Saturday, 19 August 2017

Classical Music - April 2017

Bach, J.S. - Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend werden (Stay with us, for evening falls)
Bach, J.S. - Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust (Delightful rest, beloved pleasure of the soul)
  • A Hand of Bridge
  • Vanessa: Intermezzo from Act III
  • Mutations from Bach 
Beethoven - Symphony No.6
Beethoven - String Quartet No.10 
Brahms - Symphonies 1 to 4
Brahms - String Quartet No.1 
Bridge - String Quartet No.4
Debussy - Twelve Etudes
  • Suite in A, 'American' (original piano version)
  • Two Little Pearls
  • Album Leaf in E flat 
Faure - 5 Melodies 'De Venise'
Faure - La bonne chanson 
Haydn - Symphonies 34, 35 and 38
  • Sonatina for oboe and piano
  • Trombone sonata
  • Eco
Medtner - Three Hymns to Toil
Mozart - Piano Concertos 1 and 3
Nielsen - Symphony No.3
Nørgård - Symphonies 5 and 6
Rachmaninov - The Bells
Schubert - Schwanengesang
Schubert - Piano Sonatas in C minor and A, D.958 and 959
  • Violin Sonata No.1
  • Nachtlied
  • Märchenbilder for viola and piano 
Shostakovich - Cello Concerto No.1
  • Symphonies 5 and 6
  • 7 Songs of Runeberg, op.13
  • Serenad 
Smetana - Blaník
  • The Firebird
  • Petrushka
  • Fireworks
  • Scherzo Fantastique
Villa-Lobos - Choros 4 and 9
Villa-Lobos - Suite Populaire Brésilienne for guitar

While I was still working through some of the purchases from late last year (Barber, Bridge, Dvorak, Medtner, some Schumann, Villa-Lobos, the Haydn symphonies which aren't even close to finished), I went and bought a few more things on a trip at the tail end of March.

And so the discs with the Shostakovich cello concerto, the Sibelius songs and the Schumann violin sonata were all added to the already sizeable collection of music "needing" to be listened to. I also bought some Stravinsky, but rather than starting with my purchase of The Soldier's Tale I decided it was time to start on a chronological survey of all of Stravinsky's music.

The biggest focus for April, however, was on Brahms' 4 symphonies. Having heard them all over the previous months, and having revisited the first 3 in March, this was the month when I listened to them enough to really feel some familiarity. I ended up listening to all of them together in the space of a few days.

And everyone of them is a first-class work. If pressed I would probably nominate Symphony No.3 as my favourite at the moment, but I would quite happily re-hear any of them. Brahms has a reputation as a bit of a perfectionist who tried very hard to suppress any music he wasn't satisfied with. This means that the quality of the things he allowed to be published is remarkably consistent. But along with that, each of the 4 symphonies has a different character. Two in minor keys (one more dramatic, one more tragic), and two in major keys (one more pastoral, one more heroic). Together they form a fine set and help show why Brahms is considered one of the true greats of classical music.

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