philistine asks....

Discussion in 'Classical Music' started by julian2002, Jun 19, 2003.

  1. julian2002

    julian2002 Muper Soderator

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    ok,
    i am not, i must admit, a big fan of classical music, however i am willing to give new things a try.
    i've come to the conclusion that large scale orchestral works are just not my cup of tea but are there any smaller scale works that you guys could recommend that would be a good starting point?
    maybe string quartets or some small choral works perhaps?
    help me get some culture....
    cheers

    julian
     
    julian2002, Jun 19, 2003
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  2. julian2002

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Try the newly-instituted beginners' posts above, Julian. Some personal recommendations off the top of my head:

    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos and orchestral suites
    Handel: Water Music, Coronation anthems and concerti grossi
    Grieg: Hollberg suite
     
    tones, Jun 19, 2003
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  3. julian2002

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    And the Goldberg Variations, Beethovben's 5th, Bach's orchestral suites, Samuel Barber's Adagio, Moussorgsky's Pictures at an Exibition, Bach's Tocata and Fugue in d, Wagner's Ouvertures, Biber's Rosenkranz Sonaten, Gorecki's 3rd symphony, Bartok's music for strings, percussion and celesta, Bach's canatata bWv 147, Beethoven's Apassionata sonata, Pachelbel's Canon in d, Mahler's 5th Symphony adagietto, Bruckner's 8th symphony Scherzo. Just off the top of my head. But so did Athena off Zeus'.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Jun 19, 2003
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  4. julian2002

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Oh, I quite forgot!! Do listen to Bach's Chromatic fantasy and fugue. Quite unique and really thrilling.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Jun 19, 2003
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  5. julian2002

    lordsummit moderate mod

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    Try the Schubert Quintet and also the same composers Trout Quintet. Mozart Symphonies 39,40 and 41. Mendehlssohn's Italian Symphony, Tchaikovsky's String Quartet. Schumann's Piano Quintet, Brahms Clarinet Quintet. Carl Jenkin's The Armed Man. Do you like film music?
     
    lordsummit, Jun 20, 2003
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  6. julian2002

    GrahamN

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    (He he he....another chink in the wall?)

    Sorry to start off with a note of disagreement, but a fair few or RdS suggestions are diametrically opposed to your spec - "Pictures" (unless you get the piano original), Bruckner 8, Wagner Overtures and Mahler 5 (OK the 10 minutes-ish of the adagietto is beautiful - the "Death in Venice" music - but the remaining 65 minutes are all "large scale orchestral")

    Small choral: try Faure, Durufle or Rutter Requiems (although that last may get a bit soupy in places) or Bernstein Chichester Psalms.
    For something a bit more rarified, Allegri "Miserere" or Tallis "Spem in Alium" (renaissance polyphony)

    For string quartets:
    2nd Lordship's nomination of the Schubert String Quintet in C - which I much prefer to the "Trout".
    Also try Beethoven's Grosse Fugue (Op 133) - sideshowbob was well impressed (but it's a wonderful piece despite that!)

    How about solo piano?
    Currently can't get enough of Perahia's recording of Chopin's Etudes - 24 pieces between 1 and 5 minutes long, variously explosive, mercurial, tender....
    Beethoven's Op 111 and "Moonlight"

    Re your comment elsewhere about Gershwin, he was an excellent example of a successful "crossover". No he's not primarily a "classical" composer, but could (mostly) do it when he wanted to (Porgy and Bess, the famous warhorses). I actually prefer the Rhapsody when its played more as big-band jazz than classical orchestral (when it can sound far too pompous). Maybe this is your way into orchestral? He actually went to Ravel for lessons, but the latter pointed to their relative prosperity and suggested the tuition could be the other way around! There's obviously "American in Paris" - and maybe then try Ravel's G major piano concerto.

    Good Filmy: Bernstein's Westside Story and On the Waterfront are absolute classics (Bernstein is actually another good example of popular/classical crossover). I don't have it yet, but I recently heard some of a good recording of Korngold's "Sea Hawk" recorded by Andre Previn - as Mr Preview said, the reason film music sounds like it does is that the Holywood house composers were trying to copy Korngold (although were generally not quite as good).

    I take it you have Zappa's "G-spot tornado" - another excellent miniature!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 20, 2003
    GrahamN, Jun 20, 2003
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  7. julian2002

    lordsummit moderate mod

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    Couple of other suggestions, Haydn's Emperor Quartet, anything by Chopin, and how about Debussy's preludes for solo piano, really beautiful and very mellow
     
    lordsummit, Jun 20, 2003
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  8. julian2002

    BaronSamedi

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    Try Haydn's Piano Trios by the Beaux Arts Trio (Philips). If that doesn't bring a big smile on your face, I wouldn't know what will... :confused: Hmm, perhaps I do - you could also go for Beethoven's Violin Sonatas (accompanied by piano), available in midprice issues from Decca (Ashkenazy/Perlman). :boogie: And a nice selection of Bach Cantatas should do the trick as well ("Nun komm der Heiden Heiland", for example), or some "Arie Antiche" (Cecilia Bartoli).
     
    BaronSamedi, Jun 21, 2003
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  9. julian2002

    cookiemonster

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    Vaughan Williams: String Quartets Nos. 1 & 2 / Phantasy Quintet


    Worth a punt Julian, especially for a fiver - not met anyone who doesn't like it as yet.

    more reviews and purchase here:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00005AQNF/026-3116317-1242044

    listen to the allegro moderato of the Phantasy Quintet - track 4 for free (1min only) and see what you think first.
     
    cookiemonster, Jun 24, 2003
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  10. julian2002

    lordsummit moderate mod

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    Sorry Cookie, that'll be me. English cowpat music ugh:D I hate VW and Elgar more than any other composers in the whole wide world. Walton then runs them a close second. I never have been able to stomach much 20th century English music apart from Delius and Bax, a man who was chronically underated I feel
     
    lordsummit, Jun 27, 2003
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  11. julian2002

    GrahamN

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    OI - absolutely nothing wrong with English cowpats if you don't mind!. Have to say I do find some Elgar a bit OTT though (when he gets particularly pompous and imperial). Certainly take it anyday over any of that rubbish penned by Elisabeth Lutyens (IIRC originator of that aphorism) :) And how can you not like Walton's 1st symphony - hardly a cowpat in sight!

    The neglect of Bax in this year's proms (we only get November Woods - for Brenda) is absolutely criminal. Kenyon needs shooting over this. :mad: Have to say I find Delius very attractive for short periods, but gets a bit samey.

    Let's see...what's in my collection: all or most symphonies by RVW, Bax, Rubbra, Elgar, lots of Bantock, Alwyn's 3rd, Moeran, Holst, Howells...even some early Britten's not bad :p

    ...not at all convinced by the Cecil Coles they all raved about last year though, and the William Wallace is only a bit better.
     
    GrahamN, Jun 27, 2003
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  12. julian2002

    cookiemonster

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    oops, Sorry Lord, i love Elgar too:duck:

    In fact i was listening to the Cello concerto and Enigma Variations last night:

    [​IMG]

    Daniel Barenboim
    Jacqueline Du Pré
    Philadelphia Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra

    nice
    :MILD:

    (bought on cassette for 5p BTW - bargain)
     
    cookiemonster, Jun 30, 2003
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  13. julian2002

    cookiemonster

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    Have you bought anything Julian?
    Maybe get a hold of this too, for some 'opinions' on the best performances of various recommendations:

    [​IMG]
     
    cookiemonster, Jun 30, 2003
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  14. julian2002

    tones compulsive cantater

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  15. julian2002

    GrahamN

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    Or, even better ;) ,
    a) Penguin for a quick comparative review, and then
    b) log on to
    http://www.gramophone.co.uk/cdreviews.asp?type=gramofile
    for more in depth reviews (frequently with comparisons against the top contenders). You will need to register first. Maybe a bit in-depth for a starter though.

    That Rough Guide (in the "Customers who bought this..." section of Tones' link) looks as if it could be good for a newcomer.
     
    GrahamN, Jun 30, 2003
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  16. julian2002

    cookiemonster

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    Why do you say it is better Tones? Because of the greater quantity of material covered? I've perused the Penguin, but have only ever bought the Grammophone, just through habit, and i find it more than adequate, with a good layout, and decent enough reviews. Don't buy it now - as i have the Grammophone magazines which has the same thing but more in depth - the same as the website as Graham points out.

    cheers
     
    cookiemonster, Jun 30, 2003
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  17. julian2002

    lordsummit moderate mod

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    Penguin covers more ground I think. By the way Cookie am not criticising anyone for liking Elgar, in fact that Cello Concerto with Barenboim is probably the best recording of that piece. I bought it recently, paid about £7 for it on vinyl, so 5p worth anyones money
     
    lordsummit, Jun 30, 2003
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  18. julian2002

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Perhaps "better" is the wrong word - in any case, its three compliers are (or were) "Gramophone" writers. Comprehensive coverage is one item certainly. Another is that, as someone with no musical training, I find it more approachable. The detail of "Gramophone", e.g., the fact that the performer missed the repeat at bar 187, is lost on me. No matter how scholarly the review, it will still boil down to personal preference. I want a pithy guide to what's worth my while investigating, to see whether I like it. "Penguin" is that to perfection.
     
    tones, Jun 30, 2003
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  19. julian2002

    GrahamN

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    I agree that the Gramophone reviews can be a bit indigestible at times. The reason I like them though is that they go into enough detail that I can work out from the descriptions given whether I'm likely to agree with the reviewer - i.e. to be affected by the same things that the reviewer looks for. E.g. Haitink's Vaughan Williams is considered very good, but generally comes coupled with words like cool, clear-headed, structural, restrained.....i.e. terminally boring!!!!


    And as for the Elgar Cello....I've got the du Pre/Barbirolli version, which I thought was supposed to shade the Barenboim one (although I can't really comment as I've not heard it)....but then in the Elgar it's du Pre :notworthy and then.....well no-one really (i.e. everyone else)

    :argue:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 30, 2003
    GrahamN, Jun 30, 2003
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  20. julian2002

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Try 'Le Diapason'. I rather like it, but it can get really indigestible: technical bits (organ stops used, type of bowing) are well represented and sometimes one even gets 'when the music gets to d#minor' or 'he makes the diminished 7th chords the heart of the piece'. And, of course, you get all the fads and fancies typical of parisian intellectual millieus. To me, it is irritating but rather useful. I usually can fathom whether I like the performance or not. And it comes with a CD of the elected records, which is extremely useful. It also has a very interesting hi-fi section (in the French taste: very bright and transparent, which I think translates to English ears like barbed wired...)

    But I think the public of Le Diapason is the musician (or the impossible snob that wants to appear 'in the know').

    Regarding the Gramophone, I don't know it very well, but when I read some parts it struck me as rather cursory and shallow. I remember once a review of Bob ban Asperen's Well Tempered Clavier. They compared it with Kenneth Gilbert's (the two could not be more different) and concluded they were comparable because both harpsichords had a very beautiful sound!!!

    Also, I find the distinction of music in the categories vocal and 'non-vocal' quite odd - in my book it is called instrumental. Am I wrong?

    Of course it is usually not that bad, but I think it is oriented to the non musicians. So I can perfectly understand people like the Gramophon.

    Once, in a record shop I was telling the owner (a musician himself) that I didn't like the Gramophone. He is a very calm and polite fellow and listened sympathetically to my rantings about the review. I was foolish enough to mention a record that I found to be worthy of 'best of the year' award and I said: 'I suppose they did not even mention it'. He said nothing, but smiled, went to the rack and produced the record I was talking about. Stamped on the protective sheet there it was : 'Gramophone best of the year award'.

    I was younger then - my only explanation. :p
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 30, 2003
    Rodrigo de Sá, Jun 30, 2003
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