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 » 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!

Re: Track of the week

by Erian » Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:04 pm

Track #26. Symphony No 3 in C minor, Op 78 'Organ', by Camille Saint-Saëns

Played here by the Orchestre de Paris conducted by Paavo Jarvi at a BBC prom (turn up the volume!):
I gave everything to it I was able to give. What I have here accomplished, I will never achieve again.
Beautiful melodic symphony, which starts ethereally and ends with one of the great uplifting symphonic finales. This is a super performance. I have heard it played live a couple of times (well worth trying to catch a live performance), but recordings fail very often to balance the organ and orchestra well. Here, the balance is spot on: you can even hear the organ pedals at some points, something I never heard before on the recordings I've listened to - I own four different recordings (I'm ashamed to discover).

My stepfather introduced me to this symphony; it became something of a bond between us. I came to know Saint-Saens' music very well, playing it frequently. There are five symphonies (two un-numbered) and five piano concertos in the late romantic tradition, and all sorts of other concerti, orchestral and chamber music and operas. He's probably most famous for Danse macabre and carnival of the Animals.

The finale, from about 28 minutes in, is stunning.

Re: Track of the week

by Erian » Tue Jul 24, 2018 7:24 pm

Track #25. The Music Weaver, by Sandy Denny. ... haVapOCplc

Hard to listen to this without crying. Sandy Denny died in 1978 in odd circumstances, possibly suicide and possibly not. What a loss.

Some of her other songs are better known, "It'll Take A Long Time" for example. She is maybe better famed for being the lead vocalist for Fairport Convention, a group in the sixties and seventies which - contemporaneously with Steeleye Span, Pentangle, and others - re-established folk-related music for post WWII generations and gave some of us an alternative to Slade. This particular song, sung as usual with extraordinary emotional range, evokes for me her sadness and emptiness.

Here is a clip to a live performance, also compelling:

Re: Track of the week

by Erian » Fri Jul 06, 2018 2:06 pm

Track #24. Fantasia on a theme of Thomas Tallis, by Ralph Vaughan-Wiliams

For me, this is the sound of how it is to be English.

Written in 1910 and designed to be played in Gloucester Cathedral, the orchestra is split into three distant parts as in this recording. I have heard it played only in the concert hall, but I'd love to hear it in the intended setting.

Tallis was an Elizabethan composer, one of the great early English composers. I've sung one of his pieces for evensong in Durham Cathedral. Vaughan-Williams is a hugely under-rated English composer, with a lot of very fine orchestral and symphonic output. His tragedy was to live through the Great War, with so many friends lost in a futile war fought by lions and led by donkeys. I've sung his Sea symphony and a little choral gem called Benedicite.

Re: Track of the week

by Ramael » Sun Jun 24, 2018 5:40 pm

Beautiful. Thank you. :)

Re: Track of the week

by Erian » Mon Jun 18, 2018 2:53 pm

Track #23 Satyagraha, by Philip Glass

There are also links to snippets, of which the most accessible is the Evening Song:

And, if you can spend only one minute (!!):

The middle clip is a clip I first heard sometime in the eighties. In those days, CDs were a new phenomenon and there used to be a magazine called Classic CD which came with a disc compilation of latest classical releases. This clip was on one such compilation. I had never heard anything like it before and got to love it. Many years later I found a second-hand set of CDs holding the full opera, and listened to it over and over again.

Satyagraha (meaning approximately the forcefulness of truth) is a term Gandhi used for his non-violent civil resistance movement, leading eventually to the ending of the British Empire in India and - ultimately - the ending of apartheid in South Africa.

The music is minimalist and tuneful. It can feel rhythmically repetitive, but it's easy to fall under it's spell. As you can read in youtube comments, a lot of people find the music deeply emotional.

Re: Track of the week

by Erian » Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:20 pm

Track #22 Piano Concerto no. 3 by Sergei Prokofiev

Played here by Martha Argerich

This is a stunning piece, full of energy. It takes a few hearings to get the tunes and the rhythms, but well worth it. My phone ringtone is a snippet I recorded from the final movement. My memory isn't entirely secure, but I think I got to love this piece watching the film The Competition; it awoke in me the realisation that dissonant music can be great:

Here is a clip from the film; very bad sound quality, but emotive: