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Thread: You more keen on exploring new music or new performances of pieces you already love?

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    Senior Member staxomega's Avatar
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    Default You more keen on exploring new music or new performances of pieces you already love?

    Sorry for the strangely worded thread title, I had to try and convey my intent with the character limit. So my question is are you more keen on exploring new works or exploring new performances of music you already know and love? And by this I mean not necessarily new/recent recordings, but ones that are new to you even if they're older recordings.

    I love exploring new works, I wouldn't be where I am now in my classical journey if I only listened to the same classical/romantic era music when I first started. I started to think about this more this past week when over the days I realized what I was focusing on and getting excited about were pieces I already knew and loved, but was simply exploring performances I hadn't heard before. Of the top of my head the new Beethoven Piano Sonata cycle from Boris Giltburg, a recording of Pierrot Lunaire from Mihaly I accidentally came across on Youtube which I quickly ordered, Stephen Hough's Chopin Nocturnes, etc.

    This is just a small sample of what I heard this week for music I already have many recordings of. I started to wonder, just how much more are these pieces revealing to me as I'm already well lived in with them for years and decades through many other different performances? And this isn't even a knock on any of the three I named, I might have bought the two piano collections I mentioned had I heard them 10 years ago, but at this point? I don't think I'll be buying either the Beethoven or Chopin. This leads to another point about a long running Beethoven Piano Sonata thread on another forum and I think we're now up to over 100 cycles recorded. I became a bit more jaded with these works earlier than now when I am making this thread. But who am I to judge this as crazy? I think it was in ~ 2015/16 I bought five cycles that are new to me in a single year after not hearing them for a while.

    Someone made a comment about this, that the more esoteric interpretations then tend to cause more excitement and pages of discussion among the regulars that are really deep into this music. ie Fazil Say's controversial Beethoven cycle vs another more normal/mainstream cycle as it's something "new" interpretively even if it's off the mark.

    Playing devil's advocate I just don't think a huge amount of the classical repertoire is that good. Derivative, not saying anything new, repetitive, etc. And I've also experienced the other kind of burn out of hearing so much new music and liking maybe 10% of it. When that happens it must subconsciously push me towards going back to music I already know and love as I'm going to enjoy it anyway unless the performance isn't good or to my taste. Yet if I was steadfast in this attitude I never would have discovered the music of Boulez, Webern, Leibowitz, Feldman, etc which I now dearly love.

    I'm sure for the overwhelming majority of people the answer is going to be both. But like many threads let's try and make this difficult and see what you really find yourself doing most often

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    Senior Member SONNET CLV's Avatar
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    There's a handful of works I tend to collect when new and interestingly-seeming versions are released, or when I learn of a critically acclaimed old version with which I have no familiarity. These include the Beethoven Fifth, Schubert's Winterreise, Stravinsky's Rite, Handel's Messiah ... and a few others.

    But I'd likely put myself in the category of the "explorer", since I seek out new music with a resolved passion. My collection is rampant with, especially, late 20th and 21st century music, and I started my search for modern/contemporary music quite long ago, subscribing to such as the Louisville First Edition Records program, the Vienna Modern Masters albums, and adding col legno and NEOS discs from the Donaueschinger Musiktage released to my collection. As well, I have dozens of other "new music" collections and box sets of music dedicated to this century and the one prior. This hardly touches upon the avant-garde, experimental, "noise" music on my disc shelves.

    Likewise, I'm one of those who searched out the Hyperion series of obscure Romantic Piano Concertos, Violin Concertos, and Cello Concertos, adding every disc released to my CD shelves. Though much of this music is less than appealing, occasionally a gem surfaces, and makes the collecting worthwhile. For as wacky as my habits are for scrounging up another Beethoven Fifth or Winterreise, I'm at least twice as wacky when it comes to hunting down "new" and previously (to me) unknown music.

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    Senior Member mbhaub's Avatar
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    I went through a phase of collecting many different recordings of works that are special and dear to me: Mahler 7, Elgar 2, Tchaikovsky Manfred, Gliere 3rd, Schmidt everything, Prokofieff Romeo & Juliet, Balakirev 1st. But those days are mostly in the read view mirror. If some sensationally reviewed new recording comes out I will reconsider. Now I'm filling in gaps - old music that is new to me as well as some contemporary works I dismissed or just never got around to. Just today I'm going through the symphonies of David Diamond - wonderful, listenable 20th c orchestral music. Several months ago I was wading through Mendelssohn; like most people I know the famous, popular works, but there's so much else. And I've been listening to a lot of operas that I've never bothered with. Some wonderful discoveries, some things I never need to hear again.

    Your comment that a lot of classical music isn't that good. Well, that's true. What is performed and recorded today is by and large the result of years of separating the wheat from the chaff if you will. Carl Dahlhaus estimated that in 19th c Europe some 20,000 symphonies were written. Imagine that. Of those, only about 50 are still in the active repertoire. The rest fell by the wayside for the best of reasons: they weren't that good. Some likely never played even once. The same is true of every genre: most of what is written is basically junk. Remember LPs from the '60s. A good record would have one or maybe two hit tracks on it, the rest of the stuff was fillers and of no particular interest or memorability. Classical music is not immune to this. Some music was tossed aside that maybe should still be played once in a while, such as the Raff 5th, but for the most part history is a definitive and harsh critic.
    "It is surprising how easily one can become used to bad music" - F. Mendelssohn

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    It's indeed a blend, but still it's more often exploring new composers and/or new works. This holds both for classical music and my other big favourite, pop/rock. It is very rarely exploring different takes on the same work (with the huge exception of Mahler).

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    Mainly new works. I had a short-lived phase earlier on in the year, which was mostly based on finding new performances. The gem find from that time being Eric Hiedsieck's recording of the Handel keyboard suites. Same too for Karajan with Sibelius' symphonies, David Lloyd-Jones' with Bax's symphonic poems (his version of Tintagel is just to-die for), Petrenko's superb recording of Shostakovich's symphonies, and Austbo's marvelous performance of Janacek's piano oeuvre. But for the most part, my main focus since...June or July, has been on new composers, not new performers. I've mentioned elsewhere about my preference to keep things simple and singular on that matter. Though I will add: anytime someone mentions that performance A of composition X, is so different from performance B, and I happen to like it more: I may switch. Just saying for clarity here.

    Anyways, as I was saying. I think the focus on composers over performers, in my experience, has been a lot more rewarding. I've come to know of a multitude of unknown, or outright obscure composers, that would've otherwise drifted by my attention as they so-often are. A lot of my attention has gone to more Romantic and Modernist composers, but I've dipped into Contemporary, Baroque, and lately Medieval/Renaissance sacred music too. Composers such as Weinberg, Hovhaness, Moyzes, Pettersson, Atterberg (though I knew of his piano concerto, just not his other works), David Diamond, Rubbra, Cyril Scott - the list goes on. And very recently: Groven and Florence Price have joined the list. It's a marvel that so much glorious music is relatively unknown to many. Not all of it is inherently obscure, or at least anymore, but few there are anything but lesser-known. Though it's nice seeing, that Price & Weinberg have had a come-back as of late.

    And about most music being crap: it's unfortunately true but at once taken a bit too literally. Sure, a great deal of all the symphonies, concerti, sonatas, quartets, quintets, decets, hell even operas - aren't up there with the greats. Every genre; past and present and future too, suffers from this. It is at times for good reason, don't get me wrong there. A lot of it is banal, inane, facile drivel. It is what it is. I do just think history is, at times, too encompassing a critic. There are a mountain of pieces, heralded by said fate, that neither deserved it then or today. Recent example from memory: Weinberg's "War Trilogy" of Symphonies nos.17-19. Particularly Symphony no.18 "War, there is no word more cruel." I genuinely think it's one of the greatest post-Shostakovich Russian symphonies. And I've showed it anytime I'm asked such a question from friends. Needless to say - I'm still waiting for an objection. Same thing for his Symphony no.21 "Kaddish," though that has fortunately gained some popularity in recent times.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Art Rock View Post
    It's indeed a blend, but still it's more often exploring new composers and/or new works. This holds both for classical music and my other big favourite, pop/rock. It is very rarely exploring different takes on the same work (with the huge exception of Mahler).
    For me - it's Mahler, Janacek, and Scriabin. Occasionally Bruckner, but not as much.
    Last edited by Shea82821; Nov-21-2021 at 08:59.

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    Senior Member Ariasexta's Avatar
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    Playing devil's advocate I just don't think a huge amount of the classical repertoire is that good. Derivative, not saying anything new, repetitive, etc. And I've also experienced the other kind of burn out of hearing so much new music and liking maybe 10% of it. When that happens it must subconsciously push me towards going back to music I already know and love as I'm going to enjoy it anyway unless the performance isn't good or to my taste. Yet if I was steadfast in this attitude I never would have discovered the music of Boulez, Webern, Leibowitz, Feldman, etc which I now dearly love.
    You do not get the point of classical music, for pop and rock which mostly are industrially produced for marketing, classical music has less such concerns in mind at least they have no many means to consider about milking money with music,therefore the quantitative nature of pop and rock can not be applied onto classical music. To explore is one indispensible joy of the genre, like playing the role of am art patron of ancient times. I have not finished the whole vocal oeuvres of JS Bach even though I have all of his cantatas on the cds, 30% of JS Bach 240 cantatas took me 10 years to enjoy and I am still exploring JS Bach. Let alone other baroque composers. I only explore 60% -70% of my own collection of cds and I still can not resisting buying more cds which would be slated for some time. WHY?I buy cds faster than listening for I know I will love the all those music before I listen to it and it is a part of great fun and happiness of enjoying baroque music. I will never bump into a wall no matter who the composer is and what kind of work is on the CD, as long as the performance and recording quality are good.

    JS Bach alone will cost the rest of my life to listen to, and I have around 100 baroque composers in my collection and I am still buying !!! If you truly love the genres of Werbern and other romantic period music, you should never say that there is too many works...Sad for you.
    Last edited by Ariasexta; Nov-21-2021 at 09:22.
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    Quote Originally Posted by staxomega View Post
    Sorry for the strangely worded thread title, I had to try and convey my intent with the character limit. So my question is are you more keen on exploring new works or exploring new performances of music you already know and love? And by this I mean not necessarily new/recent recordings, but ones that are new to you even if they're older recordings.
    I somewhat overextended my buying/collecting between the early-mid 2000s and maybe 2010-12 (despite a move in 2010 that should have taught me). And in all directions. New repertoire, both among standard repertoire I had not yet explored and whatever forgotten gem someone raved about online. New(ish) recordings of repertoire I liked a lot and (broadly speaking) historical/classic recordings of standard rep. Cheap boxes etc. To "build a library"...
    It took me a while to curb that habit but in the last ca. 5 years I have with some exceptions bought far fewer CDs and try to listen to at least some of the stuff I hardly listened to (or not at all). I probably buy more music that is new to me but I act more slowly. Of the last ca. 23 CDs I bought (roughly the last 6 months or so, so I still buy around 50 per year) about 16 contained music that was new for me (not always the whole disc/set but some of it). And the typical "portions" of 3-10 discs (incl. sometimes 2-3 disc sets but not large boxes) are manageable so I usually listen through a purchase at least once within as week or two. Not always, one set I bought a month ago or so (Liszt "Christus") I have not put on yet (but I should before Xmas...) So I am still acquiring a bit too much too fast and there is of course also going through the collection and get some stuff out to clear space.
    I also realized that with some exceptions I am not so picky about different interpretations of instrumental music, so I am very reluctant to buy any new recordings of pieces I already have half a dozen or more of.

    Playing devil's advocate I just don't think a huge amount of the classical repertoire is that good.
    I think what is in fact in the *repertoire* is mostly very good. But there is a considerable amount that has been "dug up" in the age of affordable recordings (going back to the 70s or so but certainly since the 1990s) as "unjustly neglected" that had been neglected or (almost) forgotten for good reason. A lot of this is still not bad and well written from a technical/artisanal standpoint pov and there were a few worthy re/discoveries.

    So I have not really answered the question. The closest is probably that I am revisiting music I know moderately well, that with a few exceptions I rarely listen to music I have heard dozens or hundreds of times (like Beethoven symphonies) and that exploration of the completely new is quite restricted (or concerns stuff I had sitting on my shelves for quite a while already but never (really) listened to).
    Last edited by Kreisler jr; Nov-21-2021 at 11:59.

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    Senior Member Ariasexta's Avatar
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    Sorry I did not specify to the question: I repeatedly listen to the same pieces of both vocal and instrumental music, for example JS Bach` cantatas, for more than 10 years, only about 50 or so cantatas are regularly played because I love to hon my sense toward a same piece of music although I did not purposefully choose based on style or taste, I just pick CDs according to the convenience of the random places on the shelf. I use computer copy tracks from Cds to play with table speakers most of the time and do not use a CD player very often for I do not have a sound insulating room. Actually not 60% of my collection, only 20% is downloaded on my computer and 60% of the collection had been played, around 40% has never been played or downloaded.

    I am also keen to explore unknown composers, this is also an exciting part, and I buy new cds monthly, and download 2-3 cds onto my computer.
    "In God I Hope, in Music I Trust."

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    Senior Member SanAntone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ariasexta View Post
    You do not get the point of classical music, for pop and rock which mostly are industrially produced for marketing
    No, it is you who don't get the point of Pop and Rock, which are mostly created by very talented musicians expressing their most ardent artistic-musical ambitions. It is really no different from what motivates a Classical composer.

    ...Sad for you.
    Yes, how sad for you to have missed out completely on the wealth of very good music that is called Pop and Rock.

    Now, to answer the question posed by the OP:

    I am vastly more interested in finding new music and not new recordings of music I already know.

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    Senior Member staxomega's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ariasexta View Post
    You do not get the point of classical music, for pop and rock which mostly are industrially produced for marketing, classical music has less such concerns in mind at least they have no many means to consider about milking money with music,therefore the quantitative nature of pop and rock can not be applied onto classical music. To explore is one indispensible joy of the genre, like playing the role of am art patron of ancient times. I have not finished the whole vocal oeuvres of JS Bach even though I have all of his cantatas on the cds, 30% of JS Bach 240 cantatas took me 10 years to enjoy and I am still exploring JS Bach. Let alone other baroque composers. I only explore 60% -70% of my own collection of cds and I still can not resisting buying more cds which would be slated for some time. WHY?I buy cds faster than listening for I know I will love the all those music before I listen to it and it is a part of great fun and happiness of enjoying baroque music. I will never bump into a wall no matter who the composer is and what kind of work is on the CD, as long as the performance and recording quality are good.

    JS Bach alone will cost the rest of my life to listen to, and I have around 100 baroque composers in my collection and I am still buying !!! If you truly love the genres of Werbern and other romantic period music, you should never say that there is too many works...Sad for you.
    I think you are pretty wide off the mark in what I was trying to convey. I simply can't type out every composer I love. I listed Boulez, Feldman, Webern as composers I got into because I was willing to explore more, I pretty much fell in love with JS Bach very early on and that has never left me.

    Here are the cycles of the sacred cantatas I have just at this house (Gardiner, Koopman, Leonhardt/Harnoncourt) with a bunch of incomplete integrales (ie Herreweghe) at my lake house. Helmuth Rilling in storage as I don't like this cycle. Along with hundreds of recordings of the keyboard and organ works.

    And there isn't a lifetime worth of JSB, IMHO that would be pretty sad affair for me to constrain myself to just JSB for the rest of my life. I have listened to everything he has recorded dozens of times.

    Last edited by staxomega; Nov-22-2021 at 01:57.

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    Senior Member staxomega's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mbhaub View Post
    Your comment that a lot of classical music isn't that good. Well, that's true. What is performed and recorded today is by and large the result of years of separating the wheat from the chaff if you will. Carl Dahlhaus estimated that in 19th c Europe some 20,000 symphonies were written. Imagine that. Of those, only about 50 are still in the active repertoire. The rest fell by the wayside for the best of reasons: they weren't that good. Some likely never played even once. The same is true of every genre: most of what is written is basically junk. Remember LPs from the '60s. A good record would have one or maybe two hit tracks on it, the rest of the stuff was fillers and of no particular interest or memorability. Classical music is not immune to this. Some music was tossed aside that maybe should still be played once in a while, such as the Raff 5th, but for the most part history is a definitive and harsh critic.
    I don't mean music that gets recorded non-stop like Mahler, Beethoven, Brahms, etc to not be good. I am referring to music that isn't recorded that often but still gets recorded and performed a decent amount, at least in the US.

    I've really tried to not list composers as I didn't want the discourse to turn sour, but I'll throw out a couple of examples - Ives' Symphonies 2 and 3. These symphonies completely escape me, they sound like some ideas held together by haphazard orchestration. Now there aren't dozens of recordings of them but I think there is probably a solid 10 recordings give or take.

    I think there is only one complete cycle of Weinberg's String Quartets? This is clearly far out of the mainstream repertoire but I personally find most of them outstanding. So I don't think it's always a case of the great music naturally sorts itself out. We are reliant on passionate and knowledgeable performers to bring this music to light.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shea82821 View Post
    Mainly new works. I had a short-lived phase earlier on in the year, which was mostly based on finding new performances. The gem find from that time being Eric Hiedsieck's recording of the Handel keyboard suites.
    Going to hyperfocus on this part because it made me smile to see Heidsieck mentioned, one of the great pianists of the last century that I don't hear about often. I first discovered him with his less mainstream approach to the Beethoven Piano Sonatas and have been exploring his recordings ever since.
    Last edited by staxomega; Nov-22-2021 at 01:59.

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    Senior Member Ariasexta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by staxomega View Post
    I think you are pretty wide off the mark in what I was trying to convey. I simply can't type out every composer I love. I listed Boulez, Feldman, Webern as composers I got into because I was willing to explore more, I pretty much fell in love with JS Bach very early on and that has never left me.

    Here are the cycles of the sacred cantatas I have just at this house (Gardiner, Koopman, Leonhardt/Harnoncourt) with a bunch of incomplete integrales (ie Herreweghe) at my lake house. Helmuth Rilling in storage as I don't like this cycle. Along with hundreds of recordings of the keyboard and organ works.

    And there isn't a lifetime worth of JSB, IMHO that would be pretty sad affair for me to constrain myself to just JSB for the rest of my life. I have listened to everything he has recorded dozens of times.

    I do have diffderent interpretations of a same work, like Bachs Partitas, Forqueray, many cantatas of Bach and other composers. I do love to listen in different interpretations, especially harpsichord and sacred vocal works. Madrigals and plays so far belong to my next 10 year project for my lacking in budget in the past years.

    This is not sad to listen to these works in a very slow pace, it has been a wonderful experience.
    I am a but ascetic myself.
    Last edited by Ariasexta; Nov-22-2021 at 08:57.
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    Senior Member Ariasexta's Avatar
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    No, it is you who don't get the point of Pop and Rock, which are mostly created by very talented musicians expressing their most ardent artistic-musical ambitions. It is really no different from what motivates a Classical composer.

    Yes, how sad for you to have missed out completely on the wealth of very good music that is called Pop and Rock.
    I agree with you there are many talented pop and rocksters, but the amount of bad specimens of their collegues is significant too, we have much good music as we do the bad today.
    Last edited by Ariasexta; Nov-22-2021 at 08:55.
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    Quote Originally Posted by staxomega View Post
    I don't mean music that gets recorded non-stop like Mahler, Beethoven, Brahms, etc to not be good. I am referring to music that isn't recorded that often but still gets recorded and performed a decent amount, at least in the US.

    I've really tried to not list composers as I didn't want the discourse to turn sour, but I'll throw out a couple of examples - Ives' Symphonies 2 and 3. These symphonies completely escape me, they sound like some ideas held together by haphazard orchestration. Now there aren't dozens of recordings of them but I think there is probably a solid 10 recordings give or take.
    Ives was a pioneering American composer and these two symphonies are steps on that way and also comparably accessible; most of these recordings are also fairly recent. That lesser works (which I am not sure they are) benefit from the status of a composer overall is hardly surprising.

    I think there is only one complete cycle of Weinberg's String Quartets? This is clearly far out of the mainstream repertoire but I personally find most of them outstanding. So I don't think it's always a case of the great music naturally sorts itself out. We are reliant on passionate and knowledgeable performers to bring this music to light.
    Of course we do need musicians as advocates of borderline repertoire. Weinberg is not completely unfairly overshadowed by Shostakovich, and recall that even the latter was a bit niche until the 1990s. I'd have to revisit his music; I got 3 discs of the quartets on cpo but have no clear recollection of them, only that I was rather disappointed by another disc incl. the piano quintet. So in my impression Weinberg has been a bit overhyped in the last years.

    In spite of and especially before cheap recordings, music is just too expensive to have too much at once in the (extended) repertoire. With conserved music dominating now, it is a bit different, but performing artists are not playback machines, they also have to pick and choose which repertoire to prepare and perform.

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