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The classical music catch-all
#36
Quote:

Originally Posted by jhp1608 View Post

Given a choice between making a thread and raising it from the dead, I'll always choose the irresponsible option.

I've been deliberately building a classical collection over the last 18 months. I'm far from complete, even though I've built it around a fairly basic rubric. The pleasure it's given me has far exceeded my expectations. Like learning Latin or Ancient Greek, it resembles mainlining an entire civilisation. A dead one, perhaps? The corpse continues to twitch but maybe we are at the point of a fixed canon.

Anyone else still around open to the sound of vibrating sopranos, or slashing strings?

For a taster, these were my post-video delights





What one may call dead, others call a cornerstone.

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#37
A[quote name="Agentsands77" url="/community/t/122355/the-classical-music-catch-all#post_4208755"]You have my sword, sir.

I recently watched this excellent recording of IL TRITTICO. All three of the operas are extraordinarily well-cast and staged.

The first opera of the trio, IL TABARRO, is a wholly modern achievement, musically and dramatically. I don't know that the medium has evolved much in the century that has passed since Puccini wrote it.[/quote]

I'll add that to the list!

I've been taking a fairly systematic approach to learning about classical music, using an old Gramophone list as a guide, and focusing on a few pieces a month to select a library recording but also to immerse myself in them from a listening perspective. I've engaged with most of the major symphonies up to Shostakovich, and have a pretty decent collection ripped to my server now. I decided to change up a bit and focus on opera, although I've only just started. It's Orfeo and Poppea (the final aria is astonishing) this month, although I have a few recordings already, hence the Rossini and Wagner fandango last night.

Going through this process has been an absolute pleasure. Although I'm only dipping my toe in the water in terms of musical understanding, even just getting a working grasp of how symphonic music evolved from the early classical age to the twentieth century has been fascinating. As has realising just how much (rightly) feted film music has been inspired by what came before.

I'm also lucky to be close enough to London to be able to fit in a few live experiences a year. In terms of resident orchestras, the king of the hill is the London Symphony at the Barbican, which Rattle is about to take over, and on a rung down there are the Philharmonia and London Philharmonic at the Festival Hall, and the Royal Philharmonic at Cadogan Hall. The latter bands are pretty good in their own right, and often attract pretty decent guest conductors. I went to hear Sibelius' first and second symphonies by the Philharmonia last year, and they got Osmo Vanska to conduct, who is pretty much the top Sibelian around at the moment. Argerich, Mutter and Perahia are also around shortly.

I had my first opera experience the year before last. Saw La Traviata and Figaro at the Royal Opera House. Extraordinary venue and wonderful musicianship and showmanship. It's the expensive end of the hobby for sure, but it was worth every penny.

[quote name="stelios" url="/community/t/122355/the-classical-music-catch-all#post_4208861"]
What one may call dead, others call a cornerstone. 
[/quote]

Absolutely - and I'd say the same about Latin and Greek, and the literature originally written in them. I was more making a short handed comment that I wonder whether it is still a living art form in terms of new composition, or whether, arguably like jazz, what constitutes "classical music" has hardened into a fixed canon.
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#38
A[quote name="jhp1608" url="/community/t/122355/the-classical-music-catch-all/30#post_4208899"]
I've been taking a fairly systematic approach to learning about classical music, using an old Gramophone list as a guide, and focusing on a few pieces a month to select a library recording but also to immerse myself in them from a listening perspective. I've engaged with most of the major symphonies up to Shostakovich, and have a pretty decent collection ripped to my server now.[/quote]
Make sure you have the Haitink/ Concertgebouw Orchestra recording of Shosty 5. It has never been bettered.

The Bernstein recording is all wrong.
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#39
A[quote name="jhp1608" url="/community/t/122355/the-classical-music-catch-all/30#post_4208899"]
I was more making a short handed comment that I wonder whether it is still a living art form in terms of new composition, or whether, arguably like jazz, what constitutes "classical music" has hardened into a fixed canon.[/quote]
It's hard to say. There are new, notable operas being produced, but all you have to do is go to the opera and look out over the sea of gray-haired patrons to know that the medium is (tragically) on life support.

Even film music, once the refuge of young composers, no longer offers the opportunities it once did, and you rarely see noteworthy classical composers working on films anymore.

So, yes, I'd say we're approaching a fixed canon, though the latter half of the 20th century still presents a lot of room for debate and discovery.
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#40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Agentsands77 View Post


Make sure you have the Haitink/ Concertgebouw Orchestra recording of Shosty 5. It has never been bettered.

The Bernstein recording is all wrong.

I actually picked up the Barshai set on Brilliant. It was during a period where I was feeling a little impatient and couldn't muster the enthusiasm to work through all fifteen individually.



Bernstein is a funny one. On the one hand, I really like the fact that he always provides a recognisable interpretation of a piece. I find there is a time and a place for the way he takes things to extremes. I also think he was a really valuable person to have around in terms of his desire to educate and popularise, especially amongst children. However, yes, there are some recordings of his that are very hard to get comfortable with. I find his latter Beethoven set much harder work than the earlier recordings. In fact, in general I've found his stuff with the NY Phil to be infinitely more engaging and his interpretations still very much his own, but not as self-indulgent.

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#41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Agentsands77 View Post


It's hard to say. There are new, notable operas being produced, but all you have to do is go to the opera and look out over the sea of gray-haired patrons to know that the medium is (tragically) on life support.

Even film music, once the refuge of young composers, no longer offers the opportunities it once did, and you rarely see noteworthy classical composers working on films anymore.

So, yes, I'd say we're approaching a fixed canon, though the latter half of the 20th century still presents a lot of room for debate and discovery.


Interestingly in London I think the concert venues and the opera have had some success in broadening the demographic. In particular the LSO has a second venue at St Luke's church which it uses for a lot of outreach aimed at people whose knowledge of classical music is more limited and also things aimed at kids. It's pretty popular. Also I notice there are a lot of younger concertgoers at the Festival Hall - tickets tend not to be too expensive and the auditorium, although far from the last word acoustically, offers a good view from a lot of seats. They also mix in more populist concerts with the higher brow stuff - I took the older boy to a night of James Bond themes, and they do other nights dedicated to pop cultural composers like Williams or a concert of the Lord of the Rings soundtrack.



The opera is less of a broad church, and the prohibitive cost does make more of a difference in terms of bringing a wider social and age spectrum, but even there the two times I've been to the ROH there have been a decent number of people under the age of, say, fifty. Which is young in classical terms. The English National Opera should, in theory, be even more accessible, both in terms of its founding purpose, ticketing prices and the fact all the operas are sung in English. But it is struggling mainly because amongst a declining audience, those who want to go to see opera want to see it in its original language.



Glyndebourne is always sold out, although a lot of attendees are there on the corporate shilling, and the Proms is obviously massive. There are probably about eight or nine material music festivals around the country from spring to summer, and they remain relatively popular although fairly small scale when compared to the big pop and rock festivals.



I bought some things by Howard Goodall and Howard Shore recently. The latter has a new album of non-film related music. I can't any of it particularly moved me, or was massively inspiring. I'm quite a fan of minimalism and the more mystical end like Part and Gorecki.

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#42
A[quote name="jhp1608" url="/community/t/122355/the-classical-music-catch-all/30#post_4208913"]
I bought some things by Howard Goodall and Howard Shore recently. The latter has a new album of non-film related music. I can't any of it particularly moved me, or was massively inspiring.[/quote]
I'm not overly enthusiastic about either composer.

[quote name="jhp1608" url="/community/t/122355/the-classical-music-catch-all/30#post_4208913"]
I'm quite a fan of minimalism and the more mystical end like Part and Gorecki.
[/quote]
Both are wonderful composers.

I love John Adams, who may be the most popular and widely-celebrated of living classical composers.

In truth, though, my heart belongs to those who exist on the border of the Romantic era and that of the 20th century. Y'know, Rachmaninoff and Puccini and R. Strauss, which all bled into the musical legacy of folks like Berg and Shostakovich and film composers like Bernard Herrmann (who really should be more widely-performed in concert form). Dramatic and rich and intoxicating.

I balance that out with unflinching devotion to J.S. Bach, who is, I think inarguably, the greatest musical genius of the classical tradition.
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#43
Quote:

Originally Posted by Agentsands77 View Post


I'm not overly enthusiastic about either composer.
Both are wonderful composers.

I love John Adams, who may be the most popular and widely-celebrated of living classical composers.

In truth, though, my heart belongs to those who exist on the border of the Romantic era and that of the 20th century. Y'know, Rachmaninoff and Puccini and R. Strauss, which all bled into the musical legacy of folks like Berg and Shostakovich and film composers like Bernard Herrmann (who really should be more widely-performed in concert form). Dramatic and rich and intoxicating.

I balance that out with unflinching devotion to J.S. Bach, who is, I think inarguably, the greatest musical genius of the classical tradition.

I really like some of the motifs in Shore's Lord of the Rings scores, and it is improving a bit on each listen, but it's atmosphere without much else going on. Goodall did nothing for me.



I've not yet formed a strong preference on era, as I'm doing a fairly shallow trawl in the sense of covering quite a lot in a short space of time. I am finding the strictly classical material exemplified, say, by Haydn and Mozart harder to get into than either the Baroque period, or Romantic or 20C symphonies. I'll exclude opera from that - I'm a huge fan of the Mozart/del Ponte operas and Rossini, all the way through to Norma and so forth, although bel canto doesn't line up perfectly with the rough classical/romantic divide.



Medieval polyphony will always have a place thanks to umpteen Sunday evenings listening to the college choir during Evensong. Byrd's masses, Davy's Stabat Mater, Tye's ​Omni gentes plaudits manibus and Taverner's Missa Gloria Tibi Trinitas are particular favourites. Strauss I don't know very well yet, and my Rachmaninoff is pretty limited to the second symphony and the second piano concerto, which is to say I know the famous tunes!



To be frank, if I were to do a list of favourite pieces it would cover a ridiculously expansive period. There are things I really, really like from each era, although to be fair as a neophyte I'm still engaged primarily by melody.



I'm currently spending a lot of time listening to La Traviata to decide on a library recording. The MYTO remastering of the Callas 1958 Lisbon performance is astonishing. I always assumed I wouldn't purchase "vintage" versions on the basis that I don't do well with reedy sound, but this is an exceptional remastering. I also found an outfit called Prestige Recordings run by an ex-BBC engineer who cuts CDs to order of the remastering he has done of out of copyright stuff. The problem is that you can't preview them anywhere, so you're reliant on reviews to be convinced.



Anyway, I'm torn between Callas and the Cortrubas/Domingo/Kleiber recording, since even though Sutherland is probably a slightly less wobbly singer, I have a lot of Pavarotti in Puccini and not much Domingo, and Carlos is my jam. Callas, though. It's trite to say, but wow. There's a lot of hype and melodrama surrounding her, but get the right recording and you really can see what the fuss was about. Shame her voice was weakening at the beginning of the stereo era so you're so dependant on fabulous remastering to get a listenable sound.

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#44
AI may have to seek this recording out.

As it stands, I'm not a big Callas fan.
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#45
A[Video]https://youtu.be/QA19NDIfXaQ[/video]

So great.
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