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Thread: Challenge Question: Your 100 favorite classical ALBUMS.

  1. #106
    Senior Member science's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prodromides View Post
    Thanks, science, for your contributions thus far.

    I have a few observations upon what you've written, and, if you'll permit me to offer some feedback, I hope you'll accept my thoughts in the spirit in which they're given...

    ... namely, you sound apologetic about some of your selections, such as 1) your preference for one composer's piano quintets over his string quartets, or 2) writing something like "enough of that snobby stuff" after stating the beauty of a Takemitsu piece.
    No need for apologies ... just keep postin' about what you love most, right?
    Of course I am apologetic - I realize that almost no matter what albums I choose, someone is going to find a way to criticize them. So my defense mechanism is to be critical first. I'm going to continue to do that. My experience of online classical music discussion is that it is one huge contest, everyone looking for a way to put each other (and their music) down. The presence of mods forces us to be subtle about it, but it's not much different.

    One person says you don't listen to enough choral music, another that you don't listen to enough symphonies, or solo keyboard, or organ music, or opera, or Baroque opera, or HIP Baroque opera, or classical guitar, or classical lute... another says you don't listen to enough early music, another one says you don't listen to enough Baroque, others that you don't listen to enough Bach or Haydn or Mozart or Beethoven or Schubert or Schumann or Liszt or Wagner, another one says you don't know enough of the obscure romantics, another that you're too focused on romanticism, another says you don't listen to enough of the Second Vienna School, another says you don't listen to enough Scandinavians, or enough Russians, or enough Italians, or says you're stupid if Takemitsu is the only Japanese composer you know, another says you don't listen to enough music of the past 40 years, another says it's not enough of the past 10 years, another that you don't listen to enough of the really old recordings from the 1920s and 30s and 40s, another that you don't listen to enough new recordings, another that you don't listen to enough HIP recordings, another that you don't appreciate the Titans of Early Stereo, and if you please any of those people the others will double down in their criticisms, and of course it's got to be on vinyl, or at least lossless files, and through at four thousand dollar home stereo, and even then it's not enough unless you hear live music every night, following along with the score, critiquing the tempo selections and analyzing the harmonies, and others will criticize you if you don't know the biographies of the composers in detail and what they felt when they made the music, and others will criticize you if you take any of that into account, and I hate everyone, everyone, everyone. Really, I do. I'm not just saying that. Just thinking about this makes me want to get the nuclear suitcase and figure out how to put the universe out of our misery.

    I really am apologetic about it all. If I could just humble myself enough not to be a target, and thereafter be allowed just to like what I like without facing unending criticism, I would eagerly do so. I'm sorry that my tastes and listening habits - no matter what they are - bother so many people, I'm sorry that I can't please everyone. I still hate everyone for having such ridiculous standards, but I'm genuinely sorry about my inevitable failure to live up to them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Prodromides View Post
    Another observation is that the bulk of your entries are albums from the "major player" labels: lots of Deutsche Grammophon, a number of EMI titles, a pair of Telarcs, here a Sony - there a Philips ... etc.
    So far, what intrigues me the most from your postings is the Harmonia Mundi disc of Byzantin chant.
    What are your feelings towards lesser-known talents and independent record labels?
    As someone who loves democratic protest songs and dreams about trampling regimes, you nonetheless lend your support to the corporate giants in classical music recordings.
    It turns out one thing I should've apologized for is the labels! I'd forgotten about that, but you've got to get your "Indie" labels in too.

    But I don't think I have any feelings about particular labels, large or small. I do have a fondness for the "Titans of Early Stereo," so that puts a lot of my selections in the golden ages of DG, EMI, and so on. Those labels have made good impressions on me. Right now my favorite label is probably Hyperion/Helios, though. That just means that there's a lot of stuff by them on my wishlist. In terms of my favorite stuff that I already own, DG/EMI/Philips are going to continue to be represented really strongly in my list. I'm sorry about that, but that's how my top 100 is. One reason it's like that is that I've tried to learn about the most famous musicians of the mid-20th century. Somehow I really enjoy knowing my Karajan, Rostropovich, Oistrakh, Heifetz, Richter, Pollini....

    I should explain that better. With something like, say, Beethoven's symphonies or string quartets, there are so many options out there, right? Now in the old days I was - I consider it "duped" but anyway, one way or another I had received the opinion that the essence of classical music listening was comparing recordings. So at that time I bought multiple recordings of the same works. I have five Brahms 1s, five Brahms 4s, seven Tchaikovsky PC 1s, five Tchaikovsky VCs, five Brahms VCs, five Beethoven 9s, five Mozart Requiems, and so on.

    Later I decided that was meaningless to me because the differences were usually too small to matter much to me, and there was so much other music to get to (as you can see from that list, back then I'd barely even started to explore early music or modern music), and therefore (even worse) it was a waste of money and time for me to spend so much time comparing nearly identical recordings....

    So then the issue became, if I am only going to have one or two sets of, say, Brahms' piano quartets, then which ones am I going to get? For awhile I just got whatever was cheap and convenient - often Naxos. So I have Naxos recordings of a lot of stuff.

    But I found that, after reading people's comments online, I'd worry that I was missing something if I didn't have one of the famous, highly regarded recordings. And I'd wind up buying that. So I had Naxos' recording of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, but later I still got Gardiner's; Naxos' recording of Haydn's Creation, but later I still got Karajan's; Naxos' recording of Monteverdi's Vespers, but later I still got Parrott's, and so on.

    So I decided the cheapest, most direct thing is just to start out with the most famous recording, and after that if I want another one for some reason, I can do it. But I always start with the most famous one. And my favorites tend to be those, in part because those are the main or only ones I've heard, and in part because I usually enjoy listening to the recordings that have been loved for decades. (I think that historical interest is really what draws me to classical music in general, not just to particular recordings.)

    I'm surprised by your characterizations of Harmonia Mundi and Telarc. I would've thought Harmonia Mundi a bigger label than Telarc. Maybe it's just the places I shop, or perhaps the paragraph thing is confusing me.

    Probably not very many lesser-known talents will get in my top 100. I've figured out about 70 of my selections, and I guess Apex or Gimell will be the smallest label.

    I don't actually want to trample down most regimes, and I'm a friend of capitalism. I don't feel any animosity toward corporations in general; only the ones that really do nefarious things. I am grateful to "corporate giants" like DG for giving me so much of the music that I love.

    Quote Originally Posted by Prodromides View Post
    Also, it might be preferable to include the label names on all your album selections (as I had done within my listings), because, if any given JPEG happens to be sucked into a black hole in cyberspace, TC members reading this thread may have no idea you are referring to Fischer-Dieskau's Schubert or Schubert's late string quartets.
    I'll do that! Good idea. When I've figured out my top 100, I'll just make a list.
    Last edited by science; Sep-16-2012 at 16:11.
    Liberty for wolves is death to the lambs.

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  3. #107
    Senior Member (Ret) moody's Avatar
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    SCIENCE.
    You have no need to justify anything regarding your choice of music. This thread was for people to list THEIR favourites, comment from other members was not called for and should not have been advanced.
    I take no notice whatever of criticism unless it makes sense and not much of it here does. I'm sure that you know who talks sense and who does not!
    Fools talk because they have to say something, wise men talk because they have something to say.

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  5. #108
    Senior Member science's Avatar
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    Thank you moody. I don't think Prodromides meant to be critical. But he did make some observations that I couldn't reply to easily!
    Liberty for wolves is death to the lambs.

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    Prodromides helped me see that I've been settling into the easy choices for awhile. I've only picked about 70 of the albums that I will list here, but I've got enough for a post that are at least a little off the beaten path, or at least ones that most people wouldn't have put in their top three or four hundred albums, let alone their top one hundred. So here we go:



    That is a Supraphon album. I don't know that I'll be able to get away from the major labels in a top 100 list. As I explained, that's not particularly important to me. As it happens, though Supraphon is a pretty big label, I don't have many of their recordings. I will probably get a few more as my collection grows.

    This one is "Sacred Music of Rudolfine Prague" by a set of musicians I've never heard of: Duodena Cantitans, Capella Rudolphina, and Petr Danek. I have no idea why they're not more famous, or how good they are, or anything. There be actually be some problem with it, some reason it's not more famous. But I love this disk. It's one of those that, who knows why, I picked up in a store back in college. (It was Cutler's in New Haven, another of those wonderful record stores now lost to us; even if it's still open, the last time I went there was a disappointing experience, as they'd cut back on staff, and cut the floorspace in half to make room for yet another shop selling Yale teddy bears and coffee mugs; the real Cutler's was dead.)

    I knew almost nothing about music back then. A few years after I bought this, Hilary Hahn came to my house, flirted with me; I didn't know who she was. Those were my naive days, the same time that I got that Karajan Mozart Requiem I included in my first post.

    But I loved this music. It was one of the first disks that people complimented me on, asking what it was, and seeming to admire me for knowing about such stuff. And they were right to do so, as far as I can tell, because the music is heavenly. It's on period instruments, lovingly crafted by the musicians themselves if I remember correctly - perhaps it was an innocent time for the HIPPI music industry in Prague! Beautiful harmonies. Even if this disk has some kind of flaws from a scholarly point of view, it advocates very effectively for the music of its era, and perhaps especially for Charles Luython and Jacobus Regnart.

    "Rudolfine Prague" refers to Prague at the time of Emperor Rudolf, perhaps known to most people only for being portrayed as "Vertumnus" in a painting by Giuseppe Arcimboldo:



    (Well, would you look at that? SLGO's not the only guy that can post a painting on talkclassical!)

    Rudolf II was an interesting guy; I think I'd have liked him. Patron of Brahe and Kepler, also of Nostradamus and John Dee. If I find myself back in 1610 or so, and can't get together with Shakespeare or Monteverdi, those are four of the guys I'd like to spend my time with. Anyway, if this disk is any indication he listened to good music when he went to church.

    The group Cinquecento on Hyperion is exploring the music of this period, and achieving better sales than the unfortunate Duodena Cantitans. I have their Schoendorff disk (featuring that Vertumnus painting on its cover) but I haven't come to love it as I have the old, almost unknown one from my youth.

    Well folks, that's about as sentimental and off-the-beaten-path as you're gonna see me get.



    That's Andrew Manze doing Biber's Missa Christi Resurgentis, and a few other things. I picked this up on my honeymoon in France, and it was another one of those "I have no idea what I'm doing" purchases, just good cover art and perhaps something interesting on the back cover and well I suppose I've got $20 to gamble.

    Biber is now one of my favorite Baroque composers, and I'm glad I started with this disk, even though it's less popular than some others. It opens with bright, unforgettable fanfare. When I'm king of the world, that is how I will enter my court. The rest of the disk is good too, but I was hooked from that first moment, one of those moments in music that I'll never forget and never want to be without.



    I suppose this isn't for purists, as it's transpositions. I put De Larrocha's Albeniz piano music up there earlier, and I really do love it, but I first heard it on this disk.

    I can't remember when I got this or what I was thinking. I always liked it, I think, but I really fell in love with it when my wife was watching some movie that used it, perhaps Vicky Cristina Barcelona (which I just googled and it turns out that's a Woody Allen movie so I should've watched it with her). The "Granada" track (transcribed by Miguel Llobert) was used over and over and over and over and over in that movie, and I'd put money down that it was the very recording on this disk. Anyway, by the end of that movie and ever since, this has been my favorite disk of classical guitar.

    I've heard that some people really don't like classical guitar, and I cannot understand that. I don't think another classical guitar disk is going to make my top 100, but it is a wonderful genre.

    (Fun little note: Googling this, I got to the image via a blog post by our own Sid James.)



    That's Glass's Aguas da Amazonia, with Uakti.

    It appears to be enormously popular, but probably not (I'd guess) primarily with the typical classical music crowds. You know who you are: if you like Glass a bit, you might really like this. I doubt many classical music fans would have this in their top hundred, unless they're just big fans of minimalism, so I'll include it in this post.

    I can't do better than Amazon.com's Paige La Grone: "Uakti's Aguas de Amazona is a splendid suite of liquid light manifesting itself in nine riverlike tunes that splash, wend, trickle, and gush toward the fantastical changeling closer, 'Metamorphosis.' A Brazilian ensemble, Uakti (pronounced wah-keh-chee) weave a chordal interplay of strings, woodwinds, and homemade percussion pieces that create complex and exotic contrapuntal melodies evoking both wind chimes and dancing water."



    I'll end this edition with Zelenka's Missa Votiva, which turns out to be from a label that probably counts as small: Zig Zag Territories. Ever heard of them? I hadn't. I went to their webpage, and it turns out I have at least one other disk of theirs, of Enescu's recently rediscovered trios.

    Anyway, didn't mean to do that, it just happened. A nice thematic thing. I originally just thought it'd be nice to come back to the Bohemians, see what Rudolf II's great-great-grandchildren might've been listening to.

    As for the music, well, it's great. Zelenka's most famous (I guess) for his trio sonatas, recorded most famously for ECM by Holliger. I recently read (this is gossip to me at this point, but it's interesting) that he was rediscovered by none other than Smetata. So there you go.

    We live in the golden age of the rediscovery of early music, and one consequence is that Zelenka's choral music appears to be gaining fairly widespread recognition, and there are several good recordings out there. I have a fair number of them, and plan to get more. My favorite at this time has to be Missa Votiva, recorded here by Luks and Collegium 1704.

    Don't take my word for it, I'm nobody and don't have any kind of expertise. But check out Michael Carter's review for Fanfare: http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/...lbum_id=204865

    This is one to listen to closely. Lots of interesting wrinkles in there.

    That brings me to #40.

    This post has been a bit self-indulgent, but I hope you'll forgive me; I'm advocating/apologizing for music that I know is not as well-known as the selections I've put in recent posts.
    Liberty for wolves is death to the lambs.

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  8. #110
    Senior Member science's Avatar
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    Here are #41-46.

    The theme here is late romantic warhorses, and the problem has been choosing recordings.



    Karajan recorded 3 of Brahms' symphonies in early digital sound, but I like the older analog recordings better. I have a lot of options here. I would actually recommend the Abbado set to most people because is very good and it comes with a lot of wonderful extras - choral masterpieces that you're not going to get in many other places. Klemperer has a good set too, with some of those extras. But what I really care about are the symphonies, and I prefer Karajan's analog. I've heard 2-3 other recordings of most of these symphonies, including Kleiber's Brahms 4. Of course that's the best Brahms 4... but Karajan gives him a run for his money.

    The Mravinsky Tchaikovsky recordings may be better known with a plain green cover; I'm pretty sure they're the same, but this cover is the one that I have and anyway I like it better. Once again I would recommend a different set to most people - the Pletnev box, because it comes with a lot of good stuff. If Gergiev ever gets together a complete set it could compete with the Mravinsky in my affections....



    Gilels/Jochum is the best set of Brahms concertos that I've heard, but there are several that I haven't heard of course.

    Heifetz ties with Milstein as my favorite recording of the Tchaikovsky concerto, and with Perlman in the Brahms. So it's a good set.



    In both cases we are here for the Rachmaninoffs, but Tchaikovsky's 1st never hurts. For #2 the main competition in my mind is Van Cliburn, and for #3 it is Horowitz. But the winners are Richter and Argerich.

    Nearly half done.
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    Quote Originally Posted by science View Post
    Karajan recorded 3 of Brahms' symphonies in early digital sound, but I like the older analog recordings better.
    Actually, Karajan digitally recorded the complete Brahms symphonies in 1986-1988 for DG. They have recently been re-issued as a 2-CD set. I can only recommend it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andreas View Post
    Actually, Karajan digitally recorded the complete Brahms symphonies in 1986-1988 for DG. They have recently been re-issued as a 2-CD set. I can only recommend it.
    As far as I know, the 1986-8 recordings didn't include #4. Or if it did, something might've been wrong with it. The set I have (http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/...album_id=72504) uses the same 1978 recording that the analog set does. I checked Arkivmusic, but I didn't find a #4 from the 1980s.
    Last edited by science; Sep-24-2012 at 12:29.
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    Quote Originally Posted by science View Post
    One person says you don't listen to enough choral music, another that you don't listen to enough symphonies, or solo keyboard, or organ music, or opera, or Baroque opera, or HIP Baroque opera, or classical guitar, or classical lute... another says you don't listen to enough early music, another one says you don't listen to enough Baroque, others that you don't listen to enough Bach or Haydn or Mozart or Beethoven or Schubert or Schumann or Liszt or Wagner, another one says you don't know enough of the obscure romantics, another that you're too focused on romanticism, another says you don't listen to enough of the Second Vienna School, another says you don't listen to enough Scandinavians, or enough Russians, or enough Italians, or says you're stupid if Takemitsu is the only Japanese composer you know, another says you don't listen to enough music of the past 40 years, another says it's not enough of the past 10 years, another that you don't listen to enough of the really old recordings from the 1920s and 30s and 40s, another that you don't listen to enough new recordings, another that you don't listen to enough HIP recordings, another that you don't appreciate the Titans of Early Stereo, and if you please any of those people the others will double down in their criticisms, and of course it's got to be on vinyl, or at least lossless files, and through at four thousand dollar home stereo, and even then it's not enough unless you hear live music every night, following along with the score, critiquing the tempo selections and analyzing the harmonies, and others will criticize you if you don't know the biographies of the composers in detail and what they felt when they made the music, and others will criticize you if you take any of that into account, and I hate everyone, everyone, everyone. Really, I do. I'm not just saying that. Just thinking about this makes me want to get the nuclear suitcase and figure out how to put the universe out of our misery. .
    This is why I think that ranking is incredibly important. Without a few lists to keep people grounded in a selected, finite canon listening obligations become infinite, causing fatigue and more people to listen to fewer rather than more music since it encourages people to give up. A musical universe without lists is intimidating. If people don't know where to start and where to satisfactorily "end" some, if not most, will not bother to start at all.

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    Favorite classical Albums... mmmm let me think, guess I could say there in unlikely to be much "variety" in my list......

    22140 Varese.jpg22140-1 Varese.jpg

    The Varese Album 2007

    Edgard Varèse The View From The Edge 2009

    Edgard Varèse Early Works

    Jan DeGaetani + Contemporary Chamber Ensemble
    Varèse: Offrandes / Intégrales / Octandre / Ecuatoria

    GLASS Of Beauty and Light

    PÄRT The Silence of Being

    ALFVEN / VARESE / LARSSON GOTHE: Wind Music

    Discover Music of the Twentieth Century

    Flute Recital: Zukerman, Eugenia - DRATTELL, D. / DEBUSSY, C. / HOOVER, K. / LARSEN, L. / ESCHER, R. / BENNETT, R.R. / BOZZA, E. / HONEGGER, A.

    LEAVING HOME: Orchestral Music in the 20th Century

    LEAVING HOME: Orchestral Music in the 20th Century, Vol. 2: Rhythm

    REVOLUTION DER KLANGE (DIE): Musik im 20. Jahrhundert

    REVOLUTION DER KLANGE (DIE): Musik im 20. Jahrhundert, Vol. 2: Rhythmus

    SONIC REBELLION - Alternative Classical Collection

    VARESE: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1 - Arcana / Integrales / Deserts

    VARESE: Orchestral Works, Vol. 2 - Ameriques / Equatorial / Nocturnal / Ionisation

    WIESLER, Manuela: Small is beautiful - Short Pieces for Solo Flute

    Boulez Conducts Zappa: The Perfect Stranger 1984

    Frank Zappa: Wazoo 2007

    200 Motels

    Orchestral Favorites

    London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. I

    London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. II

    The Yellow Shark

    Civilization, Phaze III

    Everything Is Healing Nicely

    Strictly Genteel
    "Everyone is born with genius, but most people only keep it a few minutes"

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