Need classical music recommendations

Discussion in 'Music' started by Dome Vongvises, May 1, 2004.

  1. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    I'm not talking about just Beethoven and Mozart, but I also want orchestras who perform them as well and if there are any good CD sets (e.g. London Symphony Orchestra, etc.).
     
  2. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

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    Dome,

    Mozart and Beethoven make up only a very very small portion of classical composers. There's Bach, all of Bach's sons, Barber, Bartok, Bellini, Berg, Berlioz, Bizet, Block, Brahms, Borodin, Britton, Bruckner... those are just some of the Bs!

    There are also many extremely talented orchestras out there, such as Cleveland, Philadelphia, Chicago, Berlin, and Vienna.

    Here's a list of what I own: Click Here

    I'd enthusiastically recommend about 90% of it.
     
  3. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    I guess the better way of putting it would be: how can I tell if I'm getting a great orchestra as supposed to some second rate conductor that performs Wagner with a milk jug?

    Milk jug? Not a bad idea.....
     
  4. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

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    Reviews are the only way. Great orchestras have their bad days, and little known obscure orchestras can be surprisingly good. Ditto for conductors. IMO, reviews are mostly worthless since they're so subjective, but when it comes to rating an orchestra's technical abilities in a recording, that's pretty objective.
     
  5. Daniel J.S.

    Daniel J.S. Stunt Coordinator

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    Well a great orchestra will have great intonation, and tone quality. It will sound like everyone is playing with passion. There will be a sense of balance; all sections are heard clearly. It really comes down to this: does the performance move you or leave you saying "eh"? If you're looking for good recordings the "Penguin Guide to Compact Discs" is your best friend. The "Gramophone" guide is useful as well.

    My favorite orchestras are the Vienna Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony; both have extraordinary brass sections (especially the CSO under Solti!).

    If you like Mozart and Beethoven, I have a few recommendations. Murray Perhaia has done some outstanding recordings of the Mozart and Beethoven Piano Concertos. The Mozart is with I believe the English Chamber Orchestra while the Beethoven is with the Concertgebouw conducted by Bernard Haitink. You can get them as individual discs or as complete sets (although they're on Sony, so they're quite pricey. Well worth it IMO).

    If you want a set of the Beethoven symphonies and you like period performance, I recommend Gardiner's set for DG. He follows Beethoven's (very fast) metronome markings, something hardly anyone else does and it works extremely well. Gardiner also did a stunning recording of Verdi's "Requiem" with the same orchestra.

    If you're looking for good Mozart orchestral discs, you can't go wrong with Neville Marriner's recordings (they're with modern instruments however).

    If you want epic romantic music, pick up some Mahler symphonies. Some good starting places would be No.2 with Mehta and the VPO and No. 8 with Solti and the CSO. Both are on the Decca Legends label. Also give Karajan's recording of No. 9 with the Berlin Philharmonic a spin. The Bruckner symphonies are good choices as well (keep in mind that there are numerous revisions of each. Look for the Haas or Nowak editions).

    If you want opera, the big three Mozart ones are great (Figaro, Don Giovanni, Cosi Fan Tutte). I'd also give a high recommendation for "Der Rosenkavalier" by Richard Strauss on the strength of the absolutely heart-rending final trio alone. As for Wagner, I adore his music, but it's heavy-duty, so you may want to try some highlights to see if it's your cup of tea.
     
  6. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    Dennis


    The main help that reviews can give you comes after you learn to "calibrate" the reviewer - learn his prejudices.

    There aren't any really good review sources on-line. The standard reference is "The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs" which comes out every year or so in paperback. It's about 1600 (sixteen hundred [​IMG] ) pages long and costs about $17 online. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...glance&s=books Keep your old ones as they only cover what's "currently in print" as it were.

    Be prepared to buy a lot of CDs to learn what your own tastes are. This also helps "calibrate" whichever reviewers you read.

    This shouldn't cost too much. There are lots of "budget labels" which sell for $4-10 a disk. There is very little correlation between what you spend on a classical CD (or SACD) and the quality of the performance and audio recording. Some of the budget labels are independent. Others are branches of the major labels (Sony, Philips, Deutsche Gramophon, London).
     
  7. DanaA

    DanaA Screenwriter

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    Dome,

    You might check out ClassicsToday.com. They have an extensive library of reviews and rate on both performance and sound quality.

    As for what to start with, the difficulty, as alluded to by others, is that there are simple so many different styles and flavors of classical music. I enjoy most styles, but have a preference for Romantic and post-Romantic music, but even if you take a Shostakovich, Mahler, Bartok, or Janacek, they each have many different colors to their music. As an example, Mahler's symphonies can sound sublimely beautiful in certain movements and emotionally exhausting in others. Some have vocals, others don't. Some of Shostakovich's string quartets can sound almost Bach like and others are a completely different animal.

    But...................to me, that's the fun of it. Opening new doors and exploring what's there. Perhaps, pick out some of the music that receives 10's for both sound quality and performance over at Classics Today, read the reviews, and give it a go. Berkshire Record Outlet has a wide catalog of classical CD's at unreal prices, usually in the $3-5 range. As an example, I wanted the symphony cycle of a composer named Bax and they were selling all seven symphonies for around $10. I'll try to remember to provide you with a link in a few minutes. Arkivmusic.com is having a sale at this minute of Naxos CD's that received scores of 10/10 at ClassicsToday.com. Just received my order yesterday and there are some treasures there.
     
  8. DanaA

    DanaA Screenwriter

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    Here are a couple of links that will provide a good selection and can save you money.

    Berkshire always will

    Arkivmusic has an amazing selection of even hard to get CD's and has some pretty decent specials.

    Hope this helps. It does me because I've been buying about 10 recordings a week and would go broke if I didn't get my deals.

    One final note: There might be quite a few excellent recordings of a particular piece. Like speakers, it comes down to individual preference in many cases. For instance, I prefer the Borodin String Quartet's performances of the Shostakovich String Quartets, whereas other might more enjoy the Emerson Quartet's interpretations, and others might have others as their champions.

    Good luck in your search because it sure can be fun opening those new doors. [​IMG]
     
  9. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

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    But what do you even get out of that? Everyone is always just pushing their favorites. Honesty runs thin in classical reviews.
     
  10. DonaldB

    DonaldB Supporting Actor

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    Many of Gramophone's reviews are online here. I've found many great recordings based on the recommendations there.
     
  11. DanFe

    DanFe Second Unit

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  12. andrew markworthy

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    The only good performance is the one that you like best. If you have to be told which is the best performance by someone else, you shouldn't be listening to classical music.

    Okay, so how do you listen to the versions before buying? The only way is to cultivate a good classical music shop that will play excerpts before you buy. Either that, or read lots of different reviews of the same recording and try to deduce from this.

    However, one tip - you will never ever *ever* get critics to agree on the best recording of an opera, especially Wagner.
     
  13. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Another approach is to trust a performer instead of a reviewer. For example, I know that if I get a recording of Heifetz, Stern, Horowitz, Gould, or Perahia I won't be dissappointed. Getting their recordings gives you some knowledge of the repertoire and acts as a base. Then you can compare it to others and you start to build preferences.

    It's also real good to just go see it performed. I got into Sibelius that way, even though I later realised that orchestra's performance left little to be desired.
     
  14. andrew markworthy

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    Mike, with respect, this is fine provided you like the performers. However, this can be a matter of personal taste. Personally, I can't stand Gould - not because of his playing, but because he tends to sing along with his playing (for any newbies to classical music this may seem incredible, but it's true) and to me it's undisciplined and very annoying. Others, however, find it part of the experience. They're not wrong, and neither am I - it's personal taste. Again, Horowitz is nearly always wonderful, but some of his final recordings are a bit patchy, I feel.
     
  15. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    Much of the fun of classical music is owning multiple recordings of the same music, and enjoying different aspects of each.

    Choose a piece of classical music, be it orchestral or solo instrumental or opera, etc, and chances are that multiple wonderful recordings exist from multiple performers; some performers have likely made multiple recordings. It's great to own several and to understand and appreciate the differences as it gives you a deeper understanding of the material.

    Also, find a classical radio station in your area (or on the 'Net; radioio Classical is not a bad place to start). You may learn about terrific recordings from the DJs.

    The most recent classical selection I've purchased (and I love it): Puccini's Turandot (Sutherland, Pavarotti, LPO, Mehta), on Decca. Awesome.
     
  16. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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    aaah, jug band music, I finally get it [​IMG]
     
  17. Bob K

    Bob K Stunt Coordinator

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    Dome,

    I'll second Dennis' recommendation of The Penguin Guide. It's not perfect, but it's extremely good and very difficult to begin navigating through the oceans of available classical recordings without it. I bought some real clunkers, with famous names, before I found the Guide.

    Don't become obsessed with getting THE best version -- it won't happen. Do stereo fans agree on the best amp? Do woodworkers agree on the best tablesaw? If anything, classical music is far more contentious. The vitriol in magazines such as Fanfare can be incredible (and incredibly funny).

    In terms of repertoire, what I did when I started out was to get some of the Big Boys, then follow what I liked. You like Beethoven Symphonies? Try his quartets and Brahms Symphonies. You like Bach orchestral? Try some of his solo keyboard or vocal. You like Bach and Handel? Try their French contemporary Rameau. Like Rameau, try his predecessor Lully (which is how I got into French Baroque opera). etc.

    Finally, don't fret if you get something you don't like. Enjoy what you do like, and come back once in a while to what you don't -- you'll find your tastes change. I bought a Mahler symphony and a Richard Strauss opera early on and hated them. A year later, I was in heaven.

    If you're interested in particular composers, pieces, periods, I (and I'm sure the others here) will be happy to put in our 2 cents. Just no guarantees that we'll agree with each other!

    Happy listening!

    Tempest and Pi Construction Pix: http://www.audiocircle.com/circles/m...view_album.php
     
  18. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Ah yes, the joy exploring new music. I'm listening to Borodin for the first time now. It's gorgeous!
     
  19. DanaA

    DanaA Screenwriter

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    Is that the Shostakovich Mike? If so, which string quartets did you get? The thing about his catalog here is that each one seems so distinct from the other.
     
  20. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    No, it's the Borodin String Quarter perform two of Borodin's string quartets. Appropriate, no? [​IMG]

    I got it from the Musical Heritage Society, which, by the way, I recommend to the original poster. It's like Columbia House but for classical and no requirements to buy stuff.
     

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