Sunday, April 20, 2014

March 2014 - Classical Music

Bach, J.S.
  • Wer da gläubet und getauft wird (He that believes and is baptised)
  • Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ (Hold in remembrance Jesus Christ)
  • Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch (Verily, verily I say to you)
Bartok - Piano Concerto No.1
Beethoven - Piano Concertos 3 and 4
Beethoven - Violin Concerto 
Brahms - String Sextets 1 and 2
Brahms - Clarinet Sonata No.1
Bridge - 3 Idylls
Dvorak - Piano Trios 1 and 2
Dvorak - Piano Quartet No.1
Faure
  • Piano Quintet No.2
  • Cello Sonata No.2
  • Barcarolle No.13
  • C'est la paix
Haydn - String Quartets, op.64 nos. 4 and 5
Holmboe
  • Symphonies 1 and 7
  • Chamber Symphony No.3, 'Frieze'
  • Sinfonia in Memoriam
  • Sinfonias 1 and 4
  • Monolith
  • Tempo Variabile
  • Liber Canticorum, Book II
  • Preludes 1, 3 and 4 for chamber orchestra
Lekeu - Violin Sonata in G
Mahler - Symphony No.8
Mahler - Das Lied von der Erde
Mendelssohn - Violin Concerto
Mozart
  • Oboe Quartet
  • Horn Quintet
  • Quintet movement for clarinet, basset horn, violin, viola and cello
Poulenc
  • Sextet
  • Improvisations 11 and 12
  • Intermezzo in A flat
  • Melancolie
  • Française
  • Bourrée au pavillon d'Auvergne
Rachmaninov
  • Piano Concerto No.4
  • Piano Sonata No.2
  • Etudes-Tableaux, op.39
  • Variations on a Theme by Corelli
Ravel
  • La Valse
  • Tzigane
  • Berceuse on the name of Gabriel Faure
Schubert
  • Piano Trio No.1
  • Notturno for piano trio
  • Piano trio movement in B flat
 Schumann
  • Piano Quintet
  • Piano Quartet
  • Liederkreis (Eichendorff)
  • 3 songs from Rückert's 'Liebesfrühling', op.37
Shostakovich
  • Symphony No.10
  • Piano Trio No.2
  • Seven Romances on Poems by Alexander Blok
Simpson - Symphonies 4 and 5
Simpson - Variations on a Theme by Nielsen
Strauss, R. - Don Juan
Strauss, R. - Death and Transfiguration
Szymanowski
  • Metopes
  • Fantasy in F minor
  • Four etudes for piano, op.4
Tchaikovsky
  • Violin Concerto
  • Variations on a Rococo Theme
  • Andante cantabile from string quartet no.1 (orchestral version)
Lots of new listening in here again, thanks to another set of purchases hot on the heels of the previous set. Beethoven, Brahms, Bridge, Dvorak, Lekeu, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Schubert and Szymanowski are all solely represented by first listens, and there are quite a few other debuts for other composers too. Come to think of it, the Bach is all 'new' as well, it's just that it's months and months since I bought the cantatas. Lots and lots of cantatas...

The chamber music, though, is where I've been finding the greatest delights. The Brahms sextets are both wonderful pieces. I think I enjoyed the first most consistently, but the opening of the second is so extraordinary that I actually stopped what I was doing about 20 seconds in to check that I had chosen the right disc and track... and then had to start again because I'd lost my focus on the music. To my ears it sounded amazingly modern - and it's not even late Brahms, it's still reasonably early in his career.

Dvorak is, I think, one of the most consistently enjoyable composers, certainly in his chamber music. Memorable melodies are everywhere. I knew at least one of these pieces before from hearing it live, so I did know what to expect, but it's still a real pleasure to be able to listen to this music at will.

The most exciting new work of all, though, might have been Schubert's first piano trio. I didn't expect to say that. Even though I now recognise that I enjoy later Schubert a great deal, I still wouldn't usually rank him as a favourite composer.  But this trio was absolutely sublime. I suspect that's down to the performance by the Florestan Trio (who are in fact also responsible for the Dvorak and Shostakovich trios, and members contributed to several other recordings on this list), which is one of the most sparkling and lively performances I've ever come across.

Then I became acquainted with Beethoven's 4th piano concerto, which is probably the best classical concerto I've yet heard. And then this list includes a couple of favourite recordings from my existing library - Faure's 2nd piano quintet, and Vladimir Ashkenazy's electrifying performance of Rachmaninov's etudes-tableaux.

It was a pretty damn fine month of listening, with the exception of Mahler's 8th symphony which proved again to be a nearly interminable disappointment. Oh well. One should count one's blessings. And they are plentiful here.

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