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Thread: Current Symphonic Listening

          
   
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  1. #31
    Opera Lively's Journalist Involved Member Elektra's Avatar
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    Bruckner 4th, Sergiu Celibidache, MPO

  2. #32
    Opera Lively's Journalist Involved Member Elektra's Avatar
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    Mahler 4th, Berliner Philharmoniker, Claudio Abbado

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  3. #33
    Senior Member Involved Member StLukesGuildOhio's Avatar
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    Robert de Visée was the leading French composer for the theorbo, an instrument which had be developed in Italy to play accompaniment to the lute. In some instances it supplanted the lute and took on the lead role. Robert de Visée was the chief exponent of compositions for the theorbo:







    The instrument has a fuller more resonant and lower sound than the common lute thanks to the extra strings. Almost anyone who is a fan of Baroque lute music, be it by J.S. Bach, Sylvius Weiss, or John Dowland, will sure like this performance of music for the theorbo by Robert de Visée. The selections include works for solo theorbo, as well as pieces in which the instrument is accompanied by traverso, viol, and violin. Like all of the recordings I have sampled from Zig Zag Territories, this one is marvelously produced in terms of performers, sound quality, and packaging. My only reservation would be to note that the performance is very much close-miked in an effort to capture the resonating sounds of the strings. At times this can result in your hearing the breathing of the performer. Initially, this was slightly distracting... but just as Glenn Gould's "singing and humming" is forgiven in light of the rest of his performance, so this distraction quickly faded and I found myself enjoying this disc very much.


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    Disc 2 of this set... a selection of songs by Rossini, Liszt, Debussy, Dvorak, and Rachmaninoff in homage of Jennie Tourel, Mezzo Soprano and Hendrick's teacher and mentor at Julliard. A lovely collection. The French songs by Liszt were a special surprise. I've only come across a few of Liszt's songs over the years but these suggest that I should delve deeper.


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    I stupidly put off purchasing this disc for quite some time due to repeated negative comments made by certain self-proclaimed experts on contemporary music. This disc contains three works by Joan Tower (b. 1938) a composer who was the first woman to be awarded the prestigious Grawemeyer Award in Composition, has been inducted in the National Academy of Arts and Letters and the Academy of Arts and Sciences at Harvard. She has also been recognized by an all-Tower performance at Carnegie Hall. Tower spent her childhood living in Bolivia, to which she attributes a fondness for percussion.

    This disc includes three compositions, Made in America, Tambor, and Concerto for Orchestra. Made in America was commissioned by the Ford Made in America group. This group consists of 65 smaller budget American orchestras spearheaded by the American Symphony Orchestra League and Meet the Composer and funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ford Motor Company. Tower was aware that the work she was to compose would be played by orchestras of various abilities, and thus avoided writing passages that were overly challenging upon the performers. At the same time, she recognized that the work was to be played across the nation, and thus she needed to appeal to the rural as well as the urban audience. The central theme of the work is based upon the United States' "unofficial national anthem," America the Beautiful. The work caught me off guard... beginning in a manner that suggested the sort of late Romanticism embraced by earlier composers such as Virgil Thomson and even Samuel Barber... it rapidly developed into something far more strident... with elements of angst... angularity... energy, percussion, and near dissonance.

    Tambor is even more laden with percussion of various "colors" rooted as it is in Tower's experiences of South America. The Concerto for Orchestra is a form that dates back to the 17th century, but Tower's more immediate source of inspiration was Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra. Like Bartok's Concerto, Tower's work is quite energetic and features various clusters and groupings of instruments acting as soloists against the orchestra as a whole.

    This disc was quite enjoyable. The performance by Leonard Slatkin with the Nashville Symphony gave no hint of not being the work of one of the more major orchestras. While Tower's work may not be overly innovative or likely to cause a major shift within the narrative of classical music as a whole, it is quite marvelous in its own right... within the tradition of classical music as Tower inherited it... and I would very much recommend it to anyone seeking out examples of less esoteric or avant garde and more accessible works of contemporary orchestral music.


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    As a long-time William Blake fan(atic) I had to jump on this disc. I already have the following:







    The composer, Will Ayton, was born in China in 1948 to missionary parents and educated in Taiwan and the United States. He spent his adolescence in Pennsylvania and eventually took a doctorate Boston University. He teaches music and culture at Roger Williams College in Rhode Island. Ayton is also a player of the viol and as such his suite, A Reliquary for William Blake, is composed for viols and soprano. The music has elements both new and old. The sound of the viols is of course immediately suggestive of Baroque-era music, and there are aspects of this music that remind me of Elizabethan miniatures... the songs of Dowland and Campion (a couple of whose songs are included in settings for viols by Ayton). At the same time there are elements that suggest Minimalism (at times), an Anglo-American Romanticism rooted in folk songs, the songs of Copland, Barber, Ned Rorem, and Jake Heggie... and in other instances, something almost Asian. The work as a whole is very fluid... moving from sung settings of Blake's poems to spoken passages taken from his prose floated over the music... to purely instrumental passages. Ayton's work lacks William Bolcom's stylistic variety and audacity... yet at the same time, as a whole it may be more pleasing overall and successful... lacking some of Bolcom's true flops in attempting to set Blake to reggae.

    The disc is fleshed out with instrumental (viol) settings from a suite entitled Four Songs from the British Isles, settings of two songs from Thomas Campion, another brief instrumental suite in 3 movements entitled, Incantations, a Fantasia on a Theme of Henry Purcell, and two more song settings.

    The performance by A Consort of Viols and the mezzo-soprano Alexandra Montano is nothing short of first rate... as is the sound quality. This is perhaps not "essential" music. It is doubtful Ayton will garner more than a footnote in the narrative of music history... yet the music is quite pleasurable and I would certainly recommend it to anyone fond of Baroque viol music (looking at music of the Baroque viol through glasses colored by the sensibility of the twentieth century leads to some interesting moments), "Art Song" in the English language, and most assuredly to anyone enamored of William Blake. I suspect I will be listening to this disc quite a bit more often than I do to any number of other discs featuring the work of more innovative and avant garde composers.


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    "Suppose you were an idiot ... And suppose you were a member of
    Congress .. But I repeat myself." -Mark Twain

  4. #34
    Senior Member Involved Member StLukesGuildOhio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elektra View Post
    Mahler 4th, Berliner Philharmoniker, Claudio Abbado

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    I just picked this disc up recently... more for the Renee Fleming performances of Berg's luscious early songs than for the Mahler 4th... which I already have by Fritz Reiner with the inimitable Lisa della Casa. Still Abbado's performance was quite delicious.
    "Suppose you were an idiot ... And suppose you were a member of
    Congress .. But I repeat myself." -Mark Twain

  5. #35
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    Martinu Cello Concerto


    I have to say, I wasn't impressed when I first heard it, but I've become really addicted to the feel of this work.

  6. #36
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    favorite beethoven symphonies: Roger Norrington and the period instruments.

    it just WORKS for me, and works better than anything else.

  7. #37
    Opera Lively's Journalist Involved Member Elektra's Avatar
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    Hans Rott: Symphony No. 1 (E major)

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