Classical Music: Your "Must Have" List

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  • John30_30John30_30 Posts: 1,025
    edited May 2010
    Hello,
    In music there seems to be periods of time where a virtuoso comes along who has such technical skill that composers are spurred to write more advanced music. In the case for Paganini his violin playing inspired composers such as Berlioz and Schumann to try and increase their level of expression.
    Enjoy, Ken

    That's true, Ken. Young Franz Liszt was impressed by Paganini's caprices, fortunately way more than me. :D

    btw, Ken, you know the story of how the impressionable young Schumann developed a mechanism to exercise and develop his fingers for added "Paganini-type" dexterity? He ruined one of his fingers completely, and was finished as a performing pianist.
  • KennethSwaugerKennethSwauger Moderator Posts: 6,903
    edited May 2010
    Hello,
    From what I gather the more likely reason for the problems with his hands was due to treatment for a syphilitic sore, rather than the hand strengthening machine. In any event, certainly a tragedy.
    Regards, Ken
    "They thought we were too loud, but shoot, I had four army blankets folded over my amp, and the volume level was on 2. I'm used to playin' on 10!" S.R.V.
  • reberlyreberly Posts: 173
    edited May 2010
    Micah had a great post many years ago in this thread. I just added all his suggestions to my pandora.com account. Got to love pandora.com for listening to new music you dont want to purchase, "yet"
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  • KennethSwaugerKennethSwauger Moderator Posts: 6,903
    edited May 2010
    Very cool! What have you listened to?
    Regards, Ken
    "They thought we were too loud, but shoot, I had four army blankets folded over my amp, and the volume level was on 2. I'm used to playin' on 10!" S.R.V.
  • John30_30John30_30 Posts: 1,025
    edited May 2010
    Yes, it's speculative what actually caused it, although he was apparently in his early 20's when it occurred.
    However, if he was seriously syphilitic, it doesn't seem to have hampered his composing abilities nor his eligibility in regards to marrying Clara Wiecke Schumann.
    And it's possible the injury drove him more toward composition, which is our benefit.
    Otoh, the man attempted suicide and ended up institutionalized, which would go hand-in-hand with advanced syphilis.
    Wonderful composer. I have to say I love Schumann's work.
  • reberlyreberly Posts: 173
    edited May 2010
    Very cool! What have you listened to?
    Regards, Ken

    I'll report back in a few days to what I liked so far. For now, "Wow" is all I have to say with listening to my Lsi15's and classical music. It really demonstrates what the speaker can do. Volume is your friend for sure w/ this style music as someone suggested.

    Oh pandora.com has a fun feature where you can add friends and see what they are listening too. Could be a fun way for us polkie's to learn and listen to new music
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  • WillowWillow Posts: 9,885
    edited May 2010
    John30_30 wrote: »
    That's true, Ken. Young Franz Liszt was impressed by Paganini's caprices, fortunately way more than me. :D

    btw, Ken, you know the story of how the impressionable young Schumann developed a mechanism to exercise and develop his fingers for added "Paganini-type" dexterity? He ruined one of his fingers completely, and was finished as a performing pianist.

    One of my favorite is "les pr
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  • coolsaxcoolsax Posts: 1,784
    edited May 2010
    Now I didn't have a chance to pick anything up, but I noticed this week that at Halfprice Books, a lot of the New sealed Classical CDs they have are from the Naxos label and are generally 7 bucks and under.. thought people might like to know since Micah was high on them in one of his early posts as cheap well recorded CDs. So check it out if you have a Halfprice Books nearby.
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  • jetblack1jetblack1 Posts: 1
    edited May 2010
    If I were to pick one, it would be Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusic. This was the party music for the folks in the 1700's.
  • warrenwarren Posts: 665
    edited May 2010
    party music for the folks in the 1700's.
    Man that was a thy slapper, loved it!!!!!! Funny!!!!
    Some final words,
    "If you keep banging your head against the wall,
    you're going to have headaches."
    Warren
  • lanionlanion Posts: 843
    edited June 2010
    Rachmainoff's Symphonies 1 and 2, Vespers, and Piano Concerto #2.

    Brahms, Mozart, and Verdi's requims.

    Elgar's cello concerto

    those are most important to me.
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  • John K.John K. Posts: 825
    edited June 2010
    Lanion, the Rachmaninoff symphonies(including the 3rd)are favorites of mine and I have complete sets by Ashkenazy, De Waart, Jansons, Ormandy and Slatkin, plus other discs of the individual symphonies. I'd like to especially suggest the 2-disc Ormandy set available for about $10 shipped from sellers here to you or anyone else who don't have the terrific performances of the Philadelphia Orchestra in these masterpieces.

    I also like the Elgar Cello Concerto, but my favorite cello concerto is the magnificent Dvorak, available here in the great performance by Fournier and Szell, with the haunting Schelomo and the Kol Nidrei also included, for about $6.50 shipped. As the Amazon editorial reviewer comments, how peculiar it is that in so much of classical music recording there's no correlation at all between quality of performance and price.
  • Ern DogErn Dog Posts: 2,239
    edited June 2010
    Another Big Rachmaninoff fan here. I found that "The Symphonies" box set by Ashkenazy didn't do it for me. The recordings sounded too thin for me and the pacing was too fast. My favorite Rachmaninoff recording is "Symphonic Dances" on the Reference Recording label. This recording won awards for it's to notch engineering.
  • John K.John K. Posts: 825
    edited July 2010
    I'll bring to the attention of our members a 2-disc collection of glorious music in excellent sound, available at ridiculously low prices of about $10 up from Amazon sellers and other sources. Prokofiev used his musical imagination on the happy themes of Cinderella to produce exciting and beautiful music for the staging of the ballet. This is usually enough to fill a set, but here Glazunov's musical traversal of The Seasons, which I(gasp!)actually prefer to listen to rather than Vivaldi's very different Four Seasons, is performed wonderfully to add to the musical enjoyment. Terrific performances and sound; enjoy.
  • domflanedomflane Posts: 654
    edited July 2010
    Great thread, I loved Micah's post.
    It seems that many of us have similar taste. Holst's Planets is fantastic. The chorale from "Jupiter" is one of the most moving passages I have ever heard. Check out the The Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps playing their version of the planets from their 1995 season.
    I'm also a big fan of most of Copland's work, especially Appalachian Spring. Another amazing melody that could bring you to tears. Not to beat Drum Corps to death, but The Cadets Appalachian Spring show from 1987 is really powerful, as is the version performed by broadway show "Blast". I love different adaptations of classic melodies played with the non traditional instruments.
    Chalk me up as another Rachmaninoff fan, especially the Piano Concerto #2. Simply amazing stuff that I could listen to anytime.
    I couldn't make a list without Beethoven, so I vote for his piano sonatas, notably #'s 8 and 14, or "Pathetique" and " Moonlight". Any capable piano recording will do, as they're perfect just the way they are. Billy Joel's "This Night" from his "Innocent Man" album has a great quote from Pathetique that is instantly recognizable and is a great tribute to the greatest composer who ever lived.
    Alright, that does it for me. Classical music is great. There is no better way for a composer to express himself than by utilizing the power of an entire orchestra or a grand piano. No lyrics necessary . .
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  • fx20fx20 Posts: 26
    edited August 2010
    I think these are must have in term of performance and sound quality:

    Carlos Kleiber, Beethoven: Symphonies 5 & 7
    Vladimir Ashkenazy, Mozart: Piano Concertos 20-25
    Bach: Brandenburg Concertos / Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

    There are also affordable if you them from amazon, my $0.02.
  • John K.John K. Posts: 825
    edited August 2010
    To follow along with my preceding recommendation which included Prokofiev's Cinderella, his music for Romeo and Juliet should certainly be included in any classical collection. I'll suggest the remastered disc of the performance by Michael Tilson Thomas with the San Francisco Symphony, a highly energetic performance in fine sound available here and from other sources for just a few dollars.
  • Bryan G.Bryan G. Posts: 1
    edited August 2010
    For anyone who's spent a lot of time worrying about getting the low frequencies just right in their systems, I think some Double Bass Concertos might be in order..

    http://www.amazon.com/Double-Bass-Concertos-Ditters-Dittersdorf/dp/B00004YYQ4/

    If you don't know Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf, check out his Harp Concerto as well..
  • LeftCoastLeftCoast Posts: 399
    edited September 2010
    Joaquin Rodrigo - Concierto de Aranjuez performed by Academy of St. Martin in the Fields featuring Pepe Romero on guitar.

    Don't bother with the version with Paco de Lucia on guitar. The experiment with having this great flamenco guitarist play classical doesn't work as intended.

    Ravel - Bolero Best version is with Zubin Mehta conducting.
  • fatchowmeinfatchowmein Posts: 2,642
    edited September 2010
    Johann Pachelbel's Canon in D Major for Strings and Continuo conducted by Jean-Francois Paillard, 1977. If you're looking for wedding music, look elsewhere. If you're looking for a powerful, orchestral version of this overplayed classical piece, your search is over. Toss the other copies. Absolutely delightful.

    This monster weighs in at over 7 minutes! I have not yet listen to the other 20 tracks.

    http://www.amazon.com/Pachelbel-Canon-Fasch-Concerto-trumpet/dp/B000005EDJ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1284274937&sr=8-1
  • John K.John K. Posts: 825
    edited September 2010
    Another essential item for a classical collection is a recording of the set of three Roman Poems, the Fountains of Rome, Pines of Rome and Roman Festivals, composed by Ottorino Respighi. This is all very colorful music, without a hint of any "modernistic" compositional techniques which have often polluted 20th century classical compositions. Moods vary from great beauty and gentleness, as in Fountains, to the noisy violence of the arena depicted in Festivals. The suggestion is the exciting recording by Batiz with the Royal Philharmonic available in fine sound from sellers here and from other sources for a remarkably low cost, again illustrating the fact that in audio you frequently don't "get what you pay for".
  • John K.John K. Posts: 825
    edited October 2010
    I've previously suggested the excellent Ormandy set of the Rachmaninoff symphonies, and equally rewarding listening can be found in his piano concertos. The late Earl Wild, who passed away earlier this year at age 94, recorded very high-powered performances of the four concertos and the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini which have been remastered in excellent sound. Power and beauty abound in these performances, and should be a part of every collection. Available here and other usual sources for only about $17 plus shipping for the 2-disc set.
  • John K.John K. Posts: 825
    edited November 2010
    A recording of the Brahms Hungarian Dances should be a must for every collection and my favorite has Istvan Bogar conducting the Budapest Symphony. A Hungarian conductor and players seem to impart an added zest to these pieces influenced by Hungarian folk and gypsy melodies. Excellent performances and sound to provide a lifetime of listening pleasure, available from sellers here for just a few dollars.
  • John K.John K. Posts: 825
    edited December 2010
    The Brahms Hungarian Dances were an artistic(and financial)success and Brahms's publisher, Simrock, who also was Dvorak's publisher, suggested that he should also compose something on dance themes. The resulting Slavonic Dances, while different, were equally delightful and those who enjoy the Hungarian Dances will probably also enjoy the Slavonic dances, and vice versa. Levi's Telarc disc is excellent both in performance and sound and is available from sellers here for about $9, shipped.
  • Danny TseDanny Tse Posts: 5,248
    edited December 2010
    I am just getting into classical music, but this below SACD is a "must own"....

    3857516577_6e942c517e.jpg

    In fact, I am going to start buying up those "Living Stereo" SACD titles. Not only are they relatively inexpensive, I read they contain fantastic performances with excellent recording quality.

    I'd also recommend the below CD (it's also available on SACD and Blu-Spec CD)....

    4886982569_d31b613b48.jpg

    It's a little "out of the ordinary", but it's great music. The recording quality is so-so given that it was done in the 70s. However, the performance is awesome.
  • MotzartMotzart Posts: 1,075
    edited December 2010
    Danny Tse wrote: »
    I am just getting into classical music, but this below SACD is a "must own"....

    3857516577_6e942c517e.jpg

    In fact, I am going to start buying up those "Living Stereo" SACD titles. Not only are they relatively inexpensive, I read they contain fantastic performances with excellent recording quality.

    ABSOLUTELY!!
    I have a fair amount of the RCA LS SACD's now and they are fabulous even in non SACD.

    Danny Tse wrote: »

    I'd also recommend the below CD (it's also available on SACD and Blu-Spec CD)....

    4886982569_d31b613b48.jpg

    It's a little "out of the ordinary", but it's great music. The recording quality is so-so given that it was done in the 70s. However, the performance is awesome.

    Like to know where you got that one.....love to add that to my collection!

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  • MotzartMotzart Posts: 1,075
    edited December 2010
    Here are a couple in my stash that are a must have but VERY RARE!

    920918467_iJoja-S.jpg1132588118_5V9Cu-S.jpg

    For Piano lovers I HIGHLY recommend these 2!
    The 2 CD can be found cheap......the other takes a little hunting but can be found.

    977251247_sLvzA-S.jpg985123556_kzCkE-S.jpg

    Here is my Complete Classical Collection online...have a look!
    http://connect.collectorz.com/users/graphyfotoz/music/view?viewCollection=all&filterLetter=

    .

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  • Danny TseDanny Tse Posts: 5,248
    edited December 2010
    Motzart wrote: »
    Like to know where you got that one.....love to add that to my collection!

    This particular title was not a domestic US RCA release. The CD pictured was a mid-80s pressing done by Denon. I believe the regular CD version may be out-of-print. However, earlier this year, Hong Kong Sony released a Blu-Spec CD version of this title. Even though Sony has its own CD pressing plant in HK, the Blu-Spec CD is pressed in Japan.

    I know Naxos has separate CDs for each of the works on the RCA release....and the 2 Naxos CDs together would cost less than the Blu-Spec CD.
  • John K.John K. Posts: 825
    edited January 2011
    Ukrainian born Reinhold Gliere took as inspiration the folk hero Ilya Murometz to compose his massive 3rd Symphony, a gloriously melodic and dramatic work which some snobbish critics grit their teeth over. I have several versions of this gorgeous work depicting Ilya's heroic exploits in defeating enemies of Ukraine and suggest here that if you don't already have this symphony(you're really missing something)that you get this exciting performance , available from various Amazon sellers for just a few dollars.
  • HydraliskHydralisk Posts: 4
    edited January 2011
    You guys have made some great suggestions. You'll see some of the same stuff here. I've tried to include the labels and disc numbers to help out.

    A Short List of The Classical Best

    Why listen to Classical Music? Because it's the original rock and roll, that's why. And when you get bored by the sameness of rock or pop, there is nothing like the endless depth and interesting nuances of classical music. Plus, these guys are demented -- some truly evil and wacked out personalities here. Worthy not only of your ear, but of your research. Rock stars have nothing on these guys.

    This is a short selection of some of the recordings in my collection (my faves). They are in most cases the best of the best if I do say so myself. I know this because I have a very well-read classical music mentor who is up on all this stuff. I am a mere amateur here, but I know enough to be dangerously judgemental. Ready? You will be amazed at how much free time I have. In no order:

    BACH Pretty much all you need, if you're just getting into classical music, is the SIX BRANDENBURG CONCERTOS played by Trevor Pinnock and The English Concert (pronounced "consort" by snooty classical music people) on ARCHIV BMG (3-disc set #D284161). Glorious and moving, and instantly recognizable as "classical."

    COPLAND You can't be an American if you don't like this modern American classical music by Aaron Copland (really, among the last great composers of the age). Sony Classical has remastered all the early Copland recordings by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic (Berstein was a personal pal of Copland so you know he got it right) and they sound pristine and powerful. Check APPALACHIAN SPRING/RODEO/BILLY THE KID/FANFARE FOR THE COMMON MAN on Sony Classical disc SMK 63082. The only better version of RODEO is the on by Emerson Lake & Palmer on the live "Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends..."

    Sony Classical has also included Bernstein's rendition of BIZET's CARMEN Suites 1 & 2 in their remastered reissues. If I liked opera I'd like CARMEN first, because the music is tremendously powerful and emotional. This disc is the most moving of versions. (Too bad I didn't write down the disc number when I made my list last night. Up to you.)

    TCHAIKOVSKY No composer beats the tortured Tchaikovsky (of "Nutcracker" fame) for angry evil music. The man was demented and depressed, and he poured his emotion into his wonderful music. Amazingly, the best representative bit of this music is available on a cheapy-cheap disc produced by a company called NAXOS. It's called TCHAIKOVSKY FESTIVAL and it's stuff like "1812 Overture," "Romeo & Juliet" and more played by Adrian Leaper and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on NAXOS 8.550500. The TELARC discs are pretty good, and really filled with dynamic response, but this disc is filled with the spirit of the man himself and contains overwhelmingly well recorded and well played versions of these pieces. (Gotta love a composer who uses real cannon on stage!)

    As an aside, look to the NAXOS label for cheap discs that often trump the expensive labels in quality and "best version" recommendation. I have all my VIVALDI, TELEMANN and HAYDN string pieces on NAXOS discs. Quality and performance-wise, you can't go wrong with the NAXOS Classical label.

    MUSSORGSKY's PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION has always been one of my favorite pieces of classical music -- since hearing ELP do it, my first exposure to it. It comes in two versions, the original solo piano one, and the more familiar orchestral version. For a version of the former that will enlighten you as to why this piece would attract such a wacko as Keith Emerson, listen to the solo piano version played by young pianist Mikhail Pletnev on Virgin Classics (disc 0777 75961126). This is one of my favorites because it's simply astonishing what the original piece of music accomplishes with minimal instrumentation. Pletnev makes the piece come alive. You will be surprised at what a piano can do. The classic orchestral version is done well by Bernstein again on CBS Basic Rep disc MYK 36726.

    BRAHMS once left a gathering by saying "If there is anyone here whom I have not offended, I am sorry." Gotta love that. The best versions of his four symphonies are performed by Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonica on a Musical Heritage Society 4-disc set #5446042. I like this stuff because you can instantly tell the influence it had on guys like Rick Wakemen (YES) and Keith Emerson: lots of flowing, crashing familiar big-orchestra stuff that would have made Beethoven smile. (We'll get to him in a sec.)

    For something lighter, but still tremendous, check out the recordings of Brahms' and Tchaikovsky's VIOLIN CONCERTOS peformed by Fritz Reiner & the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (violin played by Jascha Heifetz) on the acclaimed RCA Living Stereo Cd 09026-61495-2.

    Now for the big two:

    MOZART Another easy-to-get-into classical composer, obviously. Mozart Rule of Thumb: Always go with Marriner's Mozart. That would be Sir Neville Marriner & The Academy of Ancient Music. No one does Mozart better. Witness THE LAST 5 SYMPHONIES on Philips 438 332-2 (2-disc set) and THE BEST KNOWN PIANO CONCERTOS (this is all stuff you'll instantly recognize) with Alfred Brendel at the piano on Philips 442 269-2 (another 2-disc set). Another of my favorites is a two-2-disc set of Mozart's PIANO SONATAS (Concertos include the orchestra, Sonatas are solo piano), the best versions of which are found on the cut-rate VOX BOX label (Vol 1 CDX 5026, Vol 2 CDX 5046), played by pianist Walter Klein. It's relaxing, moving, soft and powerful at the same time, filled with recognizable themes and variations. Heck, it's Mozart!

    BEETHOVEN is my favorite of all. He's angry, he struggled (whereas it came easy to Mozart) and he produced some of the most beautiful music ever made... And he was deaf. If that's not enough to make you pissed, I don't know what is. My absolute favorite piece of Beethoven's music is his set of FIVE PIANO CONCERTOS. And the greatest, most moving, most well done version of these concertos is found on a Sony Classical 3-disc set (SB3K 48397) which retails for around $20! Baltimore's own Leon Fleischer is the master at the piano for these early 1950s recordings, and no one has done it better since. Beethoven's Piano Concertos are endlessly fun and innovative and familiar, filled with recognizable and easily assimilated music that really rocks.

    But nothing rocks like his symphonies. Simple fact is that they changed western music (from dainty old classical Mozart stuff, to a thundering new wave of orchestral music). You could get all nine of them in one box a myriad of ways: old style, played on "orginal instruments," by Christopher Hogwood & The Academy of Ancient Music on L'oiseau-Lyre 425 696-2, or great new versions, using recently found original never-seen-before transcriptions of Beethoven himself, done by Baltimore's own David Zinman on the Arte Nova label #74321 654102 -- a set of nine discs that retails for cheap, too. The one set to get, tho, remains the set that is the paradigm, the way Beethoven himself must have heard the great symphonies in his own head: performed by Herbert Von Karajan & the Berlin Philharmonic (1963 performances, Deutsche Grammaphone label, 5-disc set 453 701-2). What can I say about Beethoven's symphonies that hasn't already been said, except that there is nothing that compares to them. They just are, and this is the best way to hear them.

    Another of my favorite Beethoven pieces are his PIANO SONATAS, 32 in all, that are found on another DG set (8 discs) performed in the early 1950s by Wilhelm Kempff. The recordings are mono, but the realism is astonishing: it sounds like the piano is in your living room. Every nuance of these great piano pieces is reproduced perfectly, with all the emotion and joy and darkness that befits them. It is said that when Beethoven finished the last of these piano pieces, many years after he wrote the first one, he remarked: "The piano has nothing more to say." And he is right.

    'Kay.

    Day's half over now. I guess I should do some real work around here, huh? :D

    Go home and listen to music!

    Micah



    :eek::eek::eek: wow I havent listened any of this
    :S
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