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Totally agree with you that Lully is a minor composer. Just a favourite of Louis XIV. This thread is embracing too much in my opinion and not focusing on the important ones and there are many.
 

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So, we're six weeks in and the thread generates about 500-views per day. I assume the majority of those will be 'bots' but even so, despite relatively low participation in the thread, there must be some interest in the journey. Thank you to Mandryka and others who have shared their extensive knowledge. It's really valuable.

If you are following the thread, you'll be anticipating the 'score' of major composers heading our way at the end of the seventeenth century, but as we prepare for that onslaught, let's first steady ourselves with a week of the most excellent composers born 1634-66. First-up, the most highly recommended work for this week:

Level 1
No works

Level 2
Purcell, Henry: Dido and Aeneas

My listening this morning:



Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

Emmanuelle Haïm, Le Concert d'Astrée

Other options here.
Let me just state yours is a great thread and as a longtime listener to all these composers I managed to rekindle my interest for all the major composers you feature. There are some new exciting recordings (De la Rue F.E.) of some of these and it shows that passion for this music will never die.So like you say there is certainly deep interest in your journey but probably most of us, including myself, do not have the level to intervene on a technical level.Being of Flemish origin i have always been particularly drawn to old music. It is part of our DNA. So don't give up like PG sings, but continue to stimulate our senses.
 

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It's me, not Chopin, that's for sure. I don't warm so easily to solo piano works as I do orchestral, chamber or opera, but whilst I enjoyed or at least appreciated all of the Schumann works listed (I listened down to Chopin's Berceuse), I simply didn't enjoy Chopin's Impromtus, Polonaises, Études, Scherzo No. 2, Fantasie in F Minor, Barcarolle or Piano Concerto No. 1.

Maybe they'll grow on me.
hello chilham, as you know i am i awe of your fabulous thread and will participate in the later stages where i can contribute more. that being said Chopin is an absolute genius and his music has immense inner strength, what i believe most listeners do not grasp at first hearing. He is one of the 50 composers i always go back to. his preludes and nocturnes in the right hands are simply unbelievable. Freire and Argerich as well as Fliter and Anna Gourari are some of the right contemporary interpreters. Arthur Rubinstein was superlative in his days.So, when you have time please listen to these versions of those two masterpieces. there are plenty of other great pieces on top of that.take care
 

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Any particular recommendations? I have some of them somewhere but don't remember ever listening to them...

Wth Siegfried Idyll? Because it is the only non-operatic Wagner, or what? As problematic as "bleeding chunks" of operas might be, I think they give a better impression of Wagner's main works than the idyll.
The Siegfried Idyll is an absolute masterpiece and the template for so many symphonic poems to come. I am sure Richard Strauss must have heard it. The Operas, i agree are on another level because there is so much more involved (libretto; voices, themes and orchestral strength).
 

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I have a theory, unsupported by any real facts. I think that many of Robert Schumann's works may have actually written by Clara.
Your theory does not make any sense. RS wrote his masterpieces like Kreisleriana and Fantasia as homages to a very young Clara. He was no doubt vastly superior to Clara as a composer. Clara would have written loads of masterpieces after his death if she had been a great composer, which she was not. She was a great pianist.
 

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Another problem is that even after they go into Valhalla you still have quite a chunk of opera to endure.
Only a few operas can succeed to be riveting from start to finish, especially the long ones. I agree with you that the libretto is not great which causes the boredom in the middle. However i have a soft spot for this opera because of the opening, that is a harbinger of future music and the end which is just great.
 

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There are myriad versions of Bruckner's symphonies. I don't pretend to know the ins-and-outs but I loved Young's version of his 7th. Your comment on 20th C. film music resonates with me too.

For reasons beyond my recollection, I find myself with five different conductors/orchestras' Bruckner 9th (Abbado, Giulini, Honeck, Rattle, and Young) so may dedicate a day to it later in the week and try a few movements from each.
Bruckner is a special case in the history of music because of the great structural qualities of his work, which culminate in his 9th symphony, a symphony full of philosophical content. Other favourites are his symphonies 5, 7, 8. Harnoncourt did a great job with the fifth and Jansons with the marvellous BRSO would be my choice for the last three. Haitink's performance in the 9th is also worth a listen.
 

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Some big old symphonies coming your way this week. I've enlisted the support of Simone Young and the Hamburg Philharmonic to help me through.

Level 1
No works

Level 2
Smetana, Bedřich: Má Vlast



Level 3

Bruckner, Anton: Symphony No. 8



Smetana, Bedrich: The Bartered Bride esp. Dance of the Comedians



Bruckner, Anton: Symphony No. 7



Franck, César: Violin Sonata in A major, FWV 8 esp. IV. Allegretto poco mosso



Bruckner, Anton: Symphony No. 4



Franck, César: Symphony in D minor



Level 4
Bruckner, Anton: Symphony No. 9
Strauss, Johan II: An Der Schönen Blauen Donau
Franck, César: Piano Quintet in F Minor, M. 7, FWV 7 esp. I. Molto moderato quasilento



Smetana, Bedřich: String Quartet No. 1 "From My Life"



Bruckner, Anton: Symphony No. 6
Strauss, Johan II: Die Fledermaus
Bruckner, Anton: Symphony No. 5
Franck, César: Variations Symphonique for Piano and Orchestra
Bruckner, Anton: Symphony No. 3
Strauss, Johan II: Geschichten Aus Dem Wienerwald
Bruckner, Anton: Mass No. 2




Level 5
Bruckner, Anton: Te Deum
Strauss, Johan II: Kaiserwalzer
Bruckner, Anton: Mass No. 1



Bruckner, Anton: Motets esp. Locus Iste, Os Justi
Franck, César: Three Organ Chorals



Bruckner, Anton: Mass No. 3
Bruckner, Anton: Symphony No. 1

Level 6
Franck, César: Prelude, Chorale and Fugue
Bruckner, Anton: String Quintet
Goldmark, Karl: Rustic Wedding Symphony
Strauss, Johan II: Frühlingsstimmen Walzer
Franck, César: Panis Angelicus
Strauss, Johan II: Der Zigeunerbaron Polka
Lalo, Éduard: Symphonie Espagnole
Franck, César: Le Chasseur Maudit
Bruckner, Anton: Symphony in D Minor "Die Nulle"
Vieuxtemps, Henri: Violin Concerto No. 5
Franck, César: Les Béatitudes

Level 7
Strauss, Johan II: Morgenblätter
Raff, Joachim: Symphony No. 5 "Lénor"
Goldmark, Karl: Violin Concerto No. 1
Franck, César: Aria und Finale
Reinecke, Carl: Flute Sonata in E minor, op. 167 "Undine"
Franck, César: String Quartet in D Major
Franck, César: Les Éolides
Reinecke, Carl: Flute Concerto in D Op. 283


Honourable mentions:
Gottschalk, Louis Moreau: La Bananier, The Last Hope, The Dying Poet, A Night in the Tropics, Pasquinade, Louisiana Quartet
Foster, Stephen: Oh! Sussanah, Beautiful Dreamer, My Old Kentucky Home, Camptown Races
Viardot, Pauline: Haï Luli, Le Dernier Sorcier
Strauss, Franz: Nocturno, Op. 7
Reyer, Ernest: Sigurd
Minkus, Ludwig: La Bayadère
Rubenstein, Anton: Piano Concerto No. 4, Symphony No. 2 "Ocean"
There are lots of great and joyful music in this week's picks.
Smetana is an outstanding composer with his masterful, melodic "Ma Vlast" which even bewitched Karajan who gave us a superb version. His two string quartets are very finely crafted works.
Lalo is an old favourite, a bridge between Berlioz's romantic symphonie fantastique and the impressionistic works from Debussy (Iberia) and Ravel (Rhapsodie espagnole). Dance rhythms abound in the symphony from the segeduillas to the malaguena in the final rondo. If you get the version with Repin on the violin you are in for a treat.
Franck's music can be miraculous. Prélude, chorale and fugue is one of those timeless pieces, like his violin sonata.
Reinecke is a remarkable composer but i would have opted for other pieces, like the cello sonatas, his piano quintet and his string trio.
 

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Oh. Well, then.

Now that he's dead his music is much better?
my note to mandryka was a kind of request for clarification as his post was a bit sibylline. that being said the death of a conductor is a good opportunity to take stock of his achievements and reassess him/her. i have indicated that Haitink's version of Bruckner's 9th symphony is great.that does not imply that he is one of the best conductor of all times. but some of his performances were top-notch especially with the RCO which for your guidance is one of the best orchestras ever.
 

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The hottest day on record forecast for the UK. I'm 'holed-up' in an AirBnB just outside a picturesque little village in the Weald of Kent having moved out from our apartment last Friday. No AC so all the windows are open, blinds drawn and a fan at the ready for the heat of the afternoon. I've got Camille to help see me through.


Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3 "Organ"
Christoph Eschenbach, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Olivier Latry


Saint-Saëns: Carnival of the Animals
Neeme Järvi, Louis Lortie, Helene Mercier, Bergen Filharmoniske Orkester

Saint-Saëns: Cello Concerto No. 1
Neeme Järvi, Bergen Filharmoniske Orkester, Truls Mørk


Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No. 2
Sakari Oramo, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Stephen Hough

Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No. 4
Sakari Oramo, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Stephen Hough


Saint-Saëns: Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso
Renaud Capuçon, Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Daniel Harding


Saint-Saëns: Clarinet Sonata
Martin Fröst, Roland Pöntinen


Saint-Saëns: Violin Concerto No. 3
Jean Jacques Kantorow, Kees Bakels & Tapiola Sinfonietta


Saint-Saëns: Violin Sonata No. 1
Bertrand Chamayou & Renaud Capuçon


Saint-Saëns: Samson et Dalila (Excerpts)
Myung-Whun Chung, Plácido Domingo, Choeur de l'Opéra Bastille, Waltraud Meier, Alain Fondary, Orchestre De L'Opera Bastille, Christian Papis, Daniel Galvez-Vallejo, François Harismendy
chillham you are even smarter than i thought; you have got some of the best french performers lined up for S-Saens whose music is not work of genius but so pleasant to the ear; the third symphony with latry is the best in my collection, it is quite a symphony; the first cello concerto in the hands of mork is to die for (the other day i was listening to it on the radio and could not immediately identify it as it has some dvorak and spanish accents, but it is just exhilarating); i would have preferred kantorow in the piano concertos or chamayou but no complaints with hough who is as reliable as ever; the second and the fifth are really special; capuçon delivers some all time favourites on the violin; great cast for the opera, which has a few famous arias but is probably not one of S-Saens best efforts
 

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mravinsky is one of the greatest conductor ever, particularly for russian music. his take of Tchaikovsky's pathétique is of ferocious intensity and speed. you feel like in a bullet train but it is an enjoyable ride and the power of the music overwhelms you. the stereo sound will be acceptable for most.
I have a soft spot for mariss jansons. His father arvids conducted a lot of tchaikovsky and did it with impeccable rigour. He said to his son not to add honey to the sugar, feeling that there was enough sentimentality in the score already. Mariss' versions with the oslo philharmonic and with the bavarian radio so are top notch.
andris nelsons is one of the best conductors of our time but has not recorded the sixth with a great orchestra.
honeck delivers a compelling performance with his pittsburgh players; you get an exciting and emotionally charged version in superb sound. The end of the symphony is really captivating.
kirill petrenko's account is also worth a listen. You feel that he has worked hard at eliminating unnecessary elaborations and achieves the right emotional impact.
i have left currentzis for the end. my first listen was exhilarating but after a few times you get the impression that the
conductor has not studied the score enough or performs his own version of the music.
 

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Honeck with the Pittsburgh SO seems to have produced some excellent recordings. I only have his Bruckner 9th, but have come perilously close to buying his Beethoven 3rd and 9th. For live performances, they seem to have excellent sound.
get everything you can from honeck; he is an exceptional conductor who researches all the works he conducts in depth; his pittsburgh orchestra is fabulous
 

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I've listened to Dorati and have ruled him out. If I was a gambling man, I'd lay money it was Kenneth Alwyn with the LSO, a 1958 stereo recording. I can't find any more than a snippet without buying the whole album. I'll find it one day.
i think most of us have good memories re tchaikovsky; I am addicted to the string serenade i heard at school as a six-year old; this composer might not be a genius like beethoven but then you cannot stop listening to the violin cto (one of the best), several symphonies (1, 4, 5, 6), beautiful chamber music, the first piano cto, swan lake, onegin etc...; dvorak is a different case for me as i cannot listen to some of his works anymore (9th symphony, cello concerto) and the reason is we have been over-exposed to these works, so i'll keep the 7 and 8th symphonies, the string quartets, rusalka and his sacred music; regarding the versions of these works i do not listen to old versions any more as we have fabulous conductors and performers who understand the music much better than their elders because of the benefit of hindsight; i like karajan in this repertoire, but then we have conductors like belohlavek (dvorak), nelsons, pappano, honeck who have great insights and great orchestras.
 

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I don’t agree that newer conductors understand the music better than newer conductors. Especially when conductors new the composer of which they conduct the music. A good example is Bruno Walter who knew Gustav Mahler and played I believe the violin(?) for Johannes Brahms. They grew up with the tradition, who better to understand the music than them? I agree with you if we would be talking about older classical music, like baroque and classical periods. However from the later half of the 19th century and onwards I like older conductors better
I'll be kind to you and just tell you that you have a problem with the word "new". I believe historical records have immense value and should be cherished, even if I have difficulties with the sound quality. But Mahler's vision of the 9th symphony for example with extreme speed is the vision of a great artist, but possibly not the ideal one for his masterpiece. I also believe in the diversity of possible options. This is also why i said that recent conductors benefit from hindsight; they certainly all will have listened to Bruno Walter's take which was made in a rush and which Mahler never heard. But many other great conductors like Horenstein, Karajan, Chailly, Vanskä and the contemporary ones deliver an aural and intellectual product that should IMHO logically be superior to the early versions.
That being said there will always be miraculous versions, even old ones, where all the conditions were right and the sound is still acceptable today. This is my experience and I hope yours will be a happy one as well.
 
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