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Old 02-15-2018, 05:21 PM
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Default ♬ Classical Music: Act III-ish ♬

Looks we've had a couple of other classical music threads here, and they're pretty old. Here's a new one. I'm using ‘classical’ to describe pretty much any sort of post-European-renaissance chamber/orchestral music in the western canon, but it doesn't have to be restricted to Europe or the US. Let’s use this thread for anything to do with classical music.

As much as I listen to classical music, the vast majority doesn't interest me. I'm bored by Brahms, Beethoven, and Mahler, think Vivaldi is about as kitschy as you can get, and wouldn't be too sad if I never heard anything by Mozart again. I used to be suspicious of J. S. Bach's status, but after a few years of listening to recordings I've come around to thinking his work is so good and unique that it's not even helpful to categorize it as "baroque", considering what the points of comparison are, and that it was more or less untouchable until so-called modern pieces like Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. I am very fond of some of Debussy's stuff, though!

So, some Bach.

BWV 56 / "I will gladly carry the Cross": So much baroque music, no matter the region or composer, sounds to me like various reconfigurations of codified passages leading towards major or minor resolutions (this trend, this obsession with cadence/certainty, would be picked up right again after Bach), but Bach’s music has so many structural irregularities and continuous flows that a lot of the time it only feels comparable to other concurrent music on the broadest level. That drive for resolution can happen in Bach’s music, but it’s used selectively. The codifying is personal and connected to the text’s emphases. If you listen you’ll notice that that quality only comes up during the third and last movement, and it’s especially pertinent to the last movement when Bach yields to a traditional hymnal structure.

BWV 21 / "I had much grief": Of particular note in my opinion are the first, fourth, and fifth movements. Below are the fourth movement's lyrics in english. Bach had a hard life full of death, relocation, people under-appreciating his talent and skills, and unfashionableness beyond his renown as an improvisational organist, and I see no reason to not believe that he used his music and faith partly as conduits for these sorrows and frustrations.

What? have You therefore, my God,
in my trouble,
in my fear and despair,
turned completely away from me?
Ah! do You not know Your child?
Ah! do You not hear the cries
of those, that are Yours
by covenant and faith?
Once You were my delight
and now have become grim towards me;
I seek You in all places,
I call and cry after You,
yet my woe and ah!
appears now, as though completely unknown to You.


BWV 211 / Coffee cantata: Did you know that J. S. Bach wrote a Humorous Compositione about the kids and their coffee? Most of it's a bit too cheesy and lite for my tastes, but I'm into the second movement, a great example of how catchy Bach's music can be.

BWV 816 [Performed by Murray Perahia on piano] [Performed by Christophe Rousset on harpsichord]: One of my favorite keyboard works by Bach played by two very good musicians on two different instruments. It's interesting to compare nov only the timbral effects on the piece but also each keyboardist's tempi and rubato.

Okay, I could link a hundred other things by Bach. Here're a few other things.

Do you like Holst? Do you like Ravel? Are you open to weird interpretations? You might then like Isao Tomita's albums of both: The Planets and The Ravel Album. You might also want to check out this performance of Venus, the Bringer of Peace. It usually makes me cry.

Lament (for Catherine, aged 9 "Lusitania" 1915), by Frank Bridge. Everything I’ve heard by Bridge is just lovely but I hardly ever see him mentioned. Maybe we need to wait another fifty years. This piece and the comparable nocturne movement in his 1909/'10 suite for string orchestra are gorgeous, sensitive works that give you the sense of coming upon a dimly illuminated intimate world full of quiet possibilities and strange sorrows.

Maurice Duruflé's Requiem. I went to a performance of this during an evening service on All Saints’ Sunday and cried basically throughout the whole thing, lol.

Flor Peeters' concerto for organ and orchestra (part 1 / part 2): Found in my never-ending quest to discover what among the compositions written for pipe organ are worth listening to, and this is definitely worth listening to! The melodic inventiveness is secured by motifs that can be taken playfully or seriously, and the chromatic directions harmonies are led in are so lush.

And, to end, a piece I first encountered in a concert, Paul Hindemith's five pieces for string orchestra. I'm always amazed by Hindemith’s genius for writing deeply dissonant yet gorgeous pieces that blend humor and horror. This is music that is as entertaining as it is awesome. When he’s at his best, I think that Hindemith may be the most fascinating European composer working in a classical idiom since J. S. Bach.

Last edited by Diplo; 02-15-2018 at 05:40 PM.
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Old 02-15-2018, 07:14 PM
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I'll be watching this thread.
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Old 02-16-2018, 11:59 AM
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Johann Weissenberg's 12 Concertos, Op 7: Kinda stumbled over these concertos by a Swiss Italian-wannabe, and as much as this sort of extremely well-behaved music tends to bore me there’s quite a lot of little quirks here that make the pieces fun to listen to (enjoyment probably dependent on your exposure to similar material) and a nice release from the usual baroque repertoire. Stands up to anything by Corelli, Sammartini, Handel, Telemann, et al; in fact I think in some cases it surpasses their stuff.

György Ligeti's Lux Aeterna

Olivier Messiaen's Fêast of Beautiful Waters: This is very early electronic music (read about the ondes Martenot, an instrument invented in 1928 by Maurice Martenot, here), and it also happens to be exquisite.

Nikolai Kapustin's Concerto for Alto-Saxophone and Orchestra: Everyone should know about Kapustin.

Paul Hindemith's Piano Sonata No. 3: Another Hindemith piece I love. The first few measures are an encapsulation of the sonata’s character, as you’re drawn in by a faint prettiness that within seconds transforms into something odd and vaguely threatening, underlined by blunt shadows. The last movement, played by Gould, is how I was introduced to Hindemith.

W. A. Mozart's Violin Sonata No. 33 in E-flat major, K. 481: Mozart works for me best when it's his “lite” stuff, as something to put on the morning, and this stuff is best heard with period instruments, especially the piano, whose sound adds a touch of astringency. As much as I’m for performing classical music on everything, I think the worst posthumous thing we did to Mozart’s music was putting very nearly all of it on modern pianos.

Eric Whitacre's Water Night: Incredible choral piece. Nothing else to say.

Einojuhani Rautavaara's Autumn Gardens

Maurice Ravel's Daphnis and Chloé: It’s interesting to hear how this anticipates so much film music, right up to relatively recent scores by Williams and other composers who use(d) melodic, sweet, broad, and colorful musical language.

Ernest Bloch's Concerto grosso No. 1: Kind of starts out like a stockier relative to Bartok’s Romanian folk dances. If the first movement doesn’t grab you – and I think it’s the least impressive part of the piece – try sticking around for, or skipping to, the rest. The last fugal movement, featuring a determined, accessible, and dynamically evolving melody, stands out to me as the highlight.
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Old 02-16-2018, 12:36 PM
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Some excellent recommendations in here.

I would suggest to anyone interested in hearing more of Tomita's work to check out his adaptation of (Ravel's orchestration of) Modest Moussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. I think it does a good job of weaving the original work's combination of gravitas and humor (the dance of the chicks is a particular favorite of mine), though Ravel's orchestration is less authentic to the original piano piece than the one by Vladimir Ashkenazy. I do prefer the orchestrations to the original piece, as the contrasting timbres gives each movement a deeper sense of texture that brings them to life and helps call back to the original works of art that inspired the piece.

For anyone who's fond of Debussy's works and wants to branch out into a similar vein but more modern, I might suggest the works of Claude Bolling, whose works feel like a jazzy combining of ideas from Debussy and Castlevania. Here is one of his works, Toot Suite.

Elgar is mainly known for Pomp and Circumstance, but I can't help but delight in his Enigma Variations, which features some very haunting movements. Nimrod is of course the canonical excerpt (at 13:29 in the video), one of the most wonderful chorales in all of orchestral music.
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Old 02-16-2018, 05:09 PM
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As much as I [I]listen[/Ithink Vivaldi is about as kitschy as you can get
Well! I think his Gloria is pretty good.

As for Mozart, I really like Serenata Notturna.

In no particular order:

Khachaturian: Gayane Suite No. 1, Ayesha's Dance The Adagio was used in 2001, and Sabre Dance is one of those "heard it, but don't know the name" tunes, but Ayesha's Dance is the one I prefer here.
Poulenc: Concerto for Organ, Timpani and Strings
Dvorak: String Serenade - always liked this one
On the subject of Tomita, on Kosmos he has a rendition of the Adagio from Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez, but I also enjoy Rodrigo's Entre Olivares for solo guitar

Maybe a bit too "modern," but I dig some of the Minimalists' works.
Reich: Six Marimbas is a fun "phasing" work from him
Adams: The Chairman Dances - I think another fun one

...And possibly too ancient, but
Renaissance dance music I picked the first link I found, but years ago I bought a collection of Renaissance dance music that I listen to from time to time. What can I say? I actually really like crumhorns.
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Old 02-16-2018, 06:39 PM
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Maybe a bit too "modern," but
No, please, share anything from the 20th or 21st century.

My far-and-away favorite of any piece Reich has done is Electric Counterpoint.

Here's a nice remix of 2x5's third movement, too.

Quote:
...And possibly too ancient, but Renaissance dance music
Yeah... I'm iffy on including Euro-renaissance stuff, only for categorical reasons. There's a lot of good lively stuff to be found, especially from Spain.
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Old 02-16-2018, 08:09 PM
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Philip Glass is my favorite composer and Einstein on the Beach is my favorite piece of music in the entire world. I listen to it while writing to keep me in a state of focus. And while looking it up I found out there's a Blu Ray of the 2012 production. So I'll be getting that.

I want to see a live performance desparately. Glass realized that no one would want to sit through five hours of surreal nonsense, so the doors are left open and the audience is encouraged to mill about and come and go as they please. The ambient noise becomes part of the piece.
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Old 02-17-2018, 07:10 AM
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My far-and-away favorite of any piece Reich has done is Electric Counterpoint.
I was THIS close to posting Electric Counterpoint.

Also, 2x5 is some good stuff.

Anyways, for Bach there is BWV 582. I really like the way he does the variations against the ostinato in the passacaglia and then turns it into fugue subject.

And I would also be remiss if I didn't give a shout out for Scarlatti's harpsichord sonatas, like K175.
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Old 02-17-2018, 09:19 AM
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And I would also be remiss if I didn't give a shout out for Scarlatti's harpsichord sonatas, like K175.
Wow, the rhythmic shift during 0:24 - 0:32 / 1:14 - 1:22! lol, I feel like this surprise is relative, it's a blip compared to modern compositions, but man, you just don't hear stuff like that much in baroque or classical music.

You know, I just started to listen to more of Scarlatti by way of these performances, on piano, by Ivo Pogorelić, and am enjoying the music more than I thought I would. In this form they sound closer to Bach's English and French suites than anything else I've heard.
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Old 02-20-2018, 05:12 PM
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You might then like Isao Tomita's albums of both: The Planets
Mars as 70s experimental electronic music is wild
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Old 02-20-2018, 08:16 PM
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Ligeti is worth anyone's time. Mysteries of the Macabre is pieced together from his opera, Le Grand Macabre, and is a delightful and fucking weird experience.

Birgit Nilsson reigned as the premiere Isolde of her time. Here she is singing the closing moments of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, known as the Liebestod. This has moved me to tears countless times.

Brian Ferneyhough is known for his wildly complex music, written as part of the New Complexity. Here is his second string quartet, what I consider to be his most listenable work.

A strange voice, quirky diction, and unusual phrasing often made Magda Olivero seem out of place in most roles she was recorded in. However, she owned one role entirely--that of Adriana Lecouvrer (popularized by the far greater singer, Renata Tebaldi). Listen to her incredible final phrase in Io son l'umile ancella, where she is completely unmatched in interpretation and technique.

For similarly impressive phrasing and control, Amelita Galli-Curci sings Home Sweet Home, which most of you may know from Grave of the Fireflies. Take special note of how gently she lets the word "home" die, and the seemingly infinite pause before the next line. And her slight shift during the word "sweet" gets me all misty-eyed every time.

Moving away from opera, I'm not sure how one could be bored by Brahms when he has works such as his German Requiem, the C minor piano quartet, or the absolutely stunning violin concerto.

I need to mention the composers Zoltan Kodaly, Georges Enescu, and Erno Dohnanyi. All three are wholly underappreciated and unknown. Kodaly wrote the second greatest solo cello work of all time, after Bach's own cello suits. His sonata for unaccompanied cello is one of the highlights of cello repertoire. Enescu's violin output is similarly fascinating, with both his Impressions d'Enfance and Violin Sonata No. 3 showcasing almost all of what a violin can do (not to mention some really fun gypsy melodies and dance rhythms). Dohnanyi is a continuation of Brahms and Dvorak stylistically. He wrote two brilliant piano concertos, but I'll link instead to his Variations on a Nursery Rhyme for piano and orchestra, a piece filled with joy and humor.
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Old 02-20-2018, 10:43 PM
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Moving away from opera, I'm not sure how one could be bored by Brahms when he has works such as his German Requiem, the C minor piano quartet, or the absolutely stunning violin concerto.
Yep! None of these do anything for me. Brahms is one of those composers whose work I can sort of appreciate at a distance for its durational ambition, but it just doesn't move or excite or entertain me on the simplest level, and I think I'm old and musically exposed enough now where that'll never change. I'm generally unenthusiastic about "romantic" classicism. Something about these pieces makes me unpleasantly aware of their sheer scale, as if I'm witness to some girth-based contest, and the general harmonic craft just makes me think of nationalist pomp, caught as it were in a place where the best baroque's spiny chromaticism is a distant memory and the musical transgressions of modernism are beyond the horizon.

Enescu's string octet / opus 7 is an amazing piece, and all the more amazing knowing that he was I think nineteen upon its completion. I went to a performance of it last year and while that was good the best playing I've heard of it was by the Kremerata Baltica.
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Old 02-20-2018, 11:11 PM
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Often times Schoenberg's work is bombastic, dissonant, and perhaps even shrill (and this is in no way a bad thing in my mind, granted!), but doggone it, the opening to his Piano Concerto is delightfully sweet and serene.
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Old 02-24-2018, 01:48 AM
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I only started listening to classical music in earnest after high school, and I had no classical musical experience until I started attending my current college two years ago, so I'm not as well-versed in it as my peers (or the folks who've posted in this thread), but it's been very rewarding to catch up on/dig into. Here are some cool pieces I've performed (or at least been a part of), or am in the process of learning to play:

J.S. Bach - Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001
So far, everything Bach wrote for strings that I've listened to has been really good; the opening movement of this particular sonata is quite lovely. I performed a transcription of the Presto movement for two-mallet marimba during my first semester at my current college, having never touched or even seen a marimba before that point; it was about as hard as that sounds. Besides one spot at about the halfway point you essentially don't get any breaks from the endless stream of sixteenth notes, and replicating the phrase markings on an entirely different instrument is pretty challenging in and of itself. Playing at the right tempo and meter is the easy part; it's keeping from losing your place that's difficult.

Michael Daugherty - Winter Dreams
This piece is really cool; it's mostly desolate and lonely except for one bit towards the middle that gets pretty intense. I was the auxiliary percussion guy back when our wind ensemble performed it last year; anytime you hear a pair of finger cymbals, sleigh bells, or mark/bell trees, that was me.

Frank Ticheli - Angels in the Architecture
Holy hell, this piece. You can read about it here, and I recommend you do so before listening, so you have a bit more context for the craziness that happens in the piece. We performed this last semester; I was on timpani. It's one of the more difficult pieces I've performed on - most of the time there isn't anything to latch onto in the music itself, so you'll have to keep strict tempo as aggressively as possible to keep from getting lost. But it's definitely worth it; performing the bit at 11:44 is one of the most exhilarating things I've ever experienced.

Leonard Bernstein - Overture to "Candide" (music starts at 1:19)
This is a fun piece, but like a lot of Bernstein it's also pretty challenging. On top of the really fast tempo, there are time signature changes all over the place, and syncopation in weird spots that make it harder to count the beat. We just performed this a few days ago for our joint winter concert with my college's newly-formed orchestra (I'm having trouble finding a good version of the wind ensemble arrangement on Youtube though, so you'll have to make do with the composer himself conducting the original version =p). I was on timpani - I seem to have become the timpani guy, somehow - and lemme tell ya, Bernstein wrote some mean timpani parts. I don't know if anyone here has ever played timpani before, but changing notes on one drum in the middle of a measure while you're playing other notes on other drums is pretty tough, and you have to do that several times here.

Ludwig van Beethoven - Symphony No. 5 in C Minor
Yeah, you know this one. If your new orchestra is going to play anything in its inaugural concert it might as well be a Beethoven symphony, right? I was on timpani - not a whole lot else to be on when it's the only percussion in the whole piece, and this was written back before percussion sections were a thing in orchestras. The biggest challenge here is keeping track of where you are in the long seas of rests you have to wait through, and staying on top of that throughout the entire thirty-minute piece. Counting furiously and listening to the brass really helped; a lot of the time the trumpets and timpani mirror each other, which also helps with phrasing.

Frédéric Chopin - Nocturne in C Sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 1
Chopin is one of my favorite composers; this piece is a really good example of both his capacity for writing delicate, achingly beautiful music as well as his great technical skills on the piano. I'm currently in the process of learning to play an arrangement of this piece for four-mallet marimba; it's uh, actually pretty hard. There are large interval leaps all over the place, and those trills are a lot harder to do with mallets than they are with your fingers.

And to keep this post from being quite so self-centered, here are some pieces that I really like:

Arnold Bax - Elegiac Trio
John Cage - In a Landscape
Sergei Rachmaninoff - Prelude in B Minor, Op. 32, No. 10
Maurice Ravel - Jeux d'eau
Charles Ives - Central Park in the Dark
Clara Schumann - Scherzo in D Minor, Op. 10, No. 1
Steve Reich - Nagoya Marimbas
Béla Bartók - String Quartet No. 4
Franz Liszt - Étude No. 3 in G Sharp Minor "La Campanella", S.141
Claude Debussy - Estampes, L.100, I. "Pagodes"

I tend to gravitate more towards piano pieces so there's a lot of that up there, but there are a few exceptions.
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Old 03-02-2018, 07:00 PM
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OK, I'm pretty impressed by Domenico Scarlatti's stuff. Like most baroque music its emotional impact never really registers for me on a profound level, but, even so, a number of pieces have a headstrong, clanging, and even slightly ugly quality during certain passages that makes all of it much more fun to hear than anything by Handel, Haydn, or Mozart (to pick a few names). I think it can hold its own on modern pianos; I also think that that those harsher passages sound especially great on a harpsichord, whose sharply acidic sound augments already intense chordal stabs and trills.

Does anyone have pieces by Holst they'd recommend? He wrote a lot and, although I know it's not unusual to be best remembered by one or two things you did (and not necessarily even the works you're proudest of), I wonder if there really is a generally agreed upon qualitative divide between The Planets and the rest of his compositions by non-academic listeners and musicologists.
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Old 03-08-2018, 05:35 PM
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I don't have the no-how to articulate it in such terms, but I sure like how the harpsichord sounds on that piece. That said, it occurs to me that your comments on that stabs and trills might be why it is the perfect instrument for cheeky 70's horror movies. I don't even know if any Vincent Price Hammer/Corman films even used the harpsichord, but it seems like it would be perfect for a Dr. Phibes type film.
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