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A little about me before we begin.

I was a long-time beginner with classical music. I had listened to what you might call popular classics since I was in my late-twenties (I virtually wore out all of The Classic Experience cds for anyone that knows them). I also attended opera including Tosca at the ROH, Turandot in Bordeaux, The Magic Flute in Paris, Aida in Orange, and Lulu, Queen of Spades and Jenůfa at Glyndebourne.

In May 2020, I was challenged by a friend on Facebook to post ten albums that influenced my life, one per day. In deciding which ten to choose I discovered that amongst the Bowie, Dylan, John Martyn, and Florence and the Machine albums, my most played album on iTunes was Mendelssohn's Piano Trios by Perlman, Ma and Axe. I didn't even remember buying it, and certainly hadn't realised that I had listened to it twice as much as any other album I owned. This discovery made me determine to delve deeper into classical music and ultimately brought me to Talk Classical. I'm now, 'hooked', and am grateful for many doyens of this site for sharing so much information, guidance and insight in various threads that has supported my learning and listening over the past eighteen months.

I certainly don't consider myself an expert. Far, far from it. These listings are unlikely to be error-free. All I can say is that I've lived and continue to live the, "n00b", experience and know how challenging it can be for anyone wanting to learn more about classical. This thread is designed to help. You might consider it a 'sister' thread to pianozach's execllent, "Beginner's Guide to Classical Music", giving some structure to the task and I'll link to his excellent commentary on individual pieces as appropriate. I'll also try to link to some of the resources we have on composers and pieces.
Thank you for this story!

I can relate very closely. I absolutely continue to live the "n00b" experience. Outside of cinema, which I studied formally, my relationship with the other arts is a lot less informed. And I glibly and happily will say I like a painting or a piece of music because it's pretty. Happy to declare how shallowly I understand all of this.

Maybe one day I'll take a piano lesson and learn some music theory. (I am beginning to watch a series of recorded lectures from Yale's youtube channel on basic music theory, which I am excited about).

On my end, aside from loving the Classical music I'd hear in high school concerts or the stuff that was put into movies (like all of the amazing stuff in 2001 A Space Odyssey and of course in Amadeus), I really had no clue about any of this stuff. I didn't even know that Amadeus was significantly about opera! And I had seen the film a countless number of times in high school and college.

In my late-20s another neophyte and I stumbled into a performance of Satyagraha because we liked his film stuff and Glassworks reminded me of the music in the Civilization games. We also had been exposed to and seriously appreciate modern experimental music (Cage, Riley, Reich, etc). And we had no idea that Glass was really an opera guy! During the intermission some helpful folks in the audience gladly explained to us that this was being sung in Sanskrit, and some super basic opera stuff (people were so nice! And a surprising number of others in their 20's and 30s too!). And man have I been hooked ever since.

I soon watched The Magic Flute and returned to Amadeus, and that movie was kicked up another notch in my estimation. So much opera so deeply interwoven into its plot!

Anyway, count me in for your exploration of this music. Outside of the 16 operas I've seen, plus smatterings of the usual bigwigs like Mozart & Beethoven, I have very limited understanding of classical music. Even if it is the blind leading the blind :)

EDIT: I'm glad pianozach mentioned his own Beginners Guide. I'm getting through that now. I'm not quite his target audience, but so far it's a fun curation!
 

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This is one of the first times I'm actually engaged in active listening with this type of music. Two tracks in, and it's lovely! Certainly conjures up memories from childhood Sundays in church or the background music in certain movies (like The Great Beauty). Or, more profanely, the crazy tunes in Dark Souls 3.

I must say, this is just a personal comment, not a reflection on the music, but I much prefer the Leonin to the Perotin. Though I can see that the Perotin is an amazing thing. I just like sparse music at the moment.
Please help me in my ignorance. Which of these tracks on the suggested Naxos collection are Leonin and which are Perotin. The composer info on Apple Music and the Naxos site aren't very helpful.

Viderunt Omnes is Perotin while Clausulae is Leonin? What about Beata viscera (track 1) and the final three tracks, Scolica Enchriadis, Sederunt principes, Vetus abit littera?

Appreciate it!

EDIT: I think I just figured it out. A different view setting of the album shows the composers for each track. I do really like the spareness of Leonin! But the opening "Beata viscera" by Perotin is also a banger. Can't wait to get to the rest of the Perotin later in the album.

EDIT 2: This is a silly observation, but this is how my mind works. Leonin's Viderant omnes (II) on this album somehow really reminds me of a number of vocals from Animal Collective and Panda Bear tracks. Not all of their stuff, maybe more of Panda Bear's stuff. Just throwing that out there. Loving this so far!

EDIT 3: Like Mandryka, I too prefer the Leonin to the Perotin versions of the Viderunt omnes. Maybe because it came up first in the album and my expectations were set there. But I do prefer the spareness of it, esp. with the II passage with the higher register of (female?) vocals. Maybe the fuller sound of Perotin would be the winner in a live performance in a resonant cathedral.
 

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Many thanks to science for that wonderful post.

I've done a small amount of homework on Hildegard (including finding some podcasts about her). What I understand is that she is monophonic and predates Leonin and Pelotin who were both polyphonic. Correct? And all of this is different from Gregorian Chant, which comes over a century prior to Hildegard.

I guess I need to look up Gregorian Chant, too.

Some questions I have in case anyone has any insights.

1) How widespread and uniform are the Gregorian Chant, Monophony, and Polyphony traditions/practices throughout Christendom (is there a better term? Is it "Western Europe" or different group of regions?)? Or is much of this just happening in isolation? I heard the Pope had called on Hildegard and appreciated her music, so I'm guessing a decent chunk of Europe was pretty mobile.

2) I'm curious to know if anyone has any insight or context into the interrelatedness of this Catholic liturgical music with the sounds/music of other religions, at least those west India. Is this growing from the same or similar traditions as the other church/temple/mosque songs from Judaism and Islam, the latter of which would have a significant foothold in Spain, around the mediterranean, and elsewhere throughout the medieval period?


Lastly: I think I align with mmsbls in his preference for the polyphony of Leonin over the monophony of Hildegard's harmony of the celestial. The evolution of style was a worthy one.
 

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May I add that I am thankful for the recommendation for specific recordings, and with the album art images posted, too! I don't necessarily enjoy the hunting and pecking around for the "right one" (though with the better known works of symphonies and operas, I do enjoy listening to different versions). Gratefully, all the records this week have all be available on Apple Music, which makes this a really accessible exercise.

Now, to finally get a hold on the troubadour music tradition that fantasy fiction, Verdi, Wagner, et al. were all referencing! :)
 

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My planned listening for today:



Adam de la Halle: La Jeu de Robin et de Marion

Claude Bernatchez, Ensemble Anonymous



Bernart de Ventadorn: Can Vei La Lauzeta Mover

Duo Enßle-Lamprecht



Walther von der Vogelweide: Palästinlied, Unter der Linden

I Ciarlatani, Augsburg Early Music Ensemble
I had a hard time getting into the Adam de la Halle. I understand it's a stage play or some sort of theatrical performance piece, and I always struggle digesting those purely via recording. I don't listen to broadway tunes for that very reason.

The Ventadorn piece and the rest of that album was very interesting. I had no idea recorders were serious instruments or had any purpose beyond lesson for schoolchildren. Great stuff and excellent trivial research fodder!

My fave of this session is easily Under der Linden. Found the translation on the wikipedia page. Fun to see some early examples of secular music about love and getting laid! I can easily imagine a tavern scene with people drunkenly singing along to this. And that line about the little bird somehow reminded me of Ovid's Amores and his own weird and delightful sense of humor.

Edit: I was listening to a silly podcast episode that somewhat-drunkenly discussed the life and times of Hildegard of Bingen. Seems she was writing about female anatomy and reproduction too with interesting theories about how all that worked. How she would have known anything about that as a presumably chaste nun is fun for speculation (and colors my recent viewing of the wild and wicked movie, Bernadetta). I wonder if she ever set her theories of reproduction and carnal love to music...
 

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I don't understand the need for anyone to have some regiment in order to enjoy music. Pretty ludicrous actually. So, no, I definitely won't be joining you or anyone else in any kind of planned listening schedule. I prefer to listen at my own leisure, not someone else's.
Sometimes I like to walk around an art museum. Sometimes I enjoy a docent tour with a group to share the experience with and learn from others.

Sometimes I want to read books on my own time. Sometimes I want to do it along with a book club and chat about what we've been reading.

Hardly ludicrous. Actually, quite a popular mode of engaging with art.

EDIT: and it's not like any of us are paying for this or assigned homework or are taking tests. At least for me, this does count as listening at my own leisure. I mean.... isn't that the whole point of TC? Surely any of us could be enjoying all this great music out there without ever needing to chat about it with strangers online.
 

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I wonder if anyone can comment on any direct comparisons we can make thus far in our listening. If I'm not mistaken, many of these early works are essentially different versions of the same prayers in a Greek/Roman Catholic mass (Kyrie, Gloria, etc). So the words are the same, but the style and notation of singing evolve over time, right?

Does anyone know how long this evolution continued? I grew up R.C. (no longer practicing) but none of our songs/hymns were in Greek or Latin, and I don't think I've ever attended a traditional high mass. I wonder how different modern high masses might be from those of the 12th - 15th Century.

And if there's any context for similar traditions in Jewish and Muslim worship songs, as I imagine there would have been great cultural mixing around the mediterranean, and many of the "old testament" poems and songs are somewhat shared, though in different languages.
 

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Thanks to you both! I've read some of the translations of the Ordinary and it does seem to track with the modern English language versions of those prayers, of course.

It's very interesting to note that the melodic lines hewed to traditions over the centuries. I'm sure the original "composer" of the melody is long forgotten. I wonder if it even was composed or if it was just a "natural" way of singing those syllables? Like a Solfege of sorts? I'm way out of my depth here as I have zero knowledge of music theory and technique.

The point about the melodic consistencies also called up memories of the masses I attended growing up in the Philippines -- somewhat American English style, I imagine, but of course also melding in Filipino translations of prayers and original Filipino songs. (Depending on the week, you might get an English "Our Father" song or a Filipino one) -- and there was always a small volunteer choir and everyone knew the melody and sang along. There were also other sections of the masses where the celebrant would sort of sing-speak or hum-speak. They mostly were pretty terrible singers, so it's hard to imagine there was literal consistency in the melody, but it was sort of standardized, and I wonder if that standard goes as far back as the 15th century or prior. That'd be amazing to think about.

Cheers all!
 

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Really enjoying this track. I've only had the time to keep up with the higher level recommendations from this thread, and this recording is the first since the Missa Pange Lingua and the Dufay Missa L'homme Arme that will be keepers in my rotation.

Not sure if it has anything to do with the composers, the era of the music, or if I just like the voices and recording quality of the Tallis Scholars.

Also love that with this track I'm killing two birds with one stone going through this list and Pianozach's (where I'm still only on #4)!

(I've generally tried to find the recordings that Chilham has listed).
 

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Sure. This isn't the place to continue the discussion, which I find really interesting. If we were to continue, I'd want to understand what "logical" means in this context. But, let's not dominate Chilham's thread -- he's probably itching to move on in his list.
I, for one, find both of your posts and discussions like these in general to be quite illuminating and interesting. It certainly helps me contextualize what I'm hearing, put descriptive terms to things I can sense but don't fully grasp, to see their place in history, and to go beyond "that recording sounds pretty" which is where I often find myself.

It's why I came to TC -- to move beyond listening to this music in a vacuum.

Thumbs up from me!
 

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Oh man. Prior to the pandemic, I was very fortunate to be on the "Show Corp" of volunteers at the 2019 Telluride Film Festival. And I had no idea about classical music or anything, but this fireball of a man, Peter Sellars, gave all of us volunteers the most enervating welcome talk to the fest. He was the self-styled head cheerleader of the volunteers.

And he was around the entire weekend chatting it up with everyone, saying hello to everyone, giving out hugs (back when that was allowed!), and was just the biggest ball of energy. I think I had one such brief interaction with him, and it was a blast.

And I had no idea who he was --- I thought he was just one of the OG volunteers who'd known the founders 40 years prior and was just this goofy charismatic guy -- he just seemed to be having too much fun to be anyone "important". Only years later (actually, only just a few weeks ago) did I learn that he was a significant theater director! But first impressions last, and I'll always remember him as the single most entertaining person at that wonderful film festival.
 

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Composers born 1533-1567. What's our 'Work of the Week'?

Level 1
No works

Level 2
No works

Level 3
Monteverdi, Claudio: l'Orfeo

I was surprised. I thought another Monteverdi work would take the accolade. I was wrong.

My listening today. I've been looking forward to this all week:



Monteverdi: l'Orfeo

Jordi Savall, Montserrat Figueras, Furio Zanasi, Arianna Savall, Sara Mingardo, Carlos Mena, Gerd Türk, Le Concert des Nations, La Capella Reial de Catalunya
I've been excited to get to Monteverdi and opera! I've not had the chance to catch any operas prior to Mozart and this will be the first time I've dug into any Baroque opera recordings. Four tracks into this disc, and I'm really loving it! Such a different energy from all other operas I've seen.
 

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For the madrigals:
Il Ballo delle Ingrate
Lamento della Ninfa
Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda

I'll see what I've got for the Vespers.
I'm liking Monteverdi. I particularly love that first section of Il Combattimento ('Non schivar...'). Would love to see some live one day.

I also think I can sense that lineage from de la Halle and the troubadour music and instrumentation (those twangy strings), and quite distinct in tamber from the Romantic music I'm most familiar with. But the form certainly fully fits my idea of what opera is, unlike Robin & Marion.

Very interesting listens!
 

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I'm enjoying the Haim recording of Dido and Aeneas (and inspiring me to re-read Virgil!). I often find it hard to listen to an opera without seeing it first as I struggle to understand the music without the narrative and the acting, but this has plenty of good music that's easy enough to get into. Hopefully I can see a performance one day!

I'm struck by how much the music reminds me of Church music, or at least my vague stereotype of it. Is it the case that Purcell or Baroque music in general skews towards the tradition of church music? Or on the other hand, is the church music that we've carried through today disproportionately from the Baroque era, and in its day that church music was fashioned after contemporary popular music?

Or am I just mischaracterizing all of this? A distinct possibility. :)

Thanks!
 

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The Corelli is basically tunes and violin swagger with a bit of keyboard tinkle in the background.

I think Corelli was at the beginning of the most significant deterioration in the history of classical music. Classical music doesn't really thoroughly recover until the middle of the 20th century.
Hi Mandryka. This is a very intriguing statement. I'm not sure what you mean though. I'm really mostly familiar with the Classical and Romantic periods, which would fall into the "deteriorated" eras. So I'm hoping you could explain a bit more what that deterioration is, where the music has deteriorated, and what I can find in post-war music that shows the recovery.

I'm guessing you're talking about the relative shallowness of tune-heavy, song-style music that's less intellectually or artistically adventurous than simply aesthetically pretty? This is what I think of many forgettable musical showtunes from mediocre musicals, for example, and I see some parallels in the song structures of older operas.

Or, in rock music, the formulaic use of seemingly "virtuosic" guitar playing, and long guitar solos, or the exaggerated drum solos of all the generic and boring hard rock and arena bands, which masks the fact that the music is lacking in the thing that makes the best music, even if that music is played with less bombastic virtuosity. CGI fireworks, but no real light.

Anyway, eager to read your response.
 

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Glad I finally have the prompt to listen to the Four Seasons recording* I added to my collection a couple months ago. And timed perfectly, as I was at #6 on Pianozach's list, which is the Summer Concerto. Killed a few birds with one stone! The accompanying sonnets made for a wonderful pairing (thanks Wikipedia!).

*Apple Music was recommending the Janine Jansen (Decca) recording, which I quite liked.

I found Summer and Autumn to be the most engaging. Spring my least fave of the four, but only by a small margin. Good stuff all around!

I also picked up that same Europa Galante** collection for the other 8 concertos. Making my way through it now. I can see that the Four Seasons are really stand outs. But I did still really like the first movement of No. 5 'La tempesta di mare' and found Nos 8 & 9 to be particularly good. With Vivaldi I'm gravitating to the quick loud and dramatic stuff.

Before this listen, I guess I was only really familiar with the first movement of Spring, which solidified in my mind this stereotype of a quiet, courtly, prim sound. Background music for fancy socials. Glad to be disabused of that notion. Lots of fireworks abound!

** Is it unusual or noteworthy that the compilation orders the concertos not 1-12, but 1-5, 7, 11, 10, 8, 9, 6, 12?
 

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I don't have six hours, but I am curious about hearing some Couperin, mostly because I can't get over Ravel's Le tombeau de Couperin, so quite tangential.

I'm sure I've heard a bunch of Telemann on the radio - the name is so familiar from my local DJs.

Anyway, if there are any specific things worth listening to, some highlights that you could recommend, that'd be much appreciated. Thanks!
 
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