ncdrawl

The Must have list for a Classical Neophyte....Trying to help expand the minds here.

182 posts in this topic

Gustav Holst:A choral fantasia psalm 86 & Gerald Finzi Dies Natalis on EMI HQS 1260 i hve this on vinyl, not sure if it is available on CD etc.

It has indeed: http://www.amazon.co.uk/British-Composers-Finzi-Vaughan-Williams/dp/B000005GSD/ref=sr_1_3?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1334774670&sr=1-3

The Choral Fantasia with Dame Baker has also been included on http://www.amazon.co.uk/Holst-Choral-Fantasia-Op-51-Symphony/dp/B00000DQY9/ref=sr_1_7?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1334774670&sr=1-7

:geek:

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It's easy to respond by saying " Define what you mean by best". This thread has produced a wide range of music that anyone interested in classical music would call great: i.e. profound, masterly, beautiful, challenging, memorable - and still listened to and performed years after their composition. Your brother might be someone who can engage with some of that work straight away. If so, he has a lifetime of enviable pleasure before him. I rather go with Adam's response that suggests approachable works with melody - Dvorak, Mozart - and I'd add Grieg and Sibelius. Brahms's 3rd opened my ears to what music could be. Copland wrote some very accessible stuff. Then there's Bizet and Debussy, and the intensely colourful works of the Russians. Borodin's Steppes always gives me goose bumps when the melodies combine in the major key towards the end, though many would call that a Beecham Lollipop, Classic FM stuff. Stravinsky's Firebird is a knockout especially if heard live. But most composers wrote works of varying stature and scale, surely, and a lot depends on what your son finds appealing in any music, not just classical: tune, rhythm, sound colour/orchestration... It may be that he could be helped by hearing short pieces, or extracts from longer works, so that he gets a flavour and might be tempted to listen at greater length. Sibelius floated my boat years ago as well: the Karelia Suite first, then the 2nd Symphony - the first movement build-up still thrills today. So much to choose from. Chamber music or solo instrumental music (other than piano) might be hardest, but an outside bet might be Ravel Intro for Harp etc., Grieg Sonatas and Faure. I couldn't get anywhere with Beethoven chamber works and still find them hard work. Final tip - so much available on tap, but get your bro to some live concerts after he's done some listening. The atmosphere is so different. And talk to him about what he likes and doesn't like - and wish him happy listening!

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It's easy to respond by saying " Define what you mean by best". This thread has produced a wide range of music that anyone interested in classical music would call great: i.e. profound, masterly, beautiful, challenging, memorable - and still listened to and performed years after their composition. Your brother might be someone who can engage with some of that work straight away. If so, he has a lifetime of enviable pleasure before him. I rather go with Adam's response that suggests approachable works with melody - Dvorak, Mozart - and I'd add Grieg and Sibelius. Brahms's 3rd opened my ears to what music could be. Copland wrote some very accessible stuff. Then there's Bizet and Debussy, and the intensely colourful works of the Russians. Borodin's Steppes always gives me goose bumps when the melodies combine in the major key towards the end, though many would call that a Beecham Lollipop, Classic FM stuff. Stravinsky's Firebird is a knockout especially if heard live. But most composers wrote works of varying stature and scale, surely, and a lot depends on what your son finds appealing in any music, not just classical: tune, rhythm, sound colour/orchestration... It may be that he could be helped by hearing short pieces, or extracts from longer works, so that he gets a flavour and might be tempted to listen at greater length. Sibelius floated my boat years ago as well: the Karelia Suite first, then the 2nd Symphony - the first movement build-up still thrills today. So much to choose from. Chamber music or solo instrumental music (other than piano) might be hardest, but an outside bet might be Ravel Intro for Harp etc., Grieg Sonatas and Faure. I couldn't get anywhere with Beethoven chamber works and still find them hard work. Final tip - so much available on tap, but get your bro to some live concerts after he's done some listening. The atmosphere is so different. And talk to him about what he likes and doesn't like - and wish him happy listening!

Para

graph

please.

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Apologies for not using paras and breaks.

Is there a house style/preferred layout guide somewhere?

My message looks a bit heavy, not intended. Happy to back off.

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Just looking at this list, mine would be (has been when asked) entirely different. Not pompous standard works but stuff that will engage anyone with ears to listen.

I would start with Mozart because of all composers he's the most accessible. And his chamber music is more engaging than his symphonic or vocal music as it was written largely to suit himself, not some vulgar patron. This is one of the finest classical recordings of all time, whether from a hifi or musical perspective as is easily my No 1:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mozart-Mature-Sonatas-Violin-Piano/dp/B0040Y7F5U/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1356663487&sr=8-1-spell

The cantatas are Bach at his most spiritual, musical, and practical. For me the best selection is this one, Rifkin is the scholar who single-handedly transformed Bach performance as we owe him a debt for killing off Bach as the stern, sluggish shoolmaster, substituting someone altogether more playful and human: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bach-Cantatas-Johann-Sebastian/dp/B00000INV4/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1356663573&sr=1-1

Then Beethoven, the rebel, the revolutionary who put EMOTION at the forefront of everything ... Jackie du Pre, Barenboim and Zuckerman (the self-appointed 'Kosher nostra') play the piano trios better than anyone before or since http://www.amazon.co.uk/Beethoven-Piano-Trios-Opp-1-Archduke/dp/B000EMSI9Y/ref=sr_1_2?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1356663734&sr=1-2

For Schubert, the perfect introduction is Bostridge's wonderful collection, so beautifully judged and resplendently performed: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Schubert-25-Lieder-Ian-Bostridge/dp/B0009VYPCO/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1356663870&sr=1-1

The high point of English music was indisputably Dowland ... there is a box set of the complete lute songs, lute music and viol music from L'Oiseau Lyre's, but if forced to choose from this compendium of heavenly music, this performance of the Second Book of Lute Songs is the apex: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dowland-Second-Consort-Musicke-Rooley/dp/B00000E46D/ref=sr_1_14?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1356663972&sr=1-14

Italian music reached its high point with Vivaldi, before descending into operatic bombast and cheap thrills. Unfortunately most Vivaldi recordings are potboiling rubbish. But not Janine Jansen's Four Seasons which sounds fresh even to ears tortured by years of call centre debasement: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Vivaldi-Four-Seasons-Janine-Jansen/dp/B0007ZIYM4/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1356664284&sr=1-1

If you must have full-on romantic music then the French did it best, and surprisingly a Korean manages to perform it to perfection without the obligatory Galois hanging from his lips http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kun-Woo-Paik-G-Faure/dp/B00005Y359/ref=sr_1_10?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1356664475&sr=1-10

Jumping back, the musical foundations of Bach can be found in Palestrina. Unfortunately many recordings of this composer are musical wallpaper, not so this recording which is totally engaging (I was fortunate enough to sing this as a teenager): http://www.amazon.co.uk/Palestrina-Missa-Papae-Marcelli-Stabat/dp/B000024K3X/ref=sr_1_8?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1356664537&sr=1-8

For me the classical (and romantic) world ended with Mahler and Richard Strauss: Mahler is at his best stripped of an orchestra, in song: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lieder-eines-fahrenden-Gesellen-R%C3%BCckert/dp/B0000D8UXL/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1356664942&sr=8-1 Strauss equally reached his high point in song, and the ultimate interpreter is Elizabeth Schwarzkopf: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Strauss-Four-Last-Songs-Orchestral/dp/B00002438P/ref=sr_1_sc_2?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1356665024&sr=1-2-spell

Disagree all you like but there's a proper induction here with no symphonies or concertos anywhere near and no avant garde 20th century hokum making up the numbers. A proper classical top 10.

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Just looking at this list, mine would be (has been when asked) entirely different. Not pompous standard works but stuff that will engage anyone with ears to listen.

I would start with Mozart because of all composers he's the most accessible. And his chamber music is more engaging than his symphonic or vocal music as it was written largely to suit himself, not some vulgar patron. This is one of the finest classical recordings of all time, whether from a hifi or musical perspective as is easily my No 1:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mozart-Mature-Sonatas-Violin-Piano/dp/B0040Y7F5U/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1356663487&sr=8-1-spell

The cantatas are Bach at his most spiritual, musical, and practical. For me the best selection is this one, Rifkin is the scholar who single-handedly transformed Bach performance as we owe him a debt for killing off Bach as the stern, sluggish shoolmaster, substituting someone altogether more playful and human: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bach-Cantatas-Johann-Sebastian/dp/B00000INV4/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1356663573&sr=1-1

Then Beethoven, the rebel, the revolutionary who put EMOTION at the forefront of everything ... Jackie du Pre, Barenboim and Zuckerman (the self-appointed 'Kosher nostra') play the piano trios better than anyone before or since http://www.amazon.co.uk/Beethoven-Piano-Trios-Opp-1-Archduke/dp/B000EMSI9Y/ref=sr_1_2?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1356663734&sr=1-2

For Schubert, the perfect introduction is Bostridge's wonderful collection, so beautifully judged and resplendently performed: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Schubert-25-Lieder-Ian-Bostridge/dp/B0009VYPCO/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1356663870&sr=1-1

The high point of English music was indisputably Dowland ... there is a box set of the complete lute songs, lute music and viol music from L'Oiseau Lyre's, but if forced to choose from this compendium of heavenly music, this performance of the Second Book of Lute Songs is the apex: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dowland-Second-Consort-Musicke-Rooley/dp/B00000E46D/ref=sr_1_14?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1356663972&sr=1-14

Italian music reached its high point with Vivaldi, before descending into operatic bombast and cheap thrills. Unfortunately most Vivaldi recordings are potboiling rubbish. But not Janine Jansen's Four Seasons which sounds fresh even to ears tortured by years of call centre debasement: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Vivaldi-Four-Seasons-Janine-Jansen/dp/B0007ZIYM4/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1356664284&sr=1-1

If you must have full-on romantic music then the French did it best, and surprisingly a Korean manages to perform it to perfection without the obligatory Galois hanging from his lips http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kun-Woo-Paik-G-Faure/dp/B00005Y359/ref=sr_1_10?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1356664475&sr=1-10

Jumping back, the musical foundations of Bach can be found in Palestrina. Unfortunately many recordings of this composer are musical wallpaper, not so this recording which is totally engaging (I was fortunate enough to sing this as a teenager): http://www.amazon.co.uk/Palestrina-Missa-Papae-Marcelli-Stabat/dp/B000024K3X/ref=sr_1_8?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1356664537&sr=1-8

For me the classical (and romantic) world ended with Mahler and Richard Strauss: Mahler is at his best stripped of an orchestra, in song: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lieder-eines-fahrenden-Gesellen-R%C3%BCckert/dp/B0000D8UXL/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1356664942&sr=8-1 Strauss equally reached his high point in song, and the ultimate interpreter is Elizabeth Schwarzkopf: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Strauss-Four-Last-Songs-Orchestral/dp/B00002438P/ref=sr_1_sc_2?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1356665024&sr=1-2-spell

Disagree all you like but there's a proper induction here with no symphonies or concertos anywhere near and no avant garde 20th century hokum making up the numbers. A proper classical top 10.

Repped. Excellent additions to this thread, thanks. I own the Mozart set and it's fantastic- beautiful music and stunning recording. Listened to a few of these (new to me) this morning- the Bach cantatas, Schubert and Vivaldi - all wonderful

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As always Tom, some excellent recommendations from you - you are, if you will forgive me for saying so, such a musical fellow, and this shines through with your favourites.

My own top ten (at the moment - it changes with the wind), not so eloquently presented are -

Dvorak Serenades for Wind, and for Strings - English Chamber Orch.

Richard Strauss 7 songs - Schwarzkopf of course.

Brahms Symphony No4 - Karajan (earlier DGG Berlin performance)

Bach Christmas Oratorio - Harnoncourt

Tchaikovsky Souvenir de Florence - Borodin Quartet

Stravinsky Rite of Spring - CSO, Solti on wide-band Decca - thrilling sound and performance

Bartok Concerto for Orchestra - Ansermet - without equal

Tchaikovsky Symphony No.6 - Pathetique - Mravinsky

Mendelssohn Violin Concerto - Milstein

Dvorak Symphony No8 - Kubelik - more Czech magic

In other moods there would be more Baroque/Renaissance and less Romantic. But hey - it's Christmas.

:^

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Haven't seen anything on this thread for some time, so I'll add to it.

To me, the entry point for the classical neophyte has to be Romantic, simply because modern film scores are essentially Romantic in character, and people are familiar with them. And that means that the entry point has to be history's greatest tune-writer, Pytor Illych Tchaikovsky. The guy couldn't help himself - the ballet suites, the Variations on a Rococo Theme (Tchaikovsky was a big Mozart fan), the Romeo & Juliet overture. The 1812 is a big brassy noise (Pete wasn't overly fond of it), and the Marche Slave is better.

For three glorious listens, you need, you REALLY need, this:

00174fab_medium.jpeg

The Dvorak and Tchaikovsky Serenades for strings, plus the best version of Grieg's Holberg Suite ever put on record. Nev and the ASMF caught at their very best.

Since I mentioned Dvorak, there is probably no better entry to the symphonic repertoire than his No.9 "From the New World", most famous for the aching beauty of the second movement (allegedly a negro spiritual, but in fact not - there's a not an authentic American tune in the thing, it's pure Dvorak, but styled to sound American).

People ignore the Strauss family, for reasons I've never understood. Brahms and Wagner were both wholehearted admirers of Johann Jr., one of the most brilliant minds ever applied to light music. A record of Johann Jr's greatest hits belongs in everyone's collection. I'm not sure if this one still exists (I have the vinyl):

51yzgWj3cjL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

It includes the famous "Blue Danube" used on Kubrick's 2001. No matter how much they hackney "Blue Danube", a good version sounds really brilliant. It also includes the "Emperor" waltz, perhaps Strauss's greatest achievement in the form, plus the Fledermaus and Gypsy Baron overtures, and Johann Sr's Radetzky March, the famous finale to the Vienna New Year's Concert.

A further must is a record of Rossini overtures - bright, brash, great fun - Bill Tell, Thieving Magpie, Silken Ladder, Barber of Seville, Italian Girl in Algiers. This one:

51s3Ch8lCxL._SY300_.jpg

lacks Bill Tell, but it does have the wonderful bow-tapping (I kid you not) Il Signor Bruschino.

So, we come to the borders of neophyte territory and start to get into deeper waters. To me, Beethoven as a whole lacks the instant appeal of the previous, but of course rewards more persistent listening as ears become more attuned to the "language" of classical music. The first port of call has to be the 5th. The Kleiber version is much admired (and rightly so), but the '62 Karajan is IMHO fully its equal.

29936106_307x300.jpg

Wolfie Mozart was incapable of writing an inelegant note - one of the few examples where a child prodigy developed into a fully-blown genius. Where to start? The gorgeous serenade Eine kleine Nachtmusik is a natural jumping-off point, a stunning mixture of grace, elegance and great tunefulness.

I hesitate to recommend Bach to the neophyte, even though he's my very favourite composer, because the language of his baroque is remote from us, and a bit harder to get used to. However, the effort is worth it - much of Bach's stuff is built on contemporary dance rhythms. Jack Bruce of Cream described Bach as the greatest bass player ever - listen to some of the bass lines dance in the cantatas.

My pick for an introduction to the baroque would be his great contemporary Handel - and best of all, this, my test disc:

watermusic-pinnock.jpg

The Water Music is one of the greatest pieces of light music ever composed, and this 1983 version by Pinnock has never been bettered. And while you're at it, get the other one...

00135ba6_medium.jpeg

This one is the original all-wind version, written to celebrate the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle.

Vivaldi, it is cruelly said, wrote a violin concerto 26 times. Certainly a lot of stuff was churned out, but a good version of The 4 Seasons should be in everyone's collection. To me, nothing touches this one:

15+Sparf.jpg

A vivid, almost rough, interpretation.

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And to put up some contenders for more British music:

Vaughan Williams - Job (Boult) to see how later composers used older forms and the 5th Symphony (Boult stereo) just because it's good

Elgar - Dream of Gerontius - take your pick of Boult or Barbirolli (which I have and like)

Elgar - Du Pre cello concerto/Janet Baker Sea Pictures - just because everyone should own it

And another recommendation for the Finzi/Holst disc mentioned previously.

Outside of that:

Copland - Appalachian Spring (the whole ballet) - I have Copland conducting both the full orchestra version and the chamber version, both of which are equally impressive.

Bernstein conducting the Symphonic Dances from West Side story, yes, an orchestra can swing hard.

Rachmaninov - 2nd Symphony is probably the best known, the 70's Previn recording is good.

Borodin - the symphonies and the standard bits from Prince Igor (Polotsvian Dances and the overture) - I've got the old box set of the Tjeknavorian recordings which are still good.

And of course many more besides, but that will do for now.

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More British music to consider:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Britten-Variations-Bridge-Symphony-Prelude/dp/B0007QN8PG/ref=sr_1_21?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1363800307&sr=1-21

Sanctuary classics seem to have disappeared but this is an excellent recording & worth tracking down.

The 'Funeral March' might be familiar from the BBC documentary 'War Walks' shown a few years ago...

Elgar & Vaughan Williams :

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Elgar-Vaughan-Williams-String-Orchestra/dp/B00003ZKRL/ref=sr_1_9?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1363800339&sr=1-9

[ATTACH]8614[/ATTACH]

Another recommendation for the Marriner Decca Legends recording shown by tones earlier.

41XEDQZYBYL._SL500_AA300_.jpg.f15566f4ec

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I kind of disagree with a lot of this. Just because, in days gone by, people were introduced to classical music via romantic symphonies, concertos, overtures and stuff that got adapted for film scores doesn't mean that needs to be the entry point in 2013.

I would start people on chamber music, piano music and lieder ... Baroque trio sonatas (Bach viola da gamba sonatas, Buxtehude Op1), the Haydn Baryton trios and Op76/77 quartets, the Mozart violin sonatas, Schumann, Brahms, Faure, Debussy piano works, Bostridge's Schubert Lieder volumes. Glen Gould's Goldberg Variations.

Then on to things like Bach's Mass in B Minor and some of the cantatas. Handel's Messiah (John Butt's fab Linn versions would be a place to start for both the Handle and the B Minor Mass. Any of these 'genres' can be the starting point for going deeper.

Absolutely no need to go down the default 60s and 70s route any more.

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But it doesn't mean that these 'romantic' works aren't still a worthwhile & rewarding route into classical music today.

Many of the romantic works listed in this thread, such as the Holberg Suite , Dvorak 9 , Enigma Variations etc etc

are still a very fine introduction & just as valid as chamber music & lieder.

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I kind of disagree with a lot of this. Just because, in days gone by, people were introduced to classical music via romantic symphonies, concertos, overtures and stuff that got adapted for film scores doesn't mean that needs to be the entry point in 2013.

I would start people on chamber music, piano music and lieder ... Baroque trio sonatas (Bach viola da gamba sonatas, Buxtehude Op1), the Haydn Baryton trios and Op76/77 quartets, the Mozart violin sonatas, Schumann, Brahms, Faure, Debussy piano works, Bostridge's Schubert Lieder volumes. Glen Gould's Goldberg Variations.

Then on to things like Bach's Mass in B Minor and some of the cantatas. Handel's Messiah (John Butt's fab Linn versions would be a place to start for both the Handle and the B Minor Mass. Any of these 'genres' can be the starting point for going deeper.

Absolutely no need to go down the default 60s and 70s route any more.

There I would respectfully beg to differ. This, of course, is based on my own experience, and that's not everyone's, but as very much an "everyman" unlearned in music, I regard myself rightly or wrongly as typical of the breed. Bach is now my favourite composer, but it took me personally years to "get" him. To me, chamber music, lieder and trio sonatas is, for the average guy or gal, too, if you'll excuse the expression, "hard", too unfamiliar. This is not to say that it can't happen of course - jazz fans find an affinity with Bach and his musical thinking - but to me the route for most folk remains a progression from the familiar to the unfamiliar, from Romantic orchestral backwards. Once the "language" of classical is in your head (even though you have no idea what that language actually means!), the transition to other versions of it is easier. Handel's Messiah is a special exception, as it and its language have taken firm root in the English-speaking world (not so on the Continent, where even Mozart's rewrite Der Messias is rarely heard).

But chacun à son goût...

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i do disagree with the "20th century hokum" stuff.

primarily because I really hate the thinking that the world stopped turning when these old guys died. no. it didnt. we must look to the past , give respect to it, but never, ever remain stuck in it.

there is genius all around us. composers that *gasp* have every potential to outshine any of these venerated "old masters"

i know that is sacrilege, but there it is.

the film industry scoring machine has PROVEN that amazing composers are still out there. but the lazy audience is so stuck in the past that new works dont get paid attention.

it is a fucking tragedy.

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and Tom, please tell me , what is a "proper classical" list and why do you deem it so? (other than the whole my name is tom and im an insufferable music snob thing)

:D truly curious about that, pisstakes aside. what is a "proper classical list" and what are the requirements??

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