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1001 classical works (The best) V- 1829-1850

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1001 classical works (The best) V- 1829-1850

Mensaje  JM el Mar Dic 14, 2010 2:37 pm

258. Frédéric Chopin -
Nocturnes (1829-1847)



Recording


Title: The Nocturnes
Performer: Maria João Pires
Year: 1996
Length: 2 hours


Review

After a long interval we come back to Chopin, now that Schubert has left us. And we come back to some of his most famous pieces in a truly great recording by my countrywoman Maria João Pires. These are pieces meant to invoke the night, and the feeling that they give is actually quite homogeneous.

Taking into account the fact that the pieces were written through a long period of time, it is only natural that the listener will catch Chopin's evolution through the years, as each op. number changes so is the listener aware of a jump in Chopin's language.

This evolution does not, however, harm Chopin's congruity, the whole recording sounds like a unified piece. The merit if also of the pianist of course which is presenting these Nocturnes as consistent works. In the end, each of the 21 pieces, is pretty amazing in its own right, immensely expressive, sometimes almost to the level of being overly-emotional, but this is Chopin after all. Beautiful.

Final Grade

10/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

He took the new salon genre of the nocturne, invented by Irish composer John Field, to a deeper level of sophistication. Three of Chopin's twenty-one Nocturnes were only published after his death in 1849, contrary to his wishes.

Yundi Li plays Chopin Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2 :



Última edición por JM el Jue Dic 23, 2010 12:55 pm, editado 1 vez

JM

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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) V- 1829-1850

Mensaje  JM el Mar Dic 14, 2010 2:46 pm

259. Frédéric Chopin -
Piano Concertos 1 & 2 (1829,1830)



Recording


Title: Piano Concertos Nos. 1&2
Performer: Murray Perahia, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Zubin Metha
Length: 1 hour 20 minutes

Review


Chopin's piano concertos combine his usual piano brilliance with quite competent orchestration. Frankly Chopin is all about the piano, the orchestral accompaniment does, however, work exceedingly well with the piano solo.

In the orchestral sections of the concerts Chopin is considerably more bold in sound than he often is with his piano compositions, this does serve to contrast with the exceedingly delicate sections on the piano.

It is in these delicate piano sections where the true brilliance of Chopin comes to the top. The orchestral sections are good but not recognisably Chopinesque, while the piano is unmistakably his. Still a pretty amazing pair of concerts, with maybe number 1 being slightly superior to the second one.

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

About the first concerto:

Classical critics usually fall into one of two schools of thought concerning the piece. The first of these says that given that Chopin was a composer for the piano first and foremost; the orchestral part of this piece acts more as a vehicle for the pianist, with the individual instrumental parts being uninteresting to perform. The second suggests that the orchestral backing is carefully and deliberately written to fit in with the sound of the piano, and that the simplicity of arrangement is in deliberate contrast to the complexity of the harmony.

Martha Argerich plays the fiirst movement of first concerto (Japan 1996):


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) V- 1829-1850

Mensaje  JM el Mar Dic 14, 2010 3:00 pm

260. Frédéric Chopin -
Waltzes (1829-47)



Recording


Title: 14 Waltzes, Impromptus, Bolero
Performer: Arthur Rubinstein
Year: 1960s
Length: 50 minutes

Review

I have said before that Classical music often suffers from over-exposure and Chopin's waltzes are a perfect example of that. Despite them all being consummate works of art, we have heard them all so many times that the ear is completely jaded to their more subtle characteristics.

Waltzes, seen now as style of music for entertainment and dancing are particularly affected by this over popularisation. While this might be fair in the works of Strauss for example, Chopin's Waltzes are very clearly not made for dancing. Listen to any of them and imagine the scene. The Waltzes are, like everything Chopin did, too emotionally complex to serve as utilitarian music for dancing.

When a composer pushes a popular genre beyond its traditional boundaries the utilitarian aspect of it is often lost, look at Piazzolla's Tangos for example, undanceable as well. All the pieces here are too popular for their own good, but they are also fantastic.

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Classical composers traditionally supplied music for dancing when required, and Schubert's waltzes were written for household dancing, without any pretense at being art music. However, Chopin's 19 waltzes (five he wrote as a child), along with his mazurkas and polonaises, were clearly not intended to be danced to. They marked the adoption of the waltz and other dance forms as serious composition genres.

Rubinstein Plays Waltz in A Minor, Op. 34 No. 2 in 1964 in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory:




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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) V- 1829-1850

Mensaje  JM el Mar Dic 14, 2010 3:03 pm

261. Feliz Mendelssohn -
String Quartets 1 & 2 (1829,1827)



Recording


Title: The Complete String Quartets
Performer: Pacifica Quartet
Year: 2004
Length: 54 minutes

Review

I really like Mendelssohn, his music always seems to have an extrovert quality to it that really shines through. These two early string quartets are no exception to that rule.

Even if they are clearly influenced by Beethoven's works they are also considerably brighter than Beethoven, reflecting Mendelssohn's personality. Interestingly Quartet number two was actually composed first, and it is in this one that Beethoven's presence is more apparent, in the first but later quartet Mendelssohn's own style is more in evidence.

All in all pretty enjoyable recording of these two string quartets, which also have the advantage of not being too well known, unlike much Mendelssohn music, which suffers from overexposure.

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Quartet number 2:

Mendelssohn wrote the quartet two years after Ludwig van Beethoven published his last quartets, and months after his death. Beethoven's late quartets received a lukewarm reception at best, and many — including Mendelssohn's own father — agreed with composer Louis Spohr that they were an "indecipherable, uncorrected horror". Mendelssohn, however, was fascinated by them. He studied the scores, and included many quotes from Beethoven's quartets in opus 13.

Quartet no. 1 First movement:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) V- 1829-1850

Mensaje  JM el Mar Dic 14, 2010 3:13 pm

262. Gioachino Rossini - Guillaume Tell (1829)


Recording

Title: Guillaume Tell
Performers: Monserrat Caballé, Nicolai Gedda, Mady Mesplé, Gabriel Bacquier
Conductor: Lamberto Gardelli
Year: 1972
Length: 4 hours

Review

It is hard to argue with the idea that this is Rossini's operatic masterpiece. If for nothing else he has to be commended for effort, four hours of music is very long for non Wagnerian standards. Surprisingly for Rossini these four hours sound much less recycled than in his previous operas, he actually put some effort into this one.

Now, this is an opera that you are probably better not watching, not only is it very long but the plot is pretty dull... it is set in Switzerland after all. Too much time is lost in the middle of the play, with ballets and the romantic side-plot, only to have it finish in a confused and too fast way. I have only watched the Italian version of the opera, and this recording is of the original French version, which actually sounds better. One of the few occasions when it is a better experience to listen to the opera without being particularly aware of what is happening.

So this is really a CD set you should get, as a piece of music it is pretty exciting, never more than in the "Lone Ranger" overture, but often exciting in less obvious and more rewarding passages which are seldom heard. So it is the best music that Rossini composed for an opera, pity that as a piece of theatre it is so dull.

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Other, political, concerns have contributed to the varying fortunes of the work. In Italy, because the work glorified a revolutionary figure against authority, the opera encountered difficulties with the Italian censors, and the number of productions in Italy was limited. The Teatro San Carlo produced the opera in 1833, but then did not give another production for around 50 years. The first Venice production, at the Teatro La Fenice, was not until 1856. By contrast, in Vienna, in spite of censorship issues there, the Vienna Court Opera gave 422 performances over the years 1830-1907.

The famous overture:


JM

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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) V- 1829-1850

Mensaje  JM el Mar Dic 14, 2010 3:16 pm

263. Hector Berlioz -
Symphonie Fantastique (1830)



Recording


Title: Symphonie Fantastique
Performers: Boston Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Charles Munch
Year: 1954
Length: 46 minutes

Review

Now this is something completely different from anything else on this list until now. It is a programmatic symphony, but there is nothing particularly new about that, Beethoven had done it before with the Pastoral, its originality lies in its psychological depictions.

This might be the first piece of truly psychedelic music, composed under the influence of opium, this symphony follows the changing mental states of an artist culminating in a nightmarish hallucination set at a witches Sabbath.

The music is extremely evoking throughout, caring much less about harmonious beauty than depicting altered mental states, but achieving both at the same time. A truly original piece of music which is a joy to listen to attentively throughout.

Final Grade

10/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Leonard Bernstein described the symphony as the first musical expedition into psychedelia because of its hallucinatory and dream-like nature, and because history suggests Berlioz composed at least a portion of it under the influence of opium. According to Bernstein, "Berlioz tells it like it is. You take a trip, you wind up screaming at your own funeral."

Final Movement:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) V- 1829-1850

Mensaje  JM el Mar Dic 14, 2010 4:22 pm

264. Gaetano Donizetti -
Anna Bolena (1830)



Recording

Title: Anna Bolena
Performers: Maria Callas, Gianni Raimondi
Conductor: Giandrea Gavazzeni
Year: 1957
Length: 2 hours 20 minutes

Review


I sometimes get annoyed at the album selection in this list and never more so than when it is a really bad sounding recording of a cut opera just because it is sung by the insufferable Callas.

That is what happens here, while the opera is actually pretty great, Donizetti having managed to make the plot flow perfectly throughout with some great music attached to it, the recording recommended here is pretty bad. It is not even Callas' voice which annoys me much but the fact that the opera is missing some 40 minutes and the sound quality is terrible as is natural from a radio recording from the 50s.

I have watched the opera in its uncut form and it is a really great one, so I think that this is a great disservice to a great piece of music. You'd be better served with pretty much any other big name recording, Joan Sutherland's version being one example. Do watch and get this opera if you have the chance, but give this recording a miss.

Final Grade

10/10 (the opera itself)

6/10 (Recording)

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Anna Bolena was performed infrequently during the latter half of 19th century and early 20th century, but it was revived with more frequency in the post-war years. On December 30, 1947, the opera was performed at Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, celebrating the centennial of this theatre, which opened in 1847 with Anna Bolena. The cast was Sara Scuderi as Anna Bolena, Giulietta Simionato as Jane Seymour and Cesare Siepi as Henry VIII.

The Dallas Opera: Stephen Costello as Lord Percy in the 2010 production of Donizetti's ANNA BOLENA:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) V- 1829-1850

Mensaje  JM el Mar Dic 14, 2010 4:32 pm

265. Felix Mendelssohn -
The Hebrides, "Fingal's Cave" (1830)



Recording


Title: Overturen
Performers: London Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Claudio Abbado
Year: 1985
Length: 10 minutes

Review

Mendelssohn's Hebrides overture, which is really not an overture to anything but a piece of mood music designed to open all kinds of concerts , is a really great piece of music, not only in concept but in execution.

The concept is what is particularly interesting about it, in a way it is similar to programmatic works such as Beethoven's sixth symphony or Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, it does not, however, have any kind of plot.

Mendelssohn substitutes narrative for a simple evocation of place, you hear the sea alternatively furious and placid beating against the rocks of Fingal's Cave. The whole point of the music is an evocation of place and the feeling that that place inspires. And it works perfectly.

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia


From Wikipedia:

Mendelssohn first travelled to England at the invitation of a German lord after the composer's twentieth birthday. Following his tour of England, Mendelssohn proceeded to Scotland, where he composed his symphony number 3, the Scottish Symphony. He was engaged on a tour of Scotland with his travelling companion Karl Klingemann when he sent a postcard to his family with the opening phrase of the overture written on it. In a note to his sister, Fanny Mendelssohn he said: "In order to make you understand how extraordinarily The Hebrides affected me, I send you the following, which came into my head there."

Moores School Chamber Orchestra, Hector Aguero, Jr. conductor. plays The Hebrides Overture April 10, 2007.:



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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) V- 1829-1850

Mensaje  JM el Mar Dic 14, 2010 4:41 pm

266. Frederic Chopin -
Etudes (1830-37)



Recording


Title: Etudes for Piano Op. 10 & 25
Performers: Juana Zayas
Year: 1982
Length: 1 hour

Review

Chopin's Etudes are a phenomenal set of pieces designed to both teach and delight. They are imagined as exercises for the pianist in order to train different parts of the skills necessary to be a great pianist. Each movement focuses on a specific technical skill.

You would logically think that this would not make for the most attractive music, and such was the case in Etudes done before Chopin, but with him it all changes. Chopin manages to strike a great balance between utilitarianism and beauty.

Some of Chopin's most recognisable pieces are in fact part of these etudes, like number 3 and 12 of op. 10 and number 11 of op. 25. Quite admirable and beautiful stuff. It should be noted, however, that this Juana Zayas record is extremely hard to find, I couldn't find it and that I am basing my ideas on Murray Perahia's recording of the Etudes. Still Zayas' is the one recommended by the 1001 book.

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Unlike most previous technical studies, which sought to cultivate an independence of finger action driven from the wrist, Chopin's require the engagement of the entire playing mechanism from the shoulder downwards. For example, Op. 10, No. 1 consists of a series of wide broken chords whose span is unreachable for all but the largest hands — it is therefore necessary to use the arm to guide the fingers from note to note. Similarly, Op. 25, No. 10 is a study in octaves in both hands that requires powerful and flexible movements from the shoulders.

Sviatoslav Richter plays Op.25 n 11:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) V- 1829-1850

Mensaje  JM el Mar Dic 14, 2010 6:00 pm

267. Vincenzo Bellini - La Sonnambula (1831)


Recording


Title: La Sonnambula
Performers: Maria Callas, Cesare Valletti
Conductor: Leonard Bernstein
Year: 1955
Length: 2 hours 20 minutes

Review

Another opera and another recording with Callas. I hate Callas. That being said this is just not as good as Anna Bolena, the plot is bucolic to the point of boredom. It all hinges on what might have been an innovative plot engine at the time: A girl sleepwalks into the room of a man who is not her husband to be.

As you can imagine there are no surprises in the plot. Eventually it is discovered that she is a sleepwalker and all is solved. There are a couple of very good arias towards the end of the opera with some very good mixing of soloists, choir and orchestra.

From this we can see that Bellini has the potential to do great things when given a more interesting libretto. Norma is up the bend on this list so we'll see it then. The recording is another awful 1950s live recording. The lack of sound channels makes the choirs a horrible mess and the scenes that depend on the listener being able to distinguish the soloists from the choir even messier. That and Callas might have been pretty but has a voice which I can only consider annoying.

Final Grade

7/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Bellini's most pastoral work, it was an immediate success and is still regularly performed. The title role of Amina is renowned for its difficulty. Many great sopranos have tackled this role over the years. They include Adelina Patti, Maria Malibran, Lina Pagliughi, Lily Pons, Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland, Anna Moffo, Renata Scotto, Edita Gruberova, June Anderson, Luba Orgonasova, Natalie Dessay, Anna Netrebko, and Cecilia Bartoli.

Here's Callas singing Amina's sleepwalking scene:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) V- 1829-1850

Mensaje  JM el Miér Dic 15, 2010 2:10 pm

268. Felix Mendelssohn -
Piano Concerto no. 1 (1831)




Recording

Title: The Romantic Piano Concerto 17
Performers: Stephen Hough, City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Lawrence Foster
Year: 1997
Length: 18 minutes

Review

Another great piece by Felix Mendelssohn. It is weird to think how badly considered Mendelssohn was for such a long time, seen as a minor popular composer he is now finally coming into his own as a great early-romantic composer.

Maybe the fact that Mendelssohn's life was overall happier than that of many famous composer has put people against him. No one like a genius who is not extremely tormented. But hey, it's not his fault.

This quite short piano concerto is another example of great Mendelssohn music, the movements flow into each other perfectly with no separation between them, the music is very attractive and fluid and even if it isn't the best piano concerto around it shows Mendelssohn's composing talents beautifully.

Final Grade


9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

[The movements] use several relatively new formal techniques in their brief span — for example, the piano enters very soon after the opening of the first movement, with little of an orchestral tutti to contrast with. The concerto quickly obtained popularity, and contains many sections of improvisation, one of Mendelssohn's specialities.

Yuja Wang, piano
Kurt Masur, conductor
Verbier Festival Orchestra:




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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) V- 1829-1850

Mensaje  JM el Miér Dic 15, 2010 2:16 pm

269. Vincenzo Bellini -
Norma (1831)




Recording

Title: Norma
Performers: Joan Sutherland, Marilyn Horne
Conductor: Richard Bonynge
Year: 1964
Length: 3 hours

Review

After the slightly lacklustre Sonnambula Bellini gives us a truly great opera, Norma. Even if I might have some problems with the plot, where for such a strong female character Norma is a bit silly with men and her lover's conversion at the end is a bit too sudden, it is hard to fault it musically.

Musically it is a great opera indeed, from the truly impressive choirs to such beautiful arias as Casta Diva, Bellini does not put a foot wrong. It is also quite a good opera to watch, despite the plot faults it is never boring and there are enough points of musical interest to keep you paying attention throughout.

As Bel Canto goes, the title character of the opera is surely one of the most demanding in the repertoire and here Joan Sutherland does a great job of it... but she would. Recommended.

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

The title role is generally considered one of the most difficult in the soprano repertoire. It calls for tremendous vocal control of range, flexibility, and dynamics. It contains a wide range of emotions: conflict of personal and public life, romantic life, maternal love, friendship, jealousy, murderous intent, and resignation. German soprano Lilli Lehmann once famously remarked on how the singing of all three Brünnhildes in Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen in one evening was less stressful than the singing of one Norma.[2] However, her less famous reasoning was that "When you sing Wagner, you are so carried away by the dramatic emotion, the action, and the scene that you do not have to think how to sing the words. That comes of itself. But in Bellini, you must always have a care for beauty of tone and correct emission."

Casta Diva with Monserrat Caballe:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) V- 1829-1850

Mensaje  JM el Miér Dic 15, 2010 2:19 pm

270. Gaetano Donizetti -
L'Elisir d'Amore (1832)



Recording

Title: L'Elisir d'Amore
Performers: Luciano Pavarotti, Joan Sutherland
Conductor: Richard Bonynge
Year: 1970
Length: 2 hours 20 minutes

Review

Donizetti gives us a really fun opera. This is the kind of thing which could easily be adapted in terms of plot into a modern rom-com. There is not much depth to the story but it is thoroughly entertaining, and that is great.

Musically it is pretty good, it flows nicely with some stand-out moments in the doctor's aria or in the famous Una Furtiva Lagrima. It is not as great an opera as Anna Bolena, but it is still pretty good.

The fludity of the story coupled with some very attractive music makes the opera a joy to watch as well as listen to. Pavarotti is slightly suspect as a leading love interest seeing as he looks like an Ox even at this early stage, but his singing was then pretty great and so the recording with the great Joan Sutherland is more than recommended.

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:
L'elisir d'amore is one of the most frequently performed of all Donizetti's operas and there are a number of recordings. It appears as number twenty on Opera America's list of the 20 most-performed operas in North America.

Una Furtiva Lagrima:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) V- 1829-1850

Mensaje  JM el Miér Dic 15, 2010 2:27 pm

271. Giochinno Rossini -
Stabat Mater (1832, rev. 1841)



Recording


Title: Stabat Mater
Performers: Luba Orgonasova, Cecilia Bartoli, Wiener Philharmonic
Conductor: Myung-Whun Chung
Year: 1995
Length: 58 minutes

Review

Rossini's Stabat Mater is a truly impressive piece of religious music, there is an innate sense of theatre to Rossini's music which is here perfectly applied to the theatre of Catholic ritual.

This being said there is nothing particularly original about it, Rossini is not the most original of composers and this Stabat Mater is looking back at religious music with some operatic moments which are very much Rossini's own as in the second movement for example.

It is in the great set pieces that begin and finish the Stabat Mater that Rossini's theatricality most impresses, this is music that knows perfectly well what it is doing and does it well. The lack of originality is not much of a set back for music which serves its purpose so powerfully and beautifully.

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Stabat Mater is a thirteenth century Roman Catholic sequence variously attributed to Innocent III and Jacopone da Todi. Its title is an abbreviation of the first line, Stabat mater dolorosa ("The sorrowful mother stood"). The hymn, one of the most powerful and immediate of extant medieval poems, meditates on the suffering of Mary, Jesus Christ's mother, during his crucifixion. It is sung at the liturgy on the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.

Jennifer Larmore sings:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) V- 1829-1850

Mensaje  JM el Miér Dic 15, 2010 2:32 pm

272. Felix Mendelssohn -
Symphony no. 4, "Italian" (1833)



Recording


Title: Mendelssohn: Symphony No.4 "Italian"; Brahms Symphony No. 3
Performers: Philharmonia Orchestra
Conductor: Guido Cantelli
Year: 1951
Length: 26 minutes

Review

Many of Mendelssohn's works might not be immediately recognisable by title, but as soon as you hear them you know you've heard them countless times before, such is the case with this Symphony. Mendelssohn made such immediately appealing music and such perfect incidental music that almost all movements here have been used time and again.

This Symphony is another product of Mendelssohn's trips around Europe, like the Hebrides overture before it. Here he uses themes taken from traditional Italian music, particularly in the first and last movement, and the whole thing has a very joyous power.

The slightly mournful second movement also has little gleams of light through it. One of the reasons for Mendelssohn's popularity among a wider audience is the same that has led critics to be disparaging: this very present happiness. At least by this time Mendelssohn was anything but tormented, and it shows. This is not to say however that he was not a great composer, he just proved that you don't need to be unhappy to produce great music.

Final Grade

8/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

he Italian Symphony was finished in Berlin, 13 March, 1833, in response to an invitation for a symphony from the London (now Royal) Philharmonic Society; he conducted the first performance himself in London on 13 May 1833, at a London Philharmonic Society concert. The symphony's success, and Mendelssohn's popularity, influenced the course of British music for the rest of the century.

First Movement:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) V- 1829-1850

Mensaje  JM el Miér Dic 15, 2010 2:38 pm

273. Hector Berlioz -
Harold en Italie (1834)



Recording


Title: Harold en Italie
Performers: Tabea Zimmermann, London Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Colin Davis
Year: 2003
Length: 41 minutes


Review


Berlioz is one of the true original composers, a case that comes around once in a blue moon, his originality is not only in conceptual terms but also in musical terms, and the two are intimately related.

As before in his Symphonie Fantastique, Berlioz inspires himself in literature to compose music, in this case Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. This allows Berlioz to be considerably more expressive in his music, sacrificing all nice things to serving the emotional requirements of the literary creation.

At moments this work is beautiful while in other it is brutal, at times epic and at other tender, and all of it might happen inside the same movement. When depicting emotion Berlioz finds the fast-slow-fast-fast idea quite against nature. This is a truly new approach in music and Berlioz is a master of it. Great recording.

Final Grade

10/10

Trivia


From Wikipedia:

Lord Byron's poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage inspired the mood of Harold. The poem is a fragment of an epic with a quintessentially Romantic hero. Berlioz wrote, "My intention was to write a series of orchestral scenes, in which the solo viola would be involved as a more or less active participant while retaining its own character. By placing it among the poetic memories formed from my wanderings in the Abruzzi, I wanted to make the viola a kind of melancholy dreamer in the manner of Byron’s Childe-Harold." That he had recycled some of the material from his discarded concert overture, Rob-Roy went unmentioned.

Performance of the second movement of Berlioz' "Harold in Italy" by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Performed at Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv Israel:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) V- 1829-1850

Mensaje  JM el Miér Dic 15, 2010 2:48 pm

274. Gaetano Donizetti -
Lucia di Lammermoor (1835)



Recording


Title: Lucia Di Lammermoor
Performers: Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti,
Conductor: Richard Bonynge
Year: 1971
Length: 3 hours

Review


Another opera with a romantic heroin that goes a bit crazy and ends very badly. So yes, it is kind of a clichéd one, but it is also one of the best of its kind, so you have to give it props.

There is no mad scene like Lucia's mad scene, and only for that, as a great example of a huge genre at this time, the opera is worth its place in any collection. Donizetti, much like his contemporary Bellini, is a consummate composer and storyteller and the opera is a compelling one.

Of the two Opera composer's we've been listening to lately Donizetti is the best of the two, his operas are more consistently entertaining and musically engaging. Lucia is a great addition to any collection with some excellent moments of drama which are sure to test any singer. Sutherland rises to the occasion in this great recording.

Final Grade

8/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

For decades Lucia was considered to be a mere showpiece for coloratura sopranos and was a little-known part of the operatic repertory. However, after World War II, a small number of technically-able sopranos, the most notable of whom were Maria Callas and Dame Joan Sutherland, revived the opera in all of its original tragic glory. Sutherland's performances in the role at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in 1959 and repeated in 1960 established Lucia as her calling card.

Natalie Dessay as Lucia performing the aria "Il dolce suono" Metropolitan Opera, NY, 2007:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) V- 1829-1850

Mensaje  JM el Miér Dic 15, 2010 2:51 pm

275. Vincenzo Bellini -
I Puritani (1835)



Recording


Title: I Puritani
Performers: Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti,
Conductor: Richard Bonynge
Year: 1973
Length: 3 hours

Review

Some of these Italian Romantic operas have the "gift" of often blending into each other. This one feels like an inferior Lucia di Lamermoor at times, from the very long mad scene and histrionics of the Romantic heroine to parts of the plot.

Bellini is just not as good as Donizetti, his great masterwork, Norma, does deserve all the praise it gets, however, his further career is much more checkered and this is a case of an opera where it doesn't come off that brilliantly.

The plot is unoriginal, even if it does end well, an uncommon event for this time. The singing is not as spectacular as that in Norma or in Donizetti's operas and really, while being nowhere near bad, there were much better things at the time, making this opera feel like a bit of a pointless addition to the list.

Final Grade

7/10

Trivia


From Wikipedia:

Libretto by Count Carlo Pepoli based on Têtes rondes et Cavaliers by Jacques-François Ancelot and Joseph Xavier Saintine. First produced at the Théâtre-Italien in Paris, January 24, 1835. At the same time, Bellini composed an alternative version intended for the famous Maria Malibran, who was to sing it in Naples; in fact, this version was not performed on stage until April 10, 1986 at the Teatro Petruzzelli, Bari.

A te o cara - Roma 1990:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) V- 1829-1850

Mensaje  JM el Miér Dic 15, 2010 3:18 pm

276. Robert Schumann -
Etudes Symphoniques (1835, rev. 1852)



Recording

Title: Symphonic Etudes, Op.13; Piano Concerto, Op.54; Cello Concerto, Op. 129.
Performers: Murray Perahia
Year: 1976
Length: 20 minutes

Review

The first entry by Schumann on the list is not a very impressive one, however, it is a very competent one. This is a collection of Piano etudes, and much as in the work of Chopin, these are meant to be exercises in piano technique.

Like Chopin, Schumann also manages to make these etudes pleasant to listen to, beyond the simple utilitarianism that would be obvious for such exercises in piano technique.

Unlike Chopin, however, Schumann does not manage to be as expressive in his etudes, and even if the pieces are enjoyable to listen to, they never achieve the emotional charge present in Chopin's etudes. It is, of course, unfair to compare anyone to Chopin, but that's what you get when you come after him.

Final Grade

8/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

The first edition in 1837 carried an annotation that the tune was "the composition of an amateur": this referred to the origin of the theme, which had been sent to Schumann by Baron von Fricken, guardian of Ernestine von Fricken, the Estrella of his Carnaval Op. 9. The baron, an amateur musician, had used the melody in a Theme with Variations for flute. Schumann had been engaged to Ernestine in 1834, only to break abruptly with her the year after. An autobiographical element is thus interwoven in the genesis of the Études symphoniques (as in that of many other masterpieces of Schumann's).

Lovro Pogorelich plays Schumann Etudes symphoniques:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) V- 1829-1850

Mensaje  JM el Miér Dic 15, 2010 3:22 pm

277. Rober Schumann -
Carnaval (1835)



Recording

Title: Carnaval, Fantasiestucke, Papillons
Performers: Marc-Andre Hamelin
Year: 1999
Length: 30 minutes

Review

Schumann's Carnaval is slightly more interesting than his Etudes, this is good progress here Mr. Schumann. Still it is less than overwhelming music. It consists of a set of short portraits in a way almost reminiscent of programmatic Harpsichord music of yestercentury.

Some of the pieces are very successful, others not so much, but his music is generally quite expressionistic and shows the romantic movement in full swing, down to his twin personalities of Eusebius and Florestan.

So the fact that this is a mixed bag, with moments of brilliance permeating the music is its ultimate downfall. Still waiting for Schumann to really astound me, and I am sure that there will be works in the future where it will happen.... fingers crossed.

Final Grade

8/10

Trivia


From Wikipedia:

Among those who have orchestrated Carnaval are Maurice Ravel.
It was choreographed for a ballet for a Diaghilev production, with orchestrations by Alexander Glazunov, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Anatoly Lyadov and Alexander Tcherepnin.

Arrau plays Carnaval:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) V- 1829-1850

Mensaje  JM el Miér Dic 15, 2010 3:26 pm

278. Robert Schumann -
Piano Sonata no. 1 (1835)



Recording

Title: Carnaval, Piano Sonata no.1
Performers: Evgeny Kissin
Year: 2001
Length: 31 minutes


Review

I must be a bit square when I come to classical music, but in general I much prefer more fixed structures such as the sonata than more freestyle stuff such as the previous Carnaval by Schumann. I think the longer formats help the music develop and really sink in.

So I enjoyed this sonata much more than the previous works by Schumann on this list. The first movement here is particularly great with a very interesting shift from a moody and beautiful introduction to a livelier and more passionate continuation.

The essential thing to understand about Schumann's music is the twin personalities that he described as Eusebius and Florestan, one more reserved, romantic and poetic and another one extremely passionate and extroverted. These two are very present in this sonata making for a very interesting listening experience.


Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Schumann has not often been confused with Austrian composer Franz Schubert, but one well-known example occurred in 1956, when East Germany issued a pair of postage stamps featuring Schumann's picture against an open score that featured Schubert's music. The stamps were soon replaced by a pair featuring music written by Schumann.

Berman plays:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) V- 1829-1850

Mensaje  JM el Miér Dic 15, 2010 3:30 pm

279. Frederic Chopin -
Ballades (1835-43)



Recording


Title: 4 Ballades
Performers: Krystian Zimerman
Year: 1988
Length: 38 minutes

Review

Chopin is that always reliable composer. He might by now be a complete cliché, but the truth is he got there by just being so good at what he did. These four Ballades, extensive single movement piano pieces, show off his skill at changing emotions in music.

So yeah I really liked this, the great highlights here are the first and fourth Ballades, maybe because they are longer and so Chopin has more space to develop his music.

Chopin is the distillation of Romantic piano music, at times he can be almost maudlin, but he never quite gets there, staying just on the right side of good taste. These pieces are perfect examples of the skill of Chopin at portraying constantly shifting emotions, the Ballade seems like a very free format and this just makes Chopin's exploration all that better.

Final Grade

10/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

The Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23 is the first of Frédéric Chopin's four ballades for solo piano. It was composed in 1835-36 during the composer's early days in Paris and is dedicated to "Monsieur le Baron de Stockhausen," Hanoverian ambassador to France.

The ballade was played twice by Janusz Olejniczak in the Roman Polanski film The Pianist. The first time, a few bars are heard when the pianist Władysław Szpilman "plays the piano" in the air in the abandoned German hospital. The second time, an approximately 4 minute-cut is heard in the film, while a full version is included in the film soundtrack.

In the 1944 Ingrid Bergman film Gaslight, the ballade was played by a pianist at the musical gathering she attends.

In the 80s series Beauty and the Beast it can be heard in the third season episode entitled Walk Slowly on Catherine Chandler's sound system.

In the film Thank You For Smoking, the 2nd variation on the andante section can be heard in the background during Heather Holloway and Nick Naylor's conversation in the restaurant.

Zimerman plays Ballade no. 1:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) V- 1829-1850

Mensaje  JM el Miér Dic 15, 2010 3:36 pm

280. Giacomo Meyerbeer -
Les Huguenots (1836)



Recording

Title: Les Huguenots
Performers: Joan Sutherland
Conductor: Richard Bonynge
Year: 1969
Length: 4 hours

Review

Meyerbeer brings us one of the most musically interesting operas for a while on this list. The fact that he was filthy rich and therefore able to do what he wanted might factor heavily into this.

Gone are the populisms of Donizetti and Bellini, who, talented as they were, were catering for a very specific audience. Meyerbeer on the other hand is a freer spirit and the orchestration is often surprising.

Where it all falls flat is in the plot which is supremely uninteresting and cliched. Again this is a opera best heard and not seen, in that respect this recording is pretty great and highly recommended.

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Following five years after Meyebeer's own Robert le diable and a year after Fromental Halévy's La Juive, Les Huguenots consolidated the genre of Grand Opera, in which the Paris Opéra would specialise for the next generation, and which became a major box-office attraction for opera houses all over the world.

Hector Berlioz's contemporary account is full of praise: with 'Meyerbeer in command at the first desk [of violins] [...] from beginning to end I found [the orchestral playing] superb in its beauty and refinement [...] The richness of texture in the Pré-aux-Clercs scene [act III] [...] was extraordinary, yet the ear could follow it with such ease that every strand in the composer's complex thought was continually apparent - a marvel of dramatic counterpoint'.

Aria:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) V- 1829-1850

Mensaje  JM el Miér Dic 15, 2010 3:41 pm

281. Felix Mendelssohn -
String Quartets, op. 44 (1837-38)



Recording


Title: The Complete String Quartets
Performer: Pacifica Quartet
Year: 2004
Length: 54 minutes


Review


Yes, this same recording has been on the list before with a different set of String Quartets by Mendelssohn. I do like Mendelssohn but this collection was really not the best stuff by him.

It feels a bit too backward looking, particularly taking into account the innovative things being done in the piano... in fact it often looks back beyond Beethoven's innovation in this genre.

Nonetheless, it is some pretty nice music to listen to. The whole thing is pervaded by Mendelssohn's trademark sunny disposition, sometimes to a fault. Some lovely stuff here but not much new.

Final Grade

7/10

Trivia


From Wikipedia:

Mendelssohn's first two numbered quartets were published out of order, whilst his next three quartets were published together as Op. 44 and were all dedicated to Crown Prince Gustavus of Sweden.

Op. 44 no.3:


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) V- 1829-1850

Mensaje  JM el Miér Dic 15, 2010 3:46 pm

282. Robert Schumann -
Davidsbündlertänze (1837)



Recording

Title: Davidsbündlertänze, Waldszenen, Fantasiestucke
Performer: Andreas Haelfliger
Year: 1991
Length: 34 minutes


Review

Another sequence of short piano pieces by Robert Schumann. Again this is not my favourite kind of piano piece, I much prefer a more extended genre like the sonata or the concerto.

The problem with this is that Schumann seems to have some good ideas which don't really have time to develop. So it often seems like a missed opportunity. As little songs without words or dances they are quite good.

So another album by Schumann which I did not particularly like but in the end quite enjoyed. Still hoping for better stuff, actually I think this format will be quite good when it comes to the really big sequence of lieder that we will have here.

Final Grade

8/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Schumann named them after the imaginary Davidsbündler. The pieces are not true dances, but are characteristic pieces, musical dialogues about contemporary music between Schumann's characters Florestan and Eusebius. These respectively represent the impetuous and the lyrical, poetic sides of Schumann's nature. Each piece is ascribed to one or both of them.

Davidsbündlertänze, opus 6, part I
solo piano Prof. George Hadjinikos
Estudiantina Hall (12-14 Nordau, Athens), 24th April 2010


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Re: 1001 classical works (The best) V- 1829-1850

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