Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Classical Compositions of… the 1830s

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The levelling of the field.

Poll Results

OptionVotes
Frédéric Chopin - 24 Preludes, Op. 28 (1836-1839) 4
Hector Berlioz - Symphonie fantastique (1830) 3
Robert Schumann - Carnaval, Op. 9 (1834-1835) 1
Frédéric Chopin - 12 Etudes, Op. 10 (1829-1832) 1
Frédéric Chopin - 3 Nocturnes, Op. 9 (1830-1831) 1
Robert Schumann - Kreisleriana, Op. 16 (1838) 1
Robert Schumann - Fantasie in C major, Op. 17 (1836) 1
George Onslow - String Quartet No. 29 in D minor, Op. 55 (1834) 1
Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy - Hebrides Overture in B minor, Op. 26 (1830-1832) 1
John Field - Nocturnes (1812-1836) 0
Hector Berlioz - Roméo et Juliette (1839) 0
Hector Berlioz - Grande messe des morts (1837) 0
Luigi Cherubini - String Quintet in E minor (1837) 0
Hector Berlioz - Harold en Italie (1834) 0
Mikhail Glinka - A Life for the Tsar (1836) 0
Louis Spohr - Symphony No. 6 in G major, ‘Historical Symphony’, Op. 116 (1839) 0
Niccolò Paganini - Violin Concerto No. 5 in A minor (1830) 0
Robert Schumann - Piano Sonata No. 1 in F-sharp minor, Op. 11 (1835) 0
Vincenzo Bellini - Norma (1831) 0
Vincenzo Bellini - La sonnambula (1831) 0
Robert Schumann - Faschingsschwank aus Wien, Op. 26 (1839) 0
Robert Schumann - Piano Sonata No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22 (1833-1835) 0
Robert Schumann - Papillons, Op. 2 (1829-1831) 0
Robert Schumann - Kinderszenen, Op. 15 (1838) 0
Robert Schumann - Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op. 14 (1835) 0
Robert Schumann - Etudes symphoniques, Op. 13 (1834) 0
Vincenzo Bellini - I puritani (1835) 0
Giacomo Meyerbeer - Robert le diable (1831) 0
Gaetano Donizetti - Lucia di Lammermoor (1835) 0
Frédéric Chopin - 4 Mazurkas, Op. 17 (1832-1833) 0
Frédéric Chopin - 3 Nocturnes, Op. 15 (1830-1833) 0
Fernando Sor - 25 Progressive Studies, Op. 60 (1837) 0
Ferdinand Ries - Symphony No. 7 in A minor, Op. 181 (1835) 0
Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy - String Quartet No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 44/3 (1838) 0
Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy - String Quartet No. 4 in E minor, Op. 44/2 (1837) 0
Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy - String Quartet No. 3 in D major, Op. 44/1 (1838) 0
Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy - Songs Without Words, Book III, Op. 38 (1836-1837) 0
Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy - Songs Without Words, Book II, Op. 30 (1833-1834) 0
Frédéric Chopin - Scherzo No. 1 in B minor, Op. 20 (1831) 0
Frédéric Chopin - Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23 (1831-1835) 0
George Onslow - String Quartet No. 30 in C minor, Op. 56 (1834) 0
George Onslow - String Quartet No. 28 in E-flat major, Op. 54 (1834) 0
George Onslow - String Quintet No. 20 in D minor, Op. 45 (1832) 0
Fromental Halévy - La Juive (1835) 0
Frédéric Chopin - Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 35 (1839) 0
Frédéric Chopin - 3 Waltzes, Op. 34 (1831-1838) 0
Frédéric Chopin - 2 Nocturnes, Op. 26 (1835) 0
Frédéric Chopin - 2 Polonaises, Op. 26 (1834-1835) 0
Frédéric Chopin - 12 Etudes, Op. 25 (1832-1836) 0
Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy - Songs Without Words, Book I, Op. 19b (1829-1830) 0


pomenitul, Thursday, 21 November 2019 09:52 (three weeks ago) link

Mainly opera and piano with a few notable stragglers.

At first glance, it's Schumann's Fantasie for me.

pomenitul, Thursday, 21 November 2019 09:54 (three weeks ago) link

Symphonie Fantastique, innit

Sent music hurtling down a new path. Unacknowledged origin of so much, and still a freakish, hallucinatory experience to this day. Like Goya in musical form.

glumdalclitch, Thursday, 21 November 2019 09:57 (three weeks ago) link

It doesn't exactly bespeak a Romantic conception of the Symphonie fantastique, but I love Boulez's second recording with the Cleveland Orchestra for its proto-Debussyan commitment to colouring. Otherwise Charles Munch is unimpeachable imho.

pomenitul, Thursday, 21 November 2019 10:25 (three weeks ago) link

As a side note, it's not so much a Fantastic Symphony (although it is that too) as it is a Fantastical or Fantasy Symphony.

pomenitul, Thursday, 21 November 2019 10:27 (three weeks ago) link

This is probably the first and only easy vote for me :)

Frederik B, Thursday, 21 November 2019 10:57 (three weeks ago) link

It is to Berlioz' credit that the SF can bre interpreted in a number of different ways, forward and backward. It is after all a synthesis of Gluck and out-of-context late Beethoven. Some of the rest of it is Berlioz' childhood folk music experience creeping in too, like the 3rd movement. Guy was a guitarist, before he was a composer or knew anything about the orchestra, so I think that explains both some of the weird coagulated textures, and also the shifting time signatures/extended and unexpected dynamics. How he managed to translate what was in his head, the fragments of Beethoven and Gluck, and his childhood memories of childhood listening in the deep south, into this bizarre and very academically wrong orchestral melange is one of the great mysteries/miracles of 19c music. You can tell why ppl were so baffled and personally insulted, and why they thought he couldn't orchestrate or communicate anything coherent.

glumdalclitch, Thursday, 21 November 2019 10:57 (three weeks ago) link

Ugh sorry typing at work so several repetitions there, hope its readable

glumdalclitch, Thursday, 21 November 2019 10:59 (three weeks ago) link

Which recording would one find as a noob?

imago, Thursday, 21 November 2019 11:11 (three weeks ago) link

Listen to the first couple of minutes of the Boulez/Cleveland and the Munch/Boston, respectively, then go with whichever one agrees with your ears.

pomenitul, Thursday, 21 November 2019 11:34 (three weeks ago) link

The 1830s: the 1975 of classical/romantic musick. Where is our Johnny Rotten? I guess we’ll see some Liszt next time.

Jeff W, Thursday, 21 November 2019 13:09 (three weeks ago) link

C'mon, early Berlioz and Schumann were both arch-revolutionaries each in his own way.

pomenitul, Thursday, 21 November 2019 13:19 (three weeks ago) link

Another Spotify playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5jjyxHyyEYBNeXGmcGLTjy
(Stuff after Berlioz is not represented there at all yet, but I must sleep. :) Feel free to edit anything at all, Spotify users!)

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Thursday, 21 November 2019 14:44 (three weeks ago) link

Thanks, Nag! And gute Nacht!

pomenitul, Thursday, 21 November 2019 14:45 (three weeks ago) link

I haven't heard hardly any of this (I've heard the Berlioz but it never really grabbed me) - any thoughts/recommendations on these? Good places to dive in?

Agnes Motörhead (rushomancy), Thursday, 21 November 2019 15:05 (three weeks ago) link

Some favourites (all solo piano):

Pollini for the Chopin Etudes and Preludes
Engerer for the Chopin Nocturnes
Argerich for Schumann's Kinderszenen and Kreisleriana
Andsnes for the Fantasie

The three Onslow quartets were recorded by the superlative Quatuor Diotima.

I'm not much of an opera buff, though, so I'm afraid I can't really help you there.

pomenitul, Thursday, 21 November 2019 15:15 (three weeks ago) link

no worries i'm not big on opera either

Agnes Motörhead (rushomancy), Thursday, 21 November 2019 16:07 (three weeks ago) link

gut answer is chopin preludes but will revisit some other stuff

ciderpress, Thursday, 21 November 2019 16:56 (three weeks ago) link

Apologies for the staircase response, glumdalclitch, but that was a quality post, re: Berlioz. I had no idea that he'd started out as a guitarist.

pomenitul, Thursday, 21 November 2019 17:00 (three weeks ago) link

just saw the ny phil perform fantastique so it's fresh in my mind, but i probably would've went for it regardless.

jacquees, full of cobras (voodoo chili), Thursday, 21 November 2019 17:28 (three weeks ago) link

runner-up is a tie between like 5 chopin compositions, though i'm really just waiting til the next poll so i can vote for Heroic

jacquees, full of cobras (voodoo chili), Thursday, 21 November 2019 17:29 (three weeks ago) link

La Juive, Acte IV: "Rachel, quand du Seigneur"

Proust connection! I should listen to that some time.

jmm, Thursday, 21 November 2019 17:42 (three weeks ago) link

^^ things I learn from wikipedia today, too :)

Le Bateau Ivre, Thursday, 21 November 2019 18:06 (three weeks ago) link

I voted Chopin's Preludes. So many breathtaking moments in the collection. My favorite recordings are by Argerich and Claudio Arrau (because I heard his first). I also love many of Chopin's etudes and waltzes, but he tends to lose me when the longer pieces kick in with the schmaltz. Gets a little too predicable.

Conspicuously absent: Mendelssohn's 4th Symphony, "Italian". I also love Cherubini's string quartets. I haven't heard his quintet. I need to check out Onslow.

punning display, Thursday, 21 November 2019 18:21 (three weeks ago) link

How the hell did I forget the Italian Symphony? Mea culpa.

My mind spontaneously went to Pollini when thinking about Chopin's Preludes but I actually prefer Argerich's take, now that you mention it.

pomenitul, Thursday, 21 November 2019 18:28 (three weeks ago) link

Easy to miss the Italian Symphony as an 1830s work, because for some reason it was numbered after the 3rd Symphony from 1840-something, and its opus number is also way out of sequence.

punning display, Thursday, 21 November 2019 18:48 (three weeks ago) link

Chopin Preludes vs Symphonie Fantastique - geez.

25 Progressive Studies over Fantaisie Élégiaque?

No language just sound (Sund4r), Thursday, 21 November 2019 19:44 (three weeks ago) link

I haven't heard that one! Clearly I should've consulted you before coming up with a list.

pomenitul, Thursday, 21 November 2019 19:48 (three weeks ago) link

I can not be expected to pick between Chopin's 12 etudes (Op. 10) and Chopin's 24 preludes (Op. 28). It's a cruel choices indeed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYLI3R7jOpU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGqaeUeTzj0

temporarily embarrassed thousandaire (Eric H.), Thursday, 21 November 2019 19:55 (three weeks ago) link

Ha, sorry, pom, didn't mean to slight your lists, which are staggeringly exhaustive.

No language just sound (Sund4r), Thursday, 21 November 2019 21:05 (three weeks ago) link

No worries. I, for one, welcome a bit of quibbling – Michael B & Oor Neechy's series of polls featured their fair share of entertaining dissent.

pomenitul, Thursday, 21 November 2019 21:12 (three weeks ago) link

I would never vote for it over Fantastique, but Donizettis The Love Elixir is one of the stronger things not nominated. I mean, it's kinda crap, through and through, but it's one of the few operas I've been in the chorus to, and it's a whole lot of fun singing it. And there's this one gem of a tenor aria towards the end. Isn't there always?

Frederik B, Thursday, 21 November 2019 21:31 (three weeks ago) link

Fwiw as the pool of viable composers expands, I'll be forced to make increasingly more difficult (and shamelessly subjective) choices, so I expect a deluge of hate webmail over the next couple of months.

pomenitul, Thursday, 21 November 2019 21:37 (three weeks ago) link

No hate :) Only love. Elixirs.

Frederik B, Thursday, 21 November 2019 21:58 (three weeks ago) link

Sor's op. 60 (also titled "Introduction à l'étude de la guitare") is, as it sounds, a collection of short etudes for beginning to intermediate classical guitar students. Fantaisie Élégiaque is a major repertoire work for solo performers and the far more substantial piece imo, maybe an OPO for Sor. The "Marche funèbre" movement (about 9:35 in this video) is one of my favourite pieces.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buhQtXKc88U

No language just sound (Sund4r), Friday, 22 November 2019 04:44 (three weeks ago) link

Any further recording recommendations for these Schumann works? He has somehow mostly washed over me in the past. This seems as good a time as any for some immersion!

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Friday, 22 November 2019 05:29 (three weeks ago) link

Thanks for the heads up, Sund4r – that is indeed a worthier piece than the Op. 60. If you've got any guitar recommendations that I'm likely to overlook for the coming decades, do let me know.

pomenitul, Friday, 22 November 2019 09:13 (three weeks ago) link

As for Schumann recording recommendations:

Papillons, Op. 2 – Sviatoslav Richter (1963)
Carnaval, Op. 9 – Maria João Pires
Piano Sonata No. 1 in F-sharp minor, Op. 11 – Leif Ove Andsnes
Etudes symphoniques, Op. 13 – Maurizio Pollini
Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op. 14 – András Schiff
Kinderszenen, Op. 15 – Radu Lupu
Kreisleriana, Op. 16 – Alexandre Lonquich
Fantasie in C major, Op. 17 – Martha Argerich
Piano Sonata No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22 – Marc-André Hamelin
Faschingsschwank aus Wien, Op. 26 – Jean-Efflam Bavouzet

pomenitul, Friday, 22 November 2019 09:24 (three weeks ago) link

No Davidsbundlertanze??? That would have been my vote most likely. Not that you don’t have ample Schumann but it’s his crown jewel imo.

valet doberman (Jon not Jon), Friday, 22 November 2019 13:34 (three weeks ago) link

I've never gotten into them tbh. Which recording would you recommend?

pomenitul, Friday, 22 November 2019 13:46 (three weeks ago) link

Charles Rosen, Benjamin Frith, Maria Tipo.

Rosen’s sections on Schumann in The Romantic Generation are some of my favorite music writing anywhere ever. Was a real turning point in my appreciation of what Schumann was up to in his diabolically elusive and allusive solo piano works

Actually that whole book would be urgent and key for this installment of this poll

valet doberman (Jon not Jon), Friday, 22 November 2019 14:15 (three weeks ago) link

Duly noted, thanks. I haven't read Rosen and am only acquainted with his pianism via his Elliott Carter recordings.

pomenitul, Friday, 22 November 2019 14:17 (three weeks ago) link

Dude you will LOVE the romantic generation
It’s actually one of my top 5 non fiction books period

valet doberman (Jon not Jon), Friday, 22 November 2019 16:16 (three weeks ago) link

Sold! I'm fascinated with German Romanticism in all of its forms (literary, philosophical, pictorial, musical, etc.) so it's my fault for not getting to it sooner.

pomenitul, Friday, 22 November 2019 16:19 (three weeks ago) link

absolutely cosine the rosen writing love, he's great

mark s, Friday, 22 November 2019 16:24 (three weeks ago) link

listening to an extremely crackly youtube of the cleveland symphonie fantastique (by choice - it seemed a more me-friendly interpretation than the cleaner boston one)

imago, Monday, 25 November 2019 12:38 (two weeks ago) link

With Boulez conducting?

pomenitul, Monday, 25 November 2019 13:41 (two weeks ago) link

nah some chap called rodzinsky, maybe i'll look for the boulez

imago, Monday, 25 November 2019 14:00 (two weeks ago) link

*rodzinski

i am grand charlatan lol

imago, Monday, 25 November 2019 14:01 (two weeks ago) link

i'm listening to Fantaisie Élégiaque and maybe it's me but this _really_ sounds like guitar tuning, like if it wasn't written in the 1830s i'd assume that was on purpose and it was some kind of postmodern thing

Agnes Motörhead (rushomancy), Monday, 25 November 2019 14:39 (two weeks ago) link

For a powerful recent recording of the SF, look to Les Siecles conducted by Francois Xavier Roth.

valet doberman (Jon not Jon), Monday, 25 November 2019 14:41 (two weeks ago) link

^ seconded. All period instruments, to boot.

pomenitul, Monday, 25 November 2019 14:50 (two weeks ago) link

I'd also like to rep for Schumann's 2nd Sonata, whose first tempo marking is 'So rasch wie möglich' ('as fast as possible'):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1y9yQoDCng

pomenitul, Monday, 25 November 2019 14:55 (two weeks ago) link

boulez one is pretty sick i must say

imago, Monday, 25 November 2019 15:02 (two weeks ago) link

Indeed. All finely hued sinewy analytic colours.

pomenitul, Monday, 25 November 2019 15:03 (two weeks ago) link

My fave of the three Schumann sonatas is definitely the first, but all three are great. For #2 I keep coming back to Bernd Glemser, Jorg Demus, and Richter.

valet doberman (Jon not Jon), Monday, 25 November 2019 16:01 (two weeks ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Wednesday, 27 November 2019 00:01 (two weeks ago) link

Went with the Fantasie in the end.

pomenitul, Wednesday, 27 November 2019 13:42 (two weeks ago) link

I've certainly spent most time listening to The Hebrides.

jmm, Wednesday, 27 November 2019 13:51 (two weeks ago) link

Kreisleriana, as a representative of Schumann at his gnarliest and most formally unique

valet doberman (Jon not Jon), Wednesday, 27 November 2019 17:54 (two weeks ago) link

Is there any reason why there are so many pieces by Felix Mendelssohn on the list, but nothing by her sister? A lot of her best work was composed in the 1830s, such as the 1831 Bible Oratorio and the 1834 string quartet.

Tuomas, Wednesday, 27 November 2019 21:42 (two weeks ago) link

I'm not a huge fan of her music but I agree that the string quartet should have been an option.

pomenitul, Wednesday, 27 November 2019 22:05 (two weeks ago) link

I ended up voting for 24 Preludes over Symphonie Fantastique, just bc I have already voted for a symphony and not for any solo works.

No language just sound (Sund4r), Wednesday, 27 November 2019 22:53 (two weeks ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Thursday, 28 November 2019 00:01 (two weeks ago) link

Thanks for the recording tips by the way. This ended up being Schumann Piano Works Week in this house!

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Thursday, 28 November 2019 00:16 (two weeks ago) link

Only 14 votes? :(

I suppose it was to be expected after last week's Beethoven-Schubert bonanza.

pomenitul, Thursday, 28 November 2019 08:15 (two weeks ago) link

Which recording of the Preludes do you goodly people recommend?

Life is a meaningless nightmare of suffering...save string (Chinaski), Thursday, 28 November 2019 09:16 (two weeks ago) link

I'm a Pollini stan when it comes to Chopin in particular, so… Maurizio Pollini.

pomenitul, Thursday, 28 November 2019 09:18 (two weeks ago) link

He has a fine forehead.

Life is a meaningless nightmare of suffering...save string (Chinaski), Thursday, 28 November 2019 09:25 (two weeks ago) link

Ivan Moravec for the preludes

valet doberman (Jon not Jon), Thursday, 28 November 2019 14:54 (two weeks ago) link

Here’s my top 12 Schumann piano albums
Davidsbundlertanze + Carnaval - Rosen (Sony)
Kreisleriana + Kinderszenen - Argerich (DG)
Fantasie + Carnaval - Arrau* (Philips/Decca whatever UMG call it now)
Sonata #1 + Kreisleriana - Perahia (Sony)
Richter DG recital incl Fantasiestucke + Waldszenen (DG)
Humoreske et al - Richter (Melodiya)
Symphonic Etudes + Humoreske - Andrew de Grado (Centaur)
Sonata #2 et al - Bernd Glemser (Naxos)
Fantasie (coupled with Schubert) - Pollini (DG)
Novelettes - Jorg Demus (Nuova Era and other labels)
Davidsbundlertanze + Fantasiestucke - Benjamin Frith (Naxos)
Kinderszenen + Kreisleriana - Horowitz (Sony)

*not sure what the current availability of Arrau’s Schumann recordings is, I’m sure they are in print, but in the Arrau Plays Schumann box set I have, Carnaval and Fantasie are on one disc and are both absolutely crushing

valet doberman (Jon not Jon), Thursday, 28 November 2019 15:15 (two weeks ago) link

Yes you end up with three Kreislerianas but whattayagonnado people like recording it

valet doberman (Jon not Jon), Thursday, 28 November 2019 15:16 (two weeks ago) link

These polls are so great - just what I needed in terms of focussing what has been a hideously disparate approach to stuff for so many years. I've always dabbled with him but it turns out I absolutely bloody love Chopin.

Life is a meaningless nightmare of suffering...save string (Chinaski), Thursday, 28 November 2019 16:50 (two weeks ago) link


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