Saturday, 16 April 2016

Classical Music - January 2016

Bach, J.S.
  • Ach Gott, von Himmel sieh darein (Oh God, look down from heaven)
  • Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid (Oh God, how many a heartfelt woe)
  • Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir (In deep distress I cry to you)
  • Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder (Oh Lord, do not punish me)
  • String Quartet No.14
  • Große Fugue 
  • Piano Sonatas 1, 4 and 20
  • Piano Trio No.3
  • Theme and variations for piano trio, op.44
  • Piano trios in  E flat (WoO 38) and B flat (WoO 39)
  • String Trio No.1
  • Clarinet Trio
  • Quintet for piano and winds
  • Ah! Perfido
  • Variations on 'See the conquering hero comes' for cello and piano 
Brahms - Clarinet Sonata No.1
Chopin - Three Mazurkas, op.50
Chopin - Impromptu No.3
Debussy - Piano Trio
Debussy - Danse bohémienne
  • String Quartet No.11
  • Piano Trio No.3
  • Piano Quintet No.2 
Dukas - The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Haydn - Symphony No.98
  • Symphonies 6 to 8
  • Chamber Symphony No.1
  • Concertos 10 to 12
  • String Quartets 1 to 3
  • Primavera
  • Suono da Bardo
  • Liber Canticorum, Books I and II
  • Moya
Janacek - Concertino
  • Symphonies 28 and 40
  • Piano Sonatas 2, 8 and 10
  • Oboe Quartet 
Rachmaninov - Songs, opp. 8 and 14
Rachmaninov - Suite No.1 for 2 pianos
Schumann - Kreisleriana
Shostakovich - Symphonies 1 and 2
Shostakovich - Piano Trio No.1 
Sibelius - The Bard
Snider - Penelope
  • The Firebird
  • Petrushka
  • The Rite of Spring
  • Jeu de Cartes
  • Orpheus
Whitwell - Flatworm's Heaven - A Train Song 

Having taken some time to listen to all the Beethoven I had acquired, I finally reached the pinnacle of his late string quartets. No.14 in C sharp minor is something very special, and I also listened to the "great fugue" which I hadn't heard before.

And so, I promptly went back to the beginning again.

Because Beethoven's opus numbers are at times quite misleading, I've used a couple of resources to create a more chronological picture of his work. This doesn't just apply to the music I have recordings for, but all sorts of other items as well.

I decided that Beethoven was yet another composer who should be subjected to a chronological listen, only this time I would lump together a few years at a time. I only have recordings of a couple of works from the early 1790s, so the rest of the entries here are works from 1795-97. This includes his earliest opuses, but also works that were published without an opus number or published much later.

And this earlyish Beethoven is... nice. It is consistently of high quality, but to modern ears it's not often that ground-breaking (however contemporaries might have reacted). And it's actually a bit surprising how sunny much of it is. We tend to think of Beethoven as a rather stormy figure, but a lot of the early chamber music in particular is designed to be light and enjoyable.

Debussy and Shostakovich also started receiving the chronological treatment in January, prompted by some new purchases of both (piano works for Debussy, and symphonies for Shostakovich). I'm using online streaming to hear those works I don't own.

I also explored Stravinsky's ballets, including 2 later ones from a disc that I bought last year but listened to for the first time in January. Both Jeu de Cartes and Orpheus were quite enjoyable, and I think Stravinsky is yet another composer I would like to know more about.

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