Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by George P, May 29, 2015.
Anything mid- to later-XXth century, for instance. Possibly earlier, not sure...
Without knowing exactly what you have, your ears are going to be your best guide as to what to keep and what to pass on. It's unlikely that they're going to be very valuable, but if they're well taken care of and they're mostly full works (symphonies, sonatas, concertos, etc) and not "classical melodies"-collection type records then a record store would probably take them. I'm assuming these are American LPs, if you have a stack of European Columbias from the 50s that would be a different story.
Columbia during the 50s and 60s had a great roster of performers -- Leonard Bernstein, Glenn Gould, Bruno Walter, the Budapest String Quartet, George Szell, Rudolf Serkin, Isaac Stern just to name a few, and there are many more. Their recordings continue to be favorites today as you can see from browsing this thread.
Nonesuch at that time issued a lot of 17th- and 18th-century music (Bach, Handel, Telemann, Haydn, Mozart, etc) with colorful covers featuring lesser-known performers. These are popular with LP collectors today because they recorded unusual repertoire, the performances tend to be good, and most didn't make it to CD.
Happy listening! If you can, post some pictures of what you have or what you're listening to.
Composers from the later part of the 20th c. or the 21st, like Rzewski, Cage, Riley, and such. Nonesuch carved itself out a bit of a niche issuing such music. In general, Nonesuch recordings, which sold at a price point between the "major label" level and the "budget" level, featured good performances by less familiar artists; the recordings frequently were excellent technically, but pressing quality tended to be fair to middlin'.
 Note that "20th century" takes in composers like Debussy, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Britten, Pfitzner, Bartok, Barber, Milhaud, .... None of those guys would be considered "contemporary" any more, I think, although they, or many of them, were definitely in that category as recently as 40 or 50 years ago.
Based on information in this thread and elsewhere I picked what I would assume is the “better” stuff, mostly just going by label. I’ll list here what I’ve picked
Antonio Vivaldi Concerto in A minor For Piccolo and Orchestra
Jazz Guitar Bach - Andre Benicholi
Four Centuries of Music for The Harp
Masterworks for Organ Vol. 9, J.S. Bach
The Pleasures of The Royal Courts
Michael Praetorius - Polychoral Christmas Music
In a Medieval Garden - Instrumental and Vocal Music of the Middle Ages and Renaissance
Bach - Die Kunst Der Fuge
The Wondweful Waltzes of Tchaikovsky and Strauss
Debussy Quartet in G Minor Op. 10
Dvorak: New World Symphony - Philadelphia Orchestra
Tchaikovsky the Swan Lake Ballet Op. 20 - Philadelphia Orchestra
Bach Vol 3, Bix Brandenburg Concerti
Don Juan - Death and Transfiguration - Philadelphia Orchestra
Bartok Mikrokosmos - Vol 1 Books I-II, III-IV, V-VI
Rachmaninoff/Symphony No. 2 - Philadelphia Orchestra
Stravinsky Firebird Suite - Philadelphia Orchestra
Frank Sinatra - Come Fly With Me
The Nat King Cole Story Vol. 1
The Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra- Espana
Stokowski - The String Orchestra
Tchaikovsky- Concerto No. 1 in B Flat minor - New Symphony Orchestra of London
Concertos Under The Stars - The Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra
Respighi- The Pines of Rome, The Fountains of Rome - Minneapolis Symphony
Franck Symphony in D minor - Detroit Symphony Orchestra
The Drum Suite
Bach - Mass in B minor - RCA Victor Chorale and Orchestra
The Ninth Symphony of Beethoven - Boston Symphony Munch
Orff Carmina Burana (Imported From Europe sticker)
Adagio - Albinori, Pachelbel, Boccherini, Respighi - Berliner Philharmoniker
Archive Production - German Boroque Music - Series A- Heineich Schutz
Let me know if there are any gems, either musically or sound wise
Welcome to the thread!
To find the gems, I strongly recommend listening to the records, as one man's gem can be another's trash. And of course, "better" is in the ear of the beholder. I also suggest posting your impressions here. We have a lot of friendly, knowledgeable people who love to discuss classical performances and recordings. That was my goal, in starting this thread twelve years ago, to have a place where people can discuss all things regarding classical music.
For me, performance always trumps sound quality in classical music. I have perfectly recorded piano recordings that do absolutely nothing to me and stuff recorded on shellac in the 1930s that is incredibly moving.
Speaking of gems, here's a gem of a pianist, Ivan Moravec, playing some lovely Mozart.
And now, some more Moravec. Sound on this CD is a bit clearer than on the Vox 2fer (with Chopin works.) I just compared.
Cleaned up and played the first Deutche Grammaphon record as well as the Mercury Living Presence album. Loved the music on the Grammaphon and the sound quality was good. The Mercury had great dynamics but I wasn’t as enamored with the music
Who is the conductor on the Deutsche Grammophon disc you listened to? Karajan? I'd also like to know who the conductors are on the discs where you didn't mention any, such as (some of) the Mercury, Philips, and Columbia records.
Based on the above, I gather this one was the first DG you played. If it's what I think it is (Karajan/BPO, right? By no means my favorite conductor, but feel free to make your own judgement), note that it's a collection weighted toward single movement outtakes from longer works, in which case, since you like it, you might take it as a starting point to search out complete performances of those pieces as also being likely to please you.
If the Mercury you tried was the Respighi, welcome to the club--I've never been terribly fond of him either. The Franck Symphony, on the other hand, has long been a favorite, although I don't know the Detroit SO recording (presumably under Paul Paray?). If you like the music, admittedly something of a hothouse flower, but aren't entirely convinced by the performance, you might want to sample the classic Pierre Monteux/Chicago SO recording on RCA Victor (Living Stereo). Mind you, I'm not dumping on the Mercury issue, which, as noted, I don't know; it may blow you away, and if it does that's great.
I highlighted the recordings that I have and think are great recordings. Enjoy them and let us know what you think. IMO a few of them are the best performances you can get.
Thank you, this is exactly what I was looking for. I’ll clean & play these
The Mercury I played was actually the Franck. I’m definitely going to keep that one as I was impressed sound wise and I’m sure it’s one that I’ll grow to like more over time. I have not listened to many classical recordings so I’m somewhat critiquing on the fly - the DG just felt a bit sweeter and easier on the ears. The Franck was very emotional but was just a bit sharp for my non-classically trained ears
Yes, that was the conductor. I was not exactly sure what to list for the records so I just tried to do the music piece and the Orchestra. The Mercury conductor I listened to was Paray and the other is Dorati. The Phillips conductor is Kegel? Not sure about that one the credits are in a different language. Which Columbia ones were you wondering about?
The Columbias with the Philadelphia Orchestra - maybe it was Ormandy? Lovers of classical music are interested in who the conductors are because they have a big influence on how a piece is performed. By the way, the Philips label is spelt with 1 l. It was based in my home country before it was absorbed by the mighty Universal conglomerate and discontinued. Deutsche Grammophon is now also owned by Universal.
What does it say on the Philips disc? Maybe I can help with the language, it might be Dutch or German.
There’s a link to the Philips cover.
That’s interesting regarding the conductors, but it makes sense. Does that mean you seek out certain conductors (in general) rather than orchestras? You are correct, all the Philadelphia Columbia’s are Ormandy.
I had a bit of difficulty accessing the Philips cover link, but it is indeed Herbert Kegel conducting the Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus Leipzig. It was recorded in 1975 in the former German Democratic Republic (DDR).
Yes, conductors are very important, but so are orchestras, it is the combination that counts.
Who are the performers on the Debussy Quartet, the Brandenburg Concertos, and Die Kunst der Fuge? Those are some of my favorite works from that list. Also what instrument(s) play on Kunst der Fuge? It's commonly heard on all different combinations of instruments - solo harpsichord, piano, string quartet, chamber orchestra, etc.
Kunst der Fuge says “Orchestral Realization by Marcel Bitsch and Claude Pascal”. Chamber Orchestra of the Saar with Karl Ristenpart conducting.
The Debussy says Budapest String Quartet, Joeseph Roisman and Alexander Schneider
The Brandenberg Concerti is conducted by Reiner
Bet that's good!
It is a tad fast in some spots but the playing is so darned fine you have to like it. Great recording as well.
The Symphonic Variations by Cesar Franck is also on the disc and that is a great performance.
"Kunst der Fuge" is German for "Art of [the] Fugue," J.S. Bach's summation of a lifetime's study of and work with the musical form known as fugue. Do you know what a fugue is? If you don't, the music may not make a lot of sense. Oversimplifying like mad, I'll try to explain a bit in hopes of giving you an orientation of sorts; if this territory is familiar, please forgive me and just ignore what follows. From the Baroque era up into the 20th century, the basic model for classical music was "melody plus harmony," which is to say the melody has an accompaniment supporting it, each being more or less a separate entity. Think of any typical song of today, with the singer presenting a tune and various instruments playing chords and noodles in support. In the Baroque era, much music worked on a different model known as "contrapuntal." In this system, a melody (or, more properly, a theme--it generally wouldn't be something singable in the way a melody is) provides its own accompaniment by making repeated, staggered entries. A simple example of the technique would be "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," with one singer (or group of singers) starting, another launching into the song at a certain point when the first is still in progress, another when the second group reaches that same point, and so on, each group proceeding with the same material independently but building up a tapestry of sound through interlocking iterations of the basic tune. Now, a fugue on the Bach level is far more complicated, and it has more elements--there were all manner of techniques for combining thematic material forward, backward, upside down, you name it--but that's the basic idea at its foundation.
When J.S. Bach was alive, he was considered very old fashioned. The "incoming" style was what would develop into that "melody and accompaniment" paradigm, and contrapuntal writing was on its way out. What Bach did was to crystalize the old style and present it in music that, after a century or so of neglect by the public (he was always at least known to musicians), would emerge as the great summation of all that was powerful and good in the old Baroque contrapuntal approach to writing music. The Art of Fugue was his last testament, an attempt to write everything into one massive collection of fugues embodying every technique known to him. Hampered by blindness, among other things, he did not live to complete it. Some other musicians along the lines have tried their hands at finishing the final fugue; I don't think anyone has ever come close to the magnificent musical edifice Bach must have intended.
I hope that helps a bit. Before essaying Kunst der Fuge, I'd be inclined to hunt out some less formidable examples of the breed, just to get a feel for how it works. Bach's famous Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565, would probably be a good, familiar starting point.
BWV. Oh, dear, another matter that bears some explaining. Briefly, because classical works tend to have generic titles--symphony, concerto, quartet, sonata, etc.--a given composer's works will frequently be put into a catalogue. Sometimes the composer himself compiles it, assigning what are known as "opus" numbers ("op."). Such catalogues may or, more often, may not be systematic and inclusive, and some are a downright mess, with duplicate numbers and omissions galore (Dvorak's symphonies are a particularly glaring example); in these cases, for important composers, scholars may step into the breach and create systematic catalogues for the benefit of musicians and the public. Such catalogues usually are indicated by an abbreviation of the compiler's name--D. for the Deutsch catalogue of Schubert's works, K. for Kochel's of Mozart's works, K. again for Kirkpatrick's of Scarlatti (who also gets L. numbers for the earlier Longo catalogue), and so on. BWV is not the initials of the compiler of the standard Bach catalogue, whose name was Schmieder (you will sometimes see S. used interchangeably with BWV, but that usage is frowned upon these days); rather, BWV is an abbreviation for what in German would be "Catalogue of Bach's Works." You'll do well to pay attention to these numbers. If you know the opus or other catalogue number, you can readily locate a given work by a given composer. If you don't, it can be a challenge; for instance, returning to Domenico Scarlatti, he wrote better than 500 harpsichord pieces called "sonata"; if all you know is "Sonata in D Major," it could be one of a dozen or maybe more, but if you know "Sonata in D Major, K. 534," you can zero in on exactly the one you want.
That's a lot of territory. Don't get scared; enjoy the music, but in time I hope you'll find at least some of the foregoing helpful in your explorations.
Wow, really appreciate that write-up. Certainly will be bookmarking that for reference.
This week I began listening to a bit of the Great Lectures course on “How to Listen to Great Music”, so I’m learning bits and pieces about the Baroque era, but your explanation brings clarity to it. I’m sure as I familiarize myself with the music from different eras it’ll be easier to recognize their defining features.
That cataloging system makes a lot of sense when it’s written out like that - as you can imagine it’s a bit overwhelming to parse through these things when you don’t really know what to look for. Now that I can finally answer your original question, the Bach Fuge is BWV 1080
I love the Budapests’ Debussy String Quartet! That’s a great record.
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