Classical Corner Classical Music Corner

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by George P, May 29, 2015.

  1. Baroque

    Baroque Active Member

    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    After a long (but enjoyable!) search I finally found my preferred recording of Haydn's String Quartets. I've listened to a whole lot over the years and my go-to set is now the complete set by the Buchberger Quartet, recorded in the early 2000s. I quite like the Quatuor Mösaiques recordings as well but they didn't record the full set.

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  2. J.A.W.

    J.A.W. Music Addict

    Well, there's a new 3CD-set by the Quatuor Mosaïques with Beethoven's late String Quartets, so hopefully they'll pick up their Haydn cycle where they left off as well.

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  3. George P

    George P Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
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    Now enjoying some early Bach recordings (1947-1952) from the above set.

    Serkin is at his best in his early recordings, I think. Up to 1970 or so his playing was incredible. His unauthorized Beethoven sonata recordings are among the very best. In fact, his unauthorized 1960 recording of Op. 110 is as good as it gets for that work.

    Now that I have had some time with it, I have few more thoughts on this box. The CDs present the material in original jacket style, in order of release, which often is not the order of recording. I am finding the chamber work to be absolutely lovely. And his early solo Beethoven is direct and powerful. And an early recording of a Mendelssohn Song Without Words that is included is tenderly played. I am not as keen on the mono concerto recordings, as I find stereo to be far superior in conveying the complexities of an orchestra. Still, it is always a treat to hear the youthful Serkin, so I am enjoying these nonetheless.

    Another point I will make comes from the accompanying booklet. It seems Sviatoslav Richter was an admirer of Serkin's playing. I hadn't heard that before, so I thought I would share it. Also, the booklet includes a discography complete with a list of the disc where each performance occurs, just as they did for Rubinstein. This is useful, as many works were recorded multiple times by the pianist. In fact, some, like Beethoven's PC4, were recorded as much as four times.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2017
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  4. drh

    drh Talking Machine

    ...not counting a broadcast recording that exists of Serkin's US debut concert, which included the Beethoven 4th, with Toscanini and the PSONY on 2-23-1936. (Unusually, that concert included two concerti, the other being the Mozart 27th. I don't remember which came first on the program.) I have that one in a Guild issue. Pretty bad sound, as I recall it, but a real historical document nonetheless. Now that I think about it, I guess a collection of the "Columbia albums" would also omit the "official" Toscanini/Serkin account of that work, with the NBCSO this time, another broadcast recording but from 1944 line checks and hence in much better sound. That one is in the big Toscanini RCA box, of course. So with the four in your box plus those two, I guess we're up to six accounts of that concerto with Serkin as soloist.
     
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  5. drh

    drh Talking Machine

    I once read a quotation of Rudolf Serkin that I think sums the man's humility up perfectly. Regarding a proposed biography, he supposedly said, "Why would anyone want to read about me? All I ever did was practice."
     
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  6. George P

    George P Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
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    Now enjoying the CD release of the above performances from the big Rudolf Serkin box set. His Bach is lovely, lively and cleanly played.
     
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  7. George P

    George P Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
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    Now enjoying Serkin/Ormandy play 1951 performances of Mozart's 20th and 21st piano concerto from the big Complete Columbia Box. In the liner notes they refer to the pianist as being "The Fiery Angel," and Serkin's performance in the 20th sure lives up to this moniker.
     
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  8. bruce2

    bruce2 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Connecticut, USA
    I'm about to listen to these two concertos after reading your post. The recording I have is by Friedrich Gulda with Abbado and Vienna Philharmonic from 1975 on DG. Not sure how they compare.
     
  9. George P

    George P Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Hey Bruce,

    I can't say either, as I haven't heard your recordings, though I think Gulda was a great pianist.
     
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  10. George P

    George P Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    [​IMG]

    Now enjoying Serkin's 1947 and 1951 recordings of Beethoven sonatas from the above box set. The sonatas include Moonlight, Les Adieux and Appassionata. In each case, the performances on these mono recordings are better than their stereo remakes. The pianist sounds alert, focused and driven. This is some superb, no-nonsense Beethoven!
     
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  11. Kundera the joke.

    Kundera the joke. Well-Known Member

    Location:
    United Kingdom
    Currently having it’s first listen. A pretty stunning pressing as well, lovely strings.

    Italy (1983)

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    Last edited: Oct 4, 2017
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  12. Kundera the joke.

    Kundera the joke. Well-Known Member

    Location:
    United Kingdom
    Not that it is of any note or importance. I thought I would share a newbies view approaching Wagner for the first time, with a basic level of knowledge regarding the mans personal views. I would like to think I am pretty well read on the events of WWII and I am fully aware regarding the association Wagner’s music has with said times. Beyond the, shall we say ‘greatest hits.’ I am unfamiliar with his work.

    Side A of this album has ‘Siegfried’s Death and Funeral Music’ and Lohengrin, Act 1: Prelude. Two pieces of music I never heard.

    It took a few minutes to grab me, but by the end of ‘Lohengrin’ I could swear my ears have never heard strings sound so beautiful.

    Side B plays ‘Lohengrin, Act III: Prelude’ and ‘Die Meistersinger Von Nuremburg, Act 1: Prelude.’

    In fact, I’ll stop there, because that’s when I couldn’t stomach anymore of the up tempo marching stuff that starts side B and continues with the second piece. With my knowledge of those times and how they are intrinsically linked to that Wagner marching style. I simply could not listen to any more. There are just to many awful images and words that music brings to mind. I found it unlistenable if truth be told.

    As I say. I’m a newbie to the classical world. Just a few basic thoughts, as I fine tune what I do and do not like. I don’t think I’ll be delving further into Wagner’s work. I’m not sure I want to hear those beautiful strings on side one again if I’m honest.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2017
  13. George P

    George P Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Thanks for sharing that. Luckily there are many other composer's to try. Hope that you find some that you truly enjoy! :wave:
     
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  14. drh

    drh Talking Machine

    This sort of thing can easily wander off into the wilds of politics, but doing my best to stay strictly musical and historical, a few points:

    1) There's nothing to be ashamed of in not liking Wagner's music; I myself have said more than once that if I never hear the Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde again, it will be too soon. Richard Wagner was without a doubt the most unsympathetic human being among the major composers. Even leaving aside his (probably in part self-serving) antisemitism, he was a megalomaniacal, self-promoting cad, and I find those unattractive qualities come through loud and clear in a lot of his music. BUT....

    2) Listening to his music on records really doesn't give you the full flavor of what he accomplished. Before you write him off, although not necessarily immediately, I'd recommend you get a really good video of his Ring operas--maybe from the library or via YouTube or such to avoid expense--and give them a try. As noted above, I am not the world's greatest Wagnerian, but when I watched a PBS broadcast of a Met Ring cycle years and years back, being dutiful as a music lover and fully expecting to be repulsed, I found that what was not terribly attractive to me on records makes for extremely effective, enjoyable music theater. You simply can't get the full flavor of Wagner's art until you see it as well as hear it. (I would recommend a "traditional" staging, but you may have other ideas, depending on your tolerance for modern directorial revisionism, such as setting the operas in a subway or the like.)

    3) While Wagner's personal beliefs were repugnant and pretty much tailor-made for exploitation by the German Reich, he died long before the regime came along, and it was masterful at harnessing any and everything even remotely adaptable for purposes of its propaganda machine. Many other musicians who left us art of enduring value also in one way or another blotted their copybooks during that period, sometimes enthusiastically and wholeheartedly so, and writing off anyone so compromised can cut you off from a lot of treasurable music(making). Note that Arturo Toscanini, the conductor on your record, was a famous, outspoken antifascist, who went into exile from his beloved Italy, where he was revered as an artistic treasure, rather than comply with the demands of Mussolini, yet he continued to conduct Wagner literally to the end of his career--his last concert, one of only two recorded in stereo, was an all-Wagner program. It's a delicate, personal issue, but one approach that I've found useful was set out by Toscanini himself, speaking of Richard Strauss: "To Richard Strauss the composer, I doff my hat. To Richard Strauss the man, I put it back on again."

    4) Welcome to the Toscanini appreciation society. You'll find much to admire in his recordings in your explorations.

    With all that said, I'll second George's statement above: I'm sure you'll find plenty of music to keep you listening happily for a long time, and I wish you the very best on your journeys finding it!
     
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  15. dale 88

    dale 88 Errand Boy for Rhythm

    Location:
    west of sun valley
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    Giuseppe Martucci
    Piano Trios Nos. 1 and 2
    Trio Vega
    Naxos, 2015
    excellent
     
  16. Kundera the joke.

    Kundera the joke. Well-Known Member

    Location:
    United Kingdom
    Thank you for taking the time to write such an interesting reply. Much appreciated.

    Maybe it’s an association ‘block’ that, one day, I might be able to overcome, but not just yet. If I feel like giving it another shot I will certainly take your advice regarding watching the Ring cycle.

    I did find ‘Lohengrin, Act 1: Prelude’ an incredibly beautiful piece. It was here, in the strings, I was able to hear his genius.

    As for Toscanini, I will most certainly be looking for more. :tiphat:
     
  17. George P

    George P Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
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    At under $50, this might be a way to go - Amazon.com: Buying Choices: Arturo Toscanini - The Essential Rec Ordings
     
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  18. Kundera the joke.

    Kundera the joke. Well-Known Member

    Location:
    United Kingdom
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  19. drh

    drh Talking Machine

    Thanks for posting that--I was unaware it existed. Probably not something I need, since I have the big "complete" RCA box from a few years back, but good to know it's out there. Are the transfers/masterings the same as in the big box? If so, they are on balance quite good.

    If you look closely at the "selected by" line, it mentions Harvey Sachs. He wrote the definitive biography of Toscanini, published a follow-on collection of Toscanini's letters, and has written extensively about the conditions that prevailed in classical music between the World Wars. At the very least, I'd suggest putting the biography on your reading list; it's a model of what such things should be, and Toscanini, for better or worse, was probably the single pivotal figure in the transition from the 19th century way of conducting to what we consider the "modern" way (although he himself was firmly grounded in the former, having been born in the 1860s, a good generation before conductors like Furtwangler and Walter who are usually considered his "contemporaries").
     
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  20. George P

    George P Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Yeah, I haven't confirmed it, but I would have to assume it is the same transfers.
     
  21. George P

    George P Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Princeton Record Exchange in New Jersey recently acquired 1,200 Classical SACDs;

     
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  22. George P

    George P Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    [​IMG]

    Via the new big Columbia Box, I am enjoying the 1953 mono recording shown above.
     
  23. [​IMG]

    The Seattle Symphony has announced Thomas Dausgaard will be its new music director after Ludovic Morlot steps down in 2019. He has been our principal guest conductor for a few years and I am a big fan -- some standout concerts I can recall have been Mahler's 10th symphony and Strauss's Four Last Songs / Alpine Symphony. Is anyone else familiar with him or his recordings?
     
  24. dale 88

    dale 88 Errand Boy for Rhythm

    Location:
    west of sun valley
    Paul Daniel
    English Northern Philharmonia
    Walton: Symphony No. 2
    Viola Concerto [Lars Anders Tomter, viola]
    Johannesburg Festival Overture
    Naxos, 1996
    [​IMG]
    I find Paul Daniels series of Walton discs on Naxos interesting and well-played. For the Symphony No. 2, don't miss the George Szell version and for the viola concerto I also like the Bashmet with Andre Previn.
     
  25. dale 88

    dale 88 Errand Boy for Rhythm

    Location:
    west of sun valley
    George Szell
    Cleveland Orchestra
    Walton: Symphony No. 2
    Partita
    Variations
    Sony, 1991
    recorded in 1961.
    The sound is excellent in this remastering.
    [​IMG]
     
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