Is this a good classical introduction?
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viator122

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What do you think of this Tchaikovsky recording as a first classical purchase (other than some classical guitar albums)? Please let me know what you think and/or recommend something else for a beginner from yourmusic.com.
 
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Bunnyears

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Why not? You'll probably land up with more than one cover of the overture, so this is as good a starting point as any. If you like Tchaikovsky, then you should also consider this recording which has Rachmaninov along with Tchaikovsky. You will certainly recognize the themes from the Rachmaninov when you play it.
 
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Doc Sarvis

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You will like it a lot. Don't be surprised if the Scheherazade becomes your favorite part of the CD!
 
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PSmith08

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This is a good one, too. It will show you why Mahler is great and why people are so divided on Herbert von Karajan. He was in top form here, for better or worse. I really am a fan on his from about 1970-1981. Much before or after that period, and my Karajan-tolerance drops rapidly.
 
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viator122

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Great PSmith and Bunnyears, I've added your suggestions to my queue - I should get them around this time in 2008! No, I'll probably break down and just order everything off the queue well before then.

Keep the suggestions coming!
 
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SiBurning

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First, different people take to different things, so if you don't like one type, try another. I'd start someone with chamber music, concertos, and orchestral stuff that's familiar or close to what the person already listens to. For example, a Yo Yo Ma compilation might be more accessible than a Beethoven symphony. Later, you can move on to more complicated stuff. Anyway, that's my conclusion from a recent experience turning someone on to classical. I'll give some suggestions to start. Hopefully others will get the idea and make some better recommendations.

For quiet, mood music: Maybe a Bach string concerto: Hilary Hahn solos on a Deutche Grammaphon album with the L.A. Chamber Orchestra--it's lively and not overly sentimental. (I can't wait until she matures.) I'd also try Baroque, maybe Archangelo Corelli or CPE Bach (a son of the more famous Bach). If you like vocals, try some chant by "Anonymous 4". For those with more eclectic tastes, Chopin or a string quartet by Schubert.

For orchestral works: A jazz fan might like Aaron Copeland or Gershwin. Start a science fiction fan off with The Blue Danube by Strauss, which is the theme of 2001 A Space Oddesey. Then later move to The Planets (Holst) which is the basis for a lot of music in science fiction.

by the way, Scheherazade is one of my two favorite pieces. The other is Beethoven's 6th. As beautiful as Scheherazade is, I don't think it's the right way to introduce most people to classical.
 
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i love the 1812. be sure to read the liner notes to get a sense of its historical context, as i think it will help you listen to and appreciate the piece.

there are a couple of versions around that have chorus additions to them, which i actually prefer, especially in the finale. in case you are interested, of the versions i have where a chorus compliments the orchestra, one is directed by maazel, the other by kunzel. the kunzel version is published by telarc and has superior sonic quality. that version is also famous for its enormous canon blasts used as percussion during the finale, which are pretty fantastic (just dont turn the volume way up the first time through, or your drivers will fall out of your headphones and onto the floor). the maazel version, however, is a better performance overall IMO, although the telarc one isn't bad.
 
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pbalcer

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Quote:

Originally Posted by viator122
Please let me know what you think and/or recommend something else for a beginner from yourmusic.com.


I found that as far as classical music is concerned a _LOT_ depends on the performance and recording (unlike pop/rock/etc.). The same piece of music may be boring or exciting depending on the orchestra and conductor.

I don't know what you might like so maybe I'll just simply give you some examples of what I enjoyed when I started my adventure with classical music.

1) Vivaldi "Four Seasons" - Marriner/ASMF/London (ASMF stands for Academy Of St. Martin In The Fields)

This is the sweetest "Four Seasons" I have ever heard. It is a _mandatory_ recording for classical music lover.

2) Handel "Water Music" - Gardiner/English Baroque Soloists/Philips or Marriner/ASMF/London (the second one also contains "Music For Royal Fireworks")

3) Handel "Messiah" - Solti/Decca with Kiri Te Kanawa, Pinnock/Archiv with Anne Sofie von Otter or Gardiner/Philips with Monteverdi chorus

Maybe it's just me but I think it's the most beautiful piece of music ever created. (I have few different recordings but these three are my favourites).

4) Mozart "Eine Kleine Nacht Music" - Marriner/ASMF/Philips

This is probably the widest known Mozart's creation. And Marriner truly perfected performing this piece.

5) Bach "Sonatas Moonlight/Appasionata/Waldenstein" (on the Penguin series)

6) Mozart "Requiem" - Sir Collins Davis/BBC Symphony Orchestra (issued in Penguin series) or Gardiner/Philips

The singing in Davis' recording is very passionate while Gardiner's orchestra sounds better. I personally like Davis' recording slightly better.

7) Bizet "Carmen" - Solti/DECCA with Troyanos

8) Tchaikovsky "Swan Lake" - Dutoit/Montreal Symphony Orchestra

9) Beethoven "9 Symphonies" - Karajan/Deutshe Gramophon '63 recording (there is another, later recording but it is not as passionate) or Gardiner/Archiv(I think it's Archiv but I don't have the CDs at hand right now to verify it)

10) Holst "The Planets" - Dutoit/Montreal SO

11) Chopin "Favourite Piano Works" - Ashkenazy (Penguin series)


There is several more pieces I could recommend but too much information often turns into dis-information...

Take a look at the introductory series of CDs for classical music issued by Penguin. These are very good recordings and acclaimed by many. And the CDs are not expensive.
 
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viator122

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Thanks everyone, this will be great reference for me as I start buying classical albums. Is it worth paying extra for the Telarc 1812 or a different version? Or is teh Hermann Scherchen version from yourmusic.com OK as well?
 
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Personally, I don't like overture 1812, but symphony no.4 and 6 and very tasty. I would suggest you listen what you have right now, so you will find much more interesting on the same music but different versions later.
 
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viator122

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Quote:

Originally Posted by congqin
I would suggest you listen what you have right now, so you will find much more interesting on the same music but different versions later.



No, I don't have anything yet - I'm trying to decide what will be my first classical purchase.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by pbalcer
9) Beethoven "9 Symphonies" - Karajan/Deutshe Gramophon '63 recording (there is another, later recording but it is not as passionate) or Gardiner/Archiv(I think it's Archiv but I don't have the CDs at hand right now to verify it)


There are two versions of the '63 set, regular bargain-priced CD or expensive SACD. There is the '77 set, which I prefer in places to the '63 set (like the 9th). Then, there was the '85 Karajan Gold set. No one really likes that one, as it was recorded with less-than-ideal sound and Karajan had fallen to his obsession over smooth sound. If one decides upon the '77 9th (It's really the best of Karajan's stuff), then they should steer clear of the SACD. There is an unattractive veil on it that really deadens the sound.

Wilhelm Furtwangler has three classic (legendary, really) recordings of the 9th: '37, '42, and '51. None of them have perfect sound, and '37 really has poor sound, but the interpretations are brilliant.

If you can take his slow tempi: Bernstein's '89 Berlin 9th is great. The occasion really adds something to it. I just don't always like a 4th movement that takes the better chunk of half an hour.
 
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pbalcer

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Quote:

Originally Posted by PSmith08
There are two versions of the '63 set, regular bargain-priced CD or expensive SACD. There is the '77 set, which I prefer in places to the '63 set (like the 9th).
[...]
Wilhelm Furtwangler has three classic (legendary, really) recordings of the 9th: '37, '42, and '51. None of them have perfect sound, and '37 really has poor sound, but the interpretations are brilliant.
[...]
If you can take his slow tempi: Bernstein's '89 Berlin 9th is great. The occasion really adds something to it. I just don't always like a 4th movement that takes the better chunk of half an hour.



I have Karajan's '77 version and I agree that 9-th is better than '63 version. I didn't hear the SACD set. I heard a lot of good things about Furtwangler performances but never had a chance to listen to them.

Besides 2 Karajan sets I have Gardiner, Mackeras and Masur box sets.
Gardiner is my second favourite after Karajan '63. I love the sound of period instruments.
I like Masur's interpretation of 1, 2 and 3 but the rest sound boring to me (the 5th is a real disappointement...).
As for Mackeras, for me, his recording is not bad but not particularly involving either.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by viator122
Thanks everyone, this will be great reference for me as I start buying classical albums. Is it worth paying extra for the Telarc 1812 or a different version? Or is teh Hermann Scherchen version from yourmusic.com OK as well?


i dont know, i haven't heard the scherchen version. but once you buy 2 different recordings of the same piece you will quickly realize that each performance of the same piece will be very different, and the sound quality will also vary tremendously. if what you want is good recording quality, the telarc version is a safe bet and is very well known for its quality.

you can actually listen to the full telarc recording of 1812 here to help you decide: http://www.telarc.com/gscripts/title...131VD65AFW9CQ1

check it out. you need realplayer (available for free, search google). the chorus opens slow, if that bores you skip to 3:00. 7:00 is also a really nice section. if you want to hear the finale, i'd start at 11:50 and listen through the end, and you can see what the canons sound like (keep volume at moderate levels at first). if you listen to the sample, you'll also get a sense whether or not you like the choral additions. personally, i particularly like them in the finale (especially at 14:30). very powerful IMO.

if you want best performance, there are probably a lot of great performances, and while the telarc reading is decent, they are probably others that are even better. i do like the choral additions though (some people probably don't), which are in the telarc version, and are not available in many 1812 recordings. if you decide you like the telarc, it's available in regular CD, SACD, and DVD-A, so make sure you get the appropriate version.

in my experience, when you buy the $4 classical CD in the bargain bin at the music store, you might get an amazing deal, but more often than not, you usually get what you pay for. the best recordings/performances are usually full price.
 
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Mark from HFR

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Quote:

Originally Posted by viator122
Thanks everyone, this will be great reference for me as I start buying classical albums. Is it worth paying extra for the Telarc 1812 or a different version? Or is teh Hermann Scherchen version from yourmusic.com OK as well?


The Scherchen is okay, but the Telarc has excellent recorded sound. I'd say spring for the Telarc, you won't regret it!
 
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