Rolling Classical 2020

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed

I thought this essay on Wagner and his anti-Semitism (or, rather, anti-Judaism, as the author concludes) was really great, avoiding simplistic takes and looking in depth at the work, the ideas, and the history (and I often roll my eyes wrt discussions of this topic): https://mosaicmagazine.com/essay/uncategorized/2015/01/wagner-and-the-jews/

Un sang impur (Sund4r), Sunday, 5 January 2020 20:31 (one year ago) link

(h/t Oor Neechy)

Un sang impur (Sund4r), Sunday, 5 January 2020 20:33 (one year ago) link

It's five years old but new to me.

Un sang impur (Sund4r), Sunday, 5 January 2020 20:41 (one year ago) link

Its not new but it is a very good read. I'm not really familiar with Wagners music though.

xp

Dog Is Daed (Oor Neechy), Sunday, 5 January 2020 20:42 (one year ago) link

Good piece indeed, even though there are grounds for quibbling here and there. For instance, Mendelssohn was baptized and wrote quite a bit of explicitly Christian music, so Wagner's anti-semitism went beyond opposition to Judaism.

pomenitul, Monday, 6 January 2020 02:13 (one year ago) link

Alex Ross's big Wagner book is finally coming out this year, so I'll read this now and think about it again later, probably.

shared unit of analysis (unperson), Monday, 6 January 2020 02:28 (one year ago) link

Not sure if this fits in on this thread, but has anyone listened to Ekmeles: A Howl That Was Also A Prayer?

idgaf (roxymuzak), Tuesday, 7 January 2020 17:28 (one year ago) link

It definitely fits. I just started listening to it. I'd never heard of Taylor Brook but he is apparently a young Canadian composer and McGill grad? Cool.

Un sang impur (Sund4r), Tuesday, 7 January 2020 20:10 (one year ago) link

Listening to a really cool solo organ album with terrible cover art. Some seriously swoopy prog-rock noises going on here.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/ENuGe0JWwAEf2KW.jpg

shared unit of analysis (unperson), Wednesday, 8 January 2020 00:59 (one year ago) link

Sorry, here's the terrible cover art in question:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/ENuGe0JWwAEf2KW.jpg

shared unit of analysis (unperson), Wednesday, 8 January 2020 01:00 (one year ago) link

There's far worse tbf. Anyway, I haven't heard the album but Finns are ever reliable composers.

pomenitul, Wednesday, 8 January 2020 01:10 (one year ago) link

The album's really good in a "let's freak out the neighbor's pets" sort of way. Not subtle stuff by any stretch.

shared unit of analysis (unperson), Wednesday, 8 January 2020 01:13 (one year ago) link

Roxy, I've listened to it a couple of times (always while doing something else) and am finding it interesting. There are definitely things to enjoy. The effects and resonances Brook gets from the microtonal motion of voices are very cool and reminded me a little of Qasim Naqvi's Fjoloy. Thw changing vowel shapes show a definite throat singing influence. I really liked the Gee piece: like choral clicks and cuts at times but juxtaposed with more sustained resonant material and those piercing overtones. Great range of timbres and to the point. I think I am still getting a handle on everything that's going on with the Trapani piece in terms of how the voices, electronics, and text are working together but there are pretty moments.

Un sang impur (Sund4r), Wednesday, 8 January 2020 21:30 (one year ago) link

i find the spoken portions in Brook's portion sound almost...parodic? i don't know, they rubbed me the wrong way and took me out of it at times. love how all the microtonal stuff sounds juxtaposed with a kind of ars antiqua sound. i enjoyed the little tricks like the bird sounds, and the dial tone (i'm pretty sure that was vocal?) in Trapani's piece, i'm a nut for that kind of thing.

idgaf (roxymuzak), Thursday, 9 January 2020 17:53 (one year ago) link

Yeah, the connection between the text and music in the Brook isn't clear to me either. If I focus on the text, it does take me out of the music as well. If I listen for the sound, which is how I listen to it most of the time, the spoken word doesn't bother me but I'm also basically tuning out the text. Someone who knows more about contemporary literature than I do might be getting more out of it? I agree with your comment about the medieval allusions as well.

Un sang impur (Sund4r), Thursday, 9 January 2020 20:27 (one year ago) link

I see New Focus are also putting out an album by Yale guitarist/composer Ben Verdery, with "Scenes from Ellis Island" as the featured track on Bandcamp here: https://newfocusrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/ben-verdery-scenes-from-ellis-island . I had the opportunity to play in a performance of this piece last August and it's a little surprising to hear this version, which is notably different, with a more stripped down guitar 'ensemble' (I'm guessing overdubs of the two guitarists), a female singer, and no electric guitar solo. The version I played in (also led by Verdery) was closer to the style of these: https://youtu.be/MwA2BnD7L6w + https://youtu.be/vvEVD-XWwmU . New version sounds beautiful but seems too polite.

Un sang impur (Sund4r), Thursday, 9 January 2020 20:39 (one year ago) link

Coming up in March: Barbara Hannigan's take on Gérard Grisey's Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil. Yessss

pomenitul, Saturday, 11 January 2020 16:01 (one year ago) link

I have a download of her doing that live with the NYPO. It’s excellent.

valet doberman (Jon not Jon), Saturday, 11 January 2020 18:59 (one year ago) link

Oh, that's exciting.

One must put up barriers to keep oneself intact (Sund4r), Sunday, 12 January 2020 00:06 (one year ago) link

So these are the compositions up for a Grammy tonight. There are a few composers I like a fair bit but I haven't actually listened to any of these yet.:

Berme: Migration Series For Jazz Ensemble & Orchestra, Derek Bermel, composer (Derek Bermel, Ted Nash, David Alan Miller, Juilliard Jazz Orchestra & Albany Symphony Orchestra)
Higdon: Harp Concerto, Jennifer Higdon, composer (Yolanda Kondonassis, Ward Stare & The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra)
Marsalis: Violin Concerto in D Major, Wynton Marsalis, composer (Nicola Benedetti, Cristian Măcelaru & Philadelphia Orchestra)
Norman: Sustain, Andrew Norman, composer (Gustavo Dudamel & Los Angeles Philharmonic)
Shaw: Orange, Caroline Shaw, composer (Attacca Quartet)
Wolfe: Fire in My Mouth, Julia Wolfe, composer (Jaap Van Zweden, Francisco J.Núñez, Donald Nally, The Crossing, Young People's Chorus Of NY City & New York Philharmonic)

With considerable charm, you still have made a choice (Sund4r), Monday, 27 January 2020 03:20 (one year ago) link

And Higdon won, it seems. I remember liking her Zaka quite a bit. I'm interested in new harp music. Look forward to hearing this.

With considerable charm, you still have made a choice (Sund4r), Monday, 27 January 2020 03:27 (one year ago) link

I know the cellist from the Attacca Qtet, very cool that they got a nomination

valet doberman (Jon not Jon), Monday, 27 January 2020 05:14 (one year ago) link

I don't know Higdon, but the Grammys nominating Norman, Shaw, Wolfe and Marsalis is honestly better than expected. Though there's probably still people out there complaining serialism got snubbed.

Frederik B, Monday, 27 January 2020 08:38 (one year ago) link

Though there's probably still people out there complaining serialism got snubbed.

Hi.*

*Well, not quite, insofar as serialism is hardly progressive these days and hasn't been for a long time – just another tool in the contemporary composer's shed – but I do find this list of nominees rather and safe and yawn-inducing and American-centric. Not that I expect anything else from the Grammy Awards regardless of category. As a side note, I will no doubt get eviscerated for including none of these composers in the upcoming late 20th/early 21st century decade polls, but when canonical consensus becomes more problematic than ever, I think it's best to own up to one's more subjective intuitions. But we should be fine up until the… 1990s, maybe?

pomenitul, Monday, 27 January 2020 09:24 (one year ago) link

*rather safe

pomenitul, Monday, 27 January 2020 09:27 (one year ago) link

You kinda have to have Partita and Play on there... And Beyond Ocean. Don't fill it up with US hipster stuff, but those three have to be on there imo.

No, it's definitely American-centric, but it's the Grammys, so. I think it's pretty amazing that Andrew Norman is considered safe, and you're probably right, he is, but Play to me is still wtf-just-hit-me incredible.

Frederik B, Monday, 27 January 2020 09:31 (one year ago) link

I don't like Partita and haven't heard Play but as a merciful poll god I will likely include them nonetheless (the former for sure, as its impact is undeniable).

Beyond Ocean will definitely make it – I'm a JLA fan.

pomenitul, Monday, 27 January 2020 09:34 (one year ago) link

I honestly think you might like Andrew Norman. It's pretty crazy. And he has been good at explaining what is new, I've used quotes from him in a couple of film reviews.

Frederik B, Monday, 27 January 2020 09:37 (one year ago) link

Sold. I've added him to my list.

pomenitul, Monday, 27 January 2020 09:43 (one year ago) link

We're talking about the awards given out by an organization of leading figures in the US commercial recording industry so, yes, it's going to be US-slanted and on the safer side. (They're notoriously stuffy even about pop music.) Maybe I should raise my standards but tbh I'm just impressed that they nominate new music at all every year. I've written two serial pieces in the last few years but you could definitely get MORE conservative than Norman/Shaw/Wolfe/Higdon.

With considerable charm, you still have made a choice (Sund4r), Monday, 27 January 2020 13:22 (one year ago) link

Maybe I should raise my standards but tbh I'm just impressed that they nominate new music at all every year.

Realistically speaking, it's pretty cool that they even so much as acknowledge the field.

pomenitul, Monday, 27 January 2020 13:30 (one year ago) link

I reviewed a new album of organ music - Susanne Kujala's Organ Music of the 21st Century. It's really good.

shared unit of analysis (unperson), Tuesday, 28 January 2020 13:25 (one year ago) link

Yeah, I remember you mentioning it upthread. I'll check it out, thanks.

pomenitul, Tuesday, 28 January 2020 13:37 (one year ago) link

Peter Serkin just passed away. He was an extraordinary pianist, as comfortable in Webern, Messiaen and Takemitsu as he was in the mainstream canonical classics. I don't think I've ever heard a recording of his that I didn't like. He will be missed.

toilet-cleaning brain surgeon (pomenitul), Sunday, 2 February 2020 10:25 (one year ago) link

Just saw that news myself
A rather underrecorded pianist unfortunately

valet doberman (Jon not Jon), Sunday, 2 February 2020 18:49 (one year ago) link

Unsuk Chin wins the Sonning award for 2021. They continue their good run, after Hans Abrahamsen in 2019 and Barbara Hannigan in 2020.

I think I have a ticket for the Hannigan award gala. She is doing most of Crazy Girl Crazy, both Berg and Gershwin.

Frederik B, Monday, 3 February 2020 18:19 (one year ago) link

Happy to hear it! I haven't kept up with her recent work at all but she remains an incredible composer.

toilet-cleaning brain surgeon (pomenitul), Monday, 3 February 2020 18:20 (one year ago) link

i need her to record schoenberg op. 10. I have a live capture but the sound has probz

valet doberman (Jon not Jon), Monday, 3 February 2020 18:25 (one year ago) link

Sweet premise:

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/jan/20/beethoven-the-1808-concert-review-st-davids-hall-cardiff-carlo-rizzi-jaime-martin

― pomenitul

if they're not grossly underrehearsed it shouldn't count!

quick nerd question, Sveshnikov's recording of "All-Night Vigil", there's only one of those from '65, right? the recordings i'm finding are dated '73 but i don't know if that's just when they released it in the west...

you know my name, look up the number of the beast (rushomancy), Wednesday, 5 February 2020 01:04 (one year ago) link

I'm fairly confident it's the same recording.

toilet-cleaning brain surgeon (pomenitul), Wednesday, 5 February 2020 09:28 (one year ago) link

i sort of figured so, thanks!

in between superficially checking out some of the decade poll stuff i am unfamiliar with (there's too much for me to absorb it all!) i've been getting more into ars subtilior... at least the quantity of this stuff is more manageable, as far as i can tell most of it comes down to the codex chantilly. lots of different recordings, but that's all for the better.

you know my name, look up the number of the beast (rushomancy), Wednesday, 5 February 2020 14:27 (one year ago) link

Fascinating to see/hear the Ensemble Intercontemporain play Takemitsu:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5fCEnY4tDE

toilet-cleaning brain surgeon (pomenitul), Friday, 7 February 2020 14:28 (one year ago) link

Cool. Do you think you might go to any of those festival concerts?

jmm, Friday, 7 February 2020 15:55 (one year ago) link

The Saturday night Perroy concert would probably be easiest since I work during most of the others. Friday night possibly but Feb 14 is, uh, not necessarily the best day to make plans to bro down over nylon strings.

With considerable charm, you still have made a choice (Sund4r), Friday, 7 February 2020 16:12 (one year ago) link

Cool article, and I enjoyed the YT embeds as well.

toilet-cleaning brain surgeon (pomenitul), Friday, 7 February 2020 16:39 (one year ago) link

A couple nights ago I saw this piece by Quebec composer Jacques Hétu, based on the occupation of France. I thought the choral movement (4. Liberté), with text by Paul Éluard, was really gorgeous. Julie Payette was in the choir, randomly.

https://youtu.be/E998yQCDfuE

jmm, Saturday, 8 February 2020 14:16 (one year ago) link

I've always been a bit wary of him as he is championed by reactionaries such as Le Devoir's resident classical music critic, and I have little patience for straight Neo-classicism in general, but I'll check it out anyway.

toilet-cleaning brain surgeon (pomenitul), Saturday, 8 February 2020 14:24 (one year ago) link

Went to the P2 Award Gala last saturday. It opened with the winner of the Talent award, 24-year old Gustav Piekut, playing Debussy's L'Isle Joyeuse, and I think the video works: https://www.facebook.com/drp2/videos/180211973206107/

Other award winners included Event of the year going to Hans Abrahamsens 'Snedronningen', which, duh. Best New Music album was Nordic String Quartet for a recording of string quartets by Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgren. I'm not saying what won Best Danish Album, because you can all figure it out, even more duh. Yeah, that album, an Abrahamsen opera, Piekut beginning to break through. Classical is doing pretty damn well in Denmark at the moment.

Frederik B, Monday, 10 February 2020 10:58 (one year ago) link

I also forgot to include Paavo Järvi's excellent Franz Schmidt symphony cycle with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony. Schmidt has a dodgy reputation because he turned a blind eye to the Nazi regime, although I've come across pieces that claim he was hopelessly naïve and had no understanding of politics, much like Wilhelm Furtwängler (besides, Schmidt died a few months before WW2 broke out). I suspect his legacy was also marred by his audible resistance to modernism, which is less of a dealbreaker for us than for the proto-hipster caste of the interwar and postwar periods. Anyway, the music itself is quite good and very much worth hearing if you're fond of the Austro-Germanic tradition. It's almost on par with the early and mid-period symphonies of Gustav Mahler, under whom Schmidt often played the cello while he was a member of the Vienna Court Opera Orchestra. The elegiac 4th Symphony is the most famous of the four, and rightly so: there's a depth of feeling that reminds me of another instrumental requiem composed in the 1930s: Alban Berg's Violin Concerto (admittedly, this is a bit of a damning comparison).

pomenitul, Monday, 9 November 2020 22:52 (one year ago) link

Interesting! I picked up Neeme Järvi's Chandos set on a whim years ago. (Not the first time the Salvation Army got me listening to things no one seemed to talk about, lol.) I have to remind myself what I liked about it between listens, but I do indeed quite enjoy it when it's on. It gets better in chronological order, I recall. An extremely quick skim through reviews suggests that Paavo J's may be an improvement. Will listen...

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Tuesday, 10 November 2020 00:11 (one year ago) link

Neeme Järvi has always struck me as a merely serviceable and all-too prolific conductor whose recordings lack the extra oomph required to ascend to the top of the pile. Paavo Järvi, on the other hand, is a much cleaner and more dynamic performer, one who almost never gives the sense that his sole aim is to add yet another trophy to an already vast discography. While I haven't heard the father's Schmidt set, I can't imagine it topping the son's.

pomenitul, Tuesday, 10 November 2020 00:29 (one year ago) link

I dove into a "listen to violin music" whirlpool and remembered this bizarrely spectacular iPhone recording of Hilary Hahn playing the much-maligned Ysaye 6:

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

I can't really describe how incredible this is from top to bottom

flamboyant goon tie included, Wednesday, 11 November 2020 01:23 (one year ago) link

Impressive performance and recording both.

I know nothing about the sonata's reputation among violinists, so I'm curious: why is it much-maligned?

pomenitul, Wednesday, 11 November 2020 01:37 (one year ago) link

I think the consensus is that the difficulty of the work doesn't justify the compositions... and I'd agree with Sonata 2, which is the one that is the most accessible but is kinda dum (but disagree with Sonatas 3 thru 6)

flamboyant goon tie included, Wednesday, 11 November 2020 01:41 (one year ago) link

Ah, I see, thanks. I haven't listened to whole set in a long time but that seems like a fair assessment.

pomenitul, Wednesday, 11 November 2020 01:46 (one year ago) link

1 is weak, 2 quotes dies irae ad nauseam, 3 onward are tricky to present correctly but are sublime when successful

flamboyant goon tie included, Wednesday, 11 November 2020 02:33 (one year ago) link

Enjoyed this composition for sine waves, zither, and choir. Very spare but pleasant and spacious: https://martaforsberg.bandcamp.com/album/new-love-music

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Thursday, 12 November 2020 20:33 (one year ago) link

I find it absolutely hilarious that Eton College (UK) sports a composer in residence and that from 2014 to 2015 it happened to be Christian Mason, who reminds me of a posher and hence twattier Mark Hollis if we go by appearance and affiliation alone, but his Zwischen den Sternen for chamber ensemble is possibly my favourite of the new contemporary classical works that I discovered this year, thanks to the ensemble recherche's recording for Winter & Winter. Soundworld-wise, it reminds me of Peter Maxwell Davies's Ave maris stella more so than the music of Mason's recent mentor, Harrison Birtwistle, and the ensemble recherche/Winter & Winter connection also brings to mind Hans Abrahamsen's marvellous Schnee. Looming in the background are George Benjamin (his PhD supervisor) and Julian Anderson, whom I both very much admire. Like Anderson, Mason has an unabashedly spectralist approach to instrumental writing, with conspicuous folk inflections that recall late Ligeti and especially late Rădulescu, which I thought I was just making up at first, yet, sure enough, upon googling the two names in tandem, I learned that Mason has written an explicit homage to the defunct Romanian expat. Anyway, it's a beautiful and fairly accessible cycle (its German title means 'Between the Stars', after all), one I think even listeners who find 21st century classical music forbidding are likely to enjoy.

pomenitul, Sunday, 22 November 2020 02:14 (one year ago) link

And that Marta Forsberg album looks intriguing, Sund4r. I'll check it out soon.

pomenitul, Sunday, 22 November 2020 02:15 (one year ago) link

I just watched this video of ensemble recherche playing that Mason piece in Freiburg in 2019. It's quite something, goes a lot of places in half an hour, really gripping and intense at times. The sound is pretty good on the video and the lighting is v cool: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZccjziC-5k

actually-very-convincing (Sund4r), Sunday, 22 November 2020 05:44 (one year ago) link

Haha, I watched that video in a different browser and everything was mauve and green but I see there is just normal white lighting now. I think my partner may have done something with the colour settings in the other browser.

actually-very-convincing (Sund4r), Sunday, 22 November 2020 05:46 (one year ago) link

Nice! It was uploaded to the er's official YT channel, so its production values are bound to be superior to the usual fare.

On the other hand, who's to say mauve and green aren't the two dominant colours when you're drifting between the stars? (Don't answer that.)

pomenitul, Sunday, 22 November 2020 14:06 (one year ago) link

2 Grammy noms for the Dudamel Ives set.

actually-very-convincing (Sund4r), Thursday, 26 November 2020 06:39 (one year ago) link

Good article on the history of Canadian works for guitar and electronics: https://www.musicworks.ca/feature/Canadian-compositions-guitar-electronics

actually-very-convincing (Sund4r), Sunday, 29 November 2020 22:40 (one year ago) link

A solid EOY list courtesy of The Rambler:

https://johnsonsrambler.wordpress.com/2020/12/08/rambler-releases-of-2020

I haven't heard all of these, but the Liza Lim and Clara Iannotta are undeniable highlights, especially the former.

pomenitul, Tuesday, 8 December 2020 14:38 (eleven months ago) link

Fine list to do some cherry picking from, thanks!

A Scampo Darkly (Le Bateau Ivre), Tuesday, 8 December 2020 14:49 (eleven months ago) link

Ah, thanks. Listening to the Lim now. The first movement sounds fascinating so far.

The New York Times' effect on man (Sund4r), Tuesday, 8 December 2020 17:39 (eleven months ago) link

The bird call on the piccolo (or flute?) was great.

The New York Times' effect on man (Sund4r), Tuesday, 8 December 2020 17:40 (eleven months ago) link

The "Dawn Chorus" movement is completely acoustic? Wow.

The New York Times' effect on man (Sund4r), Tuesday, 8 December 2020 18:09 (eleven months ago) link

The bassoon solo "Axis Mundi" is really interesting too; a lot of energy and good variety in timbre and dynamics with a clear enough narrative shape. I'd be happy to go back and pick out the form a little more closely.

The New York Times' effect on man (Sund4r), Tuesday, 8 December 2020 18:29 (eleven months ago) link

Her and Richard Barrett are my favourite Elision-affiliated composers.

Speaking of which, I had no idea the latter had released anything this year until TRJ included Mirage in his EOY list. I'll have to seek it out asap.

pomenitul, Tuesday, 8 December 2020 20:06 (eleven months ago) link

Nm, it's the same performance as the one xyz posted upthread.

pomenitul, Tuesday, 8 December 2020 20:08 (eleven months ago) link

"Songs Found in a Dream" pretty interesting timbrally as well, although I'm having a hard time processing these as 'songs' (or tbh picking out the sectional form with ease). Haha, Rutherford-Johnson did the liner notes? I will admit that the nebulous quasi-spiritual descriptions of the concepts behind the pieces are not really my thing but the sounds override these.

The New York Times' effect on man (Sund4r), Wednesday, 9 December 2020 02:38 (eleven months ago) link

https://www.rarenoiserecords.com/2020/10/03/new-release-october-2020-stephan-thelen-presents-world-dialogue/

The Al Pari Quartet, a Polish, all-women ensemble, heard Kronos Quartet’s rendition of “Circular Lines” and began performing it at their own concerts. News of their interest in Stephan’s work reached him and he went on to collaborate with them as well on the other three pieces in this album.

this is really growing on me.

calzino, Thursday, 10 December 2020 14:15 (eleven months ago) link

You can tell the composer is a mathematician.

pomenitul, Thursday, 10 December 2020 14:36 (eleven months ago) link

I hear some Eastern influences in there as well as the math-rock, but I know what yer saying!

calzino, Thursday, 10 December 2020 14:43 (eleven months ago) link

DG's video is shameless gothic cheese but how had I never heard this Schubert Lied before?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cqfp06MLbeM

I hope she'll tackle Winterreise some day. She clearly has the idiom down pat.

Her two 2020 albums for Alpha Classics, Paradise Lost and Bach: Redemption, are likewise amazing.

pomenitul, Saturday, 12 December 2020 04:45 (eleven months ago) link

That was amazing and just what I needed right now, thanks. I don't think I knew that piece either, although I own the 20-CD Schubert Meisterwerke on DG.

The New York Times' effect on man (Sund4r), Saturday, 12 December 2020 05:18 (eleven months ago) link

It's gorgeous, isn't it?

Turns out she and Eric Schneider skip the first six (!) stanzas. You can hear the full version here, sung by the equally stellar Christian Gerhaher, at a mildly faster clip:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ih43NAQnmMU

pomenitul, Saturday, 12 December 2020 05:34 (eleven months ago) link

One thing led to another and I ended up on a late night Schubert Lieder YT binge. It brought me back to the great Thomas Quasthoff, who never disappoints:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pze4NxCOjg0

pomenitul, Saturday, 12 December 2020 06:03 (eleven months ago) link

Happy birthday Beethoven!

No purposes. Sounds. (Sund4r), Thursday, 17 December 2020 03:19 (eleven months ago) link

^this!

Hongro Hongro Hippies (Myonga Vön Bontee), Thursday, 17 December 2020 18:25 (eleven months ago) link

what do ppl feel are his best works and what are the best recorded performances?

I'm no expert on the guy yet but the grosse fuge and no 32 sonata are total bangers

Left, Thursday, 17 December 2020 19:19 (eleven months ago) link

Lazy answer: all of his works are his best works.

Real bullet-point answer, which is highly subjective:

* 16 string quartets, esp. the late quartets (12-16 and the Große Fuge) – Alban Berg Quartett (live, 1989); Belcea Quartet; Quartetto Italiano
* 9 symphonies (esp. 3, 5, 6, 7 & 9) – countless performances, for a complete set I've always been fond of Claudio Abbado's live renditions with the Berlin Philharmonic; Wilhelm Furtwängler's wartime (1942) recording of the 9th with the Berliners is stupefyingly intense, and not just because of the obvious historical context; Carlos Kleiber's takes on the 5th and 7th are rightly celebrated as well
* Missa solemnis (Beethoven thought it was his best work) – Michael Gielen, et al., with the caveat that there is no single 100% satisfactory recording of this one, unfortunately; Philippe Herreweghe's recent re-attempt at a historically informed performance is also quite good
* 32 piano sonatas (esp. 8, 14, 21, 23, 28-32) – Stephen Kovacevich; Maurizio Pollini
* Diabelli Variations – Stephen Kovacevich; Maurizio Pollini
* 5 cello sonatas (esp. 4-5) – Miklós Perényi & András Schiff
* 10 violin sonatas (esp. 9-10) – Isabelle Faust & Alexander Melnikov
*5 piano concertos (esp. 4-5) – Maurizio Pollini, Berlin Philharmonic, Claudio Abbado
* 7 piano trios (esp. 5-7) – Trio Wanderer
* violin concerto – Isabelle Faust, Berlin Philharmonic, Claudio Abbado (yeah, I love me some late Abbado)
* An die ferne Geliebte – Christian Gerhaher & Gerold Huber
* Bagatelles for piano – Stephen Kovacevich

As you can see, his late works are almost always best in my book. Performance-wise, these picks tend to highlight a more forceful and dramatic view of Beethoven without ever overdoing it. Basically, I want my Beethoven to be as Romantic and dynamic and transcendental as possible while maintaining a firm foothold in the classical tradition. I dislike genteel takes no less than self-indulgent re-imaginings. Really, though, these suggestions are just meant to get you started – part of the fun is seeking out different recordings and seeing which ones jive with your own ears.

pomenitul, Thursday, 17 December 2020 19:55 (eleven months ago) link

I screwed up the bullet point formatting, but this should be readable enough.

pomenitul, Thursday, 17 December 2020 19:56 (eleven months ago) link

tysm that’s fantastic!!! bookmarked

from what I’ve heard the later works feel more profound but that also makes me a bit scared of them. the earlier stuff goes down easier for casual listening but it doesn’t always stick with me

I fancy tackling the big symphonies first bc they’re so familiar as cultural signifiers/cliches but I’ve hardly ever listened seriously to them (except for 9 which I love 3/4 of). abbado is one of the few conductors I’m a little familiar with so he’s the easy choice

Left, Thursday, 17 December 2020 20:23 (eleven months ago) link

Bitte schön.

Chronologically working your way through just about any single one of these cycles is the most straightforward approach. It makes it easier to tackle the next cycle, and so on, until you hit the Missa solemnis and go 'wtf' because so many of his late creations are downright bizarre, including the finale to the 9th, imo among the most surreal (if you'll allow the anachronism) of normalized/institutionalized classical warhorses and impossible to hear with fresh ears until you suddenly do (that 1942 Furtwängler recording is what did it for me, appallingly bad nazi sound notwithstanding).

Btw finding the exact Abbado set I was talking about can be a bit confusing because it's a live re-recording of a to-him-unsatisfactory studio attempt (and I tend to agree with that assessment).

pomenitul, Thursday, 17 December 2020 20:41 (eleven months ago) link

thank you. it’s hard to just wade in with this stuff when you have no context for it

Left, Thursday, 17 December 2020 20:46 (eleven months ago) link

This is the one:

https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/7965665--beethoven-the-symphonies

It seems to have also been reissued as part of the DG's Abbado Symphony Edition boxset, which is available on Spotify and Apple Music.

pomenitul, Thursday, 17 December 2020 20:46 (eleven months ago) link

cool thx

I don’t hate the 9th finale I just don’t know what the hell it’s trying to do most of the time. I will probably have to listen to the nazi one at some point

Left, Thursday, 17 December 2020 20:50 (eleven months ago) link

I'm not sure I do either tbh. One last thing: I didn't have much of a context for this stuff either when I got started, beyond a few pieces my dad was into when I was a kid. I just thought some of it was really moving and stayed with that feeling. I still can't read a score or play an instrument, but amateurishness is a huge step up from the legions of bougie concert-goers who dgaf about the music to begin with and who just show up to be *seen* and to mingle during the intermission (ye shall know them by their conspicuous absence whenever a post-1900 work featuring a smidgeon of dissonance is included in the concert program).

pomenitul, Thursday, 17 December 2020 21:02 (eleven months ago) link

whether the rite of spring counts as music is still controversial in some of those circles

Left, Thursday, 17 December 2020 21:14 (eleven months ago) link

Some recent guitar stuff to check out:

https://www.lafolia.com/string-theory-35-mostly-guitars/

pomenitul, Tuesday, 29 December 2020 15:59 (eleven months ago) link

Thanks, putting on the Fongaard now.

Marconi plays the mamba (Sund4r), Tuesday, 29 December 2020 16:40 (eleven months ago) link

Heh, these are definitely not inventions in Bach's sense of the term.

Marconi plays the mamba (Sund4r), Tuesday, 29 December 2020 16:57 (eleven months ago) link

Ferneyhough’s Renvoi-Shards is not so different from the surrounding Fongaard

Haha what

Marconi plays the mamba (Sund4r), Tuesday, 29 December 2020 17:13 (eleven months ago) link

I haven't listened to the album yet but that also made me go o_O based on Covell's description alone.

pomenitul, Tuesday, 29 December 2020 17:15 (eleven months ago) link

It's interesting but a long double album. I will come back to the later pieces.

Marconi plays the mamba (Sund4r), Tuesday, 29 December 2020 18:42 (eleven months ago) link


You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.