Classical Music Thread -

AnxiousRobin

SCARED OF BEANS SPACE BOY?
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I’m a music major:powerlevel: and listening tests are fun but a pain. Afro-American Symphony was a pretty interesting piece we got to listen to.
Out of all the songs I’ve learned this semester Must the Winter Come so Soon from Vanessa by Samuel Barber is a beautiful song. I recommend any Barber art song or aria.
 

Strine

It had become a glimmering gorl,
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This slow movement, one of the greatest ever, is an evocation of Russian winter under Soviet brutality. The strings begin yearningly, but their emotion is blunted and broken at every turn, significantly by the other strings; themselves; allegorical of the Russians being oppressed by their own government, and not an occupying force. An interplay of harp and flute ensues; the flute hints at warmth and emotion with a theme from the 1st mvt, but the harp theme is callous, uncaring, and brittle. The strings enter again, this time more tumultuous; emotional violins argue with sinister violas and celli, climaxing in a unison of a woeful theme as the violins surrender. Militaristic low strings (pure Stalinism) enter, followed by trembling and lonely high strings.

A plaintive theme is played by a lone oboe, in a soundscape of utter frigidity, the accompanying violin line quite literally shivering. It's answered by an ominous chant in the basses, and then the clarinet takes over from the oboe, followed by hopeful, expansive strings with shuddering bass. Another woodwind solo above a trembling violin, but this time it falls into misery as the bassoons and clarinets play in dense and agitated harmony, taken up by the strings and writhing, trying for a major key and failing, twisting into a shuddering, hysterical climax of bone-chilling high strings/winds and percussion, playing the ominous theme from before at ear-splitting pitch, with violent movement in the bass to match it.

The celli then take up the plaintive theme heard on woodwinds before, but it is now rendered with anger and despair; the gentle lamentation of the oboe is long gone. The clarinets and other low strings swarm and buzz around them in wretched communion; the violins enter and a jagged ascending passage is heard, followed by a tragic descent by the low strings. The high strings softly, distantly respond, the harmonies still arguing but less so - flashes of major, then minor again, and the harp resumes its uncaring theme while the strings monologue a theme with raging conflicting emotions ending with the low strings making another descent, this time into total defeat - but then the harp plays the plaintive theme - emoting at last - in glassy harmonics with the celesta, and, with the solo violin still trembling, an almost inaudible (minor tonic) F# in the viola blooms into a hopeful (but marked “dying” on the score) tierce de Picardie F# major chord in the strings.
 
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Positron

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Among the sheer volumes of religious choral music written by 17th century composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier, the most famous piece is The Midnight Mass for Christmas (H.9), based on various French noëls of his day:


There are many recordings of this mass, but the version by Arcadia Ensemble / Kevin Mallon is very special. Mallon has the chrous sing some of the original carols in places where organ improvisations customarily go.
 

Positron

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Pocoyo

Queer of the Night
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This is in my opinion among the finest Requiems out there. My favorite movement is the Lux Aeterna. (starting at 26 minutes) Not only does it show off the soft, colourful solo stops of the organ, (Like the imitative Clarinet and Flute Harmonique) but the chord progressions really tickle my pickle. Forgive me for the lack of a better term!

And as a bonus, here's my all time favorite Durufle piece. So much heartfelt yearning.
 

Positron

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A few years ago, the local classical station has been playing Janáček's song cycle The Diary of One Who Disappeared an awful lot, at least once a month I reckon. Having grown sick of Ian Bostridge howling what sounded to me like "mes amours" (nothing against Bostridge; it is just that some music wears off its welcome very easily), I wrote to the station and told them to stop.

Tonight I'm listening to the song cycle sung by Ernst Haefliger in a German translation, which strikes me as much easier on the ear. People often say how crucially Janáček's word setting depends on the inflection of the Czech language, and that any translation away from Czech will destroy the whole thing. I can't discern that one way or the other.

Want hear that "mes amours" (actually it is Czech, neza bu) that drove me to distraction?
 

ShittyRecolor

Preferred pronouns: shit\shits\shitself
kiwifarms.net
Trying to get myself in the mood to write a creepy short story. Even without that, I've always loved me some Penderecki and Rachmaninov.




Some palate cleanser from my other big love, Chopin:

 
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Positron

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A grisly thing to say perhaps, but I think for a composer, being politically oppressed pays handsome dividends after you're dead. When we think of Soviet-era composers, we think Shostakovich and Prokofiev, while composers who toed the party line -- Khachaturian, Myaskovsky and Kabalevsky, for example -- are being summarily dismissed as being "conservative" and "reactionary". But are they really that much different from their more-celebrated colleagues? I have this thought when listening to Kabalevsky's Piano Sonata No.3 in concert. The slow middle movement is indeed banal, but the frenzied, toccata-like, activities in the outer movement, isn't really that far away from Prokofiev in his "motoric" style. The music, despite its mercurial shifts in mood, does not have the sardonic grimace of Prokofiev, but this is just a matter of taste rather than value. After all, who wants to indulge in grotesqueries every day?

 

Positron

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I've been to concerts by Michale Petri, and the South African recorder player Stefan Temmingh. Temming did a wonderful demonstration/recital where he traced how this famous John Dowland song influenced composers and recorder players in The Netherlands:


 

Strine

It had become a glimmering gorl,
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Did you know there are musician who seriously play the recorder and use to play serious pieces of (classical) music (Although to be fair, there many different types, and I believe ones use for professionals are different instruments given to school-children)?





Recorder has a wealth of Baroque repertoire. It was taken very seriously as an instrument in those days, and the professionals who play it show you why: it has a very beautiful sound when played properly. Flute was more or less a novelty in those days; Baroque woodwind culture was mainly recorder - in different sizes, covering soprano all the way down to bass - or, for louder pieces, members of the oboe/bassoon family. Clarinet had not yet been refined enough for the musical culture of the time, and flute was around but considered auxiliary to the double reeds (even when flute entered the standard orchestra, around Haydn's time, there was only one flute vis-a-vis two oboes and two bassoons)

Unfortunately for recorder, the agility and simple fingering system of the flute (the simpler the better where woodwind fingerings are concerned, and recorder has a notoriously complicated fingering system) ultimately meant flute, along with the other woodwinds, replaced recorders as the "mainstream" woodwinds in classical music. Recorders are quiet and cannot carry over an orchestra, which increased in size all the way up to the 20th century, the way that the other woodwinds can. But recorder does have a rich history, and people play it and write for it to this day - it had a renaissance in the 20th century, unfortunately coinciding with reputation-damaging schoolkid recorder playing, and there's a market for serious recorder players once again.
 

The Shadow

Crimson Ghost
kiwifarms.net
I suppose I may as well post the source of my namesake's theme music. (2:59)

Recorder has a wealth of Baroque repertoire. It was taken very seriously as an instrument in those days, and the professionals who play it show you why: it has a very beautiful sound when played properly. Flute was more or less a novelty in those days; Baroque woodwind culture was mainly recorder - in different sizes, covering soprano all the way down to bass - or, for louder pieces, members of the oboe/bassoon family. Clarinet had not yet been refined enough for the musical culture of the time, and flute was around but considered auxiliary to the double reeds (even when flute entered the standard orchestra, around Haydn's time, there was only one flute vis-a-vis two oboes and two bassoons)

Unfortunately for recorder, the agility and simple fingering system of the flute (the simpler the better where woodwind fingerings are concerned, and recorder has a notoriously complicated fingering system) ultimately meant flute, along with the other woodwinds, replaced recorders as the "mainstream" woodwinds in classical music. Recorders are quiet and cannot carry over an orchestra, which increased in size all the way up to the 20th century, the way that the other woodwinds can. But recorder does have a rich history, and people play it and write for it to this day - it had a renaissance in the 20th century, unfortunately coinciding with reputation-damaging schoolkid recorder playing, and there's a market for serious recorder players once again.
It occasionally resurfaced in popular culture as well. The woodwinds used in the intro to Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven are all John Paul Jones given the thankless task of overdubbing recorders. Not wanting to have to play a bunch of them at the same time in concert, he opted to use a Mellotron keyboard. Which itself is rather a lost instrument due to a finite number of them consisting and them playing tape loops rather than synthesizing through oscillators, hammering strings or blowing air over pipes.
 

Strine

It had become a glimmering gorl,
kiwifarms.net
I suppose I may as well post the source of my namesake's theme music. (2:59)


It occasionally resurfaced in popular culture as well. The woodwinds used in the intro to Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven are all John Paul Jones given the thankless task of overdubbing recorders. Not wanting to have to play a bunch of them at the same time in concert, he opted to use a Mellotron keyboard. Which itself is rather a lost instrument due to a finite number of them consisting and them playing tape loops rather than synthesizing through oscillators, hammering strings or blowing air over pipes.
Mellotron does see occasional usage, like in whatever genre you'd call Joanna Newsom:

Joanna is a very interesting artist to me, but discussion of her is more a poetry than a musical discussion - her voice and style are strange, and her lyrics are ocean-deep Nabokovian puzzle-boxes. The album that's from features many "obsolete" instruments from the 20th century, which feature timbres not often sought in contemporary music.

Something I've been listening to a lot lately is Poulenc, especially his mass in G. Here's a video with a handy score:
The music is too complicated to write a detailed description of, but it's best understood as post-Impressionist, somewhat surreal, with a big focus on harmony - Poulenc is all about harmony.
In the interest of appealing on the basis of aesthetics, not just music, here are some especially sublime moments:
- The opening. The towering Gs and flooding light call to mind the grand cathedrals of Paris, which would have been his intention.

-The end of the Kyrie (2:47). This is what I meant by post-Impressionist: the pianississimo dissonant chords in the first "eleison" are very like the shimmering moonbeams heard in Debussy's piano music, but to me, this is sunlight rather than moonlight: a moment of utter silence, late in the afternoon, in an old church; a soft sunset in the tender terminal B in the soprano part.

-The Gloria into the Hosana In Excelsis (8:29 onward). The choir sings in joyful, mostly unified fashion, growing ever louder and more resplendent as they praise God's glory - then suddenly the music pauses twice, and almost out of nowhere, the ecstacy of the Hosana begins. Dense, passionate chords engulf the space, the choir almost possessed as the first phrase builds into a huge Gmaj7 chord on the second "hosana" - the basses with a booming low G against a celestial high B in the soprani - every chord full of quaking dissonances gradually unifying into perfect concord; the final phrase a masterpiece of voice leading as the soprani and tenors sustain an E against almost every single chord, being vindicated with a shuddering final E major chord rooted deep in the bass: this almost trancelike episode is what is meant by "religious ecstacy". This returns at 12:41 at the end of the Benedictus; in an altered form: the chords are the same, but this time the phrasing is more insistent and warm - a powerful affirmation, rather than the deluge of divine light heard before. This moves into:

-The Agnus Dei. It begins with a soprano solo, a woman in this recording but sometimes a boy. Little needs to be said about this solo: its unearthly beauty is readily apparent. The alti and basses respond with phrases affirming the key of G - the key of the mass. This section speaks for itself, but at 15:42 some interesting, very dissonant harmony appears: the subject is plagued with doubt. But at 16:16, they are answered: Agnus Dei; Lamb of God. The subject responds in concord, their worries allayed, and at 16:52 with a score marking "very calm, but with no sadness" the final chorus begins: "dona nobis pacem" - bring us peace. We hear more shimmering harmony of Debussy's kind, the soul in contemplation of many subjects - not all pleasant, as the harmony suggests - but, with one last affirmation, one last imploration, and a drone on the tonic G, the soprano almost inaudibly beseeches peace, and the final chord - only Gs, in octaves, nothing else - is breathed, and fades out of the world.
 

The Shadow

Crimson Ghost
kiwifarms.net
Mellotron does see occasional usage, like in whatever genre you'd call Joanna Newsom:

Joanna is a very interesting artist to me, but discussion of her is more a poetry than a musical discussion - her voice and style are strange, and her lyrics are ocean-deep Nabokovian puzzle-boxes. The album that's from features many "obsolete" instruments from the 20th century, which feature timbres not often sought in contemporary music.

Something I've been listening to a lot lately is Poulenc, especially his mass in G. Here's a video with a handy score:
The music is too complicated to write a detailed description of, but it's best understood as post-Impressionist, somewhat surreal, with a big focus on harmony - Poulenc is all about harmony.
In the interest of appealing on the basis of aesthetics, not just music, here are some especially sublime moments:
- The opening. The towering Gs and flooding light call to mind the grand cathedrals of Paris, which would have been his intention.

-The end of the Kyrie (2:47). This is what I meant by post-Impressionist: the pianississimo dissonant chords in the first "eleison" are very like the shimmering moonbeams heard in Debussy's piano music, but to me, this is sunlight rather than moonlight: a moment of utter silence, late in the afternoon, in an old church; a soft sunset in the tender terminal B in the soprano part.

-The Gloria into the Hosana In Excelsis (8:29 onward). The choir sings in joyful, mostly unified fashion, growing ever louder and more resplendent as they praise God's glory - then suddenly the music pauses twice, and almost out of nowhere, the ecstacy of the Hosana begins. Dense, passionate chords engulf the space, the choir almost possessed as the first phrase builds into a huge Gmaj7 chord on the second "hosana" - the basses with a booming low G against a celestial high B in the soprani - every chord full of quaking dissonances gradually unifying into perfect concord; the final phrase a masterpiece of voice leading as the soprani and tenors sustain an E against almost every single chord, being vindicated with a shuddering final E major chord rooted deep in the bass: this almost trancelike episode is what is meant by "religious ecstacy". This returns at 12:41 at the end of the Benedictus; in an altered form: the chords are the same, but this time the phrasing is more insistent and warm - a powerful affirmation, rather than the deluge of divine light heard before. This moves into:

-The Agnus Dei. It begins with a soprano solo, a woman in this recording but sometimes a boy. Little needs to be said about this solo: its unearthly beauty is readily apparent. The alti and basses respond with phrases affirming the key of G - the key of the mass. This section speaks for itself, but at 15:42 some interesting, very dissonant harmony appears: the subject is plagued with doubt. But at 16:16, they are answered: Agnus Dei; Lamb of God. The subject responds in concord, their worries allayed, and at 16:52 with a score marking "very calm, but with no sadness" the final chorus begins: "dona nobis pacem" - bring us peace. We hear more shimmering harmony of Debussy's kind, the soul in contemplation of many subjects - not all pleasant, as the harmony suggests - but, with one last affirmation, one last imploration, and a drone on the tonic G, the soprano almost inaudibly beseeches peace, and the final chord - only Gs, in octaves, nothing else - is breathed, and fades out of the world.
To amend my mention of the Mellotron- I was more saying that original Mellotrons are now rare and expensive since their function (essentially, a sampling keyboard using the technology available in the late 1960's) has been almost entirely supplanted by digital sampling keyboards that are less finicky and more reliable, and can actually sample libraries that include Mellotron recordings. There's even a pedal Electro-Harmonix makes so that you can get Mellotron sounds out of an electric guitar, bass, or keyboard. However, none of those options quite have the same analog coolness of using a real-deal Mellotron. But that's getting into the analog vs. digital argument which is even more of a tangent than talking about a Mellotron within a thread ostensibly about classical.
 
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Positron

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When we think Tango, especially concert-hall Tango, we think Argentina and Piazzolla. But many 20th century composer have their own idiosyncratic take on the Tango. To Alfred Schnittke, for example, Tango represents death. In his Faust Cantata, he sets the most gruesome depiction of Faust's death to a lilting, ghostly Tango. For Finnish composer Aulis Sallinen, the Tango is perhaps the music of nostalgia. Tango was a big hit in Finland for the most part of the 20th century; tango songs vied with The Beatles for the top spot in pop charts. Especially in his chamber music, Sallinen mixes Tango with various popular dance forms. The piece Chamber Music III - The Nocturnal Dances of Don Juanquixote, for example, is a languid serenade to an imaginary, nostalgic Spain.

 

Strine

It had become a glimmering gorl,
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Yes I heard it from Salo.
Most normies only know O Fortuna from Carmina Burana, but the entire suite is full of immensely powerful songs, such as that one. Carmina Burana is about the wheel of fortune, and how it affects people's lives; some songs are comedic, some sinister, and some impassioned with love. The songs are not explicitly connected, they're kind of vignettes, but there's an overarching narrative of a man - the baritone - hopelessly in love with a woman - the soprano - who spurns him, but after deep contemplation, returns his love. This work unashamedly explores love and sex as erotic muses, and candidly shows the power of female sexuality and the torment of male sexual anxiety.

Some of my favourites:
In this song, the basses pluck almost physical throbs of passion, and the male protagonist enters. Orff wrote a very high part for a low male voice, forcing him into a wailing falsetto, adding to the emotional pathos - the poetry he sings describes the beautiful woman whom he desperately loves, but who does not love him.


Don't let her campy costume fool you: this is Lucia Popp, one of the greatest soprani of her age, and here she sings the female protagonist's revelatory song In Trutina (extremely beautifully). The woman is in deep contemplation; she imagines herself weighing modesty and lust on a scale, afraid of being in love. She resolves, ultimately, to yoke herself with the scales, and that the ups and downs of love are a burden worth bearing. This sets us up for the final sequence, detailed below:


This fun, comedic song consists of the entire cast singing about how horny they are (I am quite serious) with fruity castanets, and silly dialogue between the nervous women, the hormone-crazy boys, the lonely men and of course the central couple in the narrative. It becomes apparent that the baritone - our hero - is pitching this song to his lady, paralysed by male sexual anxiety, hoping for her approval. In a sudden moment of stunning beauty, the chorus stops:

"Dulcissime" - "my sweetest one!", the soprano tenderly intones, leaping up to a high B in a display of distilled femininity - she plays the coy maiden for him, and in a florid run of notes like honey dripping onto his lips, culminating in a celestial high D she reassures him "totam tibi subto me" - "I give myself to you".


This leads into:
Ave Formosissima - Hail, most beautiful one. A hymn to Venus; whom our soprano embodies. The entire cast sing a majestic chorale extolling Venus' beauty and power, a hymn growing ever more impassioned and emotional, reaching a final dominant chord, begging for a perfect cadence into D major, but then:

O Fortuna - a crashing D minor resolution! Our heroine, our Venus is gone - the wheel of fortune has turned, and Fortuna smiles grimly at her own power. Did Fortuna plan this the entire time? Our heroine's stratospheric high D in the dulcissime became the axis of the cadence into the D minor O Fortuna - Orff implies that the capricious heroine was Fortuna herself. As the sinister chanting swirls like Fortuna's wheel, we can only wonder.
 

Positron

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I can never find a satisfactory recording of Orff's Carmina Burana. The baritone is given a very hard job, to sing in two very different moods. Those who do well in the earlier love song are never convincing in the brawdy and sleazy numbers later in the cycle -- and vice versa. Strange that, even today when taking liberties with compositions is common, no one ever thought of recording it with two separate baritones.
 
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