Wednesday, 22 January 2014

December 2013 - Classical Music

Bach, J.S. - Wachet! Betet! Betet! Wachet! (Watch! Pray! Pray! Watch!)
Bach, J.S. - French Suites 3 and 5
Barber - Canzone for flute and piano
Barber - Despite and Still
Beethoven - Meeresstille und glueckliche Fahrt (Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage)
Beethoven - 11 Bagatelles, op.119
Chopin - Nocturnes, opuses 9, 15, 32 and 62
Faure - Le jardin clos (The walled garden)
Faure - Barcarolle No.11
  • Violin Concerto No.2
  • Flute Concerto No.2
  • Recorder Concerto
  • Concerto for Orchestra
  • Preludes 5 to 10 for chamber orchestra
  • Epitaph
  • Epilog
  • Tempo variabile
  • Primavera
  • Quartetto Medico
  • Aspects
  • Quartetto, op.90
  • Sextet
  • Music with Horn
  • Gioco
  • Ballata
  • Eco
  • Sonata for solo flute
  • Sonata for solo cello
Mozart - Piano Sonatas 17 and 18
  • 3 Pastorales
  • Sonata for piano, 4 hands
  • Trois Mouvements perp├ętuels
  • Valse for Album des Six
  • Suite pour piano
  • 5 Impromptus
  • Promenades
  • Napoli
  • Trio for oboe, bassoon and piano

Rachmaninov - Symphony No.2
Rachmaninov - The Isle of the Dead
Ravel - Daphnis and Chloe
Scarlatti, D. - Keyboard Sonatas - K.3, 9, 17, 24, 213, 214, 257, 380, 404 and 519
Schubert - Symphony No.5
Schubert - Piano Sonatas in C, D.279 and 840 (both unfinished)
Schumann - Piano Sonata No.2
Schumann - Humoreske in B flat
Simpson - Symphonies 7 and 11

I rounded off my listening to new Holmboe, and threw in a few chamber works I already had for good measure. Of the new works, the violin and flute concertos were both big hits, and I was also particularly satisfied with Epitaph and the Sextet (which is for 3 winds and 3 strings). Some of the others will require a little more attention. The orchestral preludes are very good but tend to blur into each other at this stage.

My long-delayed chronological exploration of the relatively small amount of Mozart I own was completed, with the last two piano sonatas. There's no denying the increased sophistication of his compositions with age, and it's certainly a great pity he didn't live longer. I definitely need to buy quite a few more works, most likely starting with piano concertos and the mature string quartets.

Having got to the end of my Poulenc box set of piano and chamber music, I very soon went back to listen to the works again, this time chronologically. The very earliest pieces are not especially great in my opinion, but it didn't take all that long to reach some charming music. The trio for oboe, bassoon and piano, which is as far as I've got in this new traversal, is a lovely thing to listen to.

And finally, it's worth saying what a fine work The Isle of the Dead is. Symphonic poems are all about painting a picture in the mind, and in this case the music is wonderfully vivid. It unfolds at a slow pace, but each time I listened I found myself being transported, as if I was slowing down to fit in with Rachmaninov's music.


The 2013 census was made slightly more difficult by a change in the way I keep records, but the final count is 383 different recordings. That's up on last year despite a lengthy period where classical music listening was quite limited. Holmboe was the winner with 68 entries, concentrated in a couple of major binges!

Obviously, the length of these works varies far more than with pop albums, so Dvorak's 70-minute (and rather exhausting) third string quartet counts the same as a Scarlatti keyboard sonata lasting less than 2 minutes. I can only take the music as I find it!

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