what I see on that thread seems to me to be single listening posts. I would feel more comfortable posting there discs not on my weekly list, like ones I get out of the library and usually listen to once and then return.

    The first five discs in my weekly set are taken from various large collections or box sets I own. The next two are recently purchased discs I haven’t listened to before - one classical, one not. The next two are random choices from my collection – one classical, one not. Next week, I intend to add one opera disc to the weekly batch.

    Anyhow, that’s the plan. Unless I get overwhelming negative response (or banning from a moderator) to this idea, I will attempt to add a post later today on this week’s batch.
    Conor71, violadude and bumtz like this.

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    Senior Member kv466's Avatar
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    Okay, so...for a week...I'll prolly grab at least two Glenn Gould Beethoven sonata discs...one Mozart sonata disc by Glenn, of course...the Complete Beethoven Piano Concert (GGoc) and I'll call that one disc...hmmm, let's see...The Chopin Concerti, Earl Wild...Rachmaninov Concerti, Earl Wild...Against The Grain by Bad Religion...grab me Grateful Dead at Boston Music Hall in the summer of '74...maybe a Smiths album...definitely '...And Justice For All' by Metallica,...some Tomita...Tool...A Perfect Circle...and a hefty load of oldies and seventies R&B...just to start with

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    Quote Originally Posted by kv466 View Post
    Okay, so...for a week...I'll prolly grab at least two Glenn Gould Beethoven sonata discs...one Mozart sonata disc by Glenn, of course...the Complete Beethoven Piano Concert (GGoc) and I'll call that one disc...hmmm, let's see...The Chopin Concerti, Earl Wild...Rachmaninov Concerti, Earl Wild...Against The Grain by Bad Religion...grab me Grateful Dead at Boston Music Hall in the summer of '74...maybe a Smiths album...definitely '...And Justice For All' by Metallica,...some Tomita...Tool...A Perfect Circle...and a hefty load of oldies and seventies R&B...just to start with
    Sounds good to me kv...

    Of course, for this to work you have to listen to each of these 4 to 6 times in a week. Are you up for that?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vesteralen View Post
    Sounds good to me kv...

    Of course, for this to work you have to listen to each of these 4 to 6 times in a week. Are you up for that?
    Not really, I can always pop in a few more Dead shows and plenty more Gould and call it a week...not to mention, I don't exactly sit around all week and listen to tunes; not that I wouldn't like to!

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    Quote Originally Posted by kv466 View Post
    Not really, I can always pop in a few more Dead shows and plenty more Gould and call it a week...not to mention, I don't exactly sit around all week and listen to tunes; not that I wouldn't like to!
    Yeah..I guess not everybody has the option of having cds playing on their computer all day at work. Without that, there's no way I could do this.

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    07/17/2011 - 07/23/2011

    or, for international audiences 17/07/11 - 23/07/11

    Number One:



    Haydn: Symphonies 76, 77, 78 Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra, Adam Fischer

    As usual, I have no fault to find with either the conducting or the recording. Considering what I paid for this boxed set four or five years ago, I am more than pleased with the quality. Fischer seems to be one of those conductors who is content to let the music speak for itself (unlike, for example, Bernstein, who seems so heavy-handed in Haydn, as if he's trying to make him a romantic).

    I'm surprised I didn't react more favorably to the first movement of No. 76 since it's in the key of E flat, a key for which I seem to have a special affinity. The second movement, marked "Adagio, ma non troppo" was the real highlight for me, with an unexpected quicker tempo 'sturm und drang" style section about 3/4 of the way through.The "Menuet" is of the more pulsating kind that I generally like, though it didn't seem exceptionally interesting to me. The finale, though, was a lot of fun - the propelling kind of movement of which Haydn was the master.

    I don't have a lot to say about No. 77 in B flat. Another enjoyable finale, but the rest was kind of nondescript.

    No. 78 in c (minor) was my favorite of the three on this disc. Everything about it, from the "Vivace" first movement to the "Presto" finale was impressive. A bit more mature than the more famous "Farewell" symphony (also in a minor key - kind of rare for Haydn), perhaps, though not quite as memorable thematically.

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    07/17/2011 - 07/23/2011

    Number Two:



    Mozart: Symphonies 40 & 41 - Jaap Ter Linden / Mozart Akademie Amsterdam

    Another bargain disc (part of the Mozart Complete Edition from Brilliant Classics), but very enjoyable nonetheless. I'm hard pressed to find anything wrong with the performance or the sound. I suppose more sophisticated ears could probably find reasons to downplay the quality of the orchestra or something, but I'll take it nonetheless.

    Like Fischer, Linden seems content to let the music speak on its own terms. The result? For me to say that I almost enjoyed the 41st is something notable. (I still can't forgive my local orchestra for making a last minute scheduling change three years ago and substituting the 41st for my favorite Mozart symphony - No. 39. I've held a grudge against the 41st ever since. )

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    07/17/2011 - 07/23/2011

    Number three:



    Brahms Piano Quartet No. 2 - Han/Faust/Giuranna/Meunier

    This is a Brahms chamber music piece I don't think I've ever heard before this week. Much of it seems typical Brahms with regard to both the germs of the themes and the way he works them out. The first movement, however, I found a bit surprising thematically, though I'd be hard pressed to say exactly why. I need to have the time to due some really concentrated listening to this disc instead of just hearing it in the background at work. The recording seems fine.

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    07/17/2011 - 07/23/11

    Number Four:



    Mahler: Symphony No. 7 - Bernstein / New York Philharmonic (from the Bernstein Symphony Boxed Set - Sony Classical)

    Before this week, I was only familiar with the inner movements of this work from an old Vanguard Two-Fer "Mahler is Heavy" (so seventies). The outer movements are very colorful, to say the least. I have a hard time finding anything really substantial in this symphony, though, to my ears it does contain some of the most attractive symphonic music Mahler wrote. I'd rather to listen all five movements of this one than five minutes of No. 8.

    Bernstein is fiery and mercurial as I expected, but it's all good in this case. Excellent sound.

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    Well, I guess the show must go on..

    7/17/2011 - 7/23/2011

    Number Five:



    I'm probably going to catch some flack for this one, but... Hey, I've got a bunch of these. Normally I don't buy anthologies of this sort because I don't particularly like portions of works or just one movement of a work. But, the good part is, I do get some stuff I might not otherwise buy (like Delius, Delibes, Granados, i.e.), some of them are complete works, and I get a lot of stuff by British orchestras .

    Anyway, this one has a few outstanding tracks, including:

    The Praludium from Grieg's Holberg Suite
    Delius' On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring (Wordsworth/LSO)
    The Spring Concerto from Vivaldi's Four Seasons (Trevor Pinnock/English Consort)
    and Ma Vlast: Vltava (Ahronovitch/Vienna Symphony

    and a bunch of other stuff.

    Not bad for first waking up in the morning.

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    Though the lyrics of her songs are very clearly enunciated, I somehow never understand them until I read them in the booklet. I haven't read them all, so I can't say what I think of her poetry, per se. The ones I have read are quite artistic and even sometimes meaningful.

    The music ranges from individual and catchy ("Sailor and Widow"), to trite and cloying ("Right Now & Right Here). Also, her little-girl voice may not appeal to everyone. Overall, though, I like her as both a singer and composer. I'll be keeping this one in my collection for more intense listening down the road.

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    I didn't get to listen to this one with headphones this week, but only in the background. The orchestral parts were fine, and the singers seemed talented to me. But, I hate melisima (or at least, I haven't grown to like it yet). And, as unattractive to me as it is in the female voice, it's even less attractive in the lower-register male voice. One thumb down, I'm afraid.

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    I just wanted to add some observations on last week's discs to this thread:



    Haydn Symphonies 79-81 Fischer (Brilliant). Other than the fact that we have here another symphony in a minor key (#80), the only thing outstanding to me from this disc is the odd little allegretto tagged on to the slow movement of number 79. It was very unexpected, and musically about the most interesting thing in all three of these symphonies.



    Mozart: Piano Concerti #4, #14, #27 Han (Brilliant)

    I enjoyed the performances. #27 shares thematic material with the "Jupiter" symphony, and would probably generally be acknowledged to be the best of the three. But, my favorite of this bunch is #14 - playful and fun, neither lightweight nor heavy.



    Brahms - Piano Trio 2 / Clarinet Trio (Brilliant)

    This appears to have originally been issued on Vox back in the 1980s. I had heard both of these before, but never with a lot of concentration on my part. The Clarinet Trio is much like I remembered - reflective and genial, perhaps a little melancholy in parts. But, the real revelation here was the Piano Trio. I discovered not just one, but two of my favorite Brahms themes in this work - an absolutely beautiful variation in the slow movement, and a trio in the scherzo as full of melody as Brahms ever got. Wonderful music.

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    Saint-Saens Symphony No 3 / Schubert Symphony No 3 Bernstein/NYP

    I know this seems like an odd pairing, but the "Bernstein Symphony Box" is pretty much alphabetical, so what can you do?

    Actually, both performances on this disc were excellent, IMO. Nothing here is too individual or bizarre in conception - they would both be solid recommendations for the interested novice. (Although, I would never part with my old Klemperer vinyl of the Schubert.)



    Fanny Mendelssohn / Clara Schumann / Lili Boulanger / Germaine Tailleferre - JoAnn Faletta & Women's Philharmonic

    Pretty enjoyable music here. Fanny Mendelssohn's overture sounds a lot like something Felix would have composed on a slightly off day. Clara Schumann's Piano Concerto is pretty solid, with an especially appealing finale. Tailleferre's Harp Concertino is better than just run-of-the-mill 20th century concert music. And Boulanger's chamber music is also very listenable. The brass section of the Women's Philharmonic seemed to be a little less than outstanding in the Mendelssohn, but otherwise I found this to be a worthwhile addition to my collection.



    Aldebert - Plateau Tele

    This album has a number of more "rockish" tracks than the first one I purchased (L'Annee du Singe - with the fabulous song "Carpe Diem"). Unfortunately, for me, when he goes into rock mode he becomes more conventional and indistinguishable from other artists. It's still a good CD though, with plenty of tracks concentrating on what he does best - a rather unique form of acoustic cabaret. I don't know French and I looked for the translations for his songs, but I understand from people who do know the language that his songs have as much or more lyric appeal as they do musical appeal.

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    Okay, I had to include this one more from last week. Nornal IMP fare - mostly well done excerpts and short pieces either from or about Italy.

    However, I feel the need to rant a bit about the version of "Capriccio Italien" (conducted by Yuri Ahronovitch) that concludes this disc. It's the only version of this piece I have in my collection (not a big Tchaikovsky fan), and it's totally forgettable. I mean, he conducts it so slowly he sucks the life out of it.

    And, though I have mellowed over the years when it comes to pacing, and I've gotten to enjoy a little more breath (and breadth) than I used to, I feel the need to complain here as I would had I been visiting this site when I was listening to Bernstein's Haydn Symphonies. I get the idea sometimes that conductors target certain portions of works to play a little bit more slowly than usual (and sometimes that choice in itself can be quite legitimate), but, in order to justify the pace they want in that little portion, they feel the necessity to slow the whole piece down to balance it.

    The result? I can't think of a better way to say it than I did above - they suck the life out of it.

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