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Andrew

Classical Music

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After emerging from the desert of CCM in the early '90's, I luxuriated in the pleasures of classical music for the next several years. (I even took double bass lessons for a while, but alas, I was stymied by an utter lack of talent and exhausted by the caregiving of my firstborn, so thus ended my musical career).

Anyone else out there who would like to share their favorites? Here are a few that come to mind for me:

1) Brahms' German Requiem - deeply spiritual, composed after the death of his mother. I find the 2nd section especially powerful.

2) Faure's Requiem - a lush, ethereal counterpoint to #1

3) Adams' Nixon in China - an opera done in melodious minimalistic style, with a witty libretto to boot.

4) Shostakovich's 5th and 7th symphonies - expressive works by a depressive Soviet composer who was always listening for Stalin's ominous footsteps, as he encoded subversive messages into his major works. A master of orchestration, less so of melody.

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I am a cellist, but haven't picked up my cello in a couple of years. Hope to get back to it soon, though.

Shostakovich's 5th was always one of my favourites, too. I like anything neo-classical (Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Britten, perhaps). Of Shostakovich's other works, I am particularly fond of the piano concertos.

My listening over the last few days has included Janacek's Sinfonietta (very stirring), Sibelius's 5th and Britten's Variations on a Theme by Frank Bridge. All very wonderful.

As you can see, my tastes lie somewhere in the late romantic/early-mid twentieth century period.

I do like John Adams, however. I once played The Chairman Dances from Nixon in China--the best of minimalism, I am sure, and very satisfying to perform. Oh, and Faure is one of my favourites. He wrote some beautiful pieces for cello and piano.

Btw, the London Proms begin on Friday, so I have that to look forward to. The season is about ten weeks, I think, all broadcast by the BBC. Is that something you can see in the US?

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A cellist and a pianist -- very cool.

Shostakovich: I love his piano concerti, too. Even though Dmitri wasn't fond of his 2nd, I love its romantic throwback quality. Have you heard his Chamber Symphony (a transcription of his 8th string quartet)? -- a gripping mixture of panic and despair.

John Adams: To be honest, I'm not that enamored with most of his other work, but I love "Nixon in China." If it's any encouragement for you to give it a listen, I find most of the actual opera to be much more interesting than "The Chairman Dances."

Janacek: I don't know that I've heard any of his works before. How would you describe them? What would some good starting points be?

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Hmm, Janacek is a very colourful composer... Think Mussorgsky... But far more inspired, a little more modern... Wonderful orchestration...

His Sinfonietta and Taras Bulba are great places to start.

The second piano concerto (Shostakovich) has a very Rachmaninovian slow movement, so I can see what you mean about it being a romantic throwback. The two concertos are certainly among his most accessible pieces, probably for that reason.

Oh, and one more recommendation, for all the Americans who have probably missed out: Malcolm Arnold. He is a British composer, perhaps best known for his film scores (lots of David Lean etc), but also with a whole wealth of brilliant orchestral and chamber pieces. I first came across his music when I was a lad, since his works are a favourite with youth orchestras (especially the English Dances, Scottish Dances etc). My personal favourite of his is the Piano Concerto for Three Hands (Two Players). It was written for two pianists, one of whom had lost a hand! If you are interested, you could do worse than to begin with his Dances.

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Thanks, Alvy, I'll be looking for those smile.gif

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oh yeah! Either liking classical music doesn't make one a nerd or I have found several fellow nerds! Very few people I know would want to talk about Schastakovich, I have his #5 ranked very highly on my Launch Yahoo radio station!

I could talk about this forever. If one likes classical radio you may want to check out www.clasical1035.com

I am in the process of moving and a friend of mine got me tickets to go hear Leonard Slatkin direct the national symphony orchestra play Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. I remember the first time I heard it on a United Airlines commercial when I was very young and thinking someday I will hear it. . . What a memorable evening.

In addition right now I am binging on Chopin and going back into an Aaron Copland phase. . .

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Have you read Shostakovich: A Life Remembered, by Elizabeth Wilson? I found this oral history to be a wonderful resource. There's something admirable about how DS remained subversive and true to his muse through such oppressive times, as well as how he spoke out against anti-Semitism (in his "Babi Yar" symphony and his Jewish songs) at a time when such expression could be quite costly.

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You cello players... I've always regretted my not taking up that most expressive and sensuous of instruments. Like the horn, it's one of those instruments that seems designed for deep, rich, emotional music.

Anyone here interested in choral music, esp. Rennaisance (Byrd, Palestrina, Allegrhi, Tallis) and romantic (Tchaikovesky, Bruckner)?

Andrew, I like your list, particularly the Requia (come on, that has to be the plural). You should give a listen to Mozart's ever famous Requiem (try to find a recording with lighter-voiced soloists) and Poulanc's Gloria.

Some other favourites of mine:

-Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony - a frightfully beautiful musical autobiography/suicide note

-Rachmaninov's piano concerti - esp. 1 and 3

-Rhespigi's Church Windows

-Rutter's Requiem - just love those impecable British choirs

And I suppose I must mention the choral version of Barber's ever popular Adagio for Strings. Simply heartbreaking.

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Somehow I wandered into choral music a few years ago. A friend turned me on to Bach masses, which I go on binges with as my preferred "morning music" at work. Lately, I've actually been testing the waters with opera, though haven't been able to get beyond "La Boheme." I loved the choral music for the Criterion "Joan of Arc," the "Voices of Light" piece: great on ten, makes me feel like I'm in a cathedral. My all-time-favorite choral recording, though, is "Dvorak in Prague: A Celebration". Incredible. Now there's a worship album.

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And while we're on the topic of choral music

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I'm glad you mentioned Beethoven - I particularly enjoy Symphony #9 (of course) and #7 (each movement is a gem, though I especially treasure the drunken carousing of the double basses at the end of the first movement).

Any fans of Saint-Saens here? His 'Organ' Symphony is well-known with good reason, but I think his 5th piano concerto deserves much greater appreciation. Allegedly, it was inspired by a trip he made to Egypt, incorporating an African lullaby as well as orchestral equivalents of Nile frogs and his boat's engine.

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I'm glad someone mentioned Beethoven - I particularly enjoy Symphony #9 (of course) and #7 (each movement is a gem, though I especially treasure the drunken carousing of the double basses at the end of the first movement).
I'm sorta fond of 3, 6, 9.

Also fan of Holst's The Planets and anything by Copeland.

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Andrew wrote:

: I'm glad you mentioned Beethoven - I particularly enjoy Symphony #9

: (of course) and #7 (each movement is a gem, though I especially

: treasure the drunken carousing of the double basses at the end of the

: first movement).

Hear, hear. The 7th is a masterpiece. Though I am more fond of the second movement.

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I'm glad you mentioned Beethoven - I particularly enjoy Symphony #9 (of course) and #7 (each movement is a gem, though I especially treasure the drunken carousing of the double basses at the end of the first movement).

Yes! Those two symphonies are outstanding. I'll even add Symphony #3 and the ubiquitous Symphony #5 to my list of favorites. His Violin Concerto in D Major is also a masterwork.

Others I love:

-Brahms: Symphony #1

-Dvorak: Symphony #9 "From the New World"

-Mozart: Symphony #40

-Bach: Orchestra Suite #2 in B Minor, especially the delightful "Badinerie"

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Folks, do you think it would be valid to create a "Classical Music" forum, so that we could have individual threads on orchesteral, opera, chamber music and various recordings, conductors, composers, etc?

Quite honestly, I find the forum is divided up far too much as it is for my liking. Creating more subforums would only confuse me, I think!

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Folks, do you think it would be valid to create a "Classical Music" forum, so that we could have individual threads on orchesteral, opera, chamber music and various recordings, conductors, composers, etc?

Quite honestly, I find the forum is divided up far too much as it is for my liking. Creating more subforums would only confuse me, I think!

Understood; how would you simplify? Are you using the "View posts since last visit" feature?

Yes, I use the "View posts since last visit" feature, but then, if you happen to return and want to go back to a thread that hasn't been added to, it doesn't show up--then you have to remember where it was.

I think classical music fits just fine under the one music forum. Just my opinion, though.

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Alvy wrote:

: Yes, I use the "View posts since last visit" feature, but then, if you

: happen to return and want to go back to a thread that hasn't been added

: to, it doesn't show up--then you have to remember where it was.

Yeah, it's a pain, actually, if you haven't logged on for several hours and you want to jump back into the fray JUST to post a link or something -- you can only jump back into the fray if you don't mind either (1) having to catch up on ALL of the new posts RIGHT NOW or (2) losing the links to all the posts that have been added since your last visit.

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I realize I'm jumping into the middle of a tangent on the forums, but I had to make a quick comment on the love of classical music...

WhyFjord, I'm so glad you mentioned Rachmaninov. He's always been one of my favorites, and even though she'll be quick to tell you she's "faking it," my mother does lovely on-demand performances of Op. 23 and 3 (though it takes a lot of demanding on my part :wink: ). And recently Kimura Parker joined the Alabama orchestra for Rach's 3rd. So good! Just before the Rach 3, as a matter of fact, the orchestra (minus Kimura Parker) did a Stravinsky piece... not my personal taste, but still interesting to hear.

When I lived in Mississippi I heard a violin/piano pair perform, among other things, Gershwin pieces. Lovely, lovely stuff. I was blown away. (And then horrified by the lack of...appreciation...shown by some Mississippians, but that's a whole other issue!)

And I second all the love for Bach, Beethoven, et al.

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Manson - Great job mentioning Holst's Planets. . .Jupiter is hands down my favorite. I have it ranked as a 100 on my launch yahoo radio station!

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I've discovered a new classical piece to love over the past week:

"Medea's Dance of Vengeance" by Samuel Barber. It's a musical tone poem derived from his ballet, MEDEA. The ballet, in its full form, is also pretty fine stuff, but this shorter piece distills most of the best musical moments into one twelve minute piece. Very moving, and for a piece that isn't particularly thematic, I can't get it out of my head.

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I was 14 years old. Our school music teacher made us listen to Aleksandr Borodine's Polovtsian Dances one afternoon. My heart rose to Heaven.

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