Track of the week

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Topic review

Expand view Topic review: Track of the week

Re: Track of the week

by Erian » Thu Nov 29, 2018 3:40 pm

Track #33. Piano Concerto no. 4 in G by Beethoven

Played here by Mitsuko Uchida and the Bavarian RSO under Mariss Jansons:

I was told a few years ago by a music director that the classical world falls into two parts: those who love Bach and those who love Beethoven. Put me firmly into the Beethoven camp. Everything he wrote is worth knowing better. So many tunes, so many melodies and rhythms, so much energy, texture, dynamism, love, spirituality, humanity, life. He wears his heart on his sleeve, like I do, warts and all. He is unquestionably my number one composer. I could have picked a dozen pieces of his so far and set them as tracks #1 to #12, but which to pick? For this track, I pondered possibilities. It came down to this or the 8th Symphony - a fabulous piece of music which is hardly known because the other great symphonies (5th, 6th, 7th, 9th) overshadow it so completely.

The 4th concerto has added meaning for me, because it's something I played a lot after I started to emerge from my mental breakdown in my 20s. There was just something in it that helped uplift my spirit. The version I played then, and still have, is played by the marvellous Alfred Brendel with the Chigago SO under James Levine. This youtube recording starts off with an interview with the pianist in which she tries to describe her feelings about the piece, which I guess must be akin to mine.

The 5th concerto is also a wonderful piece and much more famous.

Re: Track of the week

by Meilir » Mon Nov 19, 2018 2:32 pm

I love how you keep us all cultured^^ Without those tracks Easy might become a tribe of neanderthals.

Re: Track of the week

by Erian » Mon Nov 19, 2018 1:50 pm

Track #32. St. John Passion, by JS Bach

Performed wonderfully here by the Netherlands Bach Society, Jos van Veldhoven, conductor.

Listening to this, many different thoughts cross my mind. The intellect of Bach, beyond my comprehension. The very modern-sounding sonic picture, with its dissonances and rhythms, but written in 1724. The difficulty of the music - I have sung it in Durham Cathedral and it was both physically and mentally extremely taxing. The total immersion and certainty in the North German protestant faith of the time.

If you listen to all of it, you'll notice that many of the segments are (now) well-known hymns. There is an example at 1:12:40.

The St Matthew Passion is better known and more often performed, though quite a bit longer.

Re: Track of the week

by Erian » Fri Oct 26, 2018 11:29 am

Track #31. Concerto for 2 Violins in A-Major "per eco in lontano" RV552, by Antonio Vivaldi.

Played here by Japanese students. Not the best sound quality, but you can see what is going on. I love the conversation between the two violins, one set off-stage.

Sonically I prefer the recording I bought a very long time ago, with soloists Franco Tamponi and Walter Gallozzi and I Musici directed by Felix Ayo. It can be found here, ripped from vinyl:

There's lots to explore if you only know Vivaldi through the Four Seasons. Some of it can be a bit samey, but when it's played with energy it's very appealing. Here is another two-violin concerto (RV522) played with fire:

Re: Track of the week

by Erian » Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:58 pm

Track #30. Fratres, by Arvo Part.

Performed here by Mari Samuelson and Trondheim soloists.

Part made several versions of Fratres; I think this is the version known as Fratres for Violin, Strings, and Percussion. On the CD I have, there are also versions for Cello and Piano, Strings and Percussion, 8 Cellos, and so forth. This is a stunning performance, although a little marred by the soloist not quite nailing the highest notes at the end of the piece.

This is music that defies pigeon-holing, just forcing you to listen amd make your own judgements.

Here also is the better-known Spiegel im Spiegel, simply mesmerising:

Re: Track of the week

by Erian » Mon Oct 01, 2018 4:56 pm

Track #29. Mass in D by Antonin Dvorak, op 86.

This youtube version is easily the best I found. I can't translate the Czech, but it seems to be a small but good quality choir based in Prague singing a chamber version of the work. The soloists are very good, not oversinging, and the balance in the choir and the choir-orchestra balance is spot on. The quality of the recording is poor, alas. There is a more mainstream orchestral version here:

This is one of the sublime religious works, bringing a choke to the throat of even the most hardened atheist such as myself. Dvorak was an incomparable tunesmith, but here the inventive melodies are matched to a profound presentation of complete faith that I find quite emotional. The Credo is especially fine, and it's ending is one of the most moving beautiful passages written anywhere by anyone.

Footnote: I have twice tried to write this over the last few weeks, both previous times we have had power cuts and I lost everything. Maybe God is trying to have a quiet word.

Re: Track of the week

by Erian » Mon Sep 03, 2018 3:13 pm

Track #28. Sinfonietta, by Leos Janacek

Here's a recording by the Halle Orchestra under Mark Elder at a BBC prom in 2011:

The great composers generate a unique, immediately identifiable, sound picture. So it is with Janacek. Nothing else sounds like it. The Sinfonietta is full of energy and rhythym and brassy quirkinesses, and memorable passages. I'm fond also of the Glagolitic Mass and his opera The Cunning Little Vixen.

This reminds me also of coming home to dinner from school and watching Crown Court, for which this (the 4th movement) was the signature music. The 5th movement is a very fine multi-layered triumphant finale.

Vitki, there is hope for us both. Nearly all Janacek's music, and all his major pieces, were written very late in his life. Sinfonietta was composed when he was 72. All the more remarkable is that he was born in 1854, and yet this piece is notably modern-sounding.

Re: Track of the week

by Tsumecho » Mon Aug 20, 2018 8:12 pm

I've been listening to a load of Ludvico Einaudi lately, he tends to do mostly piano stuff, sometimes solo, sometimes with accompaniment, the below is one of my favourites, I really like the build of of tension, that despite expectation, never releases.

Re: Track of the week

by Erian » Mon Aug 20, 2018 4:05 pm

Track #27. Talk to me of Mendocino, by Kate and Anna McGarrigle.

Very evocative.

I listen to their albums quite a lot, both the English records and the French. There is often a social commentary in their songs, coupled to a sweetness of melody and harmony. Kate died of cancer a few years ago. I first came across them at uni in 1975, and didn't think much of them at the time, but they've grown on me over the years. This song, written by Kate, is on their 1976 debut album. I'm especially fond of their 1996 album Matapedia, also with some fine songs from Kate.

Re: Track of the week

by Tan » Mon Aug 13, 2018 9:10 am

I first heard the Danse Macabre in the Ghost Hall in the Efteling when i was a child, and it's one of the very rare childhood memories i have (i can still picture vividly the dark room with the skeletons as they dance on those tones, it's uncanny!).
So Saint-Saens is definitely a topper on my list. Still get the chills when i listen to it on high volume.
I have a few of his compositions transwritten to piano but you can't have those last minutes he works up to (frequently in his pieces) as in a great orchestra!