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Wow! What fun to read thru everyone's favorites. And what variety! In some ways I agree with those who said it was too difficult to pick just one or that it mattered what day it was.

For me, it was Mahler's 8th for years. But a few years ago I began really listening to Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, and and have come to realize that it is probably one of the most beautiful compositions ever written. What a supreme masterpiece. It's funny, people always point out that Beethoven was deaf when he wrote his 9th, but, for me, the 9th, although great, just isn't in the same league as his Missa Solemnis, and he was deaf when he wrote it! There are so many sublime moments. And the chorus is instructed to "shout" at the end of the Gloria! What joy!

So, it's Beethoven's Missa Solemnis as my #1 favorite with Mahler's 8th as a close second and Sibelius Kullervo as a firm 3rd. Oh, I could go on, but I won't. ;)
 
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But a few years ago I began really listening to Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, and and have come to realize that it is probably one of the most beautiful compositions ever written. What a supreme masterpiece. It's funny, people always point out that Beethoven was deaf when he wrote his 9th, but, for me, the 9th, although great, just isn't in the same league as his Missa Solemnis, and he was deaf when he wrote it! There are so many sublime moments. And the chorus is instructed to "shout" at the end of the Gloria!
Both the Missa solemnis and the 9th have passages where one might wonder if Beethoven was in fact impaired by his deafness because of the extreme vocal demands (although he did this for instruments long before and also in Fidelio when he could still hear well) and the density of combined orchestral/vocal forces that makes it almost impossible to hear half what is going on and tends to overwhelm the listener (and I think the Missa is "worse" in the last respect). BUT they have also passages that are among the most refined, colorful and sublime in sheer sound in all Beethoven, such as the Benedictus with the violin solo, so this seems to show that he was not really impaired.
 

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Brahms' Clarinet Quintet
This might be sacrilege, but while I do love the Clarinet Quintet, there are numerous other Brahms chamber works I find myself returning to more frequently, including all of the other clarinet pieces (the op. 120 sonatas and the op. 114 trio). But that said, Brahms's chamber works probably account for about a quarter of my classical listening these days, so it's a high bar :p .
 

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The zero-thinking, gun-to-my-head choice is Beethoven Op. 111. It even has an aesthetically pleasing opus number.
Can anyone explain why some of Beethoven’s compositions, especially his later works such as certain piano sonatas and string quartets are only referred to by their opus number? I don’t see that happening as frequently with any other composer except maybe Mozart. But isn’t it easier to remember something as piano sonata no. 32?
 

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Honestly, I try not to be an "Opus Number Guy", but Op. 111 is one of the exceptions for me. Probably because it's an easy number to remember, more than anything. That, and the piece (Piano Sonata no. 32) has no nickname.
 

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What is your favourite recording, or one you recommend I listen to. Your description makes me want to hear it.
I love the sharpness and precision of Boulez/Zimerman which is definitely my go-to recording. However, t I wouldn't want to go without Fischer/Schiff or Fricsay/Anda either. The piece is a tough nut to crack for the performes, so I suggest listening to verious recordings in order to hear different sides of it!
 

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Bach's little fugue
The G minor one? I love that one too, on the piano.

As to the OP, it is impossible to choose just one. It's like asking to pick a favourite child. But among the contenders would be:

Bach Goldberg
Bach WTC (both books)
Beethoven 3 symphony
Beethoven 4 symphony
Beethoven 5 symphony
Beethoven 7 symphony
Beethoven Waldstein
Beethoven SQ 14
Brahms 3 symphony
Brahms 4 symphony
Sibelius 5 symphony
Sibelius 7 symphony

I have a hard time deciding which of those I like better than the others. Each of them gives me enormous pleasure.
 

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Can anyone explain why some of Beethoven’s compositions, especially his later works such as certain piano sonatas and string quartets are only referred to by their opus number? I don’t see that happening as frequently with any other composer except maybe Mozart. But isn’t it easier to remember something as piano sonata no. 32?
For many/most people it is in fact easier to use opus numbers for Beethoven and K numbers for Mozart. It's mostly convention and habit but it also adds a bit of information, i.e. roughly the neighborhood of pieces in other genres like op.53 Waldstein sonata, op.54 piano sonata, op.55 Eroica symphony, op. 56 triple concerto, op.57 Appassionata sonata, op.58 piano concerto #4, op.59-1-3 Razumovsky quartets etc.
And because of the "misnumbering" of quartets 13,14,15 I am always confused about the numbers but never about what is op.132,130,131.
 
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