Classical Contemporary Music Thread
Aug 30, 2006 at 4:25 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 454

lionel marechal

500+ Head-Fier
Oct 23, 2005
I usually never get past Mahler in term of classical music, and I wanted to share with you guys some recent 20th century (second half) music that I recently discover.

I am not going to be able to explain those pices that much in details, you can look for the reviews on amazon, there is people there ( a couple of 'top 500 reviewers') that seems to be versed into that and that will give some backgorund and describe the music better than me.

Scelsi - String quartets - Arditti Quartet
ASIN: B00005V52N (search for that on amazon)
I am focused on the 5th quatuor right now. Something that I NEVER thoguht I would enjoy. To paraphrase one of the reviewer on amazon :
<The final work on the CD is Scelsi's 5th Quartet. This is an astounding work, limited in it's material and powerful in it's impact. The work is based on a simple idea, a cluster chord, introduced by left hand pizzacato and trailing off into a pianissimo. This basic shape is repeated throughout the entire 9 plus minutes of the quartet. Variety is created through subtle changes in tone color and in the composition of the clusters. The overall effect is like the chanting of a sacred syllable in Hindu practice. You find your own breathing paralleling the sound on the CD. This is really less traditional music and more of an experience.>
Really a discovery for me.

I wanted to put something more accessible as well.
Arvo Part - Lamentate
ASIN: B000A69QCW (search for that on amazon)
Easily accessible to most of the people. Sometimes a bit too much on the easy side. But very nice.

Please chime in for suggestions and 'experiences' :)

Aug 30, 2006 at 6:32 AM Post #2 of 454
I endorse this appreciation thread

My latest discovery in this mind-blowing field is Charles Wuorinen - explosive, atonal, vital - got a Naxos disc, "Six Trios" - certainly on the accessible side, a collection of short works for some sadly underrepresented trio combinations (including a great, burping, belching one for bass instruments).

Edit: I know there isn't really a proper catch-all word yet, but isn't "contemporary classical" sort of a cumbersome contradiction in terms? "Modern" is meaningless but at least people generally know what you mean when you say it
Aug 30, 2006 at 1:54 PM Post #3 of 454
all fans of orchestral music should check out TURANGALILA SYMPHONY by Olivier Messiaen. A massive 10 movement work (fits on one cd though) that just embraces all that we love about music. It's highly rhythmic, almost foreshadowing the minimalists at points, but also very neo-romantic too. Big blocks of chords wash over, wild dancing motifs that recall Stravinksy, tiny delicate flowering figures in the woodwinds, the wonderful sound of the ondes Martenot (an early electronic instrument) and enough piano to almost make it a piano concerto.. it's just one of the most colorful pieces I've ever heard, shimmering would be a great word for it.

On a similar note, one of my favorite minimalist pieces is HARMONIELEHRE by John Adams. A short, 3 movement symphony-like piece that combines his knack for pulsating almost machine-like rhythms (the piece opens with striking repeated e-minor chords) with sections that emerge, almost as if from a time machine, and recall composers like Mahler and Sibelius. Sort of a Neo-romantic vs. minimalist kind of juxtaposition. Definately one of my favorite 20th century works.

Of course, I'd have to list my favorites by Stravinksy, Shostakovich, Bartok (CONCERTO FOR ORCHESTRA is a must!), Ravel and Rachmaninoff, but those guys get a good amount of attention around here. The Messiaen and the Adams are works that you might not come across often, but are definately worth checking out!

Aug 30, 2006 at 3:31 PM Post #4 of 454
Aug 30, 2006 at 4:32 PM Post #5 of 454
Lamentate is excellent - a work of modern artistic beauty and genius.

Some of John Zorn's contemporary classical stuff I love a lot - Chimeras, for example, and the Masada Orchestra. Of course, I'm all about John Cage and Edgar Varese as well, but I'm not sure if that's "contemporary".

George Rochberg - a genius, simply put!

Oh yeah, and Alfred Schnittke is definitely worthy of recognition - Faust Cantata is excellent.

John Corigliano's No. 1 is beautiful, and I believe it won a couple of awards.
Aug 30, 2006 at 6:48 PM Post #6 of 454
The thread is free, but I think that we are along the lines I intended.

By 'contemporary classical', I meant modern, recent and with 'classical' I meant not 'jazz' (although some lines get blurry there). Llike what you would find in classical music in amazon. Something like that.

I guess in term of period it is called "20th century" (From wikipedia : # 20th century, usually used to describe the wide variety of post-Romantic styles composed through the year 1999, which includes late Romantic, Modern and Post-Modern styles of composition)
or "contemporary" (# The term contemporary music is sometimes used to describe music composed in the late 20th century through present day).

I mean, it does not matter the exact term, but it is true that rachmaninov or Bartok already get a lot of exposure.

I like the way it started and I look forward to other input/suggestions.

Aug 31, 2006 at 2:29 AM Post #7 of 454
If you like a more conservative, yet modern composer, the symphonies of George Lloyed (on Albany) are a revelation. So are the symphonies of Kurt Atterberg.
For even more modern sounds, although definitely not for all tastes, the symphonies of Humphrey Searle are very individual and interesting, as are the symphonies of Henze.
Now, if you want music written in the last 10 years or so, I've been thrilled with the music of Jennifer Higdon, James McMillan, Christopher Rouse and Michael Daugherty. Try it, you might really like it!
Aug 31, 2006 at 3:33 AM Post #8 of 454
Recently I've been borrowing recordings of Robert Simpson's string quartets (Delmé Quartet /Hyperion) and I enjoy them immensely -- and so should anyone who is brought up in the Beethoven/Brahms chamber tradition but is looking for something more adventurous. Simpson's quartets are not as wildly dissonant as Bartok's or emotionally in-your-face as Shostakovich's, but you'll admire its wonderful structure and poise.
Jul 12, 2015 at 6:06 AM Post #9 of 454

Boy, this thread never got very far lol....
Damn shame IMO.I mentioned Helmut Lachenmann in another thread and someone posted this nifty video.
Figured I`d pass it over here.
Why not eh?

Good clean fun 
EDIT: Maybe you will see this post and post another nifty video relevant to topic(like tag, you`re it) and in about 10 years we`ll have 5 or 6 nifty videos.
Party`s just getting started 
Jul 15, 2015 at 9:45 PM Post #12 of 454
I don't follow literally contemporary music, i.e. music that is coming out right now, but here are some highlights from the post-Shostakovich era:

Schnittke's Piano Quintet:


Schnittke's Concerto Grosso No. 1:


Godar's Cello Sonata:


Kancheli's A Little Daneliade (not yet available on record):


Terterian's Symphony No. 6 (I wanted to link to symphonies 3 or 4 but there are no good performances on YT):

Jul 16, 2015 at 1:02 AM Post #13 of 454

Thanks for your contribution!
Terterian and Godar are new for me.
I was thinking about the concept of "contemporary" as relating to what`s actually contemporary(happening now) but I think the commonly used application of contemporary recent music is probably ok 
There`s a lot of great music in the "recent category" that should be better known.Where the line gets drawn in a curious point. I sometime hear some classical music fans still referring to folks like Bartok and Stravinsky as "contemporary composers".This sort lack thinking would then imply that Wagner was a contemporary composer during Stravinsky`s lifetime.
Jul 16, 2015 at 1:27 AM Post #15 of 454
Terterian's Symphony No. 6 (I wanted to link to symphonies 3 or 4 but there are no good performances on YT):

I did a little search and found links to audio of the other symphonies you mention.
Here they are 
Audio links are equally welcome as video (for me anyway)....

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