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Upon my leaving Stereophile, Michael Lavorgna sent me one of the many many nice emails I received, closing with, if I ever wanted to guest-write for his computer-audio site, he would like that.
Took me a little time to come up with a "hook," but, there has been up since last week a nice little column--the writing style might be familiar to a few of you... .
The task I assigned myself was to persuade people to check out great pieces of music since 1950 (therefore, no Bartok Concerto for Orchesta) that were not Neo-Romantic or Neo-Anything (therefore, no Howard Hanson and no Morten Lauridsen), all of which had to have personal resonance for me--this was not a case of "eat your spinach, it is good for you" (much less, "Put on a sweater; I'm cold").
So, please check it out and please make any comments there as well as here.
Thanks to all,
A Small group is rehearsing at Benny's Flat.
One of the Players says, "It's kind of cold in here, don't you think?"
Benny says, "You're right, I'll be right back.
He comes back wearing a sweater...!
Zoot Sims toured Russia in BG's band in the 60s on a State Dept. tour.
Upon return, someone asked Zoot what it was like playing with BG in
Zoot replied to the effect that playing with Benny anytime or anywhere
was like playing in Russia.
I kind of agree with jdaniel that almost any new music can be shoe-horned into some kind of neo-something-or-other, so I wouldn't autmatically eliminate neo-Romantic music, or neo-neo-classic music! I'd HAVE to include Joaquin Rodrigo, even though his Concierto de Aranjuez from 1939 (with that slow movement which now always evokes "the fine Corinthian leather"!) doesn't make the chronological cut. But a lot of his other popular works do: Fantasía para un gentilhombre (1954), Concierto madrigal for two guitars (1966), Concierto Andaluz for four guitars (1967), etc., etc. You've just gotta include Rodrigo! ;-)
I also agree with jdaniel's inclusion of something by Ligeti - especially, in my view, his Etudes from the 1990's, which have really seemed to be taken up by a lot of pianists these days. Maybe you could say that some of Ligeti's music is neo-Bartok, while some of his tone-cluster music (the choral works in "2001") might be neo-Ives. (Why do I like Ligeti so much better than I do Ives though?)
How 'bout neo-Jazz as classical music? Kapustin swears he's not a jazz composer, but his music sure sounds like jazz to me - to be specific, as one critic cleverly put it, a cross between Sergei Liapunov and Oscar Peterson!
As for Hovhaness, I really like that Reiner recording of Mysterious Mountain you picked, but I get even more of a kick out his Mt. St. Helens Symphony, the third movement of which ("The Eruption") never fails to put a smile on my face! I also love Hovhaness' harp and guitar music with harpist Yolanda Kondonassis on a Telarc SACD.
I see you also have some music by Takemitsu on your list. For about the last year or so, oldmkvi has been trying to get me to like Takemitsu, and I'm so not there yet! Maybe I just haven't "cracked the code" yet - LOL!
Glad to see Arvo Part on your list - I like a lot of what I've heard by Part too. (Sorry, our server says, "No umlauts today!") I'd probably go with one of his choral works though - maybe the "De Profundis" from 1980.
Finally, I also applaud you for omitting any music by Stockhausen from your list! ;-)
Oh, the heck with it, never mind!
Enjoy your lack of Stockhausen, while it lasts...
I'm going to Mendocino for a week to play Alto in the Music Fest Big Band.
I'm taking my Zeitmas CD, so I (at least) will be OK.
Right! But who knows? - Maybe Vanessa will come out with yet another Stockhausen album which I'll feel a strange compulsion to buy! ;-)
OTOH, some of the Geigengirlies and Klaviergirlies I've posted about over the years seem to be nearing their expiration dates! ;-)
Well, at least that's Something!
I may have to come over and infect your new gear with
a Stockhausen Medley.
Think of it as an Intervention...
he's a bit too amorphous and reminds me of Maderna. (Sinopoli's DGG Maderna lp is really impressive, IMHO).
Of course Ligeti's cloud music is amorphous too, but somehow is more riveting to my ears.
You CANNOT leave that masterpiece off a list like that! ;-)
I can go with either ending. I think a lot depends on how the rest of the symphony is conducted and whether the conductor wants to bring out the irony that I hear in the music or the gloom. Was this the first stereo recording? According to The Gramophone both the 1st and 7th symphonies were recorded by Nicolai Malko in February 1955 as EMI's first stereo recordings intended for commercial release. The 2-track stereo tapes were released in 10-1955 (1st) and 8-1956 (7th).
Malko was Russian. His recording was made only a few years after the work's composition. The recording is excellent and belies its age. It's a bit distant, but has fine detailed string sound, a wide dynamic range, and good top and bottom in the frequency response. The important tuba part is easy to hear. The sound expands nicely at climaxes. Malko doesn't let the tempo drag in the 1st movement and keeps the texture light to avoid any excessive gloominess. The 2nd movement is quickly and powerfully conducted, the 3rd lyrical and simple. In the final movement he sets a very brisk tempo and chooses the "happy" ending. The last bars are accelerated slightly. The ending seems appropriate. I like to think there is something authentically Russian in this performance. I have other recordings, but none I prefer more than this one. Surely this work belongs on the list. Thanks for mentioning it, Chris.
And I agree with everything you say about that recording, including the excellent two-channel sound. The CD reissue took the Classics for Pleasure cover for some reason:
It was one of those recordings that was first issued as an RCA LP in this country apparently by some arrangement with EMI. It seems to have foreshadowed the mania for humorous covers that really got going in the mid-60's:
Malko seems to have been an interesting character. I think that one of the Testament reissues shows a picture of Malko with a chimp on his shoulder! (Unfortunately, I can't find it on Google Images.) He also apparently used to harass Walter Legge to give him more recording assignments, which Legge seemed to dole out to him with reluctance! ;-)
Thanks for the reminder that RCA issued the two Malko recordings. I had forgotten about them. RCA also issued them on two stereo 2-track tapes in 1956.
RCA had a long relationship with EMI to issue its recordings in the US through the 78 rpm era. This changed in 1955 when EMI bought Capitol Records and established the Angel label to release its classical recordings in the US. Somehow there must have been an agreement to release the Prokofiev symphonies. No other EMI recordings followed. However, RCA had a short-lived distribution of the EMI His Master's Voice and Columbia 2-track tapes. These show up on eBay from time to time with a small RCA sticker. They were duplicated with the US NARTB equalization rather than the European CCIR (IEC) equalization.
A small number of 2-track tapes were issued under the Angel label in 1959 imported from England with NARTB equalization. With the advent of stereo LPs and 4-track tapes, they quickly disappeared. Some obscure, but interesting information, from the early days of stereo.
listen to it. Prokofiev's muse in a wheel chair.
to see if I can use Audacity to peel the tacked-on ending off Andrew Litton's otherwise superb outing with the Bergen Philharmonic. (I like the Rozhdestvensky Melodiya, too.)
I shouldn't admit this, but I actually prefer it (even though Prokofiev himself didn't!). ;-)
I think it destroys the spirit and flow of the movement and the overall arc of the symphony. But that's just me. :-)
You're right that the "happy" ending doesn't fit as well with the mood of the symphony's opening (i.e., in the first movement), so in that sense, an overall arc is made very clear (going back to the slower, haunting opening). But, OTOH, it does fit better with the main idea of the last movement. Actually, I like both endings - but maybe the happy ending just a bit more. And besides, Prokofiev HAD to write that happy ending because he needed the money from the Stalin Prize! ;-)
Got six more? ;-)
Make that five more. ;-)
Take a look at BMOP.
I am also aware of their Lou Harrison "La Koro Sutro" w/Providence Singers (duuh); but they are as unwilling to send me a review copy as I am to pay for another version of something I already own.
Enneweigh, the preamble of my guest column was in accordance with Michael Lavorgna's requirement that the recordings have personal resonance... or, as I would put it, not just be spinach that is good for you to eat.
I have listened online to various BMOP projects, but not one is on my Desert Island list.
Great musical ideas **plus** the ability to work the material to satisfying ends, humor, startlingly imaginative as an orchestrator, in other words, Ligeti possesses that elusive "X" factor.
Now that I've made it all about me, I'm glad to see Hovhaness up there. Part often seems like a Neo-Renaissance kind of guy, to me. I've not thrilled to Adams since his Harmonielehre. I'll check out the Dharma!
Esa Pekka Salonen. Starting with his phenomenal piano concerto. It's been a real treat over the years to see him conduct his own compositions in the concert hall he helped build.
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