Originally Posted by zumaro
Most of the works are what I think anyone would pick as being the best of their creator's oeuvre- its a mix of significant, popular and great, all of which are worthy ways to look at pieces. However (unless I have missed someone) the list seems to include nobody born before 1685. Where are figures such as Machaut, Palestrina, Dufay, Josquin, Monteverdi, Schutz, Vivaldi etc all of whom have major contributions to western music?
There seems to be nobody still alive on the list. Its view of the last century is narrow and limited to only the most easily digested pieces and/or composers, missing out even the best sometimes (Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra rather than say The Miraculous Mandarin?). So Berg and Webern miss out but lesser composers like Shostakovich and Puccini are in?
For a list of the greatest you need to range wider, and prune more - this is mainly a list of 18th and 19th century pieces, most of high quality, but certainly not the 100 greatest as too much is missed out, and therefore too much lesser material included.
All these are valid points; David himself openly admits that his list is not definitive. How could it be? The irony, is that this thread is entitled '...greatest 100....'. which then ridicules either the disclaimer, or the whole list itself. Neither of which was intentional....
For me, David's list is consonant with everything my music teacher would have wanted me to listen to at Grade 8 when I was about 11 years old. It is a highly recommendable list in several ways for several groups of people. For the newcomer to classical music, it is a great introduction to the populist trend in classical music. For those who hate conventional classical music, it is an excellent reference source of 100 pieces to avoid like the plague. In between these two extremes, I think you are correct in alluding to David's own penchant and bias for a strongly Teutonic flavour in classical music, which totally misses whole epochs in musical development, as well as genres. For instance - the harpsichord is completely neglected as an instrument in David's list, despite having an illustrious history and shaping the future of piano music, which does feature in David's list. Even everyone's favourite - Bach's 'das wohtemperierte Clavier' fails to materialise. Equally; whole geographical areas; Eastern Europe; the now dissipated Soviet Union, and as you have mentioned - contemporary composers too - are completely omitted from the list.
Composers such as Henryk Gorecki who recently met with the incumbent Pope Benedict XVI to receive a papal honour for his contribution to music...fails to make the list. This omission should be unforgiveable especially since 90% of those composers on David's list, never receive such an honour. Thus, contemporary composers such as Henri Dutilleux who brought us the noumenal 'Ainsi La Nuit' and Olivier Messiaen whose organ works and 'Vingt Regards (sur l'enfant Jesus') -both of which are intensely spiritual works - fail to make the populist 100 list, yet are revered by musicians and composers and critics alike.
So the 'greatest 100' list is limited, and needs to be shaped into context: a personal 100 recommended' list makes far more sense, than trying a more grandiose and all sweeping epithet of 'the Greatest 100'. This will only set up any list for failure and turn out like a Rolling Stone 'Best 100' which invariably leads to dismissing the 'Best 100', instead of listening to it. After all: that is the goal, right? To encourage others to find
classical music and enjoy it: not to elevate oneself as an authority, of the 100 best....
However I do think David's list is useful and don't wish to come across as critical (there is a sharp difference between critique and 'critical'). For any of us who disagree with this list, we most likely, have already 'formed' or are in the process of 'forming' a clear consciousness, of the genre and type (of work) and classical form of music which resonates with us. David's list is great for a forum introduction for newcomers to classical music. It is going to be based on popularity; convention, and the contemporary slant towards German romanticism, however if you saw my 100 recommended recordings, 99% of the population would disagree with my choice, whereas only 49% would disagree with David's
Well of David's list - here's some recordings which I'd recommend from my own collection...that is...those I could feel bothered with:
99. CHOPIN – Nocturnes (op. 27) I like Argerlich's
interpretations. There are better ones, but this one is very emotionally wrought.Amazon.com: Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 - 4: Sergey Rachmaninov, André Previn, London Symphony Orchestra, Vladimir Ashkenazy: Music
90. ELGAR – Cello Concerto in E Minor (op. 85) Jacqueline Du Pré's version is the one to get. Andrew Lloyd Weber does a competent version, however Jacqueline's is legendary because she is dead. If you enjoy this piece, the Myaskovsky's Cello Concertos No.1 & 2. by Truls Mork or Mischa Maisky or Marina Tarasova would be imperative to discover.
86. RACHMANINOV – Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor (op. 18): Vladimir Ashkenazy's version is absolutely fine and comes in a great package
81. DEBUSSY – Preludes for Pianos [books 1 & 2]: I have Claudio Arrau's
original double set - can't seem to see it on the net anymore. Arrau is one of the Encyclopaedists so there probably are more emotive interpretations out there, however his is delightful and very inspiring.
74. RACHMANINOV – Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor (op. 30): as above - Vladimir Ashkenazy's set of 4 concertos on one disc set.
72. DVORAK – Cello Concerto in B Minor (op. 104) - Rostropovich pretty much commanded the field in this department, although Pierre Fournier's interpretation on Deutsche Gramaphon is excellent and comes with a great set of couplings which are far more interesting and worthwhile getting.
51. BEETHOVEN – String Quartet No. 15 in A Minor (op. 132)
- the modern Végh Quartet's version is magisterial and hard to beat for the sheer quality of recording for its era (it isn't from the 90's - present era either). There are some interesting modern quartets, however most are saccharin sweetened to my ears. The Busch Quartet's 1933 recordings are my favourites, however I won't recommend these as the recording quality is 'historical' rather than 'audiophile'. In this respect, the Végh Quartet are recommendable. If you can find them. Lol.
50. DEBUSSY – Images for Piano: Claudio Arrau again.
27. DEBUSSY – La Mer: I follow the Swiss composer's set on Debussy - Ernest Ansermet. He isn't the modern darling interpreter of Debussy. There are far better ones. However it's hard to go wrong with Debussy's orchestral works. There are just so many and they sell a dime a dozen. It's a bit like impressionist paintings being sold on tablecloths and aprons these days.
26. BEETHOVEN – Violin Concerto in D Major (op. 61)
I like Gil Shaham's
version which is masterful and highly skilled without being abstract and virtuoso'd detached. However I've followed him since his Prokofiev Violin Concerto and find his personality to be warm and inviting - this transpires in his rendering of Beethoven's work very well.
25. BEETHOVEN – Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major “Emperor” (op. 73)
Evgeny Kissin (the small kid with the large Afro hair-do who could barely reach the piano pedals with his feet - remember him?) does a great version. I like his work, but this is probably from having seen him as a toddler on the piano and feeling some cute factor at play..... he is a brilliant pianist btw too
16. BEETHOVEN – String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp Minor (op. 131) - Végh Quartet again.