Romantic-Era Composers Discussion

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Zen Butler, Jun 21, 2002.

  1. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    Messages:
    5,540
    Likes Received:
    19
    Trophy Points:
    5,610
    Location:
    Southern, Ca
    Real Name:
    Zen K. Butler
    Some of my favorites being Berlioz of course the Symphonie Fantastique , Dvorak , and let's talk about Brahms , who IMO was a giant. I already see the Tchaikovsky coming a mile away, for which is justified. I would like someone to touch on Beethoven a bit just to set us up. I'm only qualified to comment on him in a traditional sense, and that would bore the hell out of you. (Yes he is Classic Period ), but his influence on the Romantic Era alone, I feel is worth touching on. Also, if a Classic Period discussion is opened, we will get to talk about Beethoven twice as much [​IMG] , also, I received some new purchases that will make their way into this thread nicely...
    Please enter...
     
  2. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 1999
    Messages:
    16,738
    Likes Received:
    129
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Brahms gets a bad rap from modernist critics and musicians (Pierre Boulez, for example). But the first and fourth symphonies are breathtakingly gorgeous, expansive, and intensely Romantic scores, even though they may break no new ground. Not everybody is destined to be a Beethoven, Wagner, or Debussy. Brahms was gutsy, though.

    As for Dvorak, can you say theme? Is there a more melodically driven Romanticist to be heard?

    Berlioz, on the other hand, was a pathfinder, a groundbreaker, a forward-thinker.

    Let's also consider Robert Schumann, Felix Mendlessohn, Cesar Franck, and even Charles-Camille Saint-Saens (I love the second and fourth piano concerti).

    Yes, we must also discuss that always-popular-with-the-masses Romantic fave, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. But don't sell him short: the sixth symphony is a masterpiece whether we enjoy admitting it or not.

    And, of course, no discussion of the Romantic era is complete without going into depth about its most controversial and influential standard-bearer, Richard Wagner.

    So, these are the initial salvos.

    Where to start?
     
  3. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    Messages:
    5,540
    Likes Received:
    19
    Trophy Points:
    5,610
    Location:
    Southern, Ca
    Real Name:
    Zen K. Butler
     
  4. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 1999
    Messages:
    16,738
    Likes Received:
    129
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The Brahms C-minor symphony is an all-in-one statement of the Romantic state of mind. Four basic movements that seem to cover an entire way of thinking. The thing is like a novel, in that it has a beginning, middle, and end. The music is complete. It is best, during an evening of listening, to make the first symphony (under which Brahms complained for a decade or so that he was "working under the shadow of that giant") the final work to which one listens.
    How does one follow that in an evening--especially after that damn fourth movement?
    Best to turn on some TV, eh? [​IMG]
    Recordings: For some reason, I prefer Eugene Ormandy's with the Philadelphia, on CBS. You?
    (Berlioz: I like my fantastique in the form of Otto Klemperer's with the Philharmonia, on EMI. Your preference?)
     
  5. Jed M

    Jed M Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2001
    Messages:
    2,029
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Thanks for the info guys. I am always looking to get into classical but there is so much out there its nice to have a place to start. [​IMG] I welcome any more opinions. We shouldn't let this thread die too soon.
     
  6. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    Messages:
    5,540
    Likes Received:
    19
    Trophy Points:
    5,610
    Location:
    Southern, Ca
    Real Name:
    Zen K. Butler
    Welcome Jed,
    I only own Toscanini's reading of all four symphonies. Also have an old cassette box-set gathering dust in the garage.
     
  7. Jan H

    Jan H Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2001
    Messages:
    2,007
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Excellent topic for a thread. Brahms is my all-time favorite Romantic composer and I, too, feel that he gets a bum rap for riding on Beethoven's symphonic coattails. If you listen to the 1st and 4th symphony, I feel there is a truly original mind at work here. The 2nd and 3rd may be considered less ground-breaking, but in four symphonies, Brahms manages to push the limits of the orchestra in ways that say, Bruckner, could not do in nine. No wonder Wagner hated him, as Brahms was one of the only composers of his generation who was a true rival to him. Regarding Berlioz, and others of his ilk like Liszt, I find program music to be too overly didactic to truly love. I don't want to be told what I'm listening to unless I'm at an opera. But, I own the Dutoit "Fantastique", and I must admit that it's fun to occasionally pull it out and hear the amazing color that Berlioz pulls out of the symphonic medium. Off topic, Zen, what do you think of the Vaughn Williams recordings you recently picked up?
     
  8. andrew markworthy

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 1999
    Messages:
    4,762
    Likes Received:
    12
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Brahms has received a patchy reception, but it's untrue that he has been universally reviled - e.g. a lot of modern composers (e.g. Schoenberg) adored him. There's a very good set of older recordings of the symphonies on the RCA Navigator series by Sanderling.

    Let's not forget Chopin in this litany of great romantic composers. Also, for the more adventurous amongst you with a taste for solo piano, try Alkan, a contemporary of Chopin. His work is largely ignored these days because it is incredibly difficult to play.
     
  9. Jan H

    Jan H Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2001
    Messages:
    2,007
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Andrew,

    Thanks for the Alkan mention. I've only heard one or two works on the radio, but what I've heard I've liked. Obviously, Chopin should be mentioned. His melodic gifts are hard to surpass. Since he wrote almost entirely for solo piano, though, the "1812 Overture-Nutcracker-Beethoven's 5th-Hooked on Classics" crowd would find his work far too lacking in bombast and, er...cannons. JH
     
  10. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 1999
    Messages:
    16,738
    Likes Received:
    129
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Jan: Given your mild disdain for program music, I guess I don't have to ask you your opinion about Richard Strauss, eh? [​IMG]
    (I like tone poems and such. We'll put that on this thread's agenda, too.)
    I'll come out and say it, just to be provocative: I'm not a fan of Franz Liszt. Crashing, cymbal-emphatic bombast can only go so far. Liszt, to me, is all about style over substance. Yet he mentored that Wagner fellow. Out of bad comes good, I suppose. (Though I do own the complete Bernard Haitink/Concertgebough tone poem cycle on Philips.)
    Chopin: I love an evening of Chopin when I'm in the right mood. Prefer the first piano concerto (Op. 11) to the second (which is really the first, yada yada). Listen to Alfred Brendel's take on both works. Yummy!
     
  11. Jan H

    Jan H Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2001
    Messages:
    2,007
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Actually, Jack, I admire Strauss far more than Berlioz, Liszt, etc. I like the Four Last Songs, Also Sprach (which I bet you've heard of [​IMG] ), Alpine Symphony, and Der Rosenkavalier very much, and have a handful of other recordings. Strauss was influenced enough by Wagner for me to be able to overlook the programmatic nature of its construction. Perhaps I just have a problem with 19th century program music. JH
     
  12. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    Messages:
    5,540
    Likes Received:
    19
    Trophy Points:
    5,610
    Location:
    Southern, Ca
    Real Name:
    Zen K. Butler
     
  13. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2001
    Messages:
    4,951
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Personal note: I'm definitely more of a Baroque counterpoint kind of guy, so my exploration of the Romantic music has been slow.

    Tchaikovsky: I've been back and forth with him. I didn't like him, but I picked up an Isaac Stern performance of violin concertos- one of Tchaikovsky and one of Mendelsohn, having known nothing of the latter's work. I was shocked at how much I enjoyed the Tchaikovsky (though how much of that is due to Stern himself?), and the Mendelsohn piece is wonderful.

    Beethoven: I've always enjoyed the 6th. Highly recommended: AIX DVD-A of the 6th.
    It's amazing how simple some of the music is, yet how effective it can be.
    I own three of the 6 discs in the Barenboim DVD-A series, Szell performing the 3rd on SACD, and Walter doing the 5th on SACD.
    Suffice it to say, there's no wonder why Beethoven is the most idolized composer of all time- musically interesting for other musicians, emotionally connecting to the populace.

    Brahms: Like Tchaikovsky, been back and forth. The only Brahms I own for now is the SACD of the 4th symphony. I do enjoy this, but I also remember not digging some other of this works a while ago (can't remember what they were...).

    Dvorak: I only discovered him recently, and I'm impressed. His 8th symphony is one I go back to. I like how he exploits themes viciously.

    Berlioz: I never "got" it, but I haven't heard any in a long time. I've seen an XRCD of the Symphonie Fantastique at Tower Records, maybe I'll give it a look.

    Ok, I gotta run, will continue this later...

    NP: Bach, Uncommon Bach, rare organ works, DTS CD
     
  14. Jan H

    Jan H Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2001
    Messages:
    2,007
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Zen,

    yes, it's Naxos. Conducted by Bakel, it also has a very good performance of the 8th. If you enjoy Wagner, chances are you'd like much of Richard Strauss, too. A good place to start is Also Sprach Zarathustra (there are a jillion recordings, I happen to like the Von Karajan on DG from 1982, I think). JH
     
  15. Justin Doring

    Justin Doring Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 1999
    Messages:
    1,467
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Vaughn Williams 7th and 8th on Naxos with Kees Bakel is superb! Run, don't walk to your local record store and pick this up! The sound is also to die for (it's on the Absolute Sound's Baker's Dozen of best sounding CDs).

    I often have to defend Tchaikovsky, which is a shame. So he's popular. So what? So is Hitchcock. Does that mean their work isn't ingenious? Of course not! Please forget the wretched 1812 Overture, but please, please keep the ballets, as they are great. And his 6th is the quintessential Romantic Symphony.

    I also love Dvorak's music, even though it's popular.

    Berlioz, although mad, was most certainly ahead of his time.

    I must admit I cannot warm to Brahms, just as I cannot warm to Beethoven.
     
  16. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2001
    Messages:
    4,951
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I just listened to Brahm's Piano Quintet in F minor for the first time today (AIX DVD-A). I enjoyed it very much- lively and melodic. [​IMG]
    I also would like to throw out my admiration for Schumann's symphonic work.
    NP: Tony Levin, World Diary, CD
     
  17. Jan H

    Jan H Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2001
    Messages:
    2,007
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Mike,

    The F-minor Quintet is a lovely work. How's the DVD-Audio sound quality? Is it worth a purchase if you already have a cherished CD recording?

    Justin,

    Tchaikovsky's gift for melody and orchestration is unquestioned. All 6 symphonies (particularly the last three), the Violin Concerto, and the First Piano Concerto are deserved symphony hall warhorses. I think the reason that you're feeling defensive about him is that some of his lesser artistic achievements are some of his most popular. Unfortunately, everyone has seen or heard the 1812 and the Nutcracker, but almost no one (figuratively speaking) has seen or heard two of his greatest works - the operas Eugen Onegin and The Queen of Spades.
     
  18. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2001
    Messages:
    4,951
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Jan,
    I only listened to the stereo track of the Brahms DVD-A to get myself acquainted with the piece before delving into the surround tracks. But that alone is higher resolution than any CD recording you would have. AIX only puts out new performances, so it was originally recorded in 96/24.
    AIX DVD-As also include two different surround mixes.
    I can't speak for the performances because I have nothing to compare it to.

    NP: David Bowie, Heathen, CD
     
  19. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 1999
    Messages:
    16,738
    Likes Received:
    129
    Trophy Points:
    0
    As long as we're talking Tchaikovsky--who is unfairly damned due to his enormous popularity--the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture ramps up the Romanticism a notch from even the B-minor symphony. Want to listen to an emotional performance that will practically bring you to tears? Try Zubin Mehta's with the LAPO on Decca/London. It's amazing how well Decca's sonics hold up after all these decades.

    Now, what to do about the 20th-century oddity born half a century too late? I speak of the most universally disparaged composer of the last century: Rachmaninoff. A man born out of time. He's hard for me to stomach, but I might have been kinder toward his music had it been composed in the 19th century.
     
  20. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2001
    Messages:
    4,951
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Rachminoff is who drew me into Romantic music in the first place. I love it, plain and simple. Yes, I feel the 3rd piano concerto is that good.
     

Share This Page