Classical Music Thread -

Positron

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I was just introduced to an amusing song from 17th century Spain, "Jácara de la Trena" ("Jailbird's Jacara"). A small-time criminal is locked up in the toughest part of prison. He has some colorful encounters ("He smashed a chamberpot on my head. I broke his jaw and knifed him."), is whipped until his back turns to shreds, and then sent to the sea. He doesn't say what crime he has committed, but implies that it is for the sake of a "powerful lady" called Méndez, to whom he solicits protection for his dad and mom.

The text is by Francisco de Quevedo. The music is lost and this is a reconstruction by musicologist Álvaro Torrente.


Of course this song is better sung by a man, but this group La Galanía dug it up from forgotten archives and commissioned the reconstruction of the music part.
 

Pocoyo

Queer of the Night
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Been a while since I posted on this thread, but here's some nice organ music.


This latter recording, although old, is a shining example of Virgil Fox's playing, and those reed stops sure do shine through (especially the Tuba Mirabilis, the loud, brilliant trumpet sound you hear at some of the most dramatic points of the piece)
 

Man vs persistent rat

A good egg is a nice person
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I ran into a doubly-interesting upload earlier - not just an example of Dimitri Mitropoulos' surprisingly good pianism, but a particularly gorgeous piece for small chamber ensemble by Charles Martin Loeffler.


 
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Positron

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Gerald Finzi is among the group of English "pastoral" composers in the early 20th century. He wrote mostly vocal music, and among his instrumental works, only the Clarinet Concerto occupies the fringe of the standard repertory. His Eclogue for Piano and String Orchestra was an early work, but throughout his life Finzi had been coming back and revising it.

The music is unabashedly romantic, perhaps even vulgar in its melodic insistence. But I wouldn't have posted it here if it didn't affect me in some way.

 

Positron

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Heiner Goebbels's The Horatian - Three Songs is a powerful work that will knock you out. It is based on Heiner Müller's version of the ancient Roman tale of Publius the Horatian: at once a hero and a murder. Ostensibly written for a large chamber ensemble and a mezzo-soprano, the songs actually call for an extraordinarily powerful Broadway-style vocalist who is equal to their technical and emotional demands. The first two songs recounts the story, and I guarantee they'll grip you by the throat and choke the living daylight out of you. It is only in the third song, which recounts the poet's own thoughts, does Goebbel's inspiration flags and he resorts to R&B-ish cliché.

 
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Man vs persistent rat

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I've been on a Baltic minimalism piano music kick recently, there's so much out there that hasn't been studio recorded, almost a genre of music that beyond Pärt isn't really known at all. To those who like repetition (whether sparse or dense) and slow development/arc form, there is a lot to enjoy.









 
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Positron

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Silvestov is interesting and Pelecis is underrated and under-represented in recordings. It is a shame that Warner Classics simply sits on the large Finlandia back catalog they accquired. Lots of very interesting music from the Baltic states.

Such as the works by Lepo Sumera, from Estonia:
 

Man vs persistent rat

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Silvestov is interesting and Pelecis is underrated and under-represented in recordings. It is a shame that Warner Classics simply sits on the large Finlandia back catalog they accquired. Lots of very interesting music from the Baltic states.

Such as the works by Lepo Sumera, from Estonia:
I haven't been following the recording industry since what.cd closed, but at that point I was amazed that Finlandia's catalogue hadn't been licenced by Naxos, bis or Brilliant. Their disc of Tüür's 2nd symphony and an oratorio was a favourite of mine, and when reissued what did Warner do - cut the oratorio and fill out the disc with miscellaneous pieces gutted from other releases.
 
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Positron

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I haven't been following the recording industry since what.cd closed, but at that point I was amazed that Finlandia's catalogue hadn't been licenced by Naxos, bis or Brilliant. Their disc of Tüür's 2nd symphony and an oratorio was a favourite of mine, and when reissued what did Warner do - cut the oratorio and fill out the disc with miscellaneous pieces gutted from other releases.
Let's hope Brilliant will surprise us. Naxos now owns Ondine, and Ondine is recording a Tüür series of their own so don't count on Naxos licencing from someone else. (Incidentally I really wish Naxos would resurrect more titles from the erstwhile Collins Classics, but no such luck either).

The only substantial work of Tüür I have is his Symphony 4, so I don't have an view on him as a composer yet.


Played this college. Fucking love this piece, I know it's super long but the full song is so beautiful.
My favorite Bach for organ is the Fantasia in G, BWV 572, the opening itself would put me in a great mood.

and the "Dorian" Toccata and Fugue:
 
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Man vs persistent rat

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Let's hope Brilliant will surprise us. Naxos now owns Ondine, and Ondine is recording a Tüür series of their own so don't count on Naxos licencing from someone else. (Incidentally I really wish Naxos would resurrect more titles from the erstwhile Collins Classics, but no such luck either).

The only substantial work of Tüür I have is his Symphony 4, so I don't have an view on him as a composer yet.
He's got three phases: the early rock-oriented one going up to around 1990 (Architectonics), a Baltic minimalist style for the 90s (his string orchestra music, symphony 3), and a postminimal style from the 00s onwards that I am not too fond of.

Nice to hear that Ondine has a home, labels like that are going to struggle more and more in future. Their Vasks and Rautavaara series I found to be valuable. Naxos did slack a lot with Collins, the Peter Maxwell Davies symphonies only reissued when they were recording their own set of quartets, I believe. Birtwistle's Gawain took so long that it took NMC to have to pester them to licence it to them.
 
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Positron

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J.S. Bach's Aria and 10 variations in the Italian style (BWV989) is not often heard. Sure it is no Goldberg Variations, but if you only have 15 minutes or so (Glenn Gould did it in 10), this is as enjoyable a way to put your mind at ease as any. Rosalyn Tureck, the very model of textual clarity, seems to have a special affection with this piece.

 
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Positron

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For the Fourth of July, the most un-American of American composers, Alan Hovhaness.

I like Hovhaness a lot; I get whatever CD I can get hold of. What is so "un-American" about him is that there is never any trace of jazz or pop music in his work, and he was never "eclectic" for eclectic's sake. Instead, he cultivates his private garden of eastern modality, inspired by his Armenian heritage and his fascination with the Far East. He prefers long melodic spans, written without bar lines and unfold like undulating mountain ranges. Yet on the other hand he is also fascinated by fugues.

Among his many, many works, his Symphony No. 2 "Mysterious Mountain" is the best known and most often recorded, but my favorite is the choral Magnificat.
 

soy_king

Now with 1000% more estrogen!
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Who would you say is your favorite conductor? I've personally always enjoyed Celibidache, primarily for his bombastic and passionate style. I'm not a musician in any way, so I'd especially love to hear the opinions of professionals or trained musicians.
 

Positron

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Mine is Harnoncourt. Not everything he does hit the mark (His last recording of The Marriage of Figaro was quite frankly a disaster) but he is always interesting to listen to. If I'm to choose one set of Beethoven Symphonies it would be Harnoncourt. I love his Brahms too.

I haven't listened to many top-rated conductors live (because they're usually expensive, and not always worth the money). The conductor that impressed me most in concert was Lawrence Foster. His conducting of Enigma Variations was almost like a sacred experience, completely unlike anything I heard before -- and I heard this piece in the concert hall dozens of times. Foster is an Enescu expert but I've yet to hear him conducting Enescu live.

Strange that, for all the modern stuff I listen to, I can't really name a specialist conductor that I would exclaim, wow, with this conductor at the helm I'm in safe hands. One reason is that many contemporary composers conduct their own works, and most conductors in the small, specialist circle of contemporary music (Segerstam, Knussen, Gielen, maybe Ozawa) have their ups and downs. But if you ask me which is the best ensemble for modern music, I don't even need to think: The Arditti Quartet.
 
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Positron

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Oliver Knussen, composer and conductor, died last month.

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I don't have a big collection of his music; he strikes me as a moderate modernist whose works are often developed out of very old musical ideas (as in the endearing Music for a Puppet Court, based on two "puzzle canons" from the 16th century. I can't find the piece on Youtube but here is a short excerpt). In this sense he reminds me of Peter Maxwell Davies.


Prayer Bell Sketch for piano, written in memoriam of Toru Takemitsu, shows how effective a pastichist he is.
 

Man vs persistent rat

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This is probably NSFL for people who like this piece, but I am very fond of the way Barere tackles it, from a time when certain pianistic calling cards were viewed as opportunities for impulsive mood-painting rather than trying to produce a 'concept' for a composer's style as modern musicians must, much less an interest in the cohesion of the set of pieces as a whole. Other than his drawing out the velocity of the piece, I like the slow section in this recording. It's easy to generalise, and while you don't need to wring as much out of it as Gilels, Barere still does fine work. This piece can feel like a pianist is teasing out hesitations at times or broadening at all costs to accentuate the drama, so to hear it segmented into an almost mazurka-like fast/slow makes me glad that nuts like this were recorded (although based on Barere's life story, it seems as though they almost weren't). It will definitely bother anybody concerned with the composers intentions, as alla marcia it ain't.
 
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Positron

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I'm reading with bemusement and interest the biography of the Czech composer Bohuslav Martinů, written by physician and Martinů's family friend F. James Rybka. Rybka's thesis is that Martinů had Asperger's syndrome, which accounted for his prodigious productivity (over 400 works in almost all classical genres, often for idiosyncratic groups of instruments), while at the same time caused him immense interpersonal difficulties and even, in at least one instance, almost costed his life.

Asspie or not, it is very hard to grapple with the works of Martinů. Erik Entwistle's chronological survey of his works for solo piano might be the best overview of his stylistic development, but honestly there isn't a common thread through his prolific output. Martinů's early works reflects the flippancy of his Paris milieu, and I find them trite and rather annoying. His later works are more substantial, but at the same time more anonymous, neither particularly cerebral nor emotional. But of course he has his share of masterpieces: my vote goes to his opera Juiletta, set to a magic-realist / sci-fi plot reminiscent of Haruki Murakami.

 

Positron

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John Field's Nocturne in C major (H.45): scintillating arpeggios floating over a stately, looming ostinato. Moonlight reflected on a peaceful tide.

 
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