Saturday, 24 March 2012

February 2012 - Classical Music

Bach, J.S.
  • Double Violin Concerto
  • Prelude and Fugue for Organ in E Flat, BWV 552
  • Four Duets (for organ, but played on piano)
Barber - Canzone for flute and piano
Beethoven - Piano Sonatas 1 to 4 (2 recordings of No.4)
Beethoven - Cello Sonatas 1 & 2 (2 recordings)
Brahms - Piano Quartet No.1
Butterworth - Bredon Hill and Other Songs
  • Rondo in C minor, Op. 1
  • Mazurkas, Opp. 7 and 33
  • Two Nocturnes, Op. 32
Handel - Keyboard Suites, HWV 447 and 452
  • Piano Sonata No.13
  • Symphony No.36, 'Linz'
  • String Quartet No.17, 3rd movement
Poulenc - Theme varie
Rachmaninov - Russian Rhapsody for 2 pianos
Ravel - String Quartet
Ravel - Piano Concerto in G
Ruggieri, Giovanni Maria - Gloria
Schubert - Winterreise
Vivaldi - Ostro picta

Right. Finally did it.  Got to the end of all that classical music I bought in... September I believe it was. Was it? Yes. September.


*Rubs hands.*

Right.... now what?

Truth be told, at the time of writing this (bit of a cheat preview of March here), I'm waiting for my next purchase to arrive. Which I didn't directly plan as such, but I'd been keeping my eye out on eBay for several months for something difficult to obtain, and it turned up so I grabbed it.  Vague plans to look at the rest of my long-term shopping list were put on hold as a result.

I intend to go back over some of the September purchase again in a different way.  In particular with the Vivaldi works, I intend to listen to different kinds of groupings.  Choral works that arguably have connections to each other sometimes appeared split across different discs.  Also, I'd like to do things like listen to the various Vivaldi cello concertos I have, from several different sources, as a group.  Not least so that I can then remember if there are specific ones that I particularly like!

Meanwhile, in February I started an exercise of listening to Beethoven chronologically, or at least in order of opus number which isn't always quite the same thing.  I started doing this while not having finished my Mozart chronology (Mozart was stopping over in Linz in 1783 this month), or my Haydn loose chronology, or my Holmboe chronology.  I prefer having a few on the go anyway, as I'm liable to start finding it a genuine chore if I make myself listen to just one composer in that fashion.  With multiple lists on the go, I can switch between them.  Although occasionally I find I've imposed a rule that means I 'cannot' listen to a piece I'd like to.

And you know what? 'Early' Beethoven is pretty exciting and attractive stuff and I keep finding myself keen to listen to it.  It's not that early because he appears to have made a conscious decision to get serious with publishing and start using opus numbers in his mid-20s.  He's already begun to establish his career in Vienna and get attention.  And it's attention-getting music, with lots of little jolts and shocks scattered through it (and sometimes some quite big ones).  It's dynamic. It's got propulsion.  And it made him into one of the most famous names in Western culture.

Hmm. I also finally finally got aroud to listening to Winterreise in full.  Arguably the greatest song cycle by anyone.  Also as miserable and bleak as anyone could want.  To be honest, I find some songs in it a bit more compelling than others, partly because of the similarity in tone of many of them.  A song has to stand out in some way.

Mind you, some of the compelling ones are very compelling. I actually tend to think the success of the cycle might be in no small way indebted to the last song, 'Der Leiermann', which is incredibly haunting.  It doesn't matter how tired I am after listening to 70 minutes worth of music beforehand, I hear that final song and I can feel how it affects me.  So people file out of a performance of the whole cycle with that resonating inside their head.


  1. I'm impressed that you like Winterreise. I'm only now getting round to it after 40 years of listening to classical music. It's such a 'big' piece in length and emotion.

    Who is playing your piano music?


    1. Who is playing my piano music? Hehe. Lots of different people really. Given my propensity for sets I can rattle off pianists to match composers in many cases for solo piano. Let's see... Bach: Andras Schiff. Beethoven: mostly Kovacevich but with some duplications. Chopin: Ashkenazy. Faure: Kathryn Stott. Mozart: Uchida. Rachmaninov: Ashkenazy again. Ravel: Pascal Roge. Schumann: Kempff. That's most of the main ones I think.

    2. Some very fine choices of pianist, in my opinion. I've become a bit of a pianophile over the years and have found what different performers bring to the music truly fascinating. Are you ever tempted to try historic recordings? I love Cortot's playing, for example.


    3. I can be a little fussy about sound quality so I don't naturally head towards historical recordings. Having said that, the quality from back then *can* be good - I have a 1956 mono recording of a Spanish pianist called Eduardo del Pueyo which sounds pretty remarkable.

  2. It was when I got my first CD player and assumed that all my new purchases would be better than the LPs I was replacing, that I realised I was responding to something more subtle than a mere lack of distortion. Some old recordings are superb in terms of microphone placement and transmission of the performance. But a lot of what I respond to in a recording is the subtlety of the performance. It is harder to hear in an old and crackly 78, but it can still be there.

    I haven't heard of Eduardo del Pueyo. What is he playing?

    1. He's playing Granados - 12 Spanish Dances and Goyescas - and also Falla's "Nights in the Gardens of Spain". But it's the Granados that I especially like in terms of sound.