Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Classical Compositions of… the 1990s – Part I (1990-1994)

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It's safe to say almost all of us were born by this point. Right?

Poll Results

OptionVotes
Toru Takemitsu – From Me Flows What You Call Time (1990) 4
György Ligeti – Violin Concerto (1989-1993) 2
Horațiu Rădulescu – String Quartet No. 6, ‘practicing eternity’ (1992) 2
Einojuhani Rautavaara – Symphony No. 7, ‘Angel of Light’ (1994) 2
John Cage – Number Pieces (1987-1992) 1
György Ligeti – Sonata for Solo Viola (1991-1994) 1
Heinz Holliger – Scardanelli-Zyklus (1975-1991) 1
Pierre Boulez – « …explosante-fixe… » (1991-1993) 1
Luciano Berio – Rendering (1989-1990) 1
Sofia Gubaidulina – String Quartet No. 4 (1993) 1
Sofia Gubaidulina – Music for Flute, Strings and Percussion (1994) 1
John Adams – Violin Concerto (1993) 1
Toru Takemitsu – Quotation of Dream (1991) 1
Julio Estrada – Ishini'ioni (1984-1990) 1
Olivier Messiaen – Éclairs sur l’au-delà (1988-1991) 1
Karel Goeyvaerts – Aquarius (1983-1992) 0
Kaija Saariaho – Près (1992) 0
Luciano Berio – Notturno (1993) 0
Magnus Lindberg – Aura (in memoriam Witold Lutosławski) (1994) 0
Valentin Silvestrov – Metamusic (1992) 0
Toshio Hosokawa – Landscape V (1993) 0
Ștefan Niculescu – Psalmus (1993) 0
Ștefan Niculescu – Sextuplum (1993) 0
Richard Barrett – Vanity (1991-1994) 0
Richard Barrett – negatives (1988-1993) 0
Per Nørgård – Symphony No. 5 (1990) 0
Witold Lutosławski – Symphony No. 4 (1988-1992) 0
Mark Andre – ein abgrund (1992) 0
Kaija Saariaho – Amers (1992) 0
Kaija Saariaho – …à la fumée (1990) 0
Brian Ferneyhough – Terrain (1992) 0
Brian Ferneyhough – String Quartet No. 4 (1989-1990) 0
Bent Sørensen – Sterbende Gärten (1993) 0
Bent Sørensen – The Echoing Garden (1990-1992) 0
Alfred Schnittke – Symphony No. 8 (1994) 0
Alfred Schnittke – Cello Sonata No. 2 (1994) 0
Alfred Schnittke – Piano Sonata No. 3 (1992) 0
Alfred Schnittke – Concerto Grosso No. 5 (1990-1991) 0
Elliott Carter – Violin Concerto (1990) 0
Franghiz Ali-Zadeh – Mugam Sayagi (1993) 0
Galina Ustvolskaya – Symphony No. 5, ‘Amen’ (1989-1990) 0
Jonathan Harvey – Advaya (1994) 0
György Ligeti – Piano Etudes, Book 2 (1988-1994) 0
Howard Skempton – Lento (1991) 0
György Kurtág – Samuel Beckett: What Is the Word, Op. 30b (1990-1991) 0
György Kurtág – Hommage à R. Sch., Op. 15d (1990) 0
György Kurtág – Double Concerto, Op. 27/2 (1989-1990) 0
George Benjamin – Sudden Time (1989-1993) 0
George Benjamin – Upon Silence (1990) 0
Alexander Knaifel – Svete Tikhiy (1991) 0


pomenitul, Thursday, 14 May 2020 02:16 (two weeks ago) link

No honourable mentions this time because I got lazy. I also cheated a bit by gathering all of Cage's Number Pieces into a single bundle.

pomenitul, Thursday, 14 May 2020 02:19 (two weeks ago) link

Ligeti brings the heavy hitters. Messiaen and Lutosławski's last orchestral gasps are both extraordinary in their own right, although neither is as violently transformative as Barrett's Vanity. But really, it's a toss-up between Holliger's Scardanelli-Zyklus and Takemitsu's From Me Flows What You Call Time for me.

The former is, I think, one of the greatest compositional achievements of the 20th century: a cycle that intersperses choral settings of Friedrich Hölderlin's late poetry, penned at a time when he was already half-mad, with a set of 'Exercises' for orchestra, as well as the light-absorbing Ostinato funebre (also for orchestra) and a flute solo that bears a most evocative title in French, '(t)air(e)' (air/keep quiet).

The latter is, to my mind, Takemitsu's most convincing essay in the post-avant-garde idiom he began adopting at the tail end of the 1970s. Just pure environmental bliss and some of the gentlest writing for percussion I have ever heard.

pomenitul, Thursday, 14 May 2020 02:35 (two weeks ago) link

That takemitsu is my front runner as well but I have some listening to do

valet doberman (Jon not Jon), Thursday, 14 May 2020 02:48 (two weeks ago) link

Wanted to do a re-listen of Zyklus but youtube isn't allowing me. Between that and Vanitas (the only reason this is a choice is because I will vote for the Lachenmann instead of Opening of the Mouth in the part II 90s (assuming that you will list those two works pom :)).

Also I think all my Dumitrescu is from this period: https://www.discogs.com/Iancu-Dumitrescu-Galaxy/master/1285575

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 14 May 2020 09:52 (two weeks ago) link

Not only will I include Opening of the Mouth, chances are I’ll vote for it. And if you’re referring to Das Mädchen mit dem Schwefelhölzern, it’ll definitely be included.

pomenitul, Thursday, 14 May 2020 11:49 (two weeks ago) link

Yup

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 14 May 2020 11:52 (two weeks ago) link

While it seems the net result of having an unwell mind, I do find Carl Vine's Piano Sonata compelling.

Vegemite Is My Grrl (Eric H.), Thursday, 14 May 2020 13:07 (two weeks ago) link

Not familiar with it all. I'll have to check it out.

pomenitul, Thursday, 14 May 2020 13:11 (two weeks ago) link

Just played "From Me Flows What You Call Time" (Pacific Symp Orch, Carl St Clair, 1998). Tremendous.

Michael Jones, Thursday, 14 May 2020 13:19 (two weeks ago) link

Pitch-perfect recording. I've only heard another one, a live take with Andrew Davis and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, but I'm not sure this piece needs more urgency – it is at one with its title.

5against4 (one of my favourite contemporary classical bloggers) posted a brief write-up back in 2012 that I think deserves our attention:

http://5against4.com/2012/10/08/toru-takemitsu-from-me-flows-what-you-call-time-uk-premiere/

pomenitul, Thursday, 14 May 2020 13:26 (two weeks ago) link

And speaking of contemporary classical bloggers, it's a shame Tim Rutherford-Johnson aka The Rambler doesn't post to ILM anymore (as far as I can tell). Admittedly, it's been more than a decade now.

pomenitul, Thursday, 14 May 2020 13:29 (two weeks ago) link

Still on twitter, posts every now and then. Published a book on contemporary composers a while back too.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 14 May 2020 13:36 (two weeks ago) link

A lot of great stuff here, but the Cage number pieces are mandatory listening for me.

Boring, Maryland, Thursday, 14 May 2020 14:17 (two weeks ago) link

Not a big fan of the John Cage number pieces although I enjoy the one on Sonic Youth's Goodbye Twentieth Century album.

Will vote for John Adams' Violin Concerto.

aworks, Thursday, 14 May 2020 18:03 (two weeks ago) link

I've done everything within my power to keep the number of American options to a minimum and they still win every time lol.

pomenitul, Thursday, 14 May 2020 18:14 (two weeks ago) link

Barrett's transmission for the next poll pls. I might have suggested Saariaho's Noa Noa for this one. I really haven't heard most of the list, though. Will try to actually listen this time.

Feel a million filaments (Sund4r), Thursday, 14 May 2020 19:06 (two weeks ago) link

Is it alright if I leave transmission on the back burner until we hit the first half of the noughties? It's part of his DARK MATTER cycle, which I certainly plan on including.

pomenitul, Thursday, 14 May 2020 19:10 (two weeks ago) link

Ah, OK, cool.

Feel a million filaments (Sund4r), Thursday, 14 May 2020 19:11 (two weeks ago) link

I'm not familiar with much on this list, although I think I heard "From me flows what you call time" like 20 years ago. I checked a few things out that sounded promising, and of the two Takemitsu pieces, Carter's violin concerto, Schnittke's piano sonata, Gubaidulina's quartet, the Messiaen, and the Rautavaara, I ended up voting for the last. It's like romantic dissonance? It sounds almost familiar, in terms of harmonic language, but then kind of slides into some weird chord that doesn't have a name. Maybe I'm doing it wrong, voting for the piece that sounds most like it could have been written in the 19th century.

Revolutionary Girl Utrenja (Tom Violence), Thursday, 14 May 2020 20:07 (two weeks ago) link

Carter was a somewhat distant second.

Revolutionary Girl Utrenja (Tom Violence), Thursday, 14 May 2020 20:07 (two weeks ago) link

They're nowhere near as Brucknerian as the Rautaavara Symphony, but if Romantic dissonance speaks to you, do check out the Sørensen 'garden' pieces if you haven't already (both are available as a single DaCapo disc).

pomenitul, Thursday, 14 May 2020 20:11 (two weeks ago) link

My knowledge of art/notated music from the last few decades is pretty slanted towards this continent. These polls are a valuable corrective, or they would be if I actually listened to the nominations.

Feel a million filaments (Sund4r), Friday, 15 May 2020 00:02 (two weeks ago) link

I plan on taking it to 2010. When it's over, I'll start a postmortem thread so everyone can list the stuff they would've liked to see but that I didn't include out of bias and/or shortsightedness.

pomenitul, Friday, 15 May 2020 00:07 (two weeks ago) link

Voted for Estrada before I wander off and forget for the zillionth time in a row. I shall endeavour to catch up the unfamiliar pieces some time in the future!

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Friday, 15 May 2020 11:40 (two weeks ago) link

I missed that the Ligeti violin concerto was here - a huge piece for me and will probably get my vote but I'm listening more. Ferneyhough 4 now.

Feel a million filaments (Sund4r), Saturday, 16 May 2020 02:54 (two weeks ago) link

I can't really explain or analyse it yet but this piece feels really remarkable and gripping.

Feel a million filaments (Sund4r), Saturday, 16 May 2020 03:57 (two weeks ago) link

Listening to Negatives while looking over the score here, I am back in grad school - which idk if I like that.

Feel a million filaments (Sund4r), Monday, 18 May 2020 15:31 (two weeks ago) link

Haha, this is when I realize that being musically illiterate is in fact a boon when you're a rank amateur and nothing more.

pomenitul, Monday, 18 May 2020 15:38 (two weeks ago) link

It’s all about the Benjamins

Jeff W, Monday, 18 May 2020 17:16 (two weeks ago) link

Not really- but I couldn’t resist. Might vote Boulez this time, actually.

Jeff W, Monday, 18 May 2020 17:17 (two weeks ago) link

He's been royally snubbed throughout. This is your (his) last chance!

pomenitul, Monday, 18 May 2020 20:36 (two weeks ago) link

Went with the Holliger in the end. I guess this means I won't have voted for a single Takemitsu piece, which is quite sad seeing as he's absolutely one of my favourite composers. But we're electing individual works, not oeuvres.

pomenitul, Tuesday, 19 May 2020 18:28 (two weeks ago) link

was not familiar with anything but the adams concerto, but i've done a bunch of listening in the past week. narrowed down to:

adams - violin concerto
sorensen - echoing garden
rautavaara - symphony no. 7
messaein - eclairs
gubaidulina - string quartet no. 4
ligeti - sonata for solo viola

last three are duking it out

sleight return (voodoo chili), Tuesday, 19 May 2020 22:33 (two weeks ago) link

All worthy picks. Btw I'm generally not very taken with Simon Rattle's conducting, but his recording of Éclairs de l'au-delà is stupendous. I waver between that one and Myung-Whun Chung's.

pomenitul, Tuesday, 19 May 2020 22:43 (two weeks ago) link

*sur l'au-delà, rather...

pomenitul, Tuesday, 19 May 2020 22:46 (two weeks ago) link

chung's is the one i listened to. last movements are exquisite, and a fitting final word from a 20th century giant

sleight return (voodoo chili), Tuesday, 19 May 2020 23:16 (two weeks ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Wednesday, 20 May 2020 00:01 (one week ago) link

voted Horațiu Rădulescu – String Quartet No. 6, ‘practicing eternity’ (1992)

budo jeru, Wednesday, 20 May 2020 00:40 (one week ago) link

i like rautavaara a decent amount though this isn't my fav of his despite being the "hit"

ciderpress, Wednesday, 20 May 2020 00:47 (one week ago) link

As always, lemme know if you've got requests for the next half.

pomenitul, Wednesday, 20 May 2020 00:57 (one week ago) link

You’re including 🚁🚁🚁🚁 right?

Jeff W, Wednesday, 20 May 2020 01:17 (one week ago) link

I'm actually going to poll the entirety of Licht (of which 🚁🚁🚁🚁 is a noted part) next week, once we reach the early noughties.

pomenitul, Wednesday, 20 May 2020 01:19 (one week ago) link

Besides, it was apparently composed in 1993. So I'm just going to leave this here (for now):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ykQFrL0X74

pomenitul, Wednesday, 20 May 2020 01:22 (one week ago) link

🗓👍

Jeff W, Wednesday, 20 May 2020 01:24 (one week ago) link

xp my request is that you don’t immediately start a new poll once this poll’s results are in, for extra requesting time (if that is possible)

budo jeru, Wednesday, 20 May 2020 03:02 (one week ago) link

Sure. I’ll kick off the next poll on Friday, then.

pomenitul, Wednesday, 20 May 2020 03:15 (one week ago) link

thanks pom

budo jeru, Wednesday, 20 May 2020 03:30 (one week ago) link

I went with Toru Takemitsu's 'From me flows what you call Time' in the end.

After Enescu Schnittke might just be my other biggest discovery from these polls. I knew him, but had only barely scratched the surface. 'Piano Sonata' <3

pomenitul, do you have any Ades picked out for 95-99 yet, or were you still looking for guidance? Although the only one of his pieces I know from '95 until about 2010 is Traced Overhead from '96.

Revolutionary Girl Utrenja (Tom Violence), Wednesday, 20 May 2020 12:23 (one week ago) link

I wasn’t planning on including any yet. I don’t dislike his early material per se but none of it strikes me as essential compared to the other works I’ve set aside so far.

pomenitul, Wednesday, 20 May 2020 12:28 (one week ago) link

‘Vote’ – Barack Obama.

pomenitul, Wednesday, 20 May 2020 18:11 (one week ago) link

went with sonata for solo viola

sleight return (voodoo chili), Wednesday, 20 May 2020 18:13 (one week ago) link

👍

pomenitul, Wednesday, 20 May 2020 18:44 (one week ago) link

Voted for the Ligeti violin concerto ofc but I'm still listening. On Norgard 5 now.

Feel a million filaments (Sund4r), Wednesday, 20 May 2020 18:56 (one week ago) link

Tbh I didn't know Messiaen was still writing this recently and I was surprised by Éclairs.

Feel a million filaments (Sund4r), Wednesday, 20 May 2020 18:56 (one week ago) link

Do you have a favourite recording of the Ligeti Violin Concerto, Sund4r?

pomenitul, Wednesday, 20 May 2020 19:00 (one week ago) link

I've always listened to this one: https://www.discogs.com/fr/Ligeti-Nørgård-Christina-Åstrand-Danish-National-Radio-Symphony-Orchestra-Thomas-Dausgaard-Violin/release/2538217

Feel a million filaments (Sund4r), Wednesday, 20 May 2020 19:07 (one week ago) link

Nice! I like that one and Frank Peter Zimmermann's a lot. The dedicatee's (Saschko Gawriloff), not so much.

pomenitul, Wednesday, 20 May 2020 19:09 (one week ago) link

I've always hated the violin concerto, late Ligeti is full of this zany crap. Whenever I hear about a composer's sense of humour I am filled with dread.

The Cognitive Peasant (ogmor), Wednesday, 20 May 2020 23:52 (one week ago) link

I tend to agree but I exempt tragicomedy from such charges and therefore enjoy late Ligeti.

pomenitul, Wednesday, 20 May 2020 23:59 (one week ago) link

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

System, Thursday, 21 May 2020 00:01 (one week ago) link

Glad Takemitsu (a non-American, to boot) came out on top at long last.

pomenitul, Thursday, 21 May 2020 00:02 (one week ago) link

If you’ve got any requests for the next half, post them here before 9 pm (EST).

pomenitul, Thursday, 21 May 2020 12:28 (one week ago) link

Time's up, folks, so it's onwards to part II without your faves (maybe):

Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Classical Compositions of… the 1990s – Part II (1995-1999)

pomenitul, Friday, 22 May 2020 13:02 (one week ago) link


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