Recent Personal Discoveries

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Recent Personal Discoveries

Maybe there could be an open thread where people can share new pieces they have discovered recently, and anyone is welcome to comment on. Not just anything you’ve just listened for first time, but new music you’ve discovered and liked. And certainly they don’t need to be rare pieces by unheard-of composers. Maybe this new thread manages to kill the one on How to Get Started with Wagner, if it gets to divert the energies into something more productive...

I could start with a couple of works.

Saint-Saens’ Second Piano Concerto. Op. 22. I don’t usually listened to many concertos, mainly those by Mozart, Brahms and Beethoven. But I did give this one a try recently. And I sort of really like. It must be the piano concerto in the repertoire where the orchestra has the smallest role, there is very little of it! And so it has a very light and congenial character, with nothing of the dialectic and drama of orchestra versus soloist. Often it sounds more like chamber music. It starts with a long solo on the piano, that reminds of some sort of Bach’s toccata.

The other is Schnittke’s third string quartet.

This one has me sort of possessed. I think it is an amazing piece, although not an easy one, and I’m still exploring it.

Postmodern on one side comes to mind: the whole musical drama is a sort of extended comment on other music, Orlando di Lassus’ Stabat Mater, Beethoven's Grosse Fugue and Shostakovich’s famous signature motif. Possibly other things too. The first two are very prominent. It is very satisfying having Beethoven's main fugue theme placed in a properly contemporanean work, where it feels at home. All the themes, and some others by Schnittke come and go, transform, metamorphose into one another…. There is a very intense lyricism and poignancy at times through the music.

The other term that comes to mind is Cubism which, as far as I know, is not used for music at all. But the clearly defined melodies and thematic material gets constantly cut by sharp and angular bursts of dissonance and furious rhythms, like deforming the classic flow of the music and its melody by right angles and sudden breaks.

The quartet also has some of the most beautiful and strange sonorities I’ve ever heard in a string quartet. All in all a very satisfying work. Anyone knows it?

New Year, new start.

Thanks for this open invitation, Camaron. Possibly, you'll find the expected response. Since I am travelling tomorrow, I will confine my post today only to the two works you recently discovered:

- Saint-Saens' Second Piano Concerto in g minor is certainly the most popular of his concertos along with the more worthy Third Violin Concerto and the First Cello Concerto. It is not anything too...special, but it has originality, some brilliant piano writing and an unusual form (slow first movement, a Scherzo afterwards and a wildly virtuosic Finale. The first two movements are both in Sonata form, an intriguing feature for a Scherzo movement). I have never been that touched by this composer's Concertos (except for the very beautiful Third Violin Concerto). I can, however, suggest that his String Quartets, his Piano Trios, his Piano Quintet, his Third Symphony and, to some extent, his Opera Samson et Dalila are some of the ones that can provide more rewarding listening experiences.

- With Schnittke...perhaps I may say: Bon courage! This "polystylistic" style, while it may work at some point of most of his works, at the end of the day, it leads to nothing substantive except for some interesting sonorities and musical ideas. But for what? In any case, although he is conisdered as the heir of Shostakovich, he is simply another intriguing and inspiring maverick composer.

His Third Sting Quartet is an interesting work but, again, it does not provide a true raison d'etre. However, the Molinari (on Atma) and the Pacifica (on Cedille) Quartets managed to give the best possible way out for a sort of rewarding listening experience.

Incidentally, quite recently, I revisited Shostakovich's iconic masterpiece of his Chamber Music, namely his String Quartet no. 8 in c minor, Op.110 (another work based on reworking most meaningfully previous musical material, all of the composer's Opus: themes from the First and Fifth Symphonies, a theme from the Second Piano Trio, another from the First Cello Concerto and an Aria from his Opera "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk). What a monumental, awsome, profoundly meaningful and highly emotional milestone of 20th century music's legacy.

Parla

I think you are mistaken with

I think you are mistaken with Schnittke’s third. It is an amazing piece of music, and surely a classic in the 20th century string quartet repertoire. You just don’t know yet, since it is outside your interest.

Yes, Shostakovich’s 8th is great, and interestingly both quartet use the same motive as a sort of leitmotif, in an obvious node to Shostakovich. In youtube (very easily found) there is a live performance of the 8th by the Cuarteto Casals, which is really intense and inspired, for those who might want it check it out. Seeing them playing adds a lot to the pleasure!

 

As for Saint-Saens.... yes, it is his good chamber music that led me to try beyond it. I wont pretend the concert is what it isn't, but still pretty refleshing stuff in between Schnittke and some other 20th century string quartets I've been listening to.

So recently I’ve discovered

So recently I’ve discovered two of his works which I find myself going back to lately. The first one is his Requiem for strings, which I didn’t know and now admire. This seems to be his best known work, thanks to Stravinsky appreciation. The other one is an alluring over half and hour single-movement work called “From me flows what you call Time”, for a much larger orchestra, but equally as restrained as his requiem. One of the most appealing things about this music is how silence is so much part of it. I have been listening to some of his piano music and some other things. It is hard to imagine music more far away from the logic and consistent structures that the German tradition has produced for 300 hundred years!

Not mistaken.

Schnittke's Third Quartet is not out of my interest and I know it (I have both the recordings I mentioned plus the one with Kronos). It is a matter of how important is this music and for what.

See how many times it is performed or recorded, what is the impact to both musicians or the gneral public, how influential it is...Anyway...

Parla

I think we have been here

I think we have been here before Parla, and it seems to me that you are attributing the value of the work to entirely external factors, the sum of which could be called “prestige”, the one you are aware of, anyway. In that vein you would not have given Schubert too much credit in Latvia in the 19 thirties, or to JS Bach in London at the end of 18th century.

 

May I ask how many times have you listened to the quartet?

I only copied and pasted part

I only copied and pasted part of the text from the text editor for my previous post, on the Requiem for strings and "From me flows what you call Time!. It should start with..

"Altough 20th music after say the 20s or 30s is not what I know the most and listen to the most every now and again I like to make incursions into what can be a pretty hostile environment. Therefore Schnittke, but Also Takemitsu."

 

Surely now makes more sense...

camaron wrote:

camaron wrote:

 

 

May I ask how many times have you listened to the quartet?

 

 

This is one we can work out for ourselves Camaron.  It is already established that for Parla to gain personal knowledge of every one of the 200+ CDs he buys every month he would have to listen for over 3 hours every single day of the year.  He must spend hours tracking down the details he needs for the monumental essays we get every time someone posts a comment about a piece of music - and then find time to write it. And don't forget, he has spent many hours re-listening to reissued CDs ("up to 20 times") to establish that they deteriorate at a faster rate than the original issues.

 

The conclusions are obvious, as many, many have come to over the years of Parla's monopoly of this once wonderful forum.

 

Vic.

 

Schnittke

Camaron,

I agree that Schnittke's th

 

Schnittke

 

Camaron,

 

I agree that Schnittke's third is a great work. The issue of 'polystylism' in some of his works is often misunderstood in a superficial manner. As you say, it is a substantial work of much lyricism and poignancy that, through its eclectic quotations, mirrors the life of the composer. The mix of cultural influences due to his origins and the spiritual questions that he wrestled with while possessed with an earnest desire to be 'accessible' despite the sometimes difficult and abrasive nature of some of his compositions.

 

The fact that there have been a number of recordings testifies that the work has staying power. Although Parla neglected to mention the Borodin Quartet on Virgin Classics. This is my preffered recording, the Kronos Quartet seems to skim the surface as far as I am concerned. I have not listened to any other interpretations (of course I will be punished for that).

 

Staying with Russia, my recent discovery was the Boris Tchaikovsky cd on chandos of his Sebastopol Symphony. However, I am not sure what I can say about it other than it is spare, stark yet moving. 

 

I pop in to this forum from time to time (mostly to see if there has been another arguement with Mr P - I don't care that much about high end hifi) but as many others have said, it is really on its last legs. I sometimes wonder whether the people at Gramophone let this state of affairs continue on purpose, for their own perverse amusement. I too have been amused by some of the arguements and have tried to suggest to Mr P that he should tone it down a bit. But he never will. There is something pathological about it all. Any attempt at reconciliation merely begins the cycle again. The owners of this site have a duty and a responsibility to step in because they too look pretty irresponsible. If they cannot personally moderate, rather than lazily resorting to a software algorithm, then this embarrassing state of affairs reflects upon them. Either do something or shut it down.

 

 

 

Thanks very much for jumping

Thanks very much for jumping in Acephale. It is very good to hear that we share the appreciation for Schnitttke’s quartet, and even better to hear new voices. As I said, I’m sort of obsessed with it at the moment. I take note of your recommendation for the Borodin Quartet, and I will try to listen to it. I have also been unimpressed by the Kronos Quartet; all the notes are there there but somehow didn’t cause the same effect on me. The recording that totally gripped me is   the one by the Pacifica Quartet, and my strong feeling when listening to them is that the music couldn’t possibly be played any better.
Yes, the state of the forum is sad. The thing is, it doesn’t take many people at all to produce a good space where lively, informative and just good conversations can be had. I do not share the view repeated  endlessly by some that it is all down to one and the same individual, and  I do think with you that a bit of care by the owners/administrators of the forum could have made a big difference.

I know no music by Boris Tchaikovsky, but I will remember your new discovery.

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