Monday, 3 October 2016

Classical Music - August 2016

Bach, J.S. - Ich freue mich in dir (I rejoice in you)
  • Romance for violin and orchestra No.2
  • String Quartets 1 and 4
  • String Trio No.3
  • Piano Sonata No.11 
  • 3 Mazurkas, op.63
  • 3 Waltzes, op.64
  • Cello Sonata
  • 2 Bourees
Dvorak - Saint Ludmila
  • Symphonies 83, 84, 86, 88, 89, 91-94, 96, 98-104
  • Missa Sancti Nicolai ('Nikolaimesse')
  • Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo ('Kleine Orgelsolomesse')
  • Missa Cellensis ('Mariazellermesse')
Mozart - Piano Concertos 5, 17 and 18
  • Spell (piano trio version)
  • Four songs for male choir
  • En livslang ven (A lifelong friend)
Rachmaninov - Preludes, op.23
Rachmaninov - 15 songs, op.26
  • Daphnis and Chloe
  • La Valse
  • Sheherazade
  • String Quartet
  • Piano Trio
  • Violin Sonata No.1 (posth.)
  • Berceuse on the name of Gabriel Fauré
  • Tzigane
  • Pavane pour une infante defunte (piano and orchestral versions)
  • Menuet Antique
  • Jeux d'eau
  • Sonatine
  • Miroirs
  • Gaspard de la nuit
  • Menuet sur le nom d'Haydn
  • Ma mere l'Oye
  • Valses nobles et sentimentales
  • A la maniere de...
  • Prelude
  • Le Tombeau de Couperin
Schubert - Piano Sonata in D, D.850
Shostakovich - Symphonies 5, 8, 10 and 15
Shostakovich - String Quartets 13 to 15 
Sibelius - The Wood-Nymph
Vine - Symphony 4.2
Vine - Celebrare Celeberrime

The month started with a continued wave of Haydn listening, and ended with a wave of Ravel listening. And some other composers managed to get a hearing in between.

As I mentioned in the entry for July, I ended up deciding to listen to all 23 of the Haydn symphonies I own to work out which were my favourites. This was prompted by a poll on a forum about favourite Haydn symphonies. Not being entirely confident I would be fair to them all going by memory, I held a run-off.

Over several rounds, symphonies 93 and 102 were the winners. They were closely followed by symphonies 98, 99 and 103. Though of course this is all relative; it's not as if I didn't enjoy all the other symphonies that didn't make the cut.

I don't remember what, if anything, triggered the avalanche of Ravel. It may have been as simple as realising that it had been quite some time since I'd listened to most of this music. It turns out that it doesn't take a great deal of time to listen to Ravel's complete works (including use of online resources for works I don't own a recording of) as he was not a prolific composer and many pieces are quite short.

Still, the quality of what he wrote is very high. Personally I think he wrote some of the very greatest piano music, and what I know of his other work is equally impressive. Perhaps the small quantity of work is because he was so painstaking in getting it right.

Elsewhere, I reached the end of my chronological exploration of Shostakovich's works (with the last 3 string quartets, the final symphony and other material I listened to online)... and promptly turned around and started exploring the symphonies further. Many months had passed since I listened to the earlier symphonies after buying a box set in January, and I felt I wanted to get to know them better.

Symphony No.10, which I did already have another recording of, strikes me as a superb work. Symphony No.5 is not too far behind. Symphony No.8 I struggled with on this occasion. It felt in some ways like a re-run of the 5th symphony, only longer and bleaker, and I found myself disengaged.

The largest work I listened to during the month was Dvorak's oratorio Saint Ludmila. Frankly, it was a bit of a struggle compared to some of the other sacred and choral works I've been listening to. And that wasn't primarily due to the length, but the text. 19th century sensibilities were obviously a bit different to mine, as I couldn't warm to a story that seems to consist of a country converting to Christianity not because of any theological conviction, but because the leader fancied a woman and was told he had to convert in order to get her. That, and a little bit of good old-fashioned threatening about God's retribution. I wasn't inspired.

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