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post #1606 of 8942
Chamber music from the romantic era is the ultimate in spontenaity and personal expression. It's like a conversation between four people. Most new classical music listeners overlook chamber music entirely.
post #1607 of 8942
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

 Most new classical music listeners overlook chamber music entirely.

 

This is most unfortunate indeed.

 

I know you are aware of this but for those who are not, let me add that in addition to your comments, much chamber music of the romantic(and other eras) was written for the composer and/or close associates/friends to play in intimate and personal situations.This is much different than writing for "3rd party"ensembles like orchestras.Because of this there is often subtlety and depth (both conceptually and technically) in compositions for chamber ensembles that are not necessarily present in orchestral music.

post #1608 of 8942
There's also fewer notes from the composer about how the music should be played, leaving it up to the performer to create on his own. Exciting!
post #1609 of 8942
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

The difference between conducting of the past and today is a completely different intent. Today, the focus is on creating a "best" performance for all time... back then, it was about creating an ephemeral performance that reflected that particular moment in time. The differences between the way Toscanini and Stokowski conducted the same work was a million times more different than anything today. The range of approaches was kaliedoscopic. You could tell Stoki and the Philadelphia or Toscanini / NBC from the very first note without looking at the liner notes or album cover. Try to identify Abbado, Zinman or Bruggen by sound.

The era of the superstar expressive conductor is gone. Today, we have "appropriate" and "informed" conductors. It's a different thing. Modern recordings have their own charms, but they don't replace historical recordings.

Of course for a beginner in classical music, the individuality of the conductors of the past isn't as evident or even desirable. They're still becoming familiar with the works themselves and aren't ready to add the more complex level of interpretation to that. Historical performances are more relevant to you once you are completely familiar with the work and the typical approach to it. I probably have at many as 40 different versions of many works in my collection, ranging over the better part of a century. Rarely is there only one among the 40 that I feel is the "correct" one. The differences between them are what make them interesting.

Mahler is a great example... Abbado treads right down the middle. But I would MUCH rather listen to the vastly different performances by Walter and Bernstein.

viva le difference!

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

In the 1980s, there was a shift in tastes in classical music. You started seeing reviews that said conductors "let the music do the talking" by "not getting the the way of the music". To me, if you're going to do that, you might as well invent a machine to follow the notations in the score precisely and present the music without a personal point of view.

Conductors like Stokowski and Toscanini had a thorough knowledge of and faithfulness to the intent of the composer. But they weren't afraid to contribute to the music themselves. Half of the music making was on the paper, and half of it was inspiration in the room. That sort of participation is discouraged now, and it's ironic because with all the hundreds and hundreds of great recordings of "appropriate" performances of core repertoire over the past few decades, one would think that there isn't much need for another.

I have dozens and dozens of versions of Beethoven's Eroica symphony. Many of them are fantastic sounding analogue or digital recordings, but a lot of them are pretty much interchangable. No other performance of the Eroica comes close to Toscanini's in importance. It is electrifying and never fails to put my jaw on the floor- bad sound and all. If I had to pare my collection down to just one recording of the third, sound quality would not even enter into the decision of which one to keep.

Sound quality is nice, but performance is everything. Again, I think this is a realization that a classical music fan comes to after they become familiar with the music they are listening to.

 

I don't know if the change can be ascribed so clearly to a modern "only the score" approach. After all, Toscanini was considered an "only the score" conductor at the time. Of course, one has to bear in mind his recommendation to Horowitz to rewrite parts of the late Beethoven sonatas. Even so, I would suggest that it might be less a difference of intent than an aspect of recording as opposed to live performance. Recording has been troubling to most classical artists, especially perfectionists such as Godowsky and insecure performers such as Horowitz.

 

I remember a story about Paderewski's performing a Brahms trio in which he deliberately played fortissimo instead of pianissimo or vice versa. When asked about it, he said that as a composer he understood Brahms better than the simple, obvious reading of the score. Maybe Paddy's not best example of a composer-pianist, but I accept the idea. I think Gustavo Dudamel's relative freedom of interpretation compared to many others partly accounts for his success (though I don't enjoy his conducting). Even Abaddo showed some free-spiritedness in his Tchaikovsky 5th with Chicago, and it works. But I completely understand that some listeners are sensitive to hiss and the artifacts of primitive recording techniques that simply don't bother me. I have a friend who can't stand hearing Schnabel's Beethoven and, well, I genuinely pity him; though, lately, I've been having a harder time with some of the brightness in Szell's Brahms records.

post #1610 of 8942
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

 Most new classical music listeners overlook chamber music entirely.

Okay, where do I begin? Would one of you please list half a dozen or so recordings this uninitiated listener should start with. Also, please continue the conversation, it is enlightening.

post #1611 of 8942
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

Chamber music from the romantic era is the ultimate in spontenaity and personal expression. It's like a conversation between four people. Most new classical music listeners overlook chamber music entirely.

 

Hey bigshot I'm one of those new classical music listeners :) Would much appreciate any recommendations chamber music recordings that can get me started off? Would most welcome suggestions from other thread members too!  I haven't delved into much chamber music at all.

 

I've been focusing mainly on symphonies, and piano concertos. Very much enjoying various renditions of Beethoven's pastoral symphony currently. Before that I was listening to Bach and Albinoni oboe concertos.

 

Love this thread btw - been subscribed for a few weeks I think, and learning a lot, but most of all enjoying the music. Cheers!:beyersmile:

post #1612 of 8942
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

There's also fewer notes from the composer about how the music should be played, leaving it up to the performer to create on his own. Exciting!

 

"Exciting"?

 

Depends a WHOLE lot on who is playing.

post #1613 of 8942
Quote:
Originally Posted by Velomane View Post
 

Okay, where do I begin? Would one of you please list half a dozen or so recordings this uninitiated listener should start with. Also, please continue the conversation, it is enlightening.


For string quartets, Haydn (the 'inventor" of this genre) should be a good place to start. Quatuor Mosaiques has some excellent recordings, you can listen samples on youtube.. Next step Mozart, the quartets dedicated to Haydn, then Beethoven and Schubert...

Shostakovich (Borodin quartet) is great step into  the 20th century..  but you can listen in any order of course :D

post #1614 of 8942
Quote:
Originally Posted by perhapss View Post
 

 

"Exciting"?

 

Depends a WHOLE lot on who is playing.


now that is part of the excitement :D

post #1615 of 8942
Quote:
Originally Posted by SunTanScanMan View Post
 

 

Hey bigshot I'm one of those new classical music listeners :) Would much appreciate any recommendations chamber music recordings that can get me started off? Would most welcome suggestions from other thread members too!  I haven't delved into much chamber music at all.

 

I've been focusing mainly on symphonies, and piano concertos. Very much enjoying various renditions of Beethoven's pastoral symphony currently. Before that I was listening to Bach and Albinoni oboe concertos.

 

Love this thread btw - been subscribed for a few weeks I think, and learning a lot, but most of all enjoying the music. Cheers!:beyersmile:

 

Beethoven string quartets.

Beethoven string quartets.

 

Repeat....

 

The Beethoven string quartets are an education that you can revisit throughout your life and learn something new and learn something new and....

until your dead.

 

as far as the players, search this thread and you will find some good recommendations.

post #1616 of 8942
Ha! It's already answered for me... Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert... but I'll add Borodin's quartets and Mendelssohn's Octet.
Edited by bigshot - 4/9/14 at 4:12pm
post #1617 of 8942
Quote:
Originally Posted by perhapss View Post
 

 

Beethoven string quartets.

Beethoven string quartets.

 

Repeat....

 

The Beethoven string quartets are an education that you can revisit throughout your life and learn something new and learn something new and....

until your dead.

 

as far as the players, search this thread and you will find some good recommendations.

I definitely agree with you there. I'm listening to Emerson string quartet's renditions. Also have their Shostakovich string quartet in playlist.

 

Haven't yet sunk my teeth fully into either. The music is so intense, I need to set a time just for that, where I do nothing but concentrate and enjoy the music. I've been listening to a lot of Beethoven - a nudge towards another composer would also be much appreciated. (that's been answered while I was writing:))

 

Do you guys have any notable favourite musicians performing these works? It seems like an ocean out there for me


Edited by SunTanScanMan - 4/9/14 at 4:20pm
post #1618 of 8942
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

Ha! It's already answered for me... Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert... but I'll add Borodin's quartets and Mendelssohn's Octet.

 

Borodin's quartets are an interesting addition and definitely important if you want to know where Shostakovich's are coming from.

 

Incidentally, Shostakovich and Bartok wrote the most important string quartets of the 20th century IMO(and many others' opinion as well).

post #1619 of 8942

Haydn quartets: You can find some good cheap ones on Naxos with the Kodaly Quartet.

 

Mozart violin sonatas: Szymon Goldberg and Radu Lupu.

 

Mozart quintets: Some prefer the Grumiaux versions, but I like the Griller ones.

 

Beethoven quartets: Many good recordings including the Cleveland Quartet. The Julliard Quartet is a budget option.

 

Schubert quartets: Quartetto Italiano.

 

Schubert trios: Many classic older versions including Serkin-Busch-Busch. A good newer version is Golub-Kaplan-Carr.

 

Schubert cello quintet: Yo-Yo Ma with Cleveland.

 

Schubert piano quintet: Many good ones, such as Emanuel Ax with Guarneri and Curzon with Vienna.

 

Brahms piano quintet: Rubinstein with Guarneri.

 

Tchaikovsky trio: Rubinstein-Heifetz-Piatagorsky

 

Debussy and Ravel: Guarneri Quartet.

post #1620 of 8942
Quote:
Originally Posted by SunTanScanMan View Post
 

I definitely agree with you there. I'm listening to Emerson string quartet's renditions. Also have their Shostakovich string quartet in playlist.

 

Haven't yet sunk my teeth fully into either. The music is so intense, I need to set a time just for that, where I do nothing but concentrate and enjoy the music. I've been listening to a lot of Beethoven - a nudge towards another composer would also be much appreciated. (that's been answered while I was writing:))

 

Do you guys have any notable favourite musicians performing these works? It seems like an ocean out there for me

 

I'm quite fond of Quartetto Italiano,Budapest String Quartet and Busch String Quartet with Beethoven but there are other greats besides these.

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