Sunday, September 4, 2011

July 2011 - Classical Music

Bach, J.S. - Brandenburg Concertos 1 to 3
Beethoven
  • Septet
  • Symphony No.4
  • Cello Sonata No.3
  • Piano Sonata No.28
Brahms
  • Piano Quartet No.3
  • Clarinet Trio
  • Clarinet Quintet
Chopin - 4 Mazurkas, Op.24
Faure
  • Cantique de Jean Racine
  • Ballade for piano
  • Mazurka
  • Nocturnes 5 and 6
  • Valse-caprices 2 and 4
  • Barcarolle No.2
  • Piano Quartet No.2
  • Impromptu No.6 (piano transcription of harp piece)
  • Piano Quintet No.1
  • 9 Preludes
  • Cello Sonata No.1
Gorecki - Symphony No.3
Handel - Keyboard Suites, HWV 436 to 441
Haydn - Piano trios, Hob XV: 24 to 26 (set of 3 dedicated to Rebecca Schroeter)
Messiaen - Quartet for the End of Time
Ravel
  • Gaspard de la nuit
  • Valses nobles et sentimentales
  • Prelude for piano
  • Piano Trio
  • La Valse
Schubert
  • Piano Sonata in E, D.459 ('5 Piano pieces')
  • String Quartets 12 and 15
  • Moments Musicaux
Schumann - Piano Trios 1 and 2
Shostakovich - String Quartet No.5
Strauss, R. - Death and Transfiguration

Beethoven, Brahms, Faure, Ravel, Schubert.  There is such an amazing history of music out there (and this is just the Western, European tradition), it seems a shame that people often only get to know the work that emerges in their own lifetime.  Although there's enough of that to keep a person fully occupied, and so much of it is good.

Faure seems to be the one, though, that can fascinate me the most. Not because I understand all his music immediately.  In fact, it's probably because his music is so elusive that it exerts such a pull. As you can see, when I start exploring his work I find it hard to stop! And yet I hadn't listened to anything for several months before that.  I wouldn't be at all surprised if I spend the rest of my life having little Faure episodes.

Ravel is right up there for me as well, which is interesting because he was Faure's pupil - though everything I've read suggests that Faure was not the kind of teacher who forced his students to write in his own voice instead of their own.

I'm just glad I live at a point where it's possible to jump in space and time and hear their work. I don't have to be in early 20th century Paris to be one of the lucky ones.  And yes, for some composers I can't hear their own interpretations in live performances, but I'm still in such a fortunate position, to be able to dip in and out of musical history like this.

This month I also listened to Gorecki's 3rd symphony, in the recording that was, against all expectations, a bona fide hit in 1992 (15 years after the music actually premiered).  For a classical recording - not a 'light' classical or 'crossover', but a standard classical-style work - to sell over a million copies is just not something that usually happens.  And who knows why it did. Some combination of the music and the zeitgeist just clicked.  But it's powerful and beautiful music, and the world is better for having it.

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