Sunday, 18 March 2018

Classical Music - December 2017

Bach, E. - Hommage á Igor
Bach, J.S. - Sie werden euch in den Bann tun (They will put you out of the synagogues) (No. 2)
Barfoed - Brass Quintet
  • Symphony No.2
  • Capricorn Concerto
  • Second Essay for Orchestra
  • Excursions
  • Two Songs, op.18
  • Commando March
  • Wellington's Victory
  • Zur Namensfeier
  • Music to "Leonore Prohaska"
  • Piano Sonata No.31
Brahms - Piano Quartet No.2
  • Coronation March (1910)
  • The Pageant of London
  • Five Entr'actes from "The Two Hunchbacks"
Debussy - La Mer
  • Stabat Mater
  • Ave Maria
  • String Quartet No.9
  • Scottish Dances for piano
  • La chanson d'Ève
  • Le jardin clos
  • Le don silencieux
  • Chanson, op.94
Haydn - Symphonies 50, 54 (1st version) and 55
Haydn - Menuet/Trio and Finale in C
Holmboe - Concerto for Brass
Medtner - 6 Skazki, op.51
  • Symphony No.31, "Paris"
  • Piano Concerto No.6
  • Piano Sonata No.5 
Nørgård - 2 Hans Christian Andersen Poems
Schumann - Songs, opp.29 to 31
  • Piano Sonata No.8
  • 4 Preludes, op.33
  • Poème tragique
  • 3 Pieces, op.45
  • 2 Mazurkas, op.40
  • 2 Impromptus, op.10
  • Valse in F minor, op.1
Shostakovich - Symphony No.5
  • 2 Songs from "Twelfth Night"
  • 8 Songs, op.61
  • Hymn to Thais
The classical music lists continue to be a fairly healthy size, although it should be noted the size of these works varies greatly. Many of Scriabin's opuses are only a few minutes long, whereas Dvorak's magnificent Stabat Mater is 80 minutes on my recording.

Beethoven's Zur Namensfeier overture is quite good for a piece that doesn't have a high profile. Wellington's Victory is pure entertainment and not at all highbrow.

This was the first time in a while that I'd listened to some of Faure's late songs, because I hadn't liked them all that much before. I now strongly suspect that this is the fault of the set of recordings I have (on the Hyperion label with Graham Johnson as pianist) rather than the music. Hyperion have rarely led me astray, and indeed the earlier songs in the same set are fine, but in these late works there's a lack of the flow I've heard in some other recordings online, and also one of the singers is distinctly wobbly. It's quite rare for me to be dissatisfied with a recording that has made its way into my collection, but this is one of those rare times where I'll be hunting for other versions.

No complaints at present with my collection of Medtner's skazki (also on Hyperion, and indeed the only complete set in existence). The pieces keep getting better later in Medtner's career.


I listened to 608 recordings of classical works during 2017. This is down from 2016's massive peak of 836, but still higher than previous years. A lot of this is still exploration of new music, much of it purchased in late 2016. I still have not quite finished listening to everything that I bought at that time, and there were a few more purchases in 2017 to keep me going.

The top 10 composers this year were:

1. Haydn (46)
2.= Beethoven (40)
2.= Schumann (40)
4. Dvorak (39)
5.= Holmboe (33)
5.= Bridge (33)
7. Sibelius (30)
8.= Barber (29)
8.= Scriabin (29)
10. Faure (24)

Schumann, Bridge, Sibelius, Barber and Scriabin enter the list, to a large extent influenced by new purchases and/or listening projects. Haydn, Beethoven and Dvorak stay up high, above Holmboe who does not have last year's insane numbers. Faure manages to stay in, just ahead of some of last year's top 10 that missed out (Mozart, Debussy). It was a weaker year for Nielsen, Shostakovich and Chopin.

The victory for Haydn is entirely on the back of the Hogwood set of symphonies (45 recordings). So, without realising it, that's been the soundtrack for the year.

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