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Classical Beginner

Posted on April 19, 2000 at 10:46:51

I have begun to listen to an increasingly large amount of classical music recently, but I need some advice. I have a few favorites so far: Beethoven's 9th, Vivaldi's 4 seasons, quite a bit of Mozart. Unfortunately, for the uninitiated like myself, there are such vast numbers of classical recordings available, it becomes difficult to decide what to purchase. Keeping in mind my listed favorites so far, does anyone have any recommendations as to what additional music may be to my liking? Also, does anyone have recomendations as to good performances or recordings of my favorites? Thanks for any input.


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Re: Classical Beginner, posted on April 19, 2000 at 11:11:46

Just hang around nobody. ( Funny name, never knew anybody called nobody.)

All those composers you mention are being discussed and otherwise a stroll through the archives might give you what you want.



Re: Classical Beginner, posted on April 19, 2000 at 13:58:13

Hello Rob, would you mind giving Nobody (very spiritual moniker anyway) Ears' list along with your additional list? I tried to find them in achives but failed. regards.


Re: Classical Beginner, posted on April 19, 2000 at 14:37:26

Here's Ears + Rob list, slightly rearranged.


Great! Our FAQ section is beginning to grow. (nt), posted on April 19, 2000 at 15:12:45
Jorge F





Re: Classical Beginner, posted on April 19, 2000 at 18:34:32

If you like Beethoven's 9th and Mozart you will like the other Beethoven Symphonies. Sym #3 cond by Von Matacic, Sym #s 5&7 by Carlos Kleiber, Sym #6 by Walter. My favorite Beethoven 9 is by Toscanini. If you like piano there are no better piano sonatas than Beethoven's. Try Rubinstein doing the Moonlight, Pathetique and Appassionata. The late piano sonatas and quartets by Beethoven are the pinnacle of classical music. Schnabel and Solomon in the piano. The Busch quartet and the Yale in the quartets. Many also swear by the Vegh Quartet in these late quartets.

Schubert's Unfinished symphony is a great work you may also want to check out. Re Mozart, my feeling is that it is Szell and Walter in the symphonies, although many on here regard Bohm's versions as excellent. Szell's 3 CD reissue is really great, the only one that falls down is #40 and you can get Bruno Walter's version of that.

I'm not big on Vivaldi, but I like Marriner on Argo in the Four Seasons.

Instead of Vivaldi I would suggest Bach's Brandenburg Concertos. Pinnock did a nice version on Archiv. Bach piano concertos and solo works by Glenn Gould. Many, many other Bach works.


Re: Classical Beginner, posted on April 19, 2000 at 20:15:07

Two books that I found very useful when I was starting out:

Ethan Mordden, A Guide to Orchestral Music
Ted Libbey, The NPR Guide to Building a Classical CD Collection.

The first one doesn't have any recommendations for recordings, but it explains a lot about what to listen for and does so intelligently. It also contains a list of pieces for beginners to try.

The second one *does* have recommendations for recordings, most of which are quite sound, and it also focuses more on the basic repertoire than Mordden. Mordden, however, can be very funny, and Libby is less so.

And since you were actually asking for recordings and not books, here are some ideas based on what you said you like:

1) Berlioz: Harold in Italy and Symphonie Fantastique. The 2 CD sets conducted by Colin Davis (on Philips) and Leonard Bernstein (on EMI) are both recommendable. Bernstein's performances are a little more volatile (and to my mind the more interesting for it), but the sound quality is somewhat better on Philips.

2) Beethoven: Piano Concerto #5. I like Van Cliburn on RCA Living Stereo and Stephen Bishop Kovacevich on Philips.

3) Mendelssohn: Symphonies 3 and 4 (The "Scottish" and the "Italian").
Try Abbado and the London Symphony Orchestra on Deutsche Grammophon.

4) I hope you will try some chamber music, too. Brahms's sonatas for violin and piano (there are three) would be one good place to start. It is hard to do better than Perlman and Ashkenazy on EMI.

Have fun, and be sure to go to some live concerts. Also listen to the radio.


Re: Classical Beginner, posted on April 20, 2000 at 02:24:03

Hi Nobody
Please try Beethoven,s Triple concert,I only have a cheap version & I am looking out for a good interpretation.I love Mozart, cant go wrong with anything he wrote.
regards rod


Re: Classical Beginner, posted on April 20, 2000 at 06:25:22

Thanks for all of your suggestions. I'm going to have to hit the record stores soon.


Re: Let Naxos help at $6.99 a disc., posted on April 21, 2000 at 15:06:23
Rob Thomas

They even have some Beginner's collection type sets...


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