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Discussion Starter · #141 ·
#49
Miserere (Miserere mei, Deus)
Gregorio Allegri
1638


The Miserere is written for two choirs, one of five and one of four voices, and is an example of Renaissance polyphony.

The work itself is a setting of Psalm 51: Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misercordiuam tuam

It was composed during the reign of Pope Urban VIII for use in the Sistine Chapel during matins (a service of morning prayer), as part of the exclusive Tenebrae service (a church service observed during the final part of Holy Week commemorating the sufferings and death of Christ) on Holy Wednesday and Good Friday of Holy Week.

The story, though, is that this uncommonly beautiful collection of pieces of music is no longer in the form that Allegri wrote it. That's because the Pope, in order to preserve the sense of mystery around the music, forbade anyone from transcribing it, on pain of excommunication.

What the Pope hadn't planned for was Leopold Mozart's trip to Rome in 1770; and, more specifically, the attendance of his 14-year-old son, Wolfgang Amadeus. The Mozarts popped into the Wednesday service at the Vatican, at which the Miserere was being performed. A couple of hours later, back at home, the young Wolfgang proceeded to transcribe the entire piece from memory. He went back on Friday to make a couple of corrections - and the Vatican's secret was out.

But wait, there's more: In 1831, Felix Mendelssohn decided to make his own transcription - and the version he heard happened to be sung higher than originally intended.

This wouldn't have been of much consequence had it not been for an innocent mistake made 50 years later. When the first edition of Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians was being put together in 1880, a small section of Mendelssohn's higher transcription was accidentally inserted into a passage of the Miserere being used to illustrate an article. This mistake was then reproduced in various editions over the next century, eventually becoming the accepted version. And the result is the most famous and probably the most moving passage of the piece - a beautiful top C sung by a treble soloist, pretty much the highest note found in the entire choral repertoire.

Miserere mei, Deus (Allegri) | Nordstrand Church Choir | Aksel Rykkvin (12y treble) | NRK

 

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Discussion Starter · #143 · (Edited)
#50
String Quartet No. 7 in F Major Op.59, no.1
Ludwig van Beethoven
1807


In his quartets Beethoven breaks new ground, one quartet at a time, as he moves forward in his innovativeness. Taken all together they are a treasure and a lesson in how far a mind and heart can go.

:)

This work is the first of three quartets commissioned by prince Andrey Razumovsky (remember this name: There will be a test on it later), then the Russian ambassador to Vienna, and is generally regarded as the greatest of the trio, as well as one of the composer's finest chamber works.

This quartet is the first of Beethoven's middle period quartets and departs in style from his earlier Op. 18 quartets. The most apparent difference is that this quartet is over forty minutes long in a typical performance, whereas most of Beethoven's earlier quartets lasted twenty-five to thirty minutes. Furthermore, this quartet notoriously requires a greatly expanded technical repertoire.

It consists of four movements:

I. Allegro
I. Allegretto vivace e sempre scherzando
III. Adagio molto e mesto - attacca
IV. "Theme Russe": Allegro


*"attacca" is used as a direction in music at the end of a movement to begin the next without pause. Literally translates as "attack at once".

The first movement is in an expansive sonata form, including a fugato (having the style of a fugue, but not in strict or complete fugal form) in the development and lasting nearly twelve minutes even though it forgoes the then-customary repeat of the exposition. The opening cello melody is tonally ambiguous (Oooooo . . . . ), with the first cadence establishing the key of F major only occurring several bars into the movement.

[NERD ALERT] There are many awesome things to notice in this wonderful movement, but one great stroke of genius should not go unremarked here. At length the wide-ranging development reaches the home dominant, the violin tracing serene triplets as it soars over the rising harmonies of the middle parts and the C pedal of the cello (bars 236-240). We reach the tonic, but with the 'wrong' theme. The mystification that follows is both poetic and structurally necessary, and creates the need for the superb gesture with which the recapitulation actually begins (bars 250-254).

Another feature of the first movement is the delayed emotional recapitulation. As became one of Beethoven's many tools for emotional manipulation, delaying the grandiosity of the recapitulation for several bars after the establishment of the tonic key allowed Beethoven to heighten expectation of a definitive statement.

While both the majestic slow third movement and the fourth are also in sonata form, the second movement scherzo is formally one of the most unusual movements of Beethoven's middle period, easily classifiable as being also in sonata form.

The final movement is built around a popular Russian theme, likely an attempt to ingratiate the work to its Russian commissioner. Beethoven connects the third and fourth movements without pause (*attacca) and binds them by a segue: a little musical bridge that gently lifts us like the rising sun and the first restless twittering of birds. A new day sings a fresh, lilting theme that Beethoven labels "Russian", an unidentified trinket sewn into the musical fabric ostensibly paying tribute to the wealthy Russian Ambassador Count Razumovksy (Oh, HIM again?) who commissioned the quartets for his private musical salon.

On the last leaf of the sketches for the Adagio, Beethoven wrote, "A weeping willow or acacia tree on my brother's grave" ("Einen Trauerweiden- oder Akazien-Baum aufs Grab meines Bruders"). Both of his brothers were alive when this work was written so these words are interpreted as having a masonic significance, for the acacia is widely considered the symbolic plant of Freemasonry.

Here's the American String Quartet filmed live in The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space in New York for WQXR's Beethoven String Quartet Marathon on November 18, 2012.

Beethoven String Quartet No. 7 in F Major, Op. 59, No. 1 - American String Quartet (Live)


 

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Discussion Starter · #144 ·
Well, there ya go. The first 50. Wow.

Holst - The Planets, Op. 32. 1918
Dvorak - "New World" Symphony No.9 in E minor "From the New World", Op 95. 1893
Beethoven - Symphony No. 3 "Eroica"
Stravinsky - The Firebird. 1910
Tchaikovsky - 1812 Festival Overture, Op. 49. 1882

Vivaldi - Summer, The Four Seasons. 1723
JS Bach - Brandenburg Concerto #6, In B Flat, BWV 1051. 1721.
WA Mozart - Symphony 41 in C "Jupiter", K. 551. 1788
Borodin - In the Steppes of Central Asia. 1880.
WA Mozart - Overture from The Marriage of Figaro. 1786

Grieg - Peer Gynt: Suite No. 1, Op. 46, and Suite No. 2, Op. 55. (Original score, Op. 23). 1876
Frederic Chopin - Polonaise Op. 53
Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition (Ravel orchestration). 1922
Gershwin - Rhapsody in Blue
Stravinsky - The Rite of Spring

Beethoven - Symphony No.5 in C minor, Op. 67. 1808
JS Bach - Cello Suite No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007
Carl Orff - O Fortuna from Carmina Burana
Mussorgsky - Night On Bald Mountain (Rimsky-Korsokov arrangement). 1886
Johann Sebastian Bach - Well-Tempered Clavier 2, Prelude F Sharp minor

Claude Debussy - The Sunken Cathedral
Sergei Rachmaninoff - Prelude Op. 23 No. 5
Franz Liszt - Consolation No. 3
Richard Strauss - Also Sprach Zarathustra
Ravel - Bolero

George Martin - Pepperland
Chopin - Prelude in Db "Raindrop"
Beethoven - Piano Sonata No. 14 in C♯ minor ("Moonlight Sonata")
Antonio Vivaldi - The Four Seasons
Rossini - Overture to "The Barber of Seville"

Wagner - Ride of the Valkyries
Mozart - Symphony No.40 in G minor
Vivaldi - The Four Seasons "Spring"
Beethoven's "Pastoral" Symphony No. 6
Mozart - Requiem in D minor

Johann Strauss II - The Blue Danube, Op.314
Tchaikovsky - Capriccio Italien
Paul Dukas - The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Beethoven - "Choral" Symphony No. 9
Schubert - Ave Maria

Ottorino Respighi - The Pines of Rome
Beethoven's Symphony No. 7
Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major: Op.50
Tallis - Spem in Alium (40-voice motet) 1570
Beethoven's Piano Sonata No.21 in C Major Op.53 (The Waldstein)

Dvorak - Slavonic Dance No. 7, Op. 46
Josquin des Prez - Missa L'Homme armé super voces musicales
Palestrina - Missa Aeterna Christi munera
Allegri - Miserere
Beethoven's String Quartet in F Major Op.59, no.1
 

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It's an interesting list - more than that, it's a fascinating project.

If I may be critical... nine out of fifty are by Beethoven (compared to two for Bach and three for Mozart, if we look at the traditional big 3), while a major composer like Brahms has not been introduced yet. There is also hardly any 'modern' classical music in it (a quick glance suggests that the Bolero is the most recent work). There are plenty of well-known later works that are suitable for many as an introduction to CM (Barber's Adagio for strings or Knoxville, Gorecki's third, Part's Spiegel im Spiegel).
 

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It's an interesting list - more than that, it's a fascinating project.

If I may be critical... nine out of fifty are by Beethoven (compared to two for Bach and three for Mozart, if we look at the traditional big 3), while a major composer like Brahms has not been introduced yet. There is also hardly any 'modern' classical music in it (a quick glance suggests that the Bolero is the most recent work). There are plenty of well-known later works that are suitable for many as an introduction to CM (Barber's Adagio for strings or Knoxville, Gorecki's third, Part's Spiegel im Spiegel).
It's a good point. Some beginners, arriving from an appreciation of other genres, might find works like Glass' SQ3 "Mishima" to be a good stepping-stone to the classical and romantic era.
 

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Thinking back to when I started listening to classical, this would have been a great list for me - a lot of what's on it is what I was listening to first. The significant next steps for me were Mahler's 1st symphony and Glass's "Glassworks".
 

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Discussion Starter · #148 · (Edited)
It's an interesting list - more than that, it's a fascinating project.

If I may be critical... nine out of fifty are by Beethoven (compared to two for Bach and three for Mozart, if we look at the traditional big 3), while a major composer like Brahms has not been introduced yet. There is also hardly any 'modern' classical music in it (a quick glance suggests that the Bolero is the most recent work). There are plenty of well-known later works that are suitable for many as an introduction to CM (Barber's Adagio for strings or Knoxville, Gorecki's third, Part's Spiegel im Spiegel).
I was about to tally up the composers, but you beat me to it.

The only defense I can muster up is that I've been aiming for accessability, and Beethoven is quite the giant of Classical Music.

It's a good point. Some beginners, arriving from an appreciation of other genres, might find works like Glass' SQ3 "Mishima" to be a good stepping-stone to the classical and romantic era.
Barber's Adagio for strings or
Barber's Knoxville,
Gorecki's third,
Part's Spiegel im Spiegel
Glass' SQ3 "Mishima"
Glass's "Glassworks"
Mahler's 1st symphony
Gorecki's Third

Excellent suggestions.

To have included any of these in the list from 1-50 would mean displacing some other piece on the list. There's only a few personally biased choices on my list, the most obvious being the inclusion of Martin's Pepperland, although my other biased choices, the 1812 Overture, The Planets, & Bolero, could have been entries on anyone else's list as well.

Thinking back to when I started listening to classical, this would have been a great list for me - a lot of what's on it is what I was listening to first. The significant next steps for me were Mahler's 1st symphony and Glass's "Glassworks".
So, yes, I've all but ignored Sam Barber. He gets a mention for Vanessa, and has entries in the 300s for his Piano Concerto, Knoxville, and Adagio for Strings.

I plead ignorance as to Arvo Part. A composer that's rarely on my mind. And I don't know about actually placing Spiegel im Spiegel into the queue . . . as pretty as it is, my impression is that it might actually bore some listeners to tears.

I've got Glass's "Glassworks" up at #157, and a mention of the soundtrack for The Hours when I finally start addressing film scores. I think I've got Symphony No. 8 buried on the list somewhere, and mere mentions of 1000 Airplanes on the Roof and Akhnaten. And Etude No. 14 is on the list at #213. Glass' SQ3 "Mishima" didn't make the list, but I'll put it into the queue.

Gorecki's Symphony No. 3: Symphony of Sorrowful Songs is on the list, although not until #401.

Mahler, on the other hand, gets into the Top 100, at #82, with his Symphony No. 2 ("Resurrection"). Symphony No. 1 comes in at #139. He steps in again at #143 with his 4th Symphony, and at #197 with Das Lied von der Erde. Symphonies 6 & 5 make the Top 300, and No. 9 makes the Top 600 (It may be the fourth greatest symphony of all time (BBC magazine poll, 2016), but is it accessible? For me, it's tough to make the case for inclusion . . . after all, Wagner's Ring Cycle may well be the best work ever written for opera, but I'd never place it at #1 on a list of this sort). I may have mentioned Todtenfeier somewhere on the list as well.

And yes, Brahms. A freakin' musical genius, with a catalog of music, generally complex music, that I'd wager is difficult for "Beginners" to fathom. Just too much musical genius. If music were physics, and you were going to introduce someone to the concepts for the first time, you might not start with String Theory right away.

I haven't neglected Brahms; he's just a composer saved for later:

#58 Piano Trio No. 1 ("Eroica")
#101 Symphony No. 4
#116 Academic Festival Overture
#131 Symphony No. 3
#168 Piano Concerto No. 1

further down the list is Brahms'

Piano Concerto No. 4
String Quartet in C minor
String Quartet in A minor
Piano Quintet in F minor
Trio for Violin, Horn, and Piano
Four Songs for 2 horns, harp and women's choir
Clarinet Quintet in B minor
Piano Concerto No. 2
Symphony No. 1
Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra
German Requiem


And somewhere in the 400s, Brahms' Lullaby

Symphony No. 2, SQ#1, Piano Quartet in C minor, Waldesnacht, Waltz in Ab, and Tragic Overture are in the 500s.

Even later I've found room for String Sextet no. 1, 2nd mvt.

So, yes, this list is skewed heavily towards the "Golden Age" of Classical Music: The century from 1780 to 1880 still provides us with nearly all of our concert and opera repertory. Its major figures form a pantheon: Mozart and Beethoven, Berlioz and Donizetti, Verdi and Wagner, Brahms and Chopin. They are not just part of our musical culture; they form its very foundation.

I'm betting that if I Googled up Lists of music in any "Introduction to Classical Music", their lists would be quite different. I'd also bet those lists will be pretty much 19th Century -centric as well. There will likely be an absence of any music after 1960, unless the list includes film scores. Granted, any other list will have entries worthy of the list that are absent on mine, and vice versa.

You know what else is missing from my list? Glass Harmonica music.

Lists. Whatcha gonna do?
 

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I plead ignorance as to Arvo Part. A composer that's rarely on my mind. And I don't know about actually placing Spiegel im Spiegel into the queue . . . as pretty as it is, my impression is that it might actually bore some listeners to tears.
Some might. On the other hand, this version by Jürgen Kruse (Piano) and Benjamin Hudson (viola) has almost 7 million views on YT, and over 3000 comments, mostly seemingly from people who have little experience with classical music, and absolutely love this work.
 

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For Brahms, I'm surprised that my first pick as an introduction to beginners, the violin concerto, is not even on your list. The Hungarian dances would be even "easier" but are less representative of his oeuvre. I would not have picked his string quartets or his double concerto at all - even for experienced Brahms listeners they may be challenging.

BTW, just trying to make suggestions here, you're doing an excellent job with this thread.
 

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Discussion Starter · #151 · (Edited)
For Brahms, I'm surprised that my first pick as an introduction to beginners, the violin concerto, is not even on your list. The Hungarian dances would be even "easier" but are less representative of his oeuvre. I would not have picked his string quartets or his double concerto at all - even for experienced Brahms listeners they may be challenging.

BTW, just trying to make suggestions here, you're doing an excellent job with this thread.
Thank you! Yeah, I'm far from being the final word on any of this. I've gone to dozens of other lists for inspiration, in fact, I'll often use several lists, using an averaging algorithm to determine a consensus of all the lists I've found. I've also used lists that are composer or subgenre specific ("best string quartets", "best operas", etc.) and consensussed them together as well. I've even used lists from TALK CLASSICAL - actually an excellent resource.

As far as the inclusion of "modern" works, with the exception of Martin's Pepperland (composed 1969, I think), the most recent works are actually BOLERO (1928), followed by THE PINES OF ROME and RHAPSODY IN BLUE (both 1924).

Even the very modern-sounding (to MY ears anyway) THE RITE OF SPRING is over a century old now, and I don't think I have any of Stravinsky's post-1930s works on the list. And he went pretty dodecaphonish in the mid-1950s, and, frankly, Schoenberg was probably better at it. And I'm still not much of a fan of 12-tone music . . . looks great on paper, which pleases my mind, but listening to it just pisses off my heart AND soul.

And I welcome suggestions and comments. I prefer a more multi-sided discussion.

The next 50 are ALSO relatively sparse on anything composed in the last 100 years. Let's see, there's a couple from Copland (no surprise there - you can probably guess which ones). But I do have Steve Reich's - Music for 18 Musicians (1978) being a token nod to Modern Classical. Also have entries for Stockhausen (1956), Legeti (1965), and Penderecki (1961).

And I'll freely admit that all of my "Modern" entries in the Top 100 are "safe" choices. Usually famous and celebrated works. And no 4'33". Famous for being famous. But let's be honest: It's a punchline, a one trick pony. But not really musically "significant". In fact, I've not included a single work from John Cage. I'm sure that there will be some Cage fans that will take issue, but if it weren't for 4'33", would we even be aware Cage even existed at all? :devil:

And I've not really gotten to any opera yet. Nor any film scores (now THERE's a can of worms . . . ). Choral works? Barely . . . and the ones that made the cut mostly pretty ancient.

I may have a little subsection to cover the best works of the 21st Century . . . there actually ARE some works that have gotten some critical acclaim: Become Ocean (Adams, 2013), Kaija Saariaho - Laterna Magica (2009), Hans Abrahamsen - Let Me Tell You (2013), and Part's 4th. Oh, and Missy Mazzoli - Vespers for violin. Rebecca Saunders - Skin (2016). And George Benjamin - Written on Skin (2012)

Tough calls all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #152 ·
Ready? OK, let's go!

#51
String Quartet No. 8 in E minor, Op. 59, No. 2
"Razumovsky" String Quartets
Ludwig van Beethoven

1806


All three quartets were published as a set in 1808 in Vienna, and were commissioned in 1802 by the Russian ambassador in Vienna, Count Andreas Razumovsky, to write three new quartets.

Beethoven surprised his Russian patron by presenting him with lengthy compositions that express intense, shifting emotions. The technical demands and complexity of the three quartets contributed to their poor reception, although today they are among Beethoven's most popular works.

"They are not for you, but for a later age," Beethoven told his critics at the time.

And frankly, the music was quite unlike other string quartets of the age, with unpredictable changes of emotion and texture, loud passages end abruptly and are superseded by cheeky, quiet music that seems to bear no relation to the previous music.

In honor of his Russian patron Beethoven uses a characteristically Russian theme in the first two quartets in honor of the prince who gave him the commission (The first of the three quartets was #50 on this list).

In Op. 59 No. 2, the "Theme russe" is in the B section of the third movement. This theme is based on a Russian folk song ("Glory to the Sun") which was later also utilized by
Modest Mussorgsky in the coronation scene of his opera Boris Godunov,
by Sergei Rachmaninoff in the sixth movement of his 6 Morceaux for Piano Duet, Op.11 "Glory" ("Slava"),
and by Igor Stravinsky in his ballet The Firebird.

However, that folk song, in Beethoven's hands, is piledriven mercilessly, and harmonized opposite of what might be expected.

It's in four movements

I. Allegro,
II. Molto adagio (Si tratta questo pezzo con molto di sentimento)
III. Allegretto, Maggiore - Theme russe
IV. Finale. Presto


Here's the Cecilia String Quartet performing live in 2012.

Sorry about the sound dropout in the last movement. If you'd prefer an unmarred performance, try the second video instead. Some may also find the audio of the instruments to be too "dry".

Beethoven String Quartet No. 8 in E minor, Op. 59, No. 2 - Cecilia String Quartet


.

Here's a brighter and faster version by the Dover Quartet, from 2013. My problem with this performance is not with the musicianship, but the sound recording . . . you may have to turn up your volume a bit to hear the subtleties, especially in the quiet sections. And I think that the video mix spends far too much time on the 1st violinist, as the work is, indeed, a team effort. And then, of course, there's the guy that coughs loudly a third of the way through . . .

But this quartet was the winner at the 11th Banff International String Quartet Competition held at The Banff Centre.

BISQC 2013 - The Dover Quartet - Beethoven Quartet in E minor


:devil:

BONUS QUARTET

There are THREE string quartets in this triptych - It would be remiss to NOT include the third composed in 1808), especially since every video of this one seems to always include the phrase "celebrated third movement".

Here's a 6 minute preview


The String Quartet No. 9 in C major, Op. 59, No. 3 is the shortest of the three "Rasumovski" string quartets. It has features of its own: the pizzicati of the second movement, the fugato in the last one.

Beethoven really gives the viola a chance to shine. He certainly knew how to use that instrument's throaty, raspy sound to good effect.

I find it interesting just how much the 1st mvt. could pass for a work by Mozart. I think it's a deliberate "shout out", or tribute, to a previous master.

The quartet's third movement is a light menuetto which provides the motif that is subsequently turned upside down for the last movement, a fugal allegro molto that begins with the viola and adds the second violin, cello and first violin in that order. The movement is in alla breve time and is almost a "perpetuum mobile" in quavers.

About halfway into the movement, a contrasting theme is introduced. The movement concludes with an enormous Mannheim crescendo, peaking at an implicit fff.

Here's the Alban Berg Quartet, performing the quartet live in 2017

I Introduzione. Andante con moto, Allegro vivace - 0:00
II Andante con moto quasi Allegretto - 11:36
III Menuetto grazioso - 22:18
IV Allegro molto - 27:18


Beethoven String Quartet No 9 Op 59 No 3 in C major Alban Berg Quartet

 

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Discussion Starter · #153 · (Edited)
#52
The Vespers (Vespers of the Blessed Virgin)
Claudio Monteverdi
1610 (with a verified performance in 1620)


Damn; this lengthy piece is so old no one even bothers to use Monteverdi's first name anymore, as if they could remember it in the first place.

This is a towering masterpiece of the very early Baroque - at once intimate and grand, prayerful and dramatic, exalted and sensual (Monteverdi is often thought of as a composer that linked the late Renaissance to the early Baroque.)

Monteverdi's rarely performed 1610 Vespers of the Blessed Virgin ("Vespro della Beata Vergine") offers up a dizzying array of textures and sonorities in brilliant instrumental writing, opulent choruses, and moving solo arias and duets.

It contains an entire mass, music for Vespers, and some motets.

For those who don't attend Vespers every day, the essential musical items are:

Opening call & response
5 psalms
Hymn
Magnificat


Vespers are part of the daily Offices, or Canonical Hours, of the church, music for the Offices including psalms (with antiphons), hymns, and canticles, as well as chanted lessons (with responsories).

Psalms and Magnificat are framed by short plainsong antiphons specific to the feast/season but it was common practice in early 17th century Northern Italy to replace their repeat with other suitable musical items, essentially turning services into concerts.

NERD ALERT: The Mass is in the "old style", while the set of Vespers demonstrates his mastery of the new style (in its use of the figured bass line, voices and instruments in combination, dance forms, virtuoso solo singing, and operatic declamation) alongside elements of the old (cantus firmus technique, divided choirs, and a strict a cappella polyphony).

Actually, The Vespers were written as a kind of demonstration piece: an example of what can be done setting texts in different styles, particularly the new theatrical style (the foundation of opera) of which Monteverdi was a great pioneer. Instead of hearing the flowing, closely knit counterpoint expected from a composer like Palestrina of the preceding generation, you hear something that's half opera and half dance.

And Monteverdi went full out with this collection. He presents sacred text in an operatic style, using daring stereophonic and echo effects and includes a suite of instrumental dances, concerti sections for both voices and orchestra, and a love song.

Here's Sir John Eliot Gardiner at the Versailles Chapelle Royale with the Monteverdi Choir which he had founded in 1964), the English Baroque Soloists and the Pages du Centre de musique Baroque de Versailles, at the Palace of Versailles in 2014, mostly because of the baroque instruments. The Youtube police may remove it for copyright issues, but it always pops back up again.

1610 - Vesperae Virginis - Monteverdi


.

If that link goes dead, here's the University of North Texas Baroque Orchestra & Collegium Singers Conducted by Richard Sparks. Not as well known as Sir Gardiner, but whatcha gonna do?


Domine ad adiuvandum
Dixit Dominus
***** sum sed formosa
Laudate, pueri, Dominum
Pulchra es, amica mea
Laetatus sum
Duo Seraphim clamabant
Nisi Dominus aedificaverit domum
Audi, coelum, verba mea
Lauda, Jerusalem, Dominum
Sonata sopra 'Sancta Maria' ora pro nobis
Ave maris stella, Magnificat
 

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Discussion Starter · #154 · (Edited)
#53
Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
1785


Yeah, I know. Another piano concerto. This one's by Mozart.

Well, a young Ludwig van Beethoven admired it enough to keep it in his repertoire.

:devil:

Ah, but first, let's have a PRE-BONUS Mozart Piano Concerto, the Coronation Concerto (technically "Piano Concerto No. 26, K. 537.), written a few years after (1788) today's entry Piano Concerto No. 20.

No. 26 is somewhat unusual in that Mozart did not give tempo markings for the 2nd or 3rd movements. In fact, the manuscript seems incomplete - large stretches of the solo part simply have nothing at all for the left hand. These omissions were filled in, probably by the publisher, when it was first printed.

Another oddity regarding the Coronation Concerto, besides it pretty much having little to do with any coronation (it coincidentally was premiered about the time of the coronation of Leopold II as Holy Roman Emperor in October 1790 in Frankfurt am Main), is that it was once one of Mozart's most celebrated keyboard concertos, especially during the 19th century, but is now considered NOT to be of the level of quality of the twelve previous Viennese piano concertos or the final concerto in B♭. . . AND . . . that still doesn't keep it from continuing to be widely popular and frequently performed.

And THAT is probably because it's so easy a child could play it. Aimi is 11 years old.

Mozart Piano Concerto 26. Aimi Kobayashi


Frankly, I love Mozart's "simple" Piano Concertos. That may be because they are joyful, and honestly, not a drudgery to learn to play. I could likely sight read this one, partly because it's "predictable", and partly because it's so very straightforward. Although I've NOT played the Coronation Concerto myself, Aimi reminds me of me when playing the cadenza of the 1st mvt. . . . determination, focus, and joy.

This video is from 2006. Aimi Kobayashi (小林愛実 ) is now 25 years old.

:)

But I digress; this entry is actually about Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor. It's just so nice to be able to show the contrast between the very "fun" Mozart (No. 26), and the "Heavy" Mozart (No. 20).

This three movement concerto is scored for solo piano, flute, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, timpani and strings.

I. Allegro
II. Romanze
III. Rondo, Allegro assai


19th-century audiences and composers loved this concerto, which they regarded as "Beethovenish". Beethoven, both smitten and influenced, played it publicly, with his own cadenzas in the first and last movements, where Mozart had improvised. Mozart never wrote out cadenzas for this work, as he had for his nine prior concerti, for a simple and practical reason - preparations for the February 11, 1785 premiere were so rushed that the copyist was still working on the orchestral parts as the audience arrived, and so Mozart improvised on the spot.

The first performance took place at the Mehlgrube Casino in Vienna on 11 February 1785, with the composer as the soloist. One member of the audience was hugely impressed - the next day, Joseph Haydn, the most respected musician of the time, proclaimed Mozart to be the greatest composer he knew.

It is arguably the most historically popular and influential among his keyboard concertos. The particular appeal of Mozart's Concerto in D minor, K. 466, is easy to hear - it is only one of two written in a minor key, and it is the most overtly dark, dramatic and impassioned.

And here's a slightly older Mitsuko Uchida, conducting the Camerata Salzburg from the Piano.

Piano Concerto No. 20 FUN FACT: According to a letter from Mozart's father Leopold, when he first saw the orchestration for the 3rd Mvt. he wept.

Mozart: Concerto for piano and Orchestra (d-minor) K.466, Uchida

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Discussion Starter · #155 · (Edited)
#54
Symphony #6 in B minor, Op. 74 ("Pathetique Symphony")
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
1893


Not Tchaikovsky's first appearance on this list: His 6th Symphony is preceded by the 1812 Overture (#5), and Capriccio Italien (#37). But those are mere wonderful trinkets compared to his very serious 6th Symphony

Well, let's start with this being Tchaikovsky's last Symphony, and that he himself premiered it nine days before his death. He died in St. Petersburg, struck down by cholera that he caught from drinking contaminated water.

And then we can point out that Tchaikovsky actually titled the Symphony "The Passionate Symphony" (in Russian), but it was mis-translated into French as "Pathetique", quite a different word with quite a different meaning.

But let's get to the important part: It's one of the greatest pieces ever written.

Tchaikovsky was pretty pleased with it, saying in letters how happy he was to have created such an earth-shatteringly bleak and devastating fourth movement which would strike existential terror into the souls of his audience. He described it in letters many times as "the best thing I ever composed or shall compose".

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The Symphony starts out very "Tchaikovsky-esque", in this case with the music emerging out of the murky depths of the lower strings and solo bassoon and then blossoming into beautiful rising motifs that struggle upwards with 'life and a thirst for activity'.

The third movement is a frenetic 'limping' waltz in 5/4, reminiscent of Tchaikovsky's ballet works (which themselves are significant works). This vibrant activity doesn't really go anywhere, musically speaking, but it ends with such unearned exuberance that audiences across the centuries have started clapping, fooled into thinking the symphony has reached a triumphant conclusion.

They couldn't be more wrong...

In the wake of the sparkling conclusion of the third movement, Tchaikovsky hits you with the real ending - the heartbreaking final movement. Actually, not only does the symphony begin in darkness, it ends up there as well.

So, this symphony could be described as a battle between a stubborn life-energy and an ultimately stronger force of oblivion that ends up in a terrifying exhaustion, but what makes the piece so powerful is that it's about all of us.

Here's the Russian National Orchestra (RNO) (Российский Национальный Оркестр) conducted by Michail Pletnev (Михаил Плетнев)

Pletnev RNO Tchaikovsky Symphony No.6 2014

 

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Discussion Starter · #156 ·
#55
Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13 "Grande Sonata Pathetique"
Ludwig van Beethoven
1798


Beethoven?! Again!? Yep. Beethoven's a giant, and one of the most influential composers EVER. Beethoven, coming in again at #55, takes up 10% of the list so far.

#3 Symphony No. 3 "Eroica"
#16 Symphony No.5
#28 "Moonlight" Sonata
#34 Symphony No. 6
#39 Symphony No. 9
#42 Symphony No. 7
#43 Piano Concerto No. 4
#45 Piano Concerto No. 21 ("Waldstein")
#50 String Quartet No. 7
#51 String Quartet No. 8


So, here's another "Pathetique" work, this one a piano sonata by Beethoven. Actually, it was called "Pathetique Sonata" by the publisher, although Beethoven liked the name, and gave his blessing.

This was the earliest of Beethoven's piano sonatas to reach warhorse status. The work is cast in three movements:

the first is marked Grave - Allegro di molto e con brio;
the second, Adagio cantabile;
and the finale, Rondo (Allegro).

Beethoven opens this composition with a slow, meditative introduction, using this feature for the first time in a sonata. Seemingly posing a question, or struggling to overcome a dilemma, the music seeks resolution and relief, which appears in the exposition proper, when the movement, driven by tremolando octaves in the left hand, quickens, and theme transforms itself into deeply anxious utterance, introducing, once again, a questing, uncertain mood, without excluding forceful utterances, possibly indicating a desire to transcend the feeling of uncertainty. During the brief development section, a sense of dramatic tension predominates, but the general tone changes in the recapitulation, leading to a coda, which closes the movement.

The second movement begins with a soothing, languid, melancholy melody of an autumnal beauty. Dominating the entire movement, this initial theme eclipses both the subdued second theme and the moment of dramatic tension in the middle section of the movement.

The Rondo finale is really the second Rondo in the sonata, since the middle movement possesses the structural features of that form. This movement opens with a gracefully eloquent theme accompanied by arpeggiated figures played by the left hand. Although the mood seems bright, the music is tinged by melancholy, notwithstanding the playful second theme. Following repetition and thematic development, the first theme surfaces as simultaneously more agile and more delicate. A lengthy, brilliant coda completes the movement.

Here's a live recording from the University of Essex, Colchester (1972)

Vladimir Ashkenazy is an internationally recognized solo pianist, chamber music performer, and conductor. He is originally from Russia and has held Icelandic citizenship since 1972. He has lived in Switzerland since 1978.

His recordings have earned him six Grammy awards plus Iceland's Order of the Falcon.

Ashkenazy: Beethoven - Sonata 8 Opus 13 (Pathéthique)

 

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Discussion Starter · #157 · (Edited)
#56
Mass for Four voices
Mass for Five voices

William Byrd
c. 1592-1595


Now we're talking old. These were written during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, which places this as being part of English Renaissance music from the Tudor period. With Byrd's apparent birth in 1540 (or 1543, depending on whose reckoning you wish to put your money on . . . ), he would have grown up during the reign of Henry VIII.

So during this time Byrd published a four-part, three-part, and a five-part mass.

Both the Mass for Four Voices and the Mass for Five Voices (both of which consists of a Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus & Benedictus, and Agnus Dei) are set for a four-part choir.

Historically, it should be noted that these were produced during the English Reformation, and harboring copies of a Catholic Mass could result in arrest and imprisonment. Likely they were intended for clandestine private (and illegal) masses [The "1558 Recusancy Acts"].

Indeed, the Catholic Masses of William Byrd are problematic entity in the context of Protestant England. These Masses put Byrd profoundly in the underground Catholic movement as a Catholic activist. Somehow he didn't end up executed (he evidently had an "in" with the Queen)

:rolleyes:

A special feature of the two masses is the final clause of the Agnus Dei. Although text-expression is not generally a feature of sixteenth-century Mass cycles, Byrd clearly regarded the ending of the Agnus Dei text 'Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem' as an opportunity for an expressive treatment of the words. He almost certainly identified 'nobis' as the persecuted Tudor Catholic community, as he had done with many of the motet texts which he had set during the 1580s. The final prayer for peace at the end of the Four-Part Mass is one of the most admired passages in the whole of Byrd's output. It is built on a restless suspension figure, which generates a chain of overlapping entries, building to a climax before resolving onto a luminous final major chord.

This music is profoundly moving, regardless of your spiritual beliefs . . . You can hear the joy, the pathos, the reverence, and the peace throughout the works. Sometimes it will simply give you chills.

Kyrie
Gloria
Credo
Sanctus & Benedictus
Agnus Dei


Here is The King Singers version of Mass for 4 Voices

. . . and The Tallis Scholars version of Mass for Five Voices

William Byrd: Mass for 4 Voices, The King's Singers


01 Kyrie - 0:00
02 Gloria - 1:55
03 Credo - 7:52
04 Sanctus/Benedictus - 15:50
05 Agnus Dei - 19:44


William Byrd (1540/1543?-1623), Mass for Five Voices (complete). The Tallis Scholars

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-- Kyrie 0:08
-- Gloria 1:33
-- Credo 6:29
-- Sanctus 15:09
-- Benedictus 17:32
-- Agnus Dei 18:54
 

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Discussion Starter · #158 ·
#57
The Brandenburg Concertos
("Six concertos for several instruments")
Johann Sebastian Bach
1708-1721


For a gateway into the world of Baroque music you can do no better than Bach's 6 'Brandenburg' Concertos, masterful examples of balance between assorted groups of soloists and a small orchestra, although they didn't acquire that name until 150 years later.

Each of the six concertos have their avid fans, from the galumphing first, the more stately second, the homely third, the lofty fourth and the galloping fifth right through to the joyous sixth.

It's also noteworthy that every one of the six concertos set a precedent in scoring, and every one remains without parallel.

In the case of the Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 (in F major), the soloists are so numerous that the work is virtually symphonic. At various points in the composition, Bach crafted solo roles for one violin, three oboes, one bassoon, and two horns, nearly as many musicians as might constitute a small orchestra. It is also the only one of the set to have four movements (rather than three).

The second concerto (also in F Major) of the set has a perilously high trumpet solo as well as solos for recorder (or flute), oboe, and violin. The clarino ('natural' trumpet) part is still considered one of the most difficult in the entire repertoire, and was undoubtedly written for a clarino specialist. The first movement of this concerto was chosen as the first musical piece to be played on the Voyager Golden Record, a phonograph record containing a broad sample of Earth's common sounds, languages, and music sent into outer space with the two Voyager probes.

Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 (in G Major) features three each of violins, violas, and cellos.

Soloists in the fourth concerto (also in G Major) include two Fiauti d'Echo (flutes) and a violin. It has been debated what instrument Bach had in mind for the "fiauti d'echo" parts. Nowadays these are usually played on alto recorders, although traverse flutes are sometimes used instead: it is also theorized Bach's original intent may have been the flageolet (an 'obsolete' instrument that is much like a hybrid of a flute, recorder, oboe, and ocarina, and perhaps the tin whistle or piccolo as well). In some performances, such as those conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt, the two recorders are positioned offstage, thus giving an "echo" effect.

In the Concerto No. 5 in D major, it's a flute, a violin, and a harpsichord. Actually, the harpsichord has a knock-out part from Bach and, in the process, invented the modern keyboard concerto. The writing is so advanced and so intricate for its time that scholars assume the Fifth Concerto is actually the last Brandenburg Concerto Bach wrote.

Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in Bb Major, the only piece in the collection to include no violins whatsoever, spotlights the lower strings, supplemented, as always, by the harpsichord. The violas actually get the highest lines. Scholars now presume it's the first of the set written. It's got a simple part for the viola da gamba, a forerunner of the cello, which Bach probably put there for his employer, Prince Leopold, to play. The title on the autograph score indicates it's a concerto for "Viole da Braccio, due Viole da Gamba, Violoncello, Violone e Cembalo": The viole da braccio would indicate a "normal" viola, to distinguish it from the viola da gamba, already a "vintage" instrument in the 1720s.

The 6th concerto is also way up at #7 on this list. While I was praising it, I also included videos for the
3rd movement of the 2nd Concerto
the 1st movement of the 4th Concerto, and
the 1st movement of the 5th Concerto

So . . . . with each concerto lasting 15-20 minutes, you'll need around 90 minutes to listen to the whole set, and there are plenty of Youtube videos that have one group or another playing ALL of them in succession.

But what fun is that? Well, I suppose that it imparts a certain amount of continuity, but, sadly, few people really have the time or inclination anymore to listen to THAT much music at a time.

So I'll break it down into six posts . . . Here's the first of the six . . . .

#57a
Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F major No. 1 in F major, BWV 1046
Concerto No. 1 a 2 Corni di Caccia, 3 Hautb: e Bassono, Violino Piccolo concertato, 2 Violini, una Viola col Basso Continuo.


0:35 I. Allegro
4:40 II. Adagio
8:24 II. Allegro
12:31 IV Menuetto - Trio I - Polacca - Trio II


Here's the Freiburger Barockorchester playing on period instruments. Pay no attention to the first 30 seconds, that's just a snippet of the 4th Concerto to "get you in the mood".

Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F major, BWV 1046 (Freiburger Barockorchester)

 

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Discussion Starter · #159 · (Edited)
#57b
Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F major
, BWV 1047
Concerto No. 2 a 1 Tromba, 1 Flauto, 1 Hautbois, 1 Violine, concertati, e 2 violini, 1 Viola e Violone in Ripieno col Violoncello e Basso per il Cembalo.


The first movement served as a theme for PBS's Great Performances in the early-to-mid 1980s, while the third movement served as the theme for William F. Buckley, Jr.'s Firing Line; a revival featuring Margaret Hoover would also use the first movement.

The second concerto (also in F Major) of the set has a perilously high trumpet solo as well as solos for recorder (or flute), oboe, and violin. The clarino ('natural' trumpet) part is still considered one of the most difficult in the entire repertoire, and was undoubtedly written for a clarino specialist. The first movement of this concerto was chosen as the first musical piece to be played on the Voyager Golden Record, a phonograph record containing a broad sample of Earth's common sounds, languages, and music sent into outer space with the two Voyager probes.
:rolleyes:

Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, is written for a rather unconventional solo quartet comprised of an unusual grouping, of flute, oboe, violin, and trumpet (the brilliant, high-flying NATURAL trumpet in F that is one of the most extraordinary sounds in baroque music).

The sonorities of the diverse instruments are constantly trading off in an exemplary example of orchestration. Bach also included some rather detailed dynamic markings in the score for the express purpose of making the different solo instruments audible. Bach was, indeed, a master at balancing the textures within his music, creating a new "whole" where a lesser composer might have relied on the differences of the instruments.

But then he creates a dynamic surprise in the Andante by giving the trumpet a "tacet", and basically reverting to a simple chamber music format for the flute, oboe, and violin (accompanied only by the continuo). I'd like to think that Bach anticipated that the trumpet player would need the rest after the rather exhausting 1st movement, and prior to the virtuoso playing needed for the 3rd movement. But, in any case, this was fairly standard practice in the Baroque era.

Remember what I just pointed out regarding all the instruments working as a team, creating a new and unique homogenous sound? The final Allegro becomes a tour de force for the trumpet.

It's also noteworthy that Bach was not writing for a 20th Century trumpet, but a far less versatile "natural trumpet in F" (SURPRISE: NO VALVES) which, surprisingly to us here in the 21st Century, could only play in major keys anyway (This may be another reason it isn't used in the Andante).



:D

You might note that the trumpet soloist here is actually playing a "Baroque" valved trumpet.

0:15 I. Allegro
5:12 II. Andante
8:52 III. Allegro assai


Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F major, BWV 1047 (Freiburger Barockorchester)


 

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Discussion Starter · #160 ·
#57c
Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major , BWV 1048

Concerto No. 3 a tre Violini, tre Viole, e tre Violoncelli col Basso per il Cembalo.
(three violins, three violas, three cellos, and basso continuo (including harpsichord))

I. [no tempo indication] (usually performed at Allegro or Allegro moderato)
II. Adagio in E minor
III. Allegro


The nine upper strings serve as both concertino (soloists) and ripieno (accompanists), fluidly transitioning between roles throughout the piece. This is an unusual instrumentation for the time, just three of each stringed instrument. This presents a minor conundrum as to whether or not this is actually a concerto at all; if all of the instruments are soloists, then, really, none of them are, yes? Or is it truly a Concerto for 3 Violins, 3 Violas, and 3 Cellos, that is, a Concerto for Nine Solo Strings?

The piece opens with a confident figure that is manipulated and passed around between the different instrumental sections, each of which works together as a group. The movement is in ritornello form, a common baroque structure in which a recurring musical passage (generally played by the entire ensemble) alternates with more independent episodes in which the musical material is developed and tossed back and forth between the performers.

But the second movement is a mystery: It consists of two lone chords, with a fermata (a "hold") over the second.

Did Bach intend for the performers simply to play these two chords and then move on to the third movement? Or did he intend for one or more of them to improvise a cadenza elaborating on the transition? Musicologists and performers have expressed varying opinions regarding this question. Was a little joke, or a brilliant stroke of genius? Or did he leave it out because he'd be playing the cadenza, and it was all in his head? (I'm leaning towards the latter . . . as a choir accompanist I've been handed "arrangements" for choir put together from a previous accompanist that didn't bother to write down the accompaniment because he would be accompanying, and didn't need it written down). It's also possible that Bach had left it to be written "later", and never got around to it. :lol:

In some performances an adagio from one of Bach's other works will be inserted.

In any event, the third movement bursts out of this second chord with a sudden rush of energy. In another exhibition of ritornello form, the three groups of instruments race through an exuberant Allegro which brings the work to a joyous close.

So . . . Here's the "Voices of Music" live version. played on instruments from the time of the composers, using the original music and playing techniques.

NOTE: They play the 2nd movement as written, hence, it's about eleven seconds long. Don't blink or you'll miss it.

Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major, BWV 1048: Complete 4K UHD; Voices of Music


:cool:

To return to that enigmatic Adagio in the middle . . . Trevor Pinnock's 2007 recording with the European Brandenburg Ensemble features an improvisation by violinist Kati Debretzeni:

 
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