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Refreshing Classical Albums

Refreshing Classical Albums
June 04, 2009, 06:58:42 PM
If you want something really refreshing, try Brahms' fourth symphony. This music is all that metal ever dreamed it could be.

(I know I'm being a bit of a dick, but consider this: instead of re-listening to a metal classic for the 100th time, why not advance to the next level?)
Whatever you honor above all things, that which you so honor will have dominion over you.

Re: Refreshing Classical Albums
June 04, 2009, 08:36:47 PM
or Beethoven

Then keep on looking! Start with the third symphony, and have another look at the ninth as well.

Re: Refreshing Classical Albums
June 05, 2009, 02:00:36 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5y7nJL1hpUU

I save this piece of music for just a few very special listens a year. It's an unbelievable piece of work; we have no words for it.

Any of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concertos because "das Gefühl ist alles".

Re: Refreshing Classical Albums
June 08, 2009, 01:25:56 PM
Gotta check it out, all I have heard is his first symphony (Furtwangler) and it doesn't meet my standards anymore. Is it better composed than Beethoven's fifth? If not, I won't bother.

Beethoven's ninth is very refreshing, the beginning of the first movement of the Schumann's Piano Concerto is cool as well and so are the Four Seasons.

P.S. Just because something is awesome classical it doesn't mean that it is better than all metal. I can't find any work by Mozart or Beethoven that is better than Gardens of Grief.

If Brahms' first doesn't meet your standards, while Vivaldi's Four Seasons do, then something must be wrong with your standards! However, I can understand your reaction, since Brahms' isn't easy to digest at first listen; his compositions are somewhat 'dense'. If you're a fan of piano concertos, listen to both of them a few times, and then continue with the second symphony.

Considering your question, I venture to say that Brahms' symphonies are at least as good as Beethoven's best--in his music, he combines the characteristic traits of the greatest of his predecessors, adds his own lyrical melodies that summarize all the beauty of the human state (this might be an exaggeration, but for Germans it holds true) , and creates a nevertheless perfectly organic whole; the result, for the listener, is pure kátharsis.
Whatever you honor above all things, that which you so honor will have dominion over you.

Re: Refreshing Classical Albums
June 08, 2009, 02:10:09 PM
Obscure? You're funny.

Anyway, you should write less and train your ear more. Good luck!
Whatever you honor above all things, that which you so honor will have dominion over you.

Re: Refreshing Classical Albums
June 08, 2009, 08:14:37 PM
Brahms' fourth is a favorite here too, a marvelous synthesis of the whole romantic, classical and late baroque period. If anything, I think that Brahms was certainly one of the most perfect composer there ever was, the consistency of the output that he's left us is just mindbogling, unlike most others, he doesn't really have such things as immature works. The fact that he destroyed every single of his compositions that weren't up to his absurdly high standards probably has something to do with this, but that still leaves us to a little over 100 opuses, which isn't small by late romantic standards.

But anyway, the symphony of his that I like the most is the third, with its earthshattering finale (which gets me like nothing else), its hearth wrenching third movement, and the stupendous first and second movement, in all their elegance and chamber-music like restrain (though they both have sections that are quite symphonic in character, the process of making them fit this perfectly together must have been awfully complex).

I like the first too, but it's not as Brahmsian as the others, there's a bit too much Beethoven in it I think. In my mind, the two aren't as similar as some people make them to be, there's a restrain, a calm and an almost Schubertian wandering spirit in Brahms that you don't find in Beethoven, whose music is clearly more assertive, ambitious and in some cases, more unabashedly intellectual than anything the other ever wrote.

And as far as my favorite recordings of those symphonies, Furtwängler/Kleiber for the fourth, Klemperer for the third (doesn't completely fit with my own view of the work, but it's a great performance nonetheless, I still need to listen to Furtwängler here too) and Furtwängler again for the first.

And on the refreshing classical music front, Mendelssohn's (HERESY!) chamber music has had its ways with me lately. His sixth quartet is something to behold, the octet is a masterpiece, and the first piano trio has its moments of pure bliss.

Re: Refreshing Classical Albums
June 09, 2009, 02:02:07 AM
I enjoy Brahms' obscure 3rd and obfuscatory German Requiem. I even enjoy his irrelevant and not-as-good-as-Autopsy piano works and his try-hard string quartets. His organ work is good but he could learn a thing from the guy in Skepticism.

Re: Refreshing Classical Albums
June 09, 2009, 02:26:40 AM
In all seriousness, I can't seem to listen to classical music lately. It seems a bit snobbish and pretentious; something that just "happens" in a detached room (like "scholarly" academia). It's full of  "great men" (TM) and "transcendence" and "Mahler touches the face of infinity." I hate going to concerts with people because of the expectancy of "conversation" afterwards. I seldom listen to classical music and always do so alone. It feels like much too personal a thing to discuss.

I have found that stable married life removes the emotional need for Romantic composers like Rachmaninov and Mahler. I can't seem to invest enough emotional egotism in my own mood that it warrants such music. Maybe when I have my next bout of personal "misfortune" I might reach for such things again but I'm not sure; perhaps relentless pessimistic philosophy works better in later life (although not according to Huysmans). Speaking of which, Schopenhauer is hilarious. I'm not quite sure why but it's somehow very funny when someone is so relentlessly, doctrinally pessimistic. "Today it is bad, tomorrow it will be worse and in the end the very worst will come." :)

Re: Refreshing Classical Albums
June 09, 2009, 03:53:35 AM
Eh, here comes that confusion with style and content again.

First, Romanticist music: you named two of the worst possible Romantic composers. Silly people think Romantic music means impassioned bluster; smart people think it follows the lines set out by Goethe and Blake, which is transcendence through reverent appreciation of beauty.

"A German Requiem" is a friggin' masterpiece that dovetails directly into Bruckner's 5th... these symphonies are not their styles. They are not their dominant emotions. They are many ideas combining to present A VIEW OF the path to and through that emotion, much like the point of "A German Requiem" is to overcome vast pain for beauty. Robert Fripp made a similar attempt with "That Which Passes."

Mahler? Forgive me for hating on textbook material, but... he's all theory and no passion. His tension is one dimensional. His theory is architectonic exercises in what could be, not what is. The result is stilted and misses out on the Faustian spirit. And I am predisposed to like Mahler for his bravery in defending his master Bruckner. That story always makes me think of the best of humanity.

If you want classical music, you've got to overcome the crowd opinion -- which is reversed logic: you listen in order to appear to be listening, which is itself a symbol of something, probably social status raising. Don't call it classical music. Just enjoy it. Don't try to get into the emotions. Listen with your Id, which is mathematical, not your ego, which is like a security camera pointed into a mirror.

All IMHO. I grew up with classical music and have returned to it many times, but I don't listen to Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky and other soundtracky composers, and I also avoid the textbook people. Music is a tool like a hammer, designed to make life transcend itself so we learn, grow, love and laugh. Even in the darkest moments.

"A German Requiem" is a product of one of the gentlest minds to ever exist -- until you encounter Bruckner. He is also gentle, but warlike, because his faith transcends all death. I think for Bruckner, God could not be confined to Christianity or even earth. God pervaded all life. Like Eckhart before him, he was a true German mystic.

Incidentally, so was Beethoven. Where Brahms falls is that he's too self-conscious, too cosmopolitan, and so his passion runs into his textbook and climbs to 0.2 feet from its peak of realization, then backs down into a passionate thunder.

I will also stand by earlier statements that Respighi's resurrection of old styles with modern forms -- specifically the epic "Ancient Airs and Dances" -- produced some of the best music this earth will ever see.

I cannot compare classical and metal, except to find their points of similarity and spirit in theory (silly people think music theory is memorizing song forms and identifying scales; smart people know it's how the phrase is made and how the interaction of phrases suggests a pattern language of song formation). They both fit into my life. And it's surprisingly easy to transfer from Incantation to Schumann to Tangerine Dream to Wagner, although I don't recommend it for beginners.

Re: Refreshing Classical Albums
June 09, 2009, 09:02:52 AM
"A German Requiem" is a product of one of the gentlest minds to ever exist -- until you encounter Bruckner. He is also gentle, but warlike, because his faith transcends all death. I think for Bruckner, God could not be confined to Christianity or even earth. God pervaded all life. Like Eckhart before him, he was a true German mystic.

Incidentally, so was Beethoven. Where Brahms falls is that he's too self-conscious, too cosmopolitan, and so his passion runs into his textbook and climbs to 0.2 feet from its peak of realization, then backs down into a passionate thunder.

I thought about this recently, too, but arrived at a different conclusion, which may just the result of a different "individual formula". To me it seems that the overtly "warlike" element can easily degenerate into sentimental outbreaks, which encumber or derail the listener on his path to the summit. Brahms avoids such outbreaks, and thus his peaks are subordinate to the peak that is only for the listener to climb, by following an orderly path with concentration. So in this regard, I think one must say that while Brahms' music appears as less warlike outwardly, it is not so inwardly, because wars are not only fought with weapons of metal.
Whatever you honor above all things, that which you so honor will have dominion over you.

Re: Refreshing Classical Albums
June 09, 2009, 11:32:03 AM
In all seriousness, I can't seem to listen to classical music lately. It seems a bit snobbish and pretentious; something that just "happens" in a detached room (like "scholarly" academia). It's full of  "great men" (TM) and "transcendence" and "Mahler touches the face of infinity." I hate going to concerts with people because of the expectancy of "conversation" afterwards. I seldom listen to classical music and always do so alone. It feels like much too personal a thing to discuss.

I have found that stable married life removes the emotional need for Romantic composers like Rachmaninov and Mahler. I can't seem to invest enough emotional egotism in my own mood that it warrants such music. Maybe when I have my next bout of personal "misfortune" I might reach for such things again but I'm not sure; perhaps relentless pessimistic philosophy works better in later life (although not according to Huysmans). Speaking of which, Schopenhauer is hilarious. I'm not quite sure why but it's somehow very funny when someone is so relentlessly, doctrinally pessimistic. "Today it is bad, tomorrow it will be worse and in the end the very worst will come." :)

Most of it is in the way it's played. I was listening to Beethoven's 6th the other day, my favorite of his, and thought to myself "this would be so much better if they just [it[played[/i] it". Follow the dynamics on the sheet music but leave the heart-wrenching mannerisms and extreme loud-soft dynamics out of it. Because that's where the pretentiousness you mentioned comes from.

As for Brahms' 4th, also my favorite of his, I've heard multiple versions and Walter is by far my pick. It's amazing how much conductors change the performance.

Re: Refreshing Classical Albums
June 10, 2009, 01:30:52 AM
I find I come away invigorated after listening to Bach. Especially his harpsichord stuff. 
The one "classical album" that I always come back to is Itzhak Perlman and the Orchestre de Paris.  It has four pieces
1 Saint Saens' op28  Its two main themes run the gamut despair to ecstasy while affirming the transitive nature of experience and perception that culminates in an affirmation of life and its tragic nature.  The main phrase played through most of the piece is played perfectly by Perlman.  He seems to be able to grasp the essence of any given piece. 
2Chausson op83  Wishy washy, I usually skip this one.  It reminds me of floating down a very slow river on an innertube.  Not in a good way - I keep swatting at the flies and wish I wasn't sunburned.
3Saint Saens op83  The Havanaise is said to have been introduced to cuba by 'negroes from Africa' (from the cd booklet).  I hope that a jewish violinist playing negro music doesn't offend anybody...   Interesting theme, it doesn't really make me think of cuba or negroes at all, but I think St Saens had a fireplace in mind when he wrote the piece.  I find myself listening to the rock solid but understated harmony parts despite Perlmans superb playing.
4Ravel "Tzigane"  A wonderful exploration of decadence.  The gypsy theme and complex sounding harmonies makes for a very cosmopolitan but still fairly grounded beginning.   Subtle and barely noticeable changes in harmony and rhythm and various 'superfluous ideas' are inserted and slowly begin to change the piece.  By the end, the causal chain that seemed so insignificant at first has now effected consequences of exponential degree.  The whole thing falls apart - i always get a visual of very tall scaffolding falling down.  The stunning array of technique employed by the composer (and expertly executed by the violinist, Itzhak Perlman) at first seems rather tacky... like 'math metal'.  In the final analysis it is appropriate and the seemingly vapid use of technique illustrates perfectly the idea of moral collapse.  Overall, this song sounds like Berlin in the 1920's

"A German Requiem" is a friggin' masterpiece that dovetails directly into Bruckner's 5th... these symphonies are not their styles. They are not their dominant emotions. They are many ideas combining to present A VIEW OF the path to and through that emotion, much like the point of "A German Requiem" is to overcome vast pain for beauty. Robert Fripp made a similar attempt with "That Which Passes."
BMDM:  I just purchased Bruckner's 7th Symphony (Karajan) partly due to posts on this site.  I have only listened to it twice (and unfortunately not all the way through, my copy is scratched so I can only listen until the first part of the fourth movement.)  I think his use of the "Wagner Tubas" is tastefully moderate.  The second movement switches to the relative minor to present a moving theme mourning Wagner's death. 
I very much am interested and will try to find myself a copy of "A German requiem"  I've read that Bruckner was played continuously over NSDAP controlled state radio after the fall of Stalingrad kessel to the Soviets.
"Just like your ancestors
you will fight today."

-Rob Darken

Re: Refreshing Classical Albums
July 04, 2009, 05:11:39 PM
Karl Richter's recordings of Bach's organ works are very invigorating. They move a bit faster than what was considered normal at the time, but he doesn't Guold it up either, which is nice. A lot of the softer and more subtle pieces have a very macrocosmic feel to them, like watching a meteor shower. I uploaded a short sample of them in Audiofile aeons ago, but I've since come across something more substantial. I'll put it up in Audiofile in a bit.

Re: Refreshing Classical Albums
July 07, 2009, 11:20:43 AM

P.S. Just because something is awesome classical it doesn't mean that it is better than all metal. I can't find any work by Mozart or Beethoven that is better than Gardens of Grief.

chuckle...nor can i find ANY metal that's even worthy to serve as mozart/beethoven's toilet paper. :)

dj

Re: Refreshing Classical Albums
July 24, 2009, 09:27:56 AM
Mozart's last two symphonies, especially 41: the ideal romantic symphony? If you are only used to his earlier symphonies, the last three or so will surprise you with their earnestness.
Whatever you honor above all things, that which you so honor will have dominion over you.