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Thread: Help a newbie starting out a collection

  1. #1
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    Thumbs up Help a newbie starting out a collection

    Hi guys,

    I humbly come to ask where one (myself) could find a comprehensive list of recordings to start building a classical collection. My parents used to listen on sunday when I was a kid but I only recently fell in love with classical as an adult (all it took was some good headphones, a tube amp, and SACD player). I am no connoisseur so I'm not sure what the best recordings are, best orchestras, conducters, labels, etc. I don't even think I'd be qualified to list more than the obvious when it comes to composers.

    Rather than spend alot of time and money learning these things the hard way I figured that this being the interenet there must be a good list somewhere that I can steal. Any suggestions?

    Thanks in advance

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    Quote Originally Posted by spartan View Post
    I am no connoisseur so I'm not sure what the best recordings are, best orchestras, conducters, labels, etc. I don't even think I'd be qualified to list more than the obvious when it comes to composers.
    First lessen is that there is no such thing as "Best recording", "best Orchestra", or "Best conductors". What I liked in one recording might not resognate with others, because we have different tastes.

    Quote Originally Posted by spartan View Post
    Hi guys,
    I humbly come to ask where one (myself) could find a comprehensive list of recordings to start building a classical collection.
    I hate to spoil you enthusiasm, but those "Comprehensive list" seldom lead you to anywhere. You end up buying a bunch of recordings and at the same time scratching your head as to why you spent money on them.

    A better approach, is to take is slow. buy one record at one time, sample some here, and sample some there. Try to find who YOUR composer is, and start there.

    Quote Originally Posted by spartan View Post
    I only recently fell in love with classical as an adult (all it took was some good headphones, a tube amp, and SACD player).
    There you go, you are already very much ahead than alot of people. Having a good system is a huge plus.

    Quote Originally Posted by spartan View Post
    Rather than spend alot of time and money learning these things the hard way I figured that this being the interenet there must be a good list somewhere that I can steal. Any suggestions?
    Thanks in advance
    I have to spoil your optimism once more. It's not possible, basically, I can't recommend something that I don't even know that you would like or not. It's like trying to guess what the other person is thinking, it's not possible.

    Plus, you have to "learning these things the hard way" anyways, you might want to "Cheat" now, but, if you genuinely like Classical music, you WILL learn it the hard way, and believe me, it's quite a satisfying experience.

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    Very well put, Gustav. There's really no need for all the members to join in (again), giving long lists of personal favorites and recommendations for new members. Start small, learn what you like and go from there. Before you know it, you'll have an entire library (or list) of you own!

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    However, although both Gustav and Rondo are quite correct, you
    might want to give the following website a try (it's a "basic repertoire" list, organized by era):

    Basic Repertoire
    Take a look at the Bandit's blog, Americana Avenue.

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    Welcome to TC, spartan.

    I agree with what the previous posters have stated, so I have nothing new to add, except to say that if you have access to a classical music radio station*, tune in and listen to as much as possible, and then you'll know what your likes and dislikes are. (That doesn't necessarily mean that, if you don't like composer X's music now, you won't like it forever.) There are many "Best of..." lists out there, but it is more or less a list of most popular pieces, and we can not say for sure that you'll like them all.

    *Thread with links to internet radio stations recommended by some of the members.
    Regards,
    Navneeth

    Want a piece of classical music identified? Post a link or upload a clip here. Someone might have an answer.


    A quick and gentle introduction to audio formats and compression

    2009: It's the International Year of Astronomy
    http://www.astronomy2009.org/

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    I agree with what others have said about going slowly and discovering what you like on your own, but you have to start somewhere. I recommend starting with a basic repertoire list for help on which works to start with, then a resource such as the Penguin Guide or Gramophone online for help on which recordings.

    Everyone has their own tastes, but there are a group of works that no collection should be without. (Beethoven symphonies 3, 5, 6, 7, and 9, as an obvious example)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Acker View Post
    Everyone has their own tastes, but there are a group of works that no collection should be without. (Beethoven symphonies 3, 5, 6, 7, and 9, as an obvious example)
    surely, you meant 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 symphonies of Beethoven. I think those "less performed" symphonies are just as impressive.

    Enough for the talk, let me recommend a few Cds for this "beginner", NOTE: If I recommend these recordings, then there must be some merits to it, be it the sound, the interpretation, the orchestra... something about it is worth listening, of course, you don't need to get all of them, but you might want to keep the list and get them all eventually.

    Beethoven:
    Complete Symphonies (recorded in th mid-70's) Herbert Von Karajan/Berlin Philharmoniker
    4th, 6th, 7th (recorded live) Carlos Kleiber/Bavarian State Opera Orchestra

    Mozart:
    Last 6th symphonies, with Bruno Walter. Columbia Symphony Orchestra.

    Schubert:
    Complete symphonies, Wolfgang Sawalllisch/Staatskapelle Dresden

    let's start with a few, those should occupy you for a while a least.

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    My advice to a newbie is to find one or two composers you like and then look around for their most popular works. "Arkivmusic" is a good source: http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/main.jsp

    Consistent with the advice of others above, don't be tempted to stray too far into the unknown. You'll waste money and become disillusioned.

    Many people tend like Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven for starters, and as a rule they tend to like their bigger, orchestral works (symphonies, concertos etc) rather than smaller scale chamber works. There's loads of material to choose from here.

    As you get more listening experience you'll no doubt change your mind umpteen times about who's the best composer and what type of music you like, but in the process you'll swear that you've discovered the best and will never change your mind ever again.

    Very amusingly, some people who are only part way along this path of discovery can get quite stroppy about extolling their favourite composers, and some take personal offence if anyone dares to criticise them. There are one or two on here like that, but there have been far worse examples who have been here in the past and now moved on.

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    Thanks guys for the great feedback. you are all correct in observing that I am one to perhaps over do (and over spend) on my new hobbies. So I will take it slow. In the meantime I will start with a small basic collection as you have suggested. To give you an idea, aside from the obvious mozart and beethoven (and i love both, preferring beethoven's more dramatic compositions), I like the little I have heard of Chopin, Vivaldi, and Bach (I think a .flac track I have called "Chaccone" (sp?)) is tear inspiring.
    thanks again

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gustav View Post
    surely, you meant 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 symphonies of Beethoven. I think those "less performed" symphonies are just as impressive.

    Enough for the talk, let me recommend a few Cds for this "beginner", NOTE: If I recommend these recordings, then there must be some merits to it, be it the sound, the interpretation, the orchestra... something about it is worth listening, of course, you don't need to get all of them, but you might want to keep the list and get them all eventually.

    Beethoven:
    Complete Symphonies (recorded in th mid-70's) Herbert Von Karajan/Berlin Philharmoniker
    4th, 6th, 7th (recorded live) Carlos Kleiber/Bavarian State Opera Orchestra

    Mozart:
    Last 6th symphonies, with Bruno Walter. Columbia Symphony Orchestra.

    Schubert:
    Complete symphonies, Wolfgang Sawalllisch/Staatskapelle Dresden

    let's start with a few, those should occupy you for a while a least.
    Thanks for the suggestions. I am looking to keep my collection in SACD as much as possible (to avoid buying redundant copies) do you think the Kapp Van Zweden Complete Symphonies box set is a good alternative?

    http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/...&album_group=4

    tia

    EDIT: found it, sorry:
    http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/...&album_group=4

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    Quote Originally Posted by spartan View Post
    Thanks for the suggestions. I am looking to keep my collection in SACD as much as possible (to avoid buying redundant copies) do you think the Kapp Van Zweden Complete Symphonies box set is a good alternative?

    http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/...&album_group=4

    tia

    EDIT: found it, sorry:
    http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/...&album_group=4

    that's the 1963 cycle, i was referring to the 1970's cycle. I haven't heard the earlier one. Btw, why are you buying SACDs? Do you have a SACD player?

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    yes, it was a combo of tube amp with SACD player and HD650 headphones that nearly made me weep and re-dscover classical after all these years

    EDIT: I didnt realize that like wine vintages of recordings were so important!

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    Quote Originally Posted by spartan View Post
    yes, it was a combo of tube amp with SACD player and HD650 headphones that nearly made me weep and re-dscover classical after all these years

    EDIT: I didnt realize that like wine vintages of recordings were so important!
    well, if you care about sound so much, there is a label, called "Farao classics". They have great sounding CDs and SACDS. My pick would be, Mehta's Mahler's 3rd symphony, Sawallisch's Schumman 4th symphony, Guttenberg's Bruckner 4th symphony. You can buy them from their website here:
    http://www.farao-classics.de/english....html#sinfonie

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    There are advocates of each of the Karajan cycles. I believe the 1963 cycle is the only one available on SACD, though. More recent recordings, also on SACD, include Haitink/LSO and Vanska/Minnesota Orchestra. Both showcase what the SACD format is capable of, though both cycles have their fans and critics (I happen to quite like Vanska).

    I also have a SACD player, and I understand your desire to focus on them, but many of the best performances are not available in that format.

    That said, if you want SACDs, I would suggest you pick up some of the RCA Living Stereo reissues, which tend be of major works, solid-to-great performances, and have excellent sound. As a bonus, you can get them for $10 (at least in the US).

    For violin works (Mozart, Prokofiev, and a few others), the Julia Fischer recordings on Pentatone are excellent.

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    thanks for the suggestions guys. I will let you know what I think when i get some listening in.


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