Hi Kev, I've thought about Spotify but was concerned they are quite a low bit rate. Do you find the sound quality OK?
...Another favorite performer of Debussy for me is (get ready for a big surprise here) Ivan Moravec. I hope that Spotify has some of his recordings.
Indeed there are Petra - I'm listening to Ivan playing Mozart Piano Concerto 24 now. Interestingly with Spotify, when I type Ivan Moravec in the search box in Spotify, the system also returns a list of 'Related Arists', in this case, Julius Katchen, Artur Schnabel, Monique Haas, Garrick Ohlsson and many other names unfamiliar to me, so I'll be exploring there.
It's good to hear you're enjoying the Olympics. There's a lot of interest in it here too with people watching sports they wouldn't otherwise see. I watched a young man from my home town throwing the hammer recently. He didn't win but he did well to qualify.
'After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music'.
Aldous Huxley brainyquote.com
Hi 33lp. Your post reminds me of James Jolly's remarks in the 2010 Gramophone Guide:
'Sound quality is an important issue for many classical music enthusiasts, so before you start you need to decide what bit-rate you are happiest with. Apple's 128kbps (and for iTunes Plus recordings 192) is starting to look rather parsimonious for classical collectors. Many classical stores - Passionato and theclassicalshop among them - start at 320kbps, more that acceptable for all but the "golden eared".'
I subscribe to Spotify premium which streams at 320kbps. Listening through a cheap transistor amp (with bass & treble controls) and cheap usb dac, which is in my home office, is tolerable. Spotify's library of classical music is too grand to reject.
Listening at 320kbps through my high-end valve amps (and cheap usb dac) shows up the poorer sonority and detail. I would like to hear 320kbps via a high-end usb dac but the investment there starts at £1200 pounds, so I'm hesitating...
Thanks, Kev, I had a debate with Vic about 320kbps on Radio 3 some time ago and with a budget computer DAC I find it very good on chamber & instrumental music but inferior to FM on full orchestra, so I may give spotify a go.
On pianists you've just mentioned two of my absolutely very favourite pianists so you've set me off now!
I once heard Julius Katchen live in Manchester's Free Tade Hall and still regard it as the finest piano recital I have ever attended. He recorded exclusively for Decca & I must have all his currently available recordings. He was Decca's "house pianist" recording all the major concerti; all Beethoven inc Choral Fantasy & Rondo Woo80, both Brahms, both Liszt, Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Rach 2, Prokofiev 3, Dohnanyi etc. He died of cancer aged 42 in 1969 and had a tremendous technique but always at the service of the music rather than mere virtuosity for its own sake. He is probably best remembered for the 6 CD set of complete solo works of Brahms generally I think recognized as the definitive versions.
Artur Schnabel is a different case and depends on your attitude to 78 transfers as he died before making any taped masters. He was most famous for the first complete Beethoven sonata and first complete concerto recordings (but no Choral Fantasy). He recorded the last four concertos a second time (now on Testament) but the earlier recordings with Sargent (now on Naxos) are preferable. I treasure these as I used to play our 78s of the last 3 (we didn't have the first 2) almost continually and still cannot hear these works in any form without my mind saying "side change point approaching". He was also largely responsible for bringing Schubert's late sonatas into the current repertoire and for me his D960 is unsurpassed although I prefer Brendel in the Impromptus & Moments Musicaux. For Beethoven's sonatas they are for me the ones to return to as having been brought up on 78s I can accept the sound (he also plays a Bechstein, not the usual Steinway). I have some on Pearl & Naxos CDs but all on EMI LPs. He made several well known quotes describing Abbey Road as a torture chamber (it's amazing how spontaneous he sounds when one thinks any mistakes and the whole side had to done again) and over some small mistakes "I could play it more accurately but not better".
PS You can (or could the last time I looked) hear the Schnabel/Sargent Beethoven concerti free of charge on the British Library recorded sound website.
Over the last few days I have been really enjoying getting to know Mendelssohn's G minor piano sonata. I really think this is a bit of a gem - the first movement is both muscular and has the qualities of his last symphony (near relative in terms of opus numbers). The second movement is another of Mendelssohn's beautiful adagios, full of the spirit of one of the 'songs without words' and spun with the lightness of touch that I have always found one of Mendelssohn's most standout skills - he really knew how to compose melodies that do not turn too sweet. The final presto is one of those pieces hat echos Beethoven in the uncomplicated and plain theme, but it does lack the touch of genius that Beethoven could call upon at will...
I also have had some fun with van Gilse's first and second symphonies. Not quite as fun as the Herzogenberg symphonies but there is enough in them to make the time taken worthwhile.
I'm surprised, Naupilus, you got attached to the least known and performed Piano Sonata by Mendelssohn. The most well known and performed is the one in B flat, op.106. I wonder which recording you have, since there are very few available now.
If you explore more Mendelssohn at this moment, you should not neglect his two String Quintets: arguably, the best Chamber Music he composed and some of the finest of the whole repertory. Another gems of his youth are the Piano Quartet in f minor and the unique (in form and the medium) Piano Sextet in D major.
Good exploration and listening.
Listening to right now: Beethoven Cocncerto #1 op15 Artur Schnabel/LSO/Sargent/British Library
Thanks 33lp and apologies for not responding sooner. I particularly like the website feature that displays the original 78 rpm record label.
My attitude to 78 transfers is still in development and your post gives me a lot of food for thought.
I have been listening to Benjamin Frith (Naxos). Others may quibble but for me the performance does what it should - interests me in the music. Hopefully one day somebody will get Brautigam to record Mendelssohn - I think he would present a fascinating view on this composer.
Thanks for the tip about the quintets and the piano quartets - they are sitting on the desk already waiting to be played. Life is just too short...
Thanks, Naupilus for your response.
I have started with the first 2 volumes of Frith, but, as far as I can remember, I was not that impressed, despite he sounded a solid performer. Brautigam has recorded (on Steinway) the Piano Concertos, including the youthful one in a minor and the double with violin and piano, on BIS, some years ago. Not the best you may expect from him.
A great recording of Mendelssohn's Piano music, on Fortepiano, is by the equally competitive Riko Fukuda (a true great talent and a devoted period performer) in a rare SACD, on the obscure label called Aliud. She uses two magnificent instruments and performs the Fantasia in f sharp minor, op. 28, the 7 Characterstucke op.7 and 6 Lieder ohne Worte from op. 67. If you can locate it, get it without any reservation.
Finally, accidentaly, checking the brand new releases, I noticed that the good American label Bridge has released a CD on piano music of Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn, juxtaposing the Sonatas the brother and sister wrote in the same tonality, namely the ones in g minor! Apart from the Sonatas in g minor, there is also the juxtaposition of some Preludes and Fugues of them. I plan to order it. It looks intriguing. (By the way, the good German label Raumklang had issued, about a couple of years ago or so, a Piano Trio of Felix vis a vis the one of Fanny: an excellent recording, very convincingly performed).
Life is indeed too short, Naupilus, because it is fragmented in small parts, some of them very small (childhood, adolescence, youth, etc.). Till we get used to one part, we find ourselves in another one. When we start loving this one, we are told we have been already in the next one. Particularly, for people who have to move, travel, etc. this become more and more obvious. But, anyhow, we didn't make this world or the rules of Life. So let's enjoy any possible fragment we might be trusted of the impossible whole.
Best wishes and good listening in our few good musical moments we may treasure.
Thanks for the recommendation of the Fukuda disc, which I shall add to my wishlist.
I have just received the last of the Frith discs and still have to really become familiar with them. As I said I think the value of recirdings like these is that they allow me to sample music - if something hooks in my mind then I can explore other recordings. As you say recordings of Mendelssohn's piano music are not extensive and tend to centre on the same few works. I like the bywaters as the pleasures are many - I don't doubt for a second that many of these works are not amongst the greatest but they do refresh the palette and build the mind.
Back on topic another disc that has given me some pleasure recently is the Brahms violin sonatas, which I am listening to before sitting down with the Herzogenberg sonatas. Throw the Schumann sonatas into the mix and it might be two weeks listening.
Ah, Naupilus, now you are in a core repertory field. There is a saturated market of recordings for Brahms and even Schumann's Violin Sonatas. The latter's exist in at least two (quite good) versions with Pianoforte too!
Can you let me know which recordings you are about to explore? (For Herzogeberg, I presume there should the one on CPO). We might have something to discuss on these works and their recordings.
Hi Petra! sorry for the delay. Back to the university of Limoges at the end of the week, and a lot of summer researches for my next book... Not as much music as expected for the summer period. However some very beautiful gems through busy days. Some quite old : Wilhelm Backhaus exquisite in Schubert Impromptu op. 142, n° 3 (Rosamunde), live in the Beethovenhalle, Bonn, 1959, with a really inspired Hammerklavier Sonata, op. 106 (ICA Classics, 5055), or Peter Frankl in Schumann Humoreske, op. 20, old Vox Box that I bought and lost in a former life in Paris..., brilliantly reissued by... Brilliant Classics 94008! Some more recent... Louis Spohr (op. 125) and George Onslow (op. 2; our Arvern Beethoven!), Piano Sonatas by Howard Shelley (Hyperion)... As for the picture, the explanation is simple : the bird is attracted by the blueberries of which I am very fond! when I can pick them fresh in the morning of a day of late july in the forests surrounding my home.That's also part of the explanation of my surname. Best wishes. Alceste
Hi Alceste! Nice to hear from you! Hope that you managed to enjoy your summer whilst doing your research and that you find your latest book quite interesting and enjoyable to write too. Your listening list looks quite intriguing! I've heard of Backhaus before, but have yet to hear any of his recordings. If I'm remembering correctly, EMI put out one of their Icon sets of some of his recordings. I'd love to hear your thoughts about this set (if you have it). I'll look into that ICA Classics one. It appears that you really enjoy your piano music too! ;-)
I couldn't see the picture very well (rather small image size) and so wasn't quite certain what the little bird was looking at. Like you (and the bird), I also love my blueberries though there aren't any wild plants nearby for me to forage from. I am very fortunate, however, in that there are a lot of very nice farmers markets nearby (much fresher and less expensive than in the supermarkets) with good local produce...or if I was feeling very ambitious, there are some 'pick-your-own' areas not too long of a drive away.
Good luck with your latest round of students!
I don't want to turn this forum into an ornithological one but these little birds love cream too and are quite smart. In the days when I had milk delivered they learnt to peck through milk bottle tops to get to the cream on the top and the milkman had to cover the bottle tops!