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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The world is full of lists.

There could be more recommendations with descriptions on why precisely some piece of music has touched, moved, stimulated or resonated positively.

I would be very interested in going for a modernist and contemporary music journey where the people who recommend a piece of music would tell what the piece is about and why they are honestly excited about it.

If nothing more can be said of a modernist or contemporary piece, than something like: "An emancipation of dissonance is executed through heartfelt usage of the major 7th and the minor 2nd interval and then processed into a stream of wonderful orchestral colours" --- --- --- Let´s just say, there is more to modernism and contemporary music than the emancipation of dissonance, lack of pulse and the focus on tone colours.

Indeed it would be lovely to hear what excites people about the modernist and the contemporary! And if someone was able to even analyse or describe what kind of aesthetic movements there are nowadays on the modernist field, I would be most interested.
 

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I'll start with Gérard Grisey's Quatre Chants pour franchir le seuil: the harmonic language and colour palette is simply extraordinary. It is the final piece in Gérard Grisey's output, and sadly he passed away before the premiere of the piece. Grisey worked on this piece from 1996 to 1998, and it was premiered in 1999 by Valdine Anderson and the London Sinfonietta, conducted by George Benjamin.

First, the ensemble enters with breathing sounds, and emerges into a muted, mid-low register space, where the voice appears in short bursts and individual held notes. A moment that I find particularly extraordinary is when the voice and trumpet enter simultaneously for the first time: the way the trumpet reinforces the voice is quite something. It's also fascinating how the different instruments and voice change roles throughout the pieces, and how textures are transferred from one group to another: the first movement prominently features descending patterns which are embedded into a very specific type of harmonic language. In the second movement, the texture is much more static, with longer lines in the voice – there are longer range ascending lines that move more slowly than in the first movement, and the vocal line is the fastest moving feature in the texture. There's almost a mystical feeling to this movement, which is reinforced by the low register and use of harmonies that incorporate beating (among other things).

Much of the texture of the third movement does feel like it connects to the first two movements, but it's been remade into something different. This creates a sense of connection, while also preventing it from becoming too predictable. There's sweeping gestures that move from high register to low register, but these also incorporate more localized upward moving gestures that could potentially refer to the second movement. Glittering percussion is used to punctuate phrases. About halfway into the movement, we get references to the second movement through harmonies and static chords that hark back to similar effects in the second movement (although here everything is in a much higher register). This gradually dissolves into a section with indefinitely pitched percussion, that morphs straight into the fourth movement without an interlude (as we've had between all of the previous movements). In the fourth movement, the energy intensifies until we get to a climactic passage with punctuating wind runs (these are also imitated in strings sometimes), held brass notes, and a very virtuosic soprano part. The energy gradually fizzles out and moves into a lower register – this then moves into the a section that cross-references earlier sections of the piece. Everything comes to a big dramatic pause, and then we a section with very slow descending lines. This section also comes to a big dramatic pause, which is followed by an epilogue with rich harmony that refers to various sections from earlier in the piece, and has some truly exquisite harmonies and colours.

There's so much more one could write about this piece, but I'd need to go write a proper scholarly article to articulate everything!

 

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I will definitely be paying attention to this thread.

The vast majority of my classical listening is music from the Second Viennese school and newer. Mostly from the mid 20th century to the present.

My problem is, I do not have the musical language to precisely describe why some piece of music has touched, moved, stimulated or resonated positively with me.

Once I see some recommendations posted, I may get a better feel for what the OP is looking for, and I will chime in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I will definitely be paying attention to this thread.

The vast majority of my classical listening is music from the Second Viennese school and newer. Mostly from the mid 20th century to the present.

My problem is, I do not have the musical language to precisely describe why some piece of music has touched, moved, stimulated or resonated positively with me.

Once I see some recommendations posted, I may get a better feel for what the OP is looking for, and I will chime in.
I think everyone are free to join however they want. My only wish is that something meaningful is said of the piece of music. You do not need to be able to analyse the music thoroughly or use specific terms. Just try to describe why you are interested in the piece.

What @composingmusic just did with the first post is great. Because he hears and sees so much in the music he posted, I feel encouraged and motivated to listen.

I don´t have enough time to listen to the piece carefully tonight but already I started my orientation by reading something on the composer and listening to a few minutes here and there, just to get a picture of the techniques used, the atmospheres, textures, processes and the drama. That music sure SOUNDED delicately good!
 

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What @composingmusic just did with the first post is great. Because he hears and sees so much in the music he posted, I feel encouraged and motivated to listen.

I don´t have enough time to listen to the piece carefully tonight but already I started my orientation by reading something on the composer and listening to a few minutes here and there, just to get a picture of the techniques used, the atmospheres, textures, processes and the drama. That music sure SOUNDED delicately good!
Thank you! I'll continue doing these when I've got time – a piece here and there, that I particularly enjoy. Glad to hear that I've encouraged and motivated people to listen, and that's also a great motivator for me to do more of these!
 

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This is from a CD that I bought and I enjoy the entire disc. Like Simon Moon, I can't give technical or compositional reasons for why it appeals to me it just does. There are many, many contemporary composers who I'll never have the time to devote the proper attention to in order to get to know their music. But in addition to Svend H. Nielsen, I have some CDs by Adriana Holsky that I enjoy as well.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'll start with Gérard Grisey's Quatre Chants pour franchir le seuil: the harmonic language and colour palette is simply extraordinary. It is the final piece in Gérard Grisey's output, and sadly he passed away before the premiere of the piece. Grisey worked on this piece from 1996 to 1998, and it was premiered in 1999 by Valdine Anderson and the London Sinfonietta, conducted by George Benjamin.

First, the ensemble enters with breathing sounds, and emerges into a muted, mid-low register space, where the voice appears in short bursts and individual held notes. A moment that I find particularly extraordinary is when the voice and trumpet enter simultaneously for the first time: the way the trumpet reinforces the voice is quite something. It's also fascinating how the different instruments and voice change roles throughout the pieces, and how textures are transferred from one group to another: the first movement prominently features descending patterns which are embedded into a very specific type of harmonic language. In the second movement, the texture is much more static, with longer lines in the voice – there are longer range ascending lines that move more slowly than in the first movement, and the vocal line is the fastest moving feature in the texture. There's almost a mystical feeling to this movement, which is reinforced by the low register and use of harmonies that incorporate beating (among other things).

Much of the texture of the third movement does feel like it connects to the first two movements, but it's been remade into something different. This creates a sense of connection, while also preventing it from becoming too predictable. There's sweeping gestures that move from high register to low register, but these also incorporate more localized upward moving gestures that could potentially refer to the second movement. Glittering percussion is used to punctuate phrases. About halfway into the movement, we get references to the second movement through harmonies and static chords that hark back to similar effects in the second movement (although here everything is in a much higher register). This gradually dissolves into a section with indefinitely pitched percussion, that morphs straight into the fourth movement without an interlude (as we've had between all of the previous movements). In the fourth movement, the energy intensifies until we get to a climactic passage with punctuating wind runs (these are also imitated in strings sometimes), held brass notes, and a very virtuosic soprano part. The energy gradually fizzles out and moves into a lower register – this then moves into the a section that cross-references earlier sections of the piece. Everything comes to a big dramatic pause, and then we a section with very slow descending lines. This section also comes to a big dramatic pause, which is followed by an epilogue with rich harmony that refers to various sections from earlier in the piece, and has some truly exquisite harmonies and colours.

There's so much more one could write about this piece, but I'd need to go write a proper scholarly article to articulate everything!

OK, so today I had the time to listen to Gérard Grisey's Quatre Chants pour franchir le seuil.

This is music to which you must have referred to as the French approach: everything must be heard. Yes, everything can be heard and the outcome is most delicate and refined.

Just like you, I found the long note sustained intervals with the soprano and the trumpet very appealing. Also all the ornamentation of the vocals is gorgeous and the vocal parts as whole were very well thought out.

Also I liked that there were distinct phases, and the quiet drum rolls (at least they sounded like that) were a repeating feature between the phases.

At first listening, maybe this piece of music was a bit too long for my likening -- maybe 30 minutes would have been enough not to make me lose my intensive listening focus at times. But this tells more about me than the music, maybe. And I might later think differently.

Thanks for the great link, @composingmusic !
 

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I'm recommending a 21-minute piece so Waehnen won't fall asleep.

If he falls into anything - it will be autumn: Autumn Sonata (1993) for Bass Clarinet & Orchestra.
It's composer - Thea Musgrave - is a Scot transplanted into U.S.A. since 1972.

No detailed reasons here as to why I selected this opus - other than I feel we should all hear as many concerti for bass clarinet as possible before we die (we don't get too many of these).

You can read more colorful emancipated stuff herein: Autumn Sonata - Concerto for Bass Clarinet and Orchestra | Thea Musgrave - Wise Music Classical

YouTube split its movements into seperate video clips; so here is part I

I apologize for the digital stereo - this work doesn't have any desirable vintage archive recordings in scratchy-sounding mono.

[afterwards, if you have time, you can watch Ingmar Bergman's 1978 film Autumn Sonata with Ingrid Bergman.]
 

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Frederic Rzewski - De Profundis (1994)
For speaking pianist. As with any coupled text and music (including any lieder or opera) a great deal of the appeal comes from seeing how the music complements the text (or when it doesn't), but more relevently this is Rzewski- you get his typical delight in mixing up modernist composition, Bach pastiches, and his favored extended techniques of finger percussion, hand slapping and playing a comedic "harpo horn" at one point.

Text is also excellent, a curated selection of Oscar Wilde's writings while jailed for "sodomy" - like a lot of Rzewski this was political, and written for the AIDS crisis around that time.
 

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I'd always recommend Marco Momi, especially his LUDICA II. This is my initial experience of his compositions, not long (10 mins) but an absolute banger. It's immediate and accessible while at the same time simply great.

Another composer is Clemens Gadenstätter, and I recommend his Comic Sense. About an hour long but still it overwhelmed me immediately the first time I heard it. As the title says it's got remarkable musical humour throughout so it's also great fun listening to it.

Don't forget to put your best headphones on!
 

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Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians. While not the first piece of musical minimalism, it is certainly one of the most notable and best and can perhaps stand as representative of the whole genre.
So, is it really classical music? Yes, since it is meant to be listened to: not sung to, danced to, accompanying a ballet or film. It is as radical a departure from traditional Western classical music as serialism.
Now, does it have "legs" or destined to be some kind withered branch off the main trunk of Western music? I think probably the latter. True minimalism was already abased and adulterated from the time it first appeared (sorry, Philip Glass can take a good deal of credit for that).
There is something about minimalism which seems to echo or parallel the ethos of "culture" in the late 20th century. I can't put my finger on what, but there's some kind of connection.
 

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OK, so today I had the time to listen to Gérard Grisey's Quatre Chants pour franchir le seuil.

This is music to which you must have referred to as the French approach: everything must be heard. Yes, everything can be heard and the outcome is most delicate and refined.

Just like you, I found the long note sustained intervals with the soprano and the trumpet very appealing. Also all the ornamentation of the vocals is gorgeous and the vocal parts as whole were very well thought out.

Also I liked that there were distinct phases, and the quiet drum rolls (at least they sounded like that) were a repeating feature between the phases.

At first listening, maybe this piece of music was a bit too long for my likening -- maybe 30 minutes would have been enough not to make me lose my intensive listening focus at times. But this tells more about me than the music, maybe. And I might later think differently.

Thanks for the great link, @composingmusic !
Really glad to hear you've enjoyed this! I'll come back and do another one of these soon, once I've got the time (hopefully within the next day or two).
 

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Oliver Knussen's O Hototogisu! – his last completed work.

Video here:
Score here: O Hototogisu! | Faber Music

The piece starts with a bird-call like figure in the flute, which gets taken up as a resonance in string harmonics. The hototogisu is a type of Japanese bird, and it is a popular motif in haiku poetry (conveniently the name is five syllables long). On the wikipedia page, you can hear what this species of birdcall sounds like, and compare that to the opening flute melody: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesser_cuckoo

At around 1:40, the texture really opens up: we get low register piano, bass drum, and low harp notes for the first time. For me, this is a magical moment, and it's a moment of potential just before the singer enters – it really sets the scene in quite an incredible way. The type of chords that are introduced here then appear in dialogue with the singer, alternating in phrases.

Wood block and flute punctuate the end of the second poem, and make way for the third one. Here we get an interesting effect of the movement sounding as though it's moving at a faster rate, even though the metronome mark itself has slowed down. There is greater dynamic contrast, with more angular figures. The flute, which was largely absent after the initial introductory section in the first song, plays an important role in this section. A dialogue between the birdcalls in the flute and the soprano unfolds, culminating at just before 4 minutes (into poem 5). Poem 5 begins with a texture that resembles the moment I've outlined at 1:40, with low register material entering and giving the texture some grounding.

As we can see, wood block and percussion in general play a structural role in this piece, serving as punctuation. At the start of the fifth song (4:01), we get a percussive chord in the winds, punctuated by wood block and pizzicato viola. Again, there is so much detail in the score: the singer is reinforced by sul tasto harmonics in the violas, which move to a sul tasto trill in the second violins (all the while the first violin holds a high harmonic). Muted brass gestures, moving at a slower rate than the singer and flute, appear just after the fifth song as a very brief interlude, and these continue to feature in the sixth song. At first, they provide contrast by alternating with the faster moving flute and soprano gestures. However, these brass gestures gradually speed up and move into a similar time scale to the faster material, and this brass material becomes increasingly fragmented.

The final song begins on a held C sharp in the strings (5:50), and the singer enters a few octaves down on the same pitch. The first two lines of the poem are followed by a long interlude featuring flute and piano playing birdsong-like material, with the rest of the ensemble providing a slowly moving harmonic backdrop that has a beatiful internal luminosity. The piece ends with the words "O Hototogisu!" sung unaccompanied, apart from the last syllable, which is doubled in the rin (Japanese standing bells) and pizzicato viola.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I listened to the Youtube link pieces today. Everything else I liked but the piece with the pianist hiccuping and burping was not to my liking. It was most irritating and I just could not continue listening to it! Sorry!

Need to come back to these works, but at this moment my favourite remains the Grisey piece.

(Then again, this thread is not about others posting and then me stating whether or not I liked what I heard.)
 

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I listened to the Youtube link pieces today. Everything else I liked but the piece with the pianist hiccuping and burping was not to my liking. It was most irritating and I just could not continue listening to it! Sorry!

Need to come back to these works, but at this moment my favourite remains the Grisey piece.

(Then again, this thread is not about others posting and then me stating whether or not I liked what I heard.)
Which one was that? The Saunders I posted? :D Wouldn't be surprised.
 
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