Shostakovich piano concerto no.1

Discussion in 'Classical Music' started by leonard smalls, Feb 12, 2004.

  1. leonard smalls

    leonard smalls GufmeisterGeneral

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    Bought this a couple of days ago, for a pound from a charity shop.. Slightly duff sound with some crackles and minor distortion, and mono but it was still all there..
    Now is it meant to be so jazzy? Was it just Eugene List having a larf, and was the trumpeter (who's name I don't remember) a pupil of Miles Davis?

    Never heard such synchopated, improvised sounding classical music - anyone know any more grooving free-classical?
    BTW bought Rites of spring (also for £1) and that also appears to be somewhat up my street.
    The charity shop (and I'm not telling you where it is!) has a huge collection of classical vinyl - tending toward the modern - with Hindemith (who I know nowt about, including what he sounds like). Would that be a wise purchase (it's £1.99 so not exactly small change :D )
     
    leonard smalls, Feb 12, 2004
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  2. leonard smalls

    lordsummit moderate mod

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    Hindemith can be great but he's a bit of an aquired taste. As a viola player I have to love him, but he can be rather difficult. Now if the record is the Metamorphosen on themes by Weber you are onto a winner. Most of his output is rather difficult, quite a way from where you are. Then again £1.99 it's only a pint isn't it :)
     
    lordsummit, Feb 12, 2004
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  3. leonard smalls

    GrahamN

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    Hi Leonard...

    I should by now also have a copy of the Shosta piano concerti (the super new Hamelin recording), except that Britannia switched it for "Pepsi Chart 2002" - somehow Emma Bunton and S Club 7 don't have quite the same appeal! :mad:

    Shosta certainly had a jazzy side - although maybe a bit staid - there's a Chandos CD of his "jazz" output here - basically that concerto and the two Jazz Suites.

    Hindemith's distinctive sound is based on his system of building chords based on successive 4ths (rather than the more normal 3rds). There's a informative (and remarkably interesting) discussion on the Symphonic Metamorposes m'lud mentioned on this page. There's also his "Ragtime" - although it's only 3 minutes long, and maybe just a bit too oompah. Don't know much other music by him - although his "Trauermusik" is lovely (although again like m'lud, I'm biassed) but far from jazzy.

    Bernstein has a lot of jazz influence - bits of the Chichester Psalms swing quite nicely, and the scherzo of the 1st symphony really rollocks along. "Candide" is probably more broadway than jazz, but the overture is superb. And Prelude Fugue and Riffs is for jazz band and symphony orchestra (as is Duke Ellington's quite stunning "Harlem" - about 50/50 classical/jazz)

    Ravel Piano concerto in G has some very jazzy harmonies - very much "cool" mode in the slow movement (Gershwin actually tried to get lessons off of Ravel, but he refused and asked for lessons the other way around!).

    John Adams' piano concerto "Century Rolls" gets quite boogie-woogie (e.g. Fats Waller) and Gershwin in the last movement, and there's all sorts of other echoes in there that Lee picked up on (but I missed). Lollapalooza is also fantastic. Doubt you'll see that on vinyl though. "The Chairman Dances", subtitled "a foxtrot for orchestra" (although not as we know it Jim), originally written for his first opera "Nixon in China" is well worth a listen too.

    Oh, and Beethoven's last piano sonata (Op 111) can really swing about 8 minutes into the 2nd (last) movement, before subsiding to the most sublime and transcentental music ever written for piano. Don't listen to the version by Gilels though as that does anything but rock, and I'm also not convinced by Kempff - I love Barenboim for this.

    For more solo piano, some of Debussy's Book 2 Preludes are clearly leading to the harmonic language of modern jazz (and a lot of cool jazzers seem to quote Debussy as a major influence). Other more outlandish piano music you may like to try is late Skryabin (after about 1906) - harmonies seemingly based entirely on 7ths and 9ths and very free form. Try "Vers la flamme" or the last three sonatas, particularly the last (no 10) the "Trill Sonata" - things don't get much more free than this.

    Other possibilities are Antheil's Jazz symphony, which is amazingly anarchic and I think you might quite like (although it goes off the boil a bit after a great beginning). Ah got it....his "Ballet Mechanique" for pianos, percussion, electric buzzers and aeroplane propellers!

    Stravinsky's Ebony Concerto (written for Woody Herman), and his Petrushka gets going from time to time (although I much prefer the Rite). Then there's some of the player-piano studies by Conlon Nancarrow (many so fast and complicated that no human can play them).

    You could also try pretty much anything by Mark-Anthony Turnage - very influenced by Stravinsky and Miles Davis, and works a lot with John Scofield and Peter Erskine. There's a recording of "Scorched" (orchestrations of Scofield tunes) just released which I must get. "Fractured Lines" is a double percussion concerto (jazz drum-kit, and marimba+various bits of ironmongery). Again it's all new stuff, so doubt it's on vinyl. Probably his most famous piece is "Three Screaming Popes" (although maybe a bit straight-laced for you). I thought "Bass Inventions", written for Dave Holland was great when I heard it.

    For more obviously "free" stuff, try almost anything by Charles Ives - his Fourth symphony needs a 2nd conductor as there's so much polyrhythmic (and polytonal) stuff going on. On the recommended record (Dohnanyi/Cleveland) there's also Varese's "Ameriques" which is "the Rite" with attitude (and NY Fire Dept. klaxons) - actually, haven't I suggested this to you before?

    Alan Hovhannes and Rued Langgaard also experimented in the mid 20th cent with aleatory techniques - don't really have any definite reccos there. They're still basically tonal though (unlike the later modernists - e.g. George Crumb, Stockhausen etc). Hovhannes was interesting as he wrote well over 1000 pieces, and in addition to some really visionary stuff he was captivated by Vaughan Williams' Tallis Fantasia which his detractors say he recomposed about 500 times! For someone attracted to the possibilites of improvisation he was also obsessed with the fugue form (sort of the other extreme) and churned out many double and even quadruple fuges. I've never heard it, but this one looks interesting - "From the rumbling of the drums to the clashing cymbals, "Vishnu" is to classical music what Metallica is to Heavy Metal music". I've heard some interesting stuff by Langgaard, but can't remember which ones now (might have been "Music of the Spheres" and Symph No 11).

    Backing off from that a bit (a lot) something you should really get to hear sometime is Elgar's "Introduction and Allegro for Strings". It's a fantastic mix of Enligh pastoralism and driving rhythmic impetus: if it's the English countryside then it's definitely just about to suffer the mother of thunderstorms!.
     
    GrahamN, Feb 13, 2004
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  4. leonard smalls

    HenryT

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    Quite a lot of 20th century composers incorporated elements of jazz style improvisation and synchopated rhythms into their works, especially those who had connections with Ameria or who were influenced by music from the Americas for one reason or another.

    The most obvious work here would be Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue". Also give his (Gershwin's) "An American In Paris" a go too.

    Shostakovich also wrote 2 "Jazz Suites" which includes the (in)famous "Tea For Two" extract that most people recognise:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos...0830/sr=1-3/ref=sr_1_10_3/202-3383289-6135835

    Shostakovich's other piano concerto, the 2nd one, is also worth trying, although it isn't jazzy in the way the 1st one is. An extract from this concerto was used in Disney's Fantasia 2000 film for the dancing toy soldier sequence. More of a if you liked that, you'll sure to like this kind of recommendation.

    Leonard ;) Bernstein, try his "Symphonic Dances From Westside Story" [one of my faves it has to be said :cool:], "America (from West Side Story)", and "Prelude, Fugue and Riffs" for starters.

    Went to a concert this evening where I heard Stravinsky's "Symphony In 3 Movements" for the first time. We were informed during the pre-concert talk that boogie-woogie was among one of the musical styles that influenced this work. I think I just about spotted it, the bit during the 1st movement where there is a sort of boogie-woogie walking bass line played by cellos/basses interjected by spikey interjections from various parts of the orchestra. Lots of interesting angular rhythms going on throughout this piece. Definitely very accessible as far as 20th century classical goes, especially if you liked "Rites" and The Firebird.
     
    HenryT, Feb 13, 2004
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  5. leonard smalls

    GrahamN

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    Great minds think alike Henry. Minor correction - Tea for Two is the "Tahiti Trot", and not part of the Jazz Suites!

    Thoroughly agree with your other recommendations, but sort of left them out as being too obvious :shame:

    Also didn't mention Copland's "Rodeo" (particularly the "Ho-down"), although that's maybe a bit more "country" than what Leonard's looking for. He should try it though - as we know, it's great fun.
     
    GrahamN, Feb 13, 2004
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  6. leonard smalls

    HenryT

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    Hi Graham! :shame: It's only because I have that album (the Chailly), that I always think of it as part of the Jazz Suites, but it is in fact the last track and a piece in its own right as you right said. :)

    No problem, thought I'd provide the obvious suggestions for any classical newbies who might also be following this thread. There's a lot of stuff you mentioned that I'd not come across before, will give some of those a go. Ives is a composer I've not heard a lot of, apart from his "Variations On America", but the symphonies sound like they'd be worth investigating.
     
    HenryT, Feb 13, 2004
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  7. leonard smalls

    leonard smalls GufmeisterGeneral

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    Cheers Guys!
    I'm getting quite a collection of Shosta stuff now, including the 2nd piano concerto - must get the jazz suites next..
    Also got the Varese "Amerique"... Most entertaining but not (imho) in the same league as Rite of Spring - it felt almost formulaic if you know what I mean?
    And not really tempted too much by the Bernstein, and certainly not Gershwin, simply because they seem too much at the staid dinner jazz end of things.. I'm more into Ornette Coleman than West Side Story or Nina Simone!
    I'll look into the Charles Ives no.4 though, and must check out Antheil - though I've never heard of the fellow - and Turnage..
     
    leonard smalls, Feb 13, 2004
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  8. leonard smalls

    djc

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    Don't dismiss the Bernstein Prelude, Fugue and Riffs. It's a riot! Not my idea of dinner jazz, unless your dinners always end in a food-fight.

    Have you heard the Shostakovich Piano Quintet? It's not really Jazzy, or even jazzy, but it's got a strong rhythmical drive. The Richter/Borodins disc with the 7th and 8th Quartets (not jazzy at all) is an essential library item.

    A more left-field idea is the Lieberman Concerto for Jazz Band and Symphony Orchestra which I wrote about here I think this deserves to be much more widely known.
     
    djc, Feb 13, 2004
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  9. leonard smalls

    PeteH Natural Blue

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    I defy anyone to listen all the way through Ravel's Left Hand Piano Concerto without tapping their foot - surely the funkiest piece of music ever written...

    And as I'm sure you're aware the piano concerti are not at all representative of Shostakovich's output as a whole - the slow movement of the second in particular sounds more like one of the grand Romantics than a subversive progressive. Just don't pick up the 13th symphony or something and expect laid-back jazziness...
     
    PeteH, Feb 13, 2004
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  10. leonard smalls

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Yes, but the old (mono, DGG) Kempff version is just sublime: it integrates the whole perfectly, and you even understand why the 'jazzy' bit is there; quite phenomenal, IMO. If pressed for a choice, I'd perhaps go for the first Philips version, though. And, of course, Pollini.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Feb 13, 2004
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  11. leonard smalls

    GrahamN

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    Yes..that's the one I'm talking about :( . I just don't see it. The critics go on about Barenboim's agogic pauses etc, but it's nothing compared to Kempff - the way he (Kempff) plays around with the rhythm just keeps on drawing attention to the performance rather than the music and makes a nonsense of that whole sublime last 10 minutes.

    ...and if Leonard gets the Zimmerman/Boulez version (see other thread ;) ), he gets fantastic performances of them both
    :banana:
     
    GrahamN, Feb 13, 2004
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  12. leonard smalls

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Well, I see the last 10 minutes in question as a fervent intensification of the ascent (does that mean anything?:rolleyes: What I mean is that there is mysticism, but an ardent one, and the intensification of tempo just seems to me to make sense - a kind of frenzied transcendence - well, words are awful to describe music... don't get my meaning as coming from a French 'intellectuel' - one of the things I truly detest.

    I do agree with you in one thing, though: I think the second movement is one of the true pinnacles of western music.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Feb 14, 2004
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  13. leonard smalls

    GrahamN

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    As djc says, Ian, the P,F&R (and the others I suggested) have nothing in common with dinner jazz or "Westside Story" (although I love that suite myself).
    From a very different age, I also thought you might take to Bach's Brandenburg Conc. No 3 (although make sure it's in an exciting recent version, e.g. Pinnock/EC, or Goebbel/Musical Antiqua Koln, doesn't look like Europa Galante have done one yet). There's also some really exciting playing in Rachel Podger's recent recording of Vivaldi's La Stravaganza.

    PM me your address and I'll make up a sampler or two for you.
     
    GrahamN, Feb 14, 2004
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