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Found 18 results

  1. This time, possibly as a response to the weather which is more French than British at the moment I have chosen Songs of the Auvergne by Canteloube, if you don't know this beautiful set of folk songs sung in Occitaine you should have a treat in store. The version I have chosed is the first i came across and remains my favourite. It is sung by Jill Gomez and played by the RLPO conducted by Vernon Handley . I hope that you enjoy listening to them
  2. I couldn't decide whether to propose Porgy and Bess, which I love, or this. Of course Rhapsody in Blue is known to many and very accessible, but I wanted something a little upbeat and infectious! Composed in 1924, it established Gershwin's signature style and was revolutionary in blending elements of classical music with jazz. It's been described variously as a jazz concerto, and a 'syncopated tone poem'. It doesn't need played often but it still puts a grin on my face years after first hearing it at the Festival Hall aged about 10. I cannot remember who was playing that day, but this performance on LP has been in my collection since my teens. While there are several good performances on record, Earl Wild's exuberance still enthralls. His pianistic control is marvellous, and while the overall interpretation may not be the most subtle, it has real charm. It's also a great recording with pace and voluptuousness (from the RCA Living Stereo series, made at Symphony Hall, Boston between 1959 and 1961). It's available on Hybrid SACD, which sounds very good. There may be a reissue available on vinyl too. The balance between pianist and Arthur Fiedler's excellent orchestra is about right. I have heard that the CD is not very good sounding, but don't own it, so buyer beware. The other works on the disc (Concerto in F, An American in Paris, Variations and Cuban Overture) are all solid and entertaining - far from mere fillers.
  3. Sooner or later this album was going to appear on this thread so it might as well be now! Three movement piece. The first, 25 mins or so largely of cellos and basses. Oh God, you might think! But that movement sets the scene for the wonderful Second Movement with Dawn Upshaw singing a derivation of a poem from a Polish camp in WW2. Even if you don't know the story, the singing is wonderful, pitch perfect and from a vocalist at the top of her game. If you're not captivated by that, switch on the football or some meaningless soap as classical music is just not for you! Third movement ties it all together, leaving you wondering if you could just go back to the start. A truly wonderful composition, recorded and performed really well. Emotive to the nth degree. Best listened to with a nice glass of wine. In fact, keep the bottle nearby as you won't want to pause it. Listen to it all. Don't focus on the Second Movement. Wonderful as it is, the other movements keep it in context. Quite a simple theme throughout, but as engaging as any large orchestral piece.
  4. Some chamber music this time. Live performances of Beethoven violin sonatas. This is the first of three volumes, The others are:
  5. This music , from Britain's two most prominent composers, has been lauded since it was recorded in 1966 - and rightly so, it is wonderful. The highlight, personally, is the Vaughan Williams Tallis Fantasia - which frankly sends shivers up the spine whenever I hear it. Barbirolli has great empathy & affinity with this music & the playing is sensitive & expressive. The SQ is exemplary. The CD issue has two extra Elgar pieces - Elegy & Sospiri which are entirely suited to the other pieces here.
  6. Bach - Small Gifts. Andreas Scholl, Dorothee Oberlinger, Ensemble 1700. We have not yet had any Bach yet, so here is a collection of choral and instrumental music. Spotify link: The Gramophone Magazine review explains the "Small Gifts" title.
  7. Bohuslav Martinu's symphonies can be a challenge, but this set is excellent. Symphony No 6 is my choice here: Fantaisies Symphoniques. When I first heard this, I was smitten! From the notes: Begun in 1951, but did not reach a final form until May 1953. The original concept included three pianos, but these were abandoned. Also its original title of Symphonie Fantastique was jettisoned in deference to Berlioz. It remains one of Martinu's most popular orchestral compositions.
  8. Respighi: Roman Trilogy. There are numerous recordings of these pieces - this happens to be the one in my collection. It is a very popular trilogy of pieces, I like very much, hope you do too. I don't use Spotify or other streaming services so no idea how to set the link up.
  9. The quaintly named Academy of St Martin in the fields was a chamber orchestra formed in the late fifties by the late Sir Neville Marriner as a reaction to the often inflated performances of big orchestras. It was a democratic band, in contrast to the often dictatorial ways of other orchestras & had a commitment to playing music as authentically as possible. Leader, players & sound engineers shared the same attitude. They are the most recorded orchestra in history covering all classical genre. This collection was recorded in 1968 & 1970 at the Kingsway Hall in London - a venue noted for its acoustic qualities. It is firmly in the 'Romantic' era of the late 19th century. These pieces are beautifully & sensitively played, enhanced by the fine acoustics of the venue & the vividness of the recording. Couple of links here of part of the record - hope they work.
  10. There are great performances and great performances but this is something different. Not different in kind but simply the best interpretation - full stop. Actually it goes beyond an interpretation and represents a direct connection between the music and yourself. Not only the soloist but the conductor and orchestra likewise dissolve and you are left with the meaning of the music.
  11. I thought I'd suggest some opera for a change but I thought a whole opera might be a bit too much of a commitment for you busy people. So, a long time favourite of mine featuring two fantastic singers. This is mostly Mozart with a bit of Rossini and Donizetti. The performers were a lot younger then (1999 I think) than they are now though, both are still going strong, I saw Bryn in Falstaff just last Sunday. Some beautiful performances on this, even if you don't like opera give it a listen. Beautiful!
  12. There have been some fine suggestions in the club so far, but my suggestion for my first entry is Mahler's Resurrection. spotify:album:7cErGib5476Zp0vKglVId8 At some point in everyone's experience of classical music you will have to listen to a big symphony where everyone in the orchestra plays a part and in my opinion few are better examples than this piece. Mahler lived at the end of the Romantic period into the early Modernist or neo-classical periods when travel was becoming more feasible and allowed adoption of influential music genres into composition in a way which was not possible in previous eras. Mahler was also a bit of a controversial figure as far as his love life was concerned and both physical and mental illness probably determined the nature of his compositions throughout his life. However, for this piece of music you can forget about all of that! You can also ignore the nod to religion in the title as this is not a religious composition. You can also ignore any debate about how Rattle has interpreted the score. This symphony is about listening and right from the start the big bold brasses and percussion grab your attention, merging into the first haunting theme of the 1st movement which in turn introduces you to the multiple changing tempos which characterise the rest of the symphony. This symphony is technically in five movements but it is usually played with a break after the first movement and the others run together which works well. The second movement brings in woodwind, plucked strings and harp though Mahler can't resist bringing in brasses and tympani as the movement develops before dying away into nothing. Tympani announce the 3rd movement, a beautiful trip in which various sections of the orchestra take turns in leading, at times with a light air and others much more threatening as the music develops into its final conflict between "life" and "death". The all too brief Ulrich's sing of the fourth movement is masterfully sung by Janet Baker (remember that she will been sat in front of the orchestra for a hour or so doing almost nothing) and the plaintive nature of the tune is seldom presented better. The final movement is a resolution of the first four with many previous themes returning, building and building to its immense double climax (you think the piece has finished but it hasn't!) with massed choir, organ, tympani rolls and a huge crescendo of everyone playing together. Fabulous to experience live! I've chosen this Rattle/CBSO performance as I find his Berlin Phil piece a bit sterile for my liking. It's also a live piece which adds to the ambience. Other good performances are Kaplan/Vienna Phil and Fischer/Budapest which has an incredibly detailed presentation and a hall with an excellent acoustic to set it off. To me it doesn't matter why you listen to this piece. Each movement can be appreciated and it can be a piece which can make you interested in other big orchestral works. Or you can use it as a test of your hi-fi's ability to manage the ultra-quiet ppp parts as well as the huge crescendos where you might introduce your amp to new parts of the volume dial or see whether you can discriminate if there is one harp or two playing. However you listen I hope you enjoy it!
  13. Fritz Reiner sacd, great recording and currently my favourite version. The Stravinsky piece was new to me, but I enjoyed that too. It is on Spotify, but I have no idea how to link to that.
  14. By his own admission, Elgar's violin concerto is a very emotional & romantic work but is regarded as one of the most difficult concertos to play. It has Elgar's wonderful feeling for orchestral string tone & colour throughout & is a personal favourite piece to lift the spirits after a crap day, particularly the 2nd movement - the Andante, and the long & lightly accompanied dreamy cadenza in the 3rd movement. Nigel Kennedy's oik persona will put off some but there's no denying his sublime playing on this recording, perhaps his finest moment. This was the 1st classical CD I bought, back in the mid eighties & others will have their own favourite versions, as there are many. I also own the LP, which I prefer to play despite it being a fully digital recording! Would appreciate someone posting a streaming link but here's the Andante:
  15. I think Soledad is Spanish for Solitude. There are several pieces with this title but my album choice is from Piazzolla's album La Camorra. It is about 8 minutes long and had a profound effect on me when I first heard it. For some reason I never seem to tire of it and I keep playing it regularly. It helps that Piazzolla's music in general lends itself to being transcribed and so there are many versions. I have about a dozen but the best is probably that by Gidon Kremer.
  16. I have chosen Nielsen's 4th Symphony - The Inextinguishable. This was a milestone in my appreciation of classical music in that hearing this live I was, for the first time, totally absorbed and moved by the music. It affected me in a way that no other classical music had up to that point. It was written during the first half of WW1 and it is difficult to see that it was not in some way a response to that violent age, Nielsen's comment was that “Music is life, and, like life, inextinguishable.” It is not a peaceful piece! The "battling" tympani provide excitement and turmoil but the superb climax of the finale never fails to move me. I only choose the Karajan version because it was the first I bought, I now have many! Have a listen
  17. If you only have time to listen to one of the symphonies, I would recommend no. 78. (See:
  18. Perhaps not Shostakovich's best symphony? However, perhaps one of the most influential This was composed during WW2 whilst Leningrad was under siege Premièred by the Bolshoi in 1942 Perhaps the best known version is the one performed by the Leningrad Radio Orchestra broadcast from the city, 3 of the artists died during rehearsals from starvation!! This version is the one conducted by Vasily Petrenko, the young Russian conductor that turned the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra into one of the best in the country His speciality is Shostakovich, this is a gem (in my opinion) It has been controversial, with debate about whether or not it was anti Stalinist.I just enjoy the music It was one of my 1st classical music purchases and stays special I hope you enjoy it. I don't have Spotify, but it is on there The Youtube below is the 1st section.