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Recommended CDs: Classical/Contemporary Music
Last touched: Nov. 11, 2017
Highly recommended (This rating is on webmaster's personal taste.)
|image||composer/title (conductor/performer, recording year), memo|
|(Anonymous)/Chants de L'Eglise de Rome: Période byzantine (Pérès, 1985)|
"Old Roman Chant: Byzantine Period" (harmonia mundi). An album trying to re-create the melodies of "Old Roman chant" (Roman Church chants of the 7th and 8th centuries) before the Gregorian chant, based on the decoding of the manuscript (neumatic notation) found in the late 19th century, and the reference to the singing methods of Byzantine chant. Sacred vocal music by monophonic male voices with lots of melismas, featuring oriental flavor, like middle-Eastern folk music. Includes eight chants sung in the Easter Week. Sung in Greek and Latin. Performed by French musicologist, Marcel Pérès (conductor) and his group performing early music, Ensemble Organum.
|(Anonymous)/Canto Gregoriano (Cuesta, 1973)|
Gregorian chant. Sung by the Choir of Monks of the Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos (Coro De Monjes Del Monasterio Benedictino De Santo Domingo De Silos) in Spain, conducted by Ismael Fernandez de la Cuesta. Effective as healing music or the like. This disc sold well around the world since 1993 for some reason, and became the beginning of the popularity of Gregorian chant.
|(Anonymous)/Night Vigil: St. Petersburg Litany (Priests & Choir of the Cathedral of the Transfiguration, 1994)|
Russian orthodox church's liturgical music (DG). Live recording of the all-night vigil on Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter), in St. Petersburg, Cathedral of the Transfiguration, in April, 1994. Vocal music without accompaniment, which consists of recitativi and mixed choruses. Sung in old church Slavic. Also features three pieces from Rachmaninoff's "All-Night Vigil" (Op. 37). This all-night vigil takes more than three hours, but this CD includes about half of that. Even if you aren't interested in Christianity and Russian orthodox church, You can enjoy listening to the beautiful, pure music, like Gregorian chant.
|Hildegard von Bingen/Canticles of Ecstasy (Sequentia, 1993)|
A Christian mystic, Benedictine abbess, and female composer of medieval Germany, Hildegard von Bingen's canticles (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi). Her own Latin poems with simple monophonies composed by herself. Like Gregorian chant, but sung by women's vocal ensemble at a high pitch, in unison, and filled with sense of religious ecstasy. Unaccompanied, or accompanied by medieval stringed instruments such as fiddle, harp and organistrum. Performed by Sequentia (Ensemble for medieval music).
|(Various Artists)/Music of the Gothic Era (Munrow, 1975)|
A set of 2 CDs that overviews the history of medieval French polyphonic music (from the late 11th century until the early 15th century) based on Gregorian chant. Comprises three parts: "Notre Dame period" (so-called "Notre Dame school". ca.1160-1250. Composed by Leoninus and Perotinus), "Ars Antiqua" (means "Ancient Art" in Medieval Latin. ca.1250-1320) and "Ars Nova" ("New Art". ca.1320-1400. Composed by Guillaume de Machaut and others). Noted as one of the greatest Early Music recordings. Vivid, clear and refreshing performance, without giving any old-fashioned or sombre impression. Performed by the Early Music Consort of London. Conducted by David Munrow.
|Guillaume de Machaut/Messe de Nostre Dame (Ensemble Gilles Binchois, 1990)|
A poet and composer of the 14th century France, Guillaume de Machaut's "Messe de Nostre Dame" (Cantus/Harmonic Records). Sacred vocal music for polyphonic male chorus. One of the masterpieces of medieval music. The earliest mass remained with the Ordinary of the Mass which is totally composed by a single composer. Characterized by complex rhythms and artifice with making full use of the musical techniques of "Ars nova" period, such as isorhythm and hochetus. This recording tries to recreate the mass for "The Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary" in Machaut's era, complementing ther propers with Gregorian chant. Performed by Ensemble Gilles Binchois, the vocal ensemble known for their performance of Ars nova music. Conducted by Dominique Vellard.
|Guillaume de Machaut/Le vray remède d'amour (Ensemble Gilles Binchois, 1988)|
A collection of secular music composed by Guillaume de Machaut, a poet and composer of the 14th century France, known for his lots of secular songs (chanson) dealing with courtly love (Cantus/Harmonic Records). Monophonic/polyphonic vocal music inheriting the style of Trouvère (the Northern French poet-composers of around 12th century, influenced by the troubadours). Includes secular compositions in various types, such as virelai, ballade and rondeau, motets, and poetry readings too. You can enjoy subtle vocal music featuring distinctive soft and thin voices (solo/chorus, male/female), accompanied by harp, percussion, gittern (string instrument), fiddle, flute and bagpipes, with a unique, vast space-time nature for the Middle Ages. A classical recording by Ensemble Gilles Binchois, the vocal ensemble known for their performance of Ars nova music. Conducted by Dominique Vellard.
|(Various Artists)/Music of the Crusades (Munrow, 1970)|
Includes elegies, motets and conductus in the period of the Crusades (Christian, mainly Catholic countries' invading force, in the name of recapturing Jerusalem and the Holy Land from Muslim, in medieval Europe from 11th to 13th centuries). A great Early Music recording performed by the Early Music Consort of London and conducted by David Munrow, along with their "Music of the Gothic Era". Soothing music with simple melodies and a secular atmosphere.
|(Various Artists)/Dante and the Troubadours (Sequentia, 1993)|
A collection (deutsche harmonia mundi) of the songs written by six troubadours, poet-singers known for their lyric poetry about chivalry and courtly love, of the Languedoc (currently South-western France) in the the Middle Age (from the 12th and 13th centuries), who had a profound influence on Dante Alighieri, the Italian poet of the Middle Age and author of "Divine Comedy", and were mentioned in Dante's works. The songs were studied and performed by early music ensemble Sequentia in association with Prof. Wulf Arlt (the University of Basel) and others. Includes Arnaut Daniel's two songs, "Lo Ferm Voler Qu'el Cor M'intra" and "Chanson Do'ill Mont Son Plan E Prim", five songs by other five troubadours, and one instrumental piece. The lyrics are written in Occitan (one of the Romance languages). Female or male solo vocals accompanied by harp or fiddles. Comforting music with simple melodies including the eastern/Arabic flavor. Arnaut Daniel is one of the famous troubadours, who appeared in Dante's "Divine Comedy", "Purgatorio" XXVI (No.26).
|(Various Artists)/In Musica Vivarte (Huelgas Ensemble, 1989-1992)|
A compilation album (Sony Classical) which includes 11 tracks selected from 10 albums on the Vivarte label of Sony Classical (1989-1992) recorded by Huelgas Ensemble, a Belgian early music ensemble formed by conductor/musicologist/art historian Paul Van Nevel in 1971. Useful as a sampler of Huelgas Ensemble's recordings of polyphony from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. This provides a variety of polyphony including religious/secular and male/female. Includes a chant "Ex illustri" from "Las Huelgas Codex" (Spain), Solage's strange rondeau "Fumeux fume" (France. "Ars subtilior"), "Kyrie" from Antoine Brumel's twelve-voice missa "Et Ecce Terrae Motus" ("Earthquake" Mass. France), Nicolas Gombert's chanson "Je Prens Congie" (Flanders), Cipriano de Rore's motet/madrigal "Calami Sonum Ferentes" (Italy), Michael Praetorius's motet "Venite exultemus Domino" (Germany) and others.
|Ockeghem/Requiem (Pérès, 1992)|
A composer of the early Franco-Flemish School (the last half of the 15th century) in the Renaissance period, Johannes Ockeghem's "Requiem (Mass for the Dead)" (harmonia mundi). The earliest surviving polyphonic setting to the Latin liturgical texts. Unlike the requiems featuring the expression of emotion and descriptiveness, this is a solemn and low-keyed piece, but beautiful polyphonic vocal music filled with quiet but strong prayer for the repose of the soul. Sung by the polyphony with from two to four voice, with the uppermost part of Gregorian melodies. A unique performance by male chorus including boy soprano by Marcel Pérès (conductor) and Ensemble Organum.
|Josquin des Prés/Missa Pange Lingua, Missa La sol fa re mi (The Tallis Scholars, 1986)|
The composer of the Renaissance, Josquin Desprez' mass, "Missa Pange Lingua" based on the melody of Gregorian chant is noted as a masterpiece of the polyphonic vocal music in the Renaissance. Performed by the Tallis Scholars, the famous English chorus group. Directed by Peter Phillips. The clear female chorus is beautiful. Also features "Missa La sol fa re mi". This disc received the England's Gramophone magazine's Record of the Year Award in 1987.
|Josquin Desprez/Motets & Chansons (The Hilliard Ensemble, 1983)|
The composer of the Renaissance, Josquin Desprez' motets (sacred polychoral music) and chansons (secular polychoral music). One of the great recordings by the Hilliard Ensemble, the English male chorus group who are known for their clear and heavenly voices being perfectly on pitch. The motets are so beautiful that they sanctify our souls, especially "Ave Maria... Virgo serena".
|Clément Janequin/Le Chant des Oyseaulx (Ensemble Clément Janequin, 1982)|
A collection of chansons composed by Clément Janequin, a French composer of the Renaissance known for his lots of polyphonic secular chansons (Harmonia Mundi France). The songs are satirical, humorous pieces, beautiful love songs, and bawdy songs with sexual contents. The title track "Le Chant des Oyseaulx" (published in 1528) is a famous piece of scenic program music including onomatopoeic imitations of bird calls. Performed by Ensemble Clément Janequin, a French male vocal group led by Dominique Visse. Vocal duet of countertenor, tenor, baritone and bass. Dominique Visse's pure countertenor is impressive. The original songs are unaccompanied (a cappella), but some tracks are accompanied by a lute. There are two lute solo tracks. Vivid and lively performance with lots of extempore ornaments (trills).
|Thomas Tallis/The Tallis Scholars Sing Thomas Tallis (The Tallis Scholars, 1985/1986/1992/1998)|
A British mixed vocal ensemble, the Tallis Scholars, especially known for their clear, heavenly female voices in treble part, sing Thomas Tallis, an English composer in 16th century (a set of 2 CDs, Gimell Records). A compilation of the recordings in the 1980s and 1990s. "Spem in alium" (40-part motet), for eight choirs of five voices, is a ultralayered and solemn piece, and regarded as one of the pinnacles of Renaissance polyphony, along with Gregorio Allegri's "Miserere". "Lamentations of Jeremiah (I, II)", for five voices, is one of the masterpieces of English Renaissance sacred music. The melody of the third of "Tunes for Archbishop Parker's Psalter" was used by Ralph Vaughan Williams as the basis of his "Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis".
|Palestrina/The Tallis Scholars Sing Palestrina (The Tallis Scholars, 2005)|
An Italian late-Renaissance composer and a representative of the Roman School, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina's church music (a set of 2 CDs, Gimell Records). Unaccompanied polyphonic vocal music, based on the style of Franco-Flemish School (Josquin Desprez and others) and its imitative writing, with blending of clear harmonies and flowing melodies, eliminating dramatic elements and valuing harmoniousness and calmness. "Missa Assumpta est Maria in Caelum", "Missa Sicut lilium inter spinas", "Missa Brevis", "Missa Papae Marcelli" and others. Sung by British vocal ensemble, the Tallis Scholars. The Renaissance church music was originally for male voices only, but they sung with a mix of male and female choruses on these CDs.
|Victoria/Requiem (The Tallis Scholars, 1987)|
The entire "Officium Defunctorum" (Office of the Dead), including famous "Requiem Mass" for six voices (SSATTB), composed by Tomás Luis de Victoria, a Spanish composer and organist of the late Renaissance (16th century), for the funeral of the Empress Maria (Gimell). Unaccompanied sacred choral music. A very beautiful masterpiece of requiem, featuring intertwining multi-layered parts based on the motif of Gregorian chant melody. Performed by British vocal ensemble, the Tallis Scholars. Sung by a mixed chorus of 12 voices (2 voices for each part). Directed by Peter Phillips. Also includes a motet "Versa est in luctum" composed by Alonso Lobo, a Spanish composer of the late Renaissance.
|William Byrd/The Tallis Scholars Sing William Byrd (The Tallis Scholars, 1984/1987/2006)|
A British mixed vocal ensemble, the Tallis Scholars, especially known for their clear, heavenly female voices in treble part, sing William Byrd, an English composer of the Renaissance (a set of 2 CDs, Gimell Records). Sacred choral music basend on the style of imitation (composition technique of the Renaissance polyphony since Josquin des Prez), featuring English homophony-oriented writings, lyrical, soft melodies, and deicate, beautiful harmony. Includes three masses based on the Latin liturgical texts, "Mass for three voices", "Mass for four voices", "Mass for five voices", Latin motets, English anthems, and "The Great Service" (with English texts, for the Anglican Church) and others. Although lack of floridness, good healing music can be listened to in a calm and relaxed way.
|Monteverdi/Vespro della Beata Vergine (Gardiner, 1989)|
"Vespers of the Blessed Virgin". Sacred vocal music in the 17th century.
|Allegri/Miserere (The Tallis Scholars, 1980)|
An Italian composer of the Roman School and priest, Gregorio Allegri's "Miserere", Latin full name "Miserere mei, Deus (Have mercy on me, O God)" (Gimell Records). An unaccompanied (a cappella) sacred vocal music based on the Old Testament Psalm 51, and composed for the service at the Sistine Chapel, Rome. Composed in the Baroque period (probably during the 1630s), but known as a typical example of Renaissance polyphony. Alternately sung by two choirs, one of five and one of four voices. Performed by a British mixed vocal ensemble, the Tallis Scholars. Directed by Peter Phillips. The clear sound and well-harmonized mixed chorus is beautiful. A hit album which reached #1 in the UK HMV classical chart in 1981. Also features Mundy's "Vox Patris caelestis" (The Voice of the Heavenly Father) and Palestrina's "Missa Papae Marcelli" (Pope Marcellus Mass).
|Buxtehude/Complete Organ Music (Kraft, 1957)|
The complete organ works (Vox) by Dieterich Buxtehude, a German-Danish organist and composer of the Baroque period, and the ultimate virtuoso of the North German organ school, whose style strongly influenced many composers, including J.S. Bach. A set of six CDs features 87 masterpieces (free organ works, chorale preludes, chorale variations, and chorale fantasies). Devotional sacred music, but it features improvisatory and free-form style, based on the so-called 'stylus phantasticus' of the 17th century north Germany. The original sources are the 1957 stereo recordings by Vox label (US). Walter Kraft played the organ of Marienkirche, Lübeck, where Buxtehude himself had been organist. The remastered CDs were released on Vox in 2004. Recommended to those who like J.S. Bach's organ works.
|Corelli/12 Concerti grossi, op.6 (Pinnock, 1988)|
Concertos Nos.1-6. A standard of the later-baroque instrumental music. The beauty of moderation and symmetry.
|Corelli/Sonatas for Violin and Basso continuo Op.5 Nos.7-12 (Terakado, 1994)|
Includes the last six pieces (Nos.7-12) of "Sonatas for Violin and Basso continuo", Op.5, composed by Arcangelo Corelli, an Italian violinist and composer of the Baroque era (Denon). Works featuring with simple, clear melodies and classical symmetry. Published in Rome in 1700. Famous as standards of Baroque instrumental music. Basso continuo is played by harpsichord, positive organ and baroque violoncello. The last (No.12) sonata is a set of variations on "La Folia", the theme of an old dance from the Iberian Peninsula. Graceful and unconstrained performance featuring shiny sounds of baroque violin by Terakado Ryo.
|Pachelbel/Canon & Gigue (Hogwood, 1980)|
A collection of popular Baroque instrumental works. Includes Pachelbel's "Canon & Gigue", Vivaldi's "Concerto for 4 Violins & Cello", two pieces from Gluck's opera "Orfeo ed Euridice"; "Dance of the Furies" and "Dance of the Blessed Spirits", Handel's "Arrival of the Queen (Sinfonia)" from oratorio "Solomon", Vivaldi's "Concerto for 2 Trumpets", three pieces (Overture, Minuette and Gigue) from Handel's opera "Berenice", and two pieces (Air and Hornpipe) from Handel's "Water Music". Original-based performances on authentic instruments. Christopher Hogwood conducts the Academy of Ancient Music.
|Purcell/Songs and Airs (Kirkby, 1982)|
A collection of major 16 songs and airs composed by Henry Purcell, an English baroque composer (17th century). Released on L'Oiseau Lyre label. "O, O let me weep" from semi-opera "The Fairy-Queen", a song "If music be the food of love", "I attempt from love's sickness to fly" from semi-opera "The Indian Queen", "Dear pretty youth" from semi-opera "The Tempest or The Enchanted Island", "The cares of lovers" from semi-opera "Timon of Athens", a sacred songs "An Evening Hymn" and others. Performed by Emma Kirkby (soprano), Christopher Hogwood (organ and spinet), Anthony Rooley (lute) and others. The highlights are the leading female singer in the early music filed, Emma Kirkby's clear, beautiful voice like an angel and non-vibrato singing.
|F. Couperin/Leçons de Ténèbres (Rousset, 1997)|
A French Baroque composer, François Couperin's sacred vocal music, "Leçons de ténèbres pour le mercredi Saint/Lessons of darkness for Holy Wednesday". Released on L'Oiseau Lyre (Decca's early music label). Known as a masterpiece of sacred music in French Baroque. With the text of Lamentations of Jeremiah in the Old Testament. Composed of three lessons. The first and second are for soprano solo, and the third is for soprano duet). Each lesson is accompanied by organ (basso continuo). Soft and refreshing music with beautiful clear soprano. Performed by Sandrine Piau (soprano), Véronique Gens (soprano) and Christophe Rousset (organ).
|Vivaldi/Le Quattro Stagioni (I Musici, 1982)|
The concertos "The Four Seasons". A famous Baroque masterpiece. Scene-descriptive conception.
|Vivaldi/6 Concerti for Flauto Traverso (Arita, 1990)|
An Italian Baroque composer born in Venice, Antonio Vivaldi's Op.10 "Six Flute Concertos" (Denon). Published as a collection of concertos for flauto traverso (baroque flute) and string orchestra in Amsterdam in around 1729, and known as the world's first flute concerto, but the five concertos except No.4 are arrangements of their original versions featuring winds (oboe, bassoon). This disc is a recording of the original "Venice versions". A performance filled with refreshing dynamics and sense of color, by Masahiro Arita (flauto traverso) and Bach-Mozart Ensemble Tokyo.
|Telemann/Musique de Table (Goebel, 1988)|
A complete recording (a set of 4 CDs) of "Musique de Table" (Tafelmusik/Table Music), a collection of instrumental chamber music (three production in total) composed by German Baroque music composer, Georg Philipp Telemann. He published its musical score (in advance sale) by himself in the European countries, with the rise of the bourgeois civil society of the 18th century in the background. Each production consists of overture (suite), quartet, concerto, trio, solo and conclusion (finale). Lucid and graceful music. A summarization of European baroque instrumentation. Performed by Musica Antiqua Köln (on original instruments) and conducted by Reinhard Goebel. A crisp performance with a fast tempo.
|Telemann/Twelve Fantasias for Flute Solo (Rampal, 1972)|
German Baroque music composer, Georg Philipp Telemann's Twelve Fantasias for Flute Solo (Denon). A piece full of ornamentations in the Rococo style, for Flauto Traverso (baroque flute) without bass part. Composed in around 1727-1728. The variety of musical styles and changing tempos keep the audience from being bored. A classical performance by a great flutist of the 20th century France, Jean-Pierre Rampal on modern flute. A digital recording in Saitama Kaikan Hall in Japan, on October 30, 1972.
|Rameau/Pièces de clavecin en concerts (Arita, 1991)|
A French composer and music theorist of the Baroque era, Jean-Philippe Rameau's "Pièces de clavecin en concerts" (Denon). His only chamber music. Pubulished in 1741. A harpsichord-centered ensemble with violin (or flute) and viol (or the second violin). "Concerts" is the French-baroque ensemble. Unlike the Italian trio sonatas (where the harpsichord provides the figured bass), both hands of the harpsichord play written-out, independent parts (like J. S. Bach's violin sonatas). Delicate, splendid and soothing music. Performed by Chiyoko Arita (harpsichord), Natsumi Wakamatsu (baroque violin), Masahiro Arita (flauto traverso, piccolo) and Wieland Kuijken (viola da gamba).
|Rameau/Ouvertures (Rousset, 1996)|
A collection of overtures to operas composed by Jean-Philippe Rameau, a French composer and music theorist of the Baroque era. Released on L'Oiseau Lyre (Decca's early music label). He is famous for his music for harpsichord and operas, but this CD is orchestral music without harpsichord thoroughbass and vocals, focusing his harmonics and orchestration. "Hippolyte et Aricie", "Castor et Pollux", "Dardanus", "Zoroastre", "Les Indes galantes" and others. Glorious and refreshing performances on authentic instruments. Christophe Rousset conducts Les Talens Lyriques.
|D. Scarlatti/Sonatas (Horowitz Plays Scarlatti) (Horowitz, 1962/64/68)|
Includes 17 pieces selected from over 500 sonatas for cembalo composed by Italian composer Domenico Scarlatti. One of the origins of modern keyboard playing. Simple and clear like the music in the early classical period. Played by Vladimir Horowitz on a modern piano.
|Händel/The Water Music, The Music for the Royal Fireworks (Hogwood, 1978/81)|
Refreshing music for open-air events.
|Händel/Messiah (Gardiner, 1982)|
Handel's oratorio. The "Hallelujah" chorus of the Part Two is well-known.
|Handel/12 Concerti Grossi, Op.6 (Pinnock, 1981-1984)|
A German-born British baroque composer, George Frideric Handel's Concerti Grossi (all the 12 pieces, 3 CDs). Based on Corelli's concerto grosso form (ensemble with a group of soloists (concertino) and full orchestra (ripieno)), but Handel expanded the ripieno to include wind instruments. Open and natural, lyrical and pastoral music. Not so dense in structure as J.S.Bach's Brandenburg Concerti, so can be listened to in a relaxed manner. Also includes Concerto grosso in C major "Alexander's Feast" and "Concerto a due cori" Nos.2, 3. Trevor Pinnock directs the English Concert.
|J.S. Bach/4 Ouvertüren (Richter, 1960-1980)|
The orchestral suites Nos.1-4. "Air on a G String" is an arrangement of the aria of the No.3.
|J.S.Bach/Brandenburgische Konzerte Nr.1-6 (Leonhardt, 1976/1977)|
Brandenburg concertos Nos.1-6. A masterpiece of Bach's ensembles.
|J.S. Bach/Violinkonzerte (Pinnock, 1983)|
Violin concertos. Delicate performance on original instruments. Clear and pure sounds.
|J.S. Bach/Musical Offering (Leonhardt/Kuijken, 1974)|
An offering to the King of Prussia, Frederick the Great. A gem of contrapuntal chamber music.
|J.S. Bach/3 Sonatas & 3 Partitas for Violin Solo (Kremer, 1980)|
Kremer's intellectual and subtle performance.
|J.S. Bach/Sonaten für Violine & Cembalo Nos.1-6 (Kuijken/Leonhardt, 1973)|
6 sonatas for violin & harpsichord. Augustan performance by baroque violin.
|J.S.Bach/Cello Suites (Casals, 1936/38/39)|
This recording is too old, but I like it.
|J.S.Bach/3 Sonaten Für Viola Da Gamba & Cembalo (Kuijken/Leonhardt, 1974)|
Includes J.S.Bach's "3 Sonatas for Viola da gamba & Harpsichord" Nos.1-3 (BWV1027-1029) (deutsche harmonia mundi). Viola da gamba is a bowed string instrument used in Europe in the 16th-18th centuries (the Renaissance and Baroque periods), and it has a lower volume than violin and a soft, delicate tone. These sonatas have trio-sonata form which consists of two independent parts by viola da gamba and the right-hand of the harpsichord, and a bass melody by the left-hand of the harpsichord. Performed by Wieland Kuijken (viola da gamba) and Gustav Leonhardt (cembalo). A classic, great recording on original instruments.
|J.S.Bach/Das Orgelwerk (Walcha, 1956-1970)|
The organ works. Also features "The Art of Fugue". A box set of 12 discs. Severe and sublime.
|The Glenn Gould Edition: J.S. Bach/Italian Concerto, Concerto After Marcello, Fugues on Albinoni Themes, Variations, Fantasies & Fugues, Scarlatti/Sonatas, C.P.E. Bach/Sonata (Gould, 1959-1980)|
The album released after Glenn Gould (piano) died and based on the project he had called "Bach in the Italian Style" before his death. "Concerto in D minor after Alessandro Marcello" (BWV 974) and "Italian Concerto" (BWV 971) are particularly splendid. "Concerto after A. Marcello" is a keyboard piece arranged from Italian composer, Alessandro Marcello's oboe concerto. "Italian Concerto" is famous as a keyboard piece in the style of Italian concerto grosso.
|J.S.Bach/Two-Part Inventions and Three-Part Sinfonias (Gould, 1964)|
Well-known as etudes for piano lessons.
|J.S. Bach/The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I (Gould, 1962-1965)|
This book is, so to speak, "the Old Testament" of the music on keyed-instruments.
|J.S. Bach/The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II (Gould, 1966-1971)|
The Book II. Gould's Bach once had been regarded as heterodoxy, but now it has been regarded as classic.
|J.S. Bach/The Goldberg Variations (Gould, 1981)|
The re-recording by Glenn Gould (piano) in his later years. Said to be composed for curing Count Keyserlingk's insomnia, but Gould's performance with ever-changing speed is vivid and crisp, as if to awaken people from sleep. Highly recommended.
|J.S. Bach/The Six Partitas (Gould, 1957-1963)|
A summarization of classical suite in the form of dance music in the Baroque period.
|J.S. Bach/Konzerte für Cembalo (BWV1052-1058)/Konzert für 2 Cembali (BWV1060) (Pinnock, 1979/1980)|
Cembalo concertos Nos.1-7 and so on. The performance on original instruments. The 2nd movement of the No.5 is well-known as "Bach's Arioso".
|J.S. Bach/Three Keyboard Concertos (BWV1052/55/56) (Takahashi, 1973)|
The Japanese contemporary music player/composer, Yuji Takahashi plays Bach's three Keyboard Concertos, No.1 in D Minor (BWV1052), No.4 in A Major (BWV1055) and No.5 in F Minor (BWV1056) on piano (partly electronic piano) with the Tokyo Bach Players.
|J.S. Bach/Preludes, Fughettas and Fugues (Gould, 1979-1980)|
One of Glenn Gould's great recordings in his last days. Bach's small clavier pieces composed in around 1720. The compositions themselves are not as spectacular as "The Goldberg Variations", but Gould's piano performances are excellent. All the tracks are included in the disc 2 of "Glenn Gould Edition - Bach: Partitas, Preludes & Fugues" (2 CDs), so if you have it, you don't have to buy this CD separately.
|J.S. Bach/Die Kunst der Fuge, Clavierübung II (Leonhardt, 1965-1969)|
J.S. Bach's incomplete work in his last days. The instrument was not specified. A culmination of Bach's counterpoint technique. It contains 14 fugues and 4 canons. Each of the 14 fugues except the final unfinished one use the same subject with transformations and inversions. A historic performance by a well-known Dutch keyboard player, Gustav Leonhardt (also known for playng the role of J.S. Bach in Straub-Huillet's film "Chronik der Anna Magdalena Bach") on cembalo. A set of 2 CDs also includes Clavierübung II (Partita (French Overture)/Italian Concerto/Prelude, Fuga and Allegro). Includes Leonhardt's expository text in which he argues in detail that it is a complete work written for cembalo.
|J.S.Bach/Cantatas BWV4/78/80/140/147/199 (Harnoncourt, 1970-1988)|
Includes 6 popular sacred cantatas by Bach: BWV4 'Christ lag in Todes Banden' (Christ lay to death in bondage), BWV78 'Jesu, der du meine Seele' (Jesus, thou who this my spirit), BWV80 'Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott' (A mighty fortress is our God), BWV140 'Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme' (Wake, arise, the voices call us), BWV147 'Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben' (Heart and mouth and deed and living), and BWV199 'Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut' (My heart is bathed in blood). Selected from Bach's complete cantata works by Harnoncourt and Leonhardt.
|J.S.Bach/Cantatas BWV106/118b/198 (Gardiner, 1989)|
Includes 3 cantatas for funeral and memorial service: BWV106 'Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit' (God's own time is the very best of times) and others. Conducted by John Eliot Gardiner, performed by the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists.
|J.S.Bach/Jagdkantate, Bauernkantate (Harnoncourt, 1988)|
Includes 2 popular secular cantatas: BWV 208 'Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd!' (My only joy is in the merry hunt!: so-called 'Hunting Cantata') and BWV 212 'Mer hahn en neue Oberkeet' (We've got a new governor, so-called 'Peasant Cantata'). This one can be enjoyed listening comfortably. Conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt.
|J.S. Bach/Kaffee-Kantate, Hochzeitskantate (Ameling, 1966/1967)|
Includes 2 popular secular cantatas: BWV 211 'Coffee Cantata' (Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht/Be quiet, do not chat) and BWV 202 'Wedding Cantata' (Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten/Gloomy shadows, be gone!). 'Coffee Cantata' is a light and comical one like an opera buffa. Elly Ameling's clear soprano is beautiful. Performed by Collegium Aureum.
|J.S. Bach/Matthäus-Passion (Richter, 1958)|
St. Matthew Passion. Sacred vocal music based on Matthew of the New Testament. An awe-inspiring performance on contemporary instruments.
|J.S. Bach/Johannes-Passion (Richter, 1964)|
St. John Passion. Sacred vocal music based on John of the New Testament. More dramatic than Matthew.
|J.S. Bach/Messe in H-Moll (Richter, 1961)|
Mass in B Minor. A summarization of masses based on the Latin Liturgy. A melodic vocal music featuring chorus.
|J.S. Bach/Weihnachts-Oratorium (Gardiner, 1987)|
Christmas Oratorio. Vocal music in a festive and secular mood.
|J.S. Bach/Complete Sonatas and Partita for Flute (Brüggen, 1975)|
Includes 5 sonatas/partita for flute: BWV1030, 1032, 1034, 1035 and 1013. Soft and delicate sounds of Flauto Traverso (Transverse Flute), the authentic instrument. Also includes the alternative instrumentations of BWV1013, Partita in A minor for Unaccompanied Flute.
|J.S. Bach/The Four Lute Suites (Williams, 1974/1975)|
The guitarist John Williams plays Bach's lute suites on the six-string guitar. One of the classical masterpieces of Bach played by guitar. The suite No.3 in A minor (the original is G minor. BWV995) is an arrangement from cello suite No.5 in C minor (BWV1011). The suite No.4 in E Major (BWV1006a) is an arrangement from partita No.3 for violin solo (BWV1006).
|J.S. Bach/Switched-On Bach (Wendy Carlos, 1968)|
Wendy Carlos is an American composer and synthesist (he underwent sex reassignment surgery (gender change operation) in 1972 and changed his gender to female. His male name before the surgery was Walter Carlos). This 1968 album is a selection of pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach, such as "Air on a G String", "Two-Part Inventions", "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring", "Prelude and Fugue" #2 and #7 (from "Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier"), "Wachet auf" and "Brandenburg Concerto No. 3", performed on a Moog synthesizer and overdubbed on an 8 track tape recorder. The first classical album sold 500,000 copies and certified platinum. It won three Grammy Awards such as Best Classical Album. This album popularized synthesizer, which was only used in experimental contemporary music, and greatly influenced later music scene.
|Pergolesi/Stabat Mater, Salve Regina (Hogwood, 1988)|
'Stabat Mater' (means 'the Mother was Standing' in Latin) is a masterpiece of the sacred vocal music composed by Pergolesi, the composer in eighteenth-century Italy. The music set to the Latin lyrics about the sorrow of the Blessed Virgin, who stands beside the cross on which Jesus is hanging. Full of limpid beauty and delicate shades. Performed by Emma Kirkby (soprano), James Bowman (countertenor) and the Academy of Ancient Music. Conducted by Christopher Hogwood. Also includes 'Salve Regina'.
|C.P.E. Bach/The Three Cello Concertos (Suzuki, 1996)|
A German composer born as the second son of J.S. Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's three concertos (BIS). The recording is for solo cello with strings (Wq.170/171/172). Each piece exists in alternative versions for solo flute (Wq.166/167/168) and solo harpsichord (Wq.26/28/29) with strings. Which version came first is uncertain. Clear and elegant music in the style of the transition between the baroque style and the classical one, closer to Telemann than J.S. Bach. Performed by Hidemi Suzuki (cello, direction) and Bach Collegium Japan.
|Haydn/Symphonies No.94 'Surprise', No.100 'Military', No.104 'London' (Hogwood, 1983/1984)|
The performances on authentic instruments in the 18th-century style.
|Haydn/Symphonies No.101 "The Clock", No.103 "Drum Roll" (Brüggen, 1987)|
The Austrian composer of the Classical period, Franz Joseph Haydn's Symphony No.101 in D major "The Clock" and Symphony No.103 in E flat major "Drum Roll" (Philips). They are both graceful, magnificent and humorous masterpieces of the Classical symphony. The No.101 is nicknamed "The Clock" after its regular accompaniment rhythm of the second movement like a pendulum clock. The No.103 is nicknamed "Drum Roll" after its drom roll on the timpani in the opening of the first movement. Frans Brüggen conducts Orchestra of the 18th Century. Fresh and vivid performances on period instruments.
|Haydn/String Quartets, Op.76, Nos.3-4, Hob.III:77 "Emperor", Hob.III:78 "Sunrise" (Takács Quartet, 1987/1988)|
The Austrian composer, Franz Joseph Haydn composed many string quartets and was called "Father of the String Quartet". The quartet in C Major, Hob.III:77, Op.76, No.3 "Emperor" is his most popular string quartet. The seconde movement is a variation of Austria's anthem "Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser/God Save Emperor Francis" (Kaiserhymne/Emperor's Hymn) composed by Haydn, which is still Germany's national anthem. Performed by the Takács Quartet. Also features Haydn's string quartet in B flat major, Hob.III:78, Op.76, No.4 "Sunrise" and Dvorák's string quartet No.12 in F Major, Op.96 "American".
|Haydn/Die Schöpfung (Gardiner, 1995)|
An oratorio for three vocal soloists (soprano, tenor, bass), choir and orchestra "The Creation" written by Haydn, who was inspired by Handel's oratorios such as "Messiah" during his visits to England (Archiv, complete recording). The text is a German translation (by Baron van Swieten) of English text based on "Genesis" of the Old Testament and John Milton's "Paradise Lost". A picturesque and scenic piece which depicts the creation of the world and the birth of Adam and Eve. Clear and delicate performance by John Eliot Gardiner (conductor), the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists. On authentic instruments.
|Mozart/Symphonies Nos.25, 29 and 35 "Haffner" (Bernstein, 1984-1988)|
Includes two popular pieces of Mozart's symphonies composed in his younger days (teenager), No.25 in G minor (known as the opening music of the film "Amadeus") and No.29 in A major, and the first one of his late six symphonies, No.35 in D major (DG). No.35 "Haffner" is a magnificent piece in festive atmosphere, based on a serenade to celebrate the ennoblement of Sigmund Haffner. Moderate performance in a relaxed tempo, conducted by Leonard Bernstein and performed by Wiener Philharmoniker (live recording).
|Mozart/Symphony No.36 in C Major ("Linz"), Symphony No.39 in E-Flat Major (Walter, 1960)|
Includes Mozart's symphonies Nos.36 & 39 (CBS/Sony). The Symphony No.36 in C major, K.425 is a cheerful and pleasant piece written in four days for a concert during his stay at count Thun-Hohenstein in Linz in 1783. The Symphony No.39 in E-Flat major, K.543 is the first of three great symphonies of his last ripe years (1788), and a graceful piece with a character like overture (introduction to opera). Classical performances at slow tempo, conducted by Bruno Walter and performed by Columbia Symphony Orchestra.
|Mozart/Symphonies Nos.40 & 41 'Jupiter' (Blomstedt, 1981)|
Features the two great symphonies by Mozart in his last days, Nos.40 and 41 "Jupiter". The beauty of touching melody (No.40) and feeling of the cosmos (No.41).
|Mozart/Eine Kleine Nachtmusik K.525, Divertimenti K.136/137/138 (Koopman, 1988/1989)|
An elegant string ensemble piece, Serenade No.13 "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" (means "A Small Night Music" in German) is one of Mozart's most popular and accessible works. As is the case with his other chamber ensemble works, it is regarded occasional music for aristocrats, but the background is unknown. A vivid and uplifting performance (on authentic instruments) by Ton Koopman (conductor) and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra. Also features Divertimentos K.136, 137 and 138.
|Mozart/Piano Concertos Nos. 20 & 21 (Gulda/Abbado, 1974)|
Includes Mozart's two popular piano concertos, No.20 in D minor (K.466) and No.21 in C major (K.467). The original is Deutsche Grammophon. Symphonic writings with the integration of piano and orchestration. No.20 is the first minor concerto written by Mozart. A dark and emotional piece, like later romantics. The beautiful melody of the second movement was used in the the film "Amadeus". No.21 is a swinging piece in a bright and clear atmosphere, featuring flowing sounds of piano solo. Performed by Friedrich Gulda (piano), Claudio Abbado (conductor) and Wiener Philharmoniker.
|Mozart/Piano Concertos Nos. 20 & 24 (Haskil/Markevitch, 1960)|
Mozart's only two minor-key piano concertos, No. 20 in D minor (K.466) and No.24 in C minor (K491) (Decca). Dark and emotional style, like Beethoven and the Romantics. Beethoven admired No.20 and he wrote a cadenza for it. The beautiful melody of the second movement was used in the the film "Amadeus". No.24 was written for both oboes and clarinets, and it features the independent parts of woodwind instruments. Performed by Clara Haskil (piano), a Romanian pianist noted for her performances and recordings of Mozart, Orchestre des Concerts Lamoureux, conducted by Igor Markevitch.
|Mozart/Violin Concertos Nos.3-5 (Kremer/Harnoncourt, 1984/1987)|
Includes three popular pieces (No. 3, 4 and 5) from Mozart's five violin concertos in his younger days (late-teens). Deutsche Grammophon. The most famous one is No.5, also known as "Turkish" or "Turkish Concerto", for it features music in the Turkish march (military bands) style in the third movement (rondo). Unique and fresh performance with a sharp touch, by Gidon Kremer (violin), Nikolaus Harnoncourt (conductor) and Wiener Philharmoniker.
|Mozart/Flute Concertos, Concerto for Flute and Harp (Galway/Marriner, 1995)|
Mozart's "Flute Concerto No.1 in G major" is known as a graceful and splendid masterpiece making full use of the color and register of flute. "Flute Concerto No.2 in D major" is an adaptation of "Oboe Concerto in C major". "Concerto for Flute and Harp" is a unique double concerto with a rare combination of flute and harp. The flute performed by Northern Ireland-born virtuoso flutist, James Galway. Sir Neville Marriner conducts Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. The harp performed by Marisa Robles. Released on RCA. Galway had recorded these pieces many times. The flute concertos are his fourth recordings, and "Concerto for Flute and Harp" is his fifth recording.
|Mozart/4 Horn Concertos (Baumann, 1973)|
Includes Mozart's all the four Horn Concertos (Nos.1-4) (Teldec). Considered to be composed in the 1780s and the early 1790s in the order of Nos. 2, 4, 3 and 1, for Mozart's friend and horn player Joseph Leutgeb (Leitgeb). Idyllic pieces making full use of the warm sound of horn, including rondos at six-eight time rhythm called "the hunting rondo", and featuring Mozart's characteristic beautiful melodies with melancholy in lightness. The first recording of all the four concertos with the original instrument, the natural horn (without valves). Horn played by Hermann Baumann. Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducts Concentus Musicus Wien.
|Mozart/String Quintets Nos.3 & 4 (Alban Berg Quartett/Wolf, 1986)|
Mozart's two masterpieces of string quintets, No.3 in C Major (K.515) and No.4 in G Minor (K.516) (EMI). Both were composed for string quartet and an extra viola, in his last years (1787, when he was 31 years old). This pair of C major/G minor is the same as the 40th (G minor) and 41st "Jupiter" (C major) symphonies composed in the following year. No.3 is a bright, cheerful and clean-cut piece. No.4 is a beautiful piece filled with melancholy and tragic feeling, and it considered one of the greatest pieces in Mozart's, or Viennese classics' chamber music. Performed by Alban Berg Quartett and Markus Wolf on second viola.
|Mozart/The Complete Piano Sonatas (Gould, 1965-1974)|
The set of four CDs that includes all the piano sonatas composed by Mozart. The most famous one is the No.11, which contains the third movement known as "Turkish March". The No.8, No.10 and No.14 are also famous. Light and elegant pieces full of grace notes in the Rococo/Galant style. Glenn Gould's unique performance based on his own interpretation (the tempos are sometimes extremely fast, and other times fairly slow). Also includes the two Fantasias (K.397 & K.475).
|Mozart, Brahms/Clarinet Quintets (Wlach/Vienna Konzerthaus Quartet, 1951)|
Includes the two masterpiece (Mozart and Brahms) of clarinet quintet using the soft sound of clarinet. They are both composed of string quartet (two violins, viola, cello) and clarinet. Mozart's is one of his best work in his last years, and it has beautiful melancholy melodies. The classic performance by Leopold Wlach (the leading clarinetist of Wiener Philharmoniker) and Vienna Konzerthaus Quartet. An old recording in the early 1950s, but the sound quality is good (remastered from the original master tape).
|Mozart/Die Zauberflöte (Abbado, 2005)|
An opera in two acts "Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute)" K.620 complete, composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1791 in his last days (Deutsche Grammophon). The German libretto was written by Emanuel Schikaneder. An opera based on the magical world-view, in the Singspiel (including spoken dialogue) form, for the great multitude, featuring lots of readily accessible melodies. This work had a great influence on the German romantic operas afterwards. Set in ancient Egypt. At the request of the Queen of the Night (coloratura soprano), a prince Tamino (tenor) with a magic flute and a birdcatcher Papageno (baritone) with magic bells try to rescue the Queen of the Night's daughter Pamina (soprano) captured by evil Sarastro (bass). Papageno's aria "Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja (The Birdcatcher am I)", the Queen of the Night's two arias including a very high range (F6) and virtuoso coloratura soprano, "O zittre nicht, mein lieber Sohn (Oh, Tremble Not, My Beloved Son)" and "Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen (Hell's Vengeance Boils in My Heart)" are well-known. A performance with soft and warm atmosphere by Claudio Abbado, who conducts Arnold Schoenberg Chor and Mahler Chamber Orchestra, including period instruments (timpani, trumpet and trombone). The casts are Dorothea Röschmann (as Pamina), Erika Miklósa (as the Queen of the Night), Christoph Strehl (as Tamino), René Page (as Sarastro), Hanno Müller-Brachmann (as Papageno) and others.
|Mozart/Great Mass in C minor, K.427 (Gardiner, 1986)|
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Great Mass in C minor, K.427 (Philips, about 54 minutes). An Unfinished work (Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus and Benedictus were finished, but the large part of Credo and the complete Agnus Dei were missing) composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1782 and 1783. One of the masterpieces of Mozart's sacred music, along with his Requiem. It features both solemnity as sacred music and brilliance like opera. Its choral parts are influenced by J.S.Bach and Handel, and its solo parts are influenced by Italian music. John Eliot Gardiner conducts English Baroque Soloists and Monteverdi Choir. Famous as a great performance by period instruments. This recording is based on the revised and reconstructed edition by Alois Schmitt (1901), and the details are revised by Gardiner. The two sopranos by Sylvia McNair and Diana Montague are impressive.
|Mozart/Requiem (Gardiner, 1986)|
A mass for mourning the dead, "Requiem" (K.626) is Mozart's last and unfinished composition. Completed by Mozart's pupil Franz Xaver Süssmayr. Fresh performance on authentic instruments, without too much pathos like the Romantics. The pure chorus is good too. John Eliot Gardiner conducts English Baroque Soloists and Monteverdi Choir. Also includes Mozart's another impressive church music, "Kyrie" in D minor (K.341).
|Mozart/Kegelstatt-Trio, Duos für Violine und Viola (Kremer, 1984)|
Mozart's "Kegelstatt-Trio, Duos für Violine und Viola" (DG). "Kegelstatt Trio" is a unique performance, for originally composed as "The Trio for Clarinet, Viola and Piano in E-flat" (K.498), but Gidon Kremer plays the clarinet part on the violin. Mozart's two duos for violin and viola, G major (K.423) and B-flat major (K.424) are rarely performed and recorded, but they are both pretty good. The highlights are exquisite ensemble of Kremer on violin and an Armenian-American female violist, Kim Kashkashian. Elegant performances and in a calm atmosphere.
|Beethoven/Symphony No.1 (Järvi, 2006)|
Beethoven's Symphony No.1 in C major, Op.21 (RCA). His first symphony composed at about age 30 (1799-1800). Cheerful and pleasant piece following the style of Haydn and Mozart, but rich in harmonies and light rhythms, and his characteristics and originality have already been recognized. Estonia-born, American conductor, Paavo Järvi conducts the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. Based on Bärenreiter New Urtext Edition. The seating arrangement of the string section is with the first and second violins on opposite sides. Trumpet and timpani are period instruments. so-called HIP (historically informed performance). Thew CD also includes "Symphony No.5".
|Beethoven/Symphony No.3 'Eroica' (Furtwängler, 1952)|
Beethoven's Symphony No.3 "Eroica" is an epoch-making work that marked the beginning of later long and grand-scale symphony. Dramatic and heroic music. The funeral march of the second movement is famous. Conducted by Wilhelm Furtwängler. Performed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
|Beethoven/Symphonie Nr.4 (Kleiber, 1982)|
Symphony No.4. More classical than No.3 and No.5. A bright and cheerful piece. Robert Schumann described as a 'slender Greek maiden between two Norse gods', referring to No.3 and No.5. Performed by Carlos Kleiber (conductor) and Bayerisches Staatsorchester. Live recording in Nationaltheater München, on May 3, 1982. Ultrafast performance like driving a sports car.
|Beethoven/Symphonie Nr.5 (Kleiber, 1974)|
Symphony No.5. Tightknit constitution. A product of condensation. The tempo is kinda slow. Conducted by Carlos Kleiber. Performed by the Wiener Philharmoniker.
|Beethoven/Symphony No.6 (Walter, 1958)|
Symphony No.6 (Pastorale). A masterpiece of 'scenic' music. Very influential for later symphonic poem, program music and film music. Conducted by Bruno Walter. Performed by the Columbia Symphony Orchestra.
|Beethoven/Symphonie Nr.7 (Kleiber, 1975/1976)|
Symphony No.7. Dance rhythm at fast tempos. Conducted by Carlos Kleiber. Performed by the Wiener Philharmoniker.
|Beethoven/Symphonie Nr.9 (Furtwängler, 1951)|
Symphony No.9 (Choral). Conducted by Wilhelm Furtwängler, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (soprano), Elisabeth Höngen (alto), Hans Hopf (tenor), Otto Edelmann (bass), Chor und Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele. This performance was one of the established classics in the LP era.
|Beethoven/Piano Concerto No.5 "Emperor" (Fischer/Furtwängler, 1951)|
Beethoven's "The Piano Concerto No.5 in E-flat major, Op.73 (EMI). Also known as "Emperor". A gallant and magnifical piece like a symphony featuring piano solo, with the largest scale in his piano concertos. It has an unorthodox form as if to exclude soloist's improvisation. At the beginning of the first movement, the pianist plays a specified, cadenza-like passage, and the cadenza is not permitted at the end of the first movement. A classical performance by two maestros, Wilhelm Furtwängler (conductor) and Edwin Fischer (piano). Performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra.
|Beethoven/Piano Trio No.7 "Archduke", Schubert/Piano Trio No.1 (Casals Trio, 1926/1928)|
The Piano Trio in B-flat major, Op.97, composed by Beethoven in 1811 (EMI). One of the masterpieces of piano trio (piano, violin, and cello) in history, and the most famous piano trio by Beethoven. Commonly known as "The Archduke Trio", because it was dedicated to Archduke Rudolph of Austria. A piece full of elegance and grace, totally led by the piano. Its regal piano theme in the opening of the first movement is impressive. Schubert's Piano Trio No.1 in B-flat major, D.898 is a piece composed in 1827 in his last days. It features the romantic and beautiful melody of the second movement (highly praised by Schumann). Performed by Casals Trio: Alfred Cortot (piano), Jacques Thibaud (violin) and Pabro Casals (cello). A monophonic recording in 1926/1928 including noises, and its sound quality is poor, but it has idyllic, comfortable and euphoric performances.
|Beethoven/Violin Concerto in D, Violin Sonata No.9 in A "Kreutzer" (Heifetz/Munch, 1955/60)|
"Violin Concerto in D" is one of the most melodious pieces composed by Beethoven. A kind of symphonic quality with cheerful and peaceful atmosphere. An artful and fast performance by Jascha Heifetz (violin), Charles Munch (conductor) and Boston Symphony Orchestra. A classical masterpiece in the beginning of stereo recording on RCA Records (Heifetz's second recording). Also features Violin Sonata No.9 in A "Kreutzer".
|Beethoven/String Quartet No.9 (Alban Berg Quartett, 1978)|
Beethoven's String Quartets No.9 in C major (EMI) is called "Rasumovsky No.3", for it is the last of three quartets commissioned by the Russian ambassador in Vienna, Count Andreas Rasumovsky (Razumovsky). One of "Middle Period" string quartets, which are different from classical/Haydn-like ones of the early period, and characterized by free extension of sonata form, large scale and dramatic expression of emotion. The subject of the second movement is in the Russian style. The fourth movement has sonata form based on fugue. One of the first complete string quartets recorded by Alban Berg Quartett.
|Beethoven/String Quartet Nos.12 & 14 (Alban Berg Quartett, 1981/1983)|
Beethoven's two string quartets full of maturity in technique in his later days, No.12 in E Flat Major, Op.127 and No.14 in C Sharp Minor, Op.131. No.12 is bright and peaceful, No.14 is more romantic and introspective, and one of masterpieces at his zenith, along with No.13 and No.15. Selected from the first complete string quartets recorded by Alban Berg Quartett.
|Beethoven/String Quartets Nos.15 & 16 (Smetana Quartet, 1983/1985)|
Beethoven's two string quartets full of maturity in technique in his later days, No.15 in A Minor, Op.132 and No.16 in F Major, Op.135. No.15 is a joyful, mleodic five-movement piece with beautiful harmonies, known for its long, impressive third movement with Phrygian mode (one of the old church modes). No.16 is one of his last works, and a small, compact piece in open and upbeat atmosphere, like Haydn. selected from Smetana String Quartet's complete string quartets digital recordings (1976-1985).
|Beethoven/Piano Sonatas Nos.8, 14, 21 & 23 (Backhaus, 1958/1959)|
Includes Beethoven's four popular piano sonatas, No.8 in C minor, op.13 "Pathétique", No.14 in C sharp minor, op.27 "Moonlight", No.21 in C major, op.53 "Waldstein" and No.23 in F minor, op.57 "Appassionata". Romantic conception and lean, logical composition. Simple and sturdy performances by Wilhelm Backhaus.
|Beethoven/Piano Sonatas No.17 "Tempest", No.14 "Waldstein", No.26 "Les Adieux" (Gilels, 1972/1974/1981)|
Beethoven's Piano Sonata No.21 in C major, op.53 "Waldstein" is one of masterpieces in his middle days, along with No.23 "Appassionata". The former Soviet Union's virtuoso, Emil Gilels' recording in his last days. Low-sweetness and large-boned performances. Also features No.17 in D minor, op.31-2 "Der Sturm" and No.26 in E flat major, op.81a "Das Lebewohl/Les Adieux".
|Beethoven/The Complete Sonatas for Piano and Cello (Rostropovich/Richter, 1961-1963)|
Includes all the five sonatas for piano and cello composed by Beethoven (2 CDs). Nos.1 and 2 are his early works. Nos.4 and 5 are introspective works in his later days. Sonata No.3 in A major (Op.69) is famous as a splendid classic filled with dramatic tension. Performed by the virtuoso duo in the former Soviet Union, Mstislav Rostropovich (cello) and Sviatoslav Richter (piano).
|Beethoven/Missa Solemnis (Klemperer, 1965)|
Beethoven's Missa Solemnis in D major, op.123 (EMI). A long sacred choral piece for four soloists, chorus and orchestra, composed by Beethoven in his last years. Considered to be one of his greatest works, along with his ninth symphony. A polyphonic piece using counterpoint. The texts are based on liturgy in Latin, but unlike traditional Masses, a symphonic piece on cosmic scales beyond the framework of Christian music. Otto Klemperer conducts New Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus. At slow tempo. Bombastic and old-fashioned preformance compared with ones on original instruments, but an impressive recording established as a classical masterpiece.
|Beethoven/Fidelio (Rattle, 2003)|
Beethoven's only finished opera "Fidelio" (in two acts, the complete opera, 2CD, EMI). Based on the play in the French Revolution period, "Léonore, ou l'Amour conjugal" by a French playwright, Jean-Nicolas Bouilly. The story of a conjugal love, in which Leonore disguises herself a prison guard named "Fidelio", and rescues her husband Florestan who was wrongly imprisoned. Sung in German. More like a symphony with solos and chorus than a opera. Suitable for listening to the music itself purely. The organization obeys Beethoven's equation of "joy through sufferings" of "struggle to victory", and the final scene gives a sense of exaltation, like his No.9 Symphony. Performed by Simon Rattle (conductor), Berliner Philharmoniker, Angela Denoke (Leonore), Arnold Schoenberg Chor and others. The live recording of the concert performances at the Berlin Philharmonie, following the staged performances at the Salzburg Easter Festival 2003.
|Paganini/24 Caprices (Midori, 1988)|
Includes all the 24 "Caprices" composed by Italian virtuoso violinist and composer, Niccolò Paganini. Known as a difficult piece to play, which uses all kinds of techniques of violin playing. Midori Goto's recording at age 17. A splendid performance with excellent technique and expressiveness.
|Paganini/Violinkonzerte Nos.1 & 2 (Accardo, 1975)|
An Italian romantic violinist and composer known for his violin virtuosity, Niccolò Paganini's Violin Concertos Nos.1 & 2 (Deutsche Grammophon). The Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No.1 in D major, op.6 is the most popular one of his six violin concertos, and it features gorgeous and bright melodies, and virtuoso techniques such as harmonics, staccato volante (flying staccato), double stop, and left hand pizzicato. The Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No.2 in B minor, Op. 7 is known for its third movement "Rondo à la clochette" including chase between the bell imitated by violin harmonics and the bell of the orchestra. Franz Liszt's "Grandes études de Paganini", the No.3 "La campanella" is a famous piano solo piece based on the theme of the third movement. Performed by Salvatore Accardo (violin), Charles Dutoit (conductor) and London Philharmonic Orchestra.
|Weber/Der Freischütz (Kleiber, 1973)|
"Der Freischütz" (means "The Free-Shooter"), the opera in three acts composed by German composer Carl Maria von Weber, is a classic of German Romantic opera, which greatly influenced Berlioz, Wagner and many other composers. Carlos Kleiber (conductor), Gundula Janowitz (soprano), Edith Mathis (soprano), Peter Schreier (tenor), Theo Adam (bass) and others, Leipzig Radio Chorus and Staatskapelle Dresden. Kleiber's first studio-recording album.
|Rossini/Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Gui, 1962)|
Italian composer, Gioacchino Antonio Rossini's 'Il Barbiere di Siviglia/The Barber of Seville' is a light and refined comic opera (opera buffa) based on the satirical comedy written by French playwright Beaumarchais. The classical performance by Vittorio Gui (conductor), Victoria de los Angeles (as Rosina), Sesto Bruscantini (as Figaro), Luigi Alva (as Il conte d'Almaviva), Carlo Cava (as Basilio), Ian Wallace (as Bartolo), Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Glyndebourne Festival Chorus.
|Donizetti/L'Elisir d'Amore (complete) (Pidò, 1996)|
Italian composer, Gaetano Donizetti's popular opera "L'Elisir d'Amore/The Elixir of Love" (complete). A romantic and comical opera (buffa) filled with entertaining elements and beautiful melodies. Evelino Pidò conducts Orchestre et Chœur de l'Opéra National de Lyon. The singers such as Roberto Alagna (tenor) and Angela Gheorghiu (soprano) are pretty good. The famous tenor aria in the second act "Una Furtiva Lagrima/One Furtive Tear" is based on the alternative version rescored by Donizetti fifteen years after the first performance.
|Bellini/Norma (complete) (Callas/Serafin, 1960)|
An Italian opera composer in the early 19th century, along with Rossini and Donizetti, Vincenzo Bellini's opera "Norma" (complete, 3 CDs). The highest peak of Italian Bel canto opera with extremely high difficulty level of soprano singer. The aria "Casta diva" is especially famous for its beautiful melody. The second studio recording by Maria Callas (soprano) and Tullio Serafin (conductor). Performed by Orchestra/Coro del Teatro alla Scala, Milano.
|Schubert/Symphonies Nos.5 & 8 "Unfinished" (Walter, 1958/1960)|
Includes the Austrian composer, Franz Schubert's two symphonies, No.5 in B flat major, D.485 (performed by Columbia Symphony Orchestra) and No.8(7) in B minor "Unfinished", D.759 (performed by New York Philharmonic) Conducted by Bruno Walter. Lyrical and old-fashioned performances in slow tempo.
|Schubert/Quartet No.14, No.13 (Alban Berg Quartett, 1984)|
Schubert's string quartet No.14 in D minor, "Der Tod und das Mädchen" (Death and the Maiden) is a beautiful piece full of melancholy feelings like an elegy, and famous as a masterpiece of romantic chamber music. Performed by Alban Berg Quartett. Also includes the string quartet No.13 in A minor, "Rosamunde".
|Schubert/Piano Quintet in A Major "The Trout" (Richter, 1980)|
Schubert's Piano Quintet in A Major, D.667 "The Trout". Refreshing chamber music filled with delicate lyricism. Played with piano, violin, viola, cell and double bass. The fourth movement is a set of variations with the melody of Schubert's earlier lied, "Die Forelle (The Trout)". Performed by Sviatoslav Richter (piano), members of the Borodin Quartet with Georg Hörtnagel on double bass. A live recording in a chamber music concert in Schloss Hohenems, Austria in 1980.
|Schubert/Wanderer-Fantasie, Schumann/Fantasie (Pollini, 1973)|
Includes two piano solo works (fantasies) of the Romantic, the Austrian composer of the late Classical and early Romantic eras, Franz Schubert's "Wandererfantasie" (Wanderer Fantasy) Op.15 and the German Romantic composer, Robert Schumann's "Fantasie" Op.17 (Deutsche Grammophon). Schubert's "Wandererfantasie" is a free-form fantasy of four movements in sonata style. A magnificent and technical piece featuring lots of arpeggios. Its second movement has a quotation from the theme of his Lied "Der Wanderer". Schumann's "Fantasie" is one of his greatest works for piano solo. A splendid and passionate filled with romanticism. A theme of Beethoven's song cycle "An die ferne Geliebte (To the distant beloved)" is quoted in the coda of the first movement. The crystal-clear performances by Maurizio Pollini.
|Schubert/Die schöne Müllerin (Matthias Goerne, 2001)|
A song cycle (20 songs), "Die schöne Müllerin/The Fair Maid of the Mill" is one of the three song cycles composed by Austrian composer, Franz Schubert, along with "Winterreise/Winter Journey" and "Schwanengesang/Swan Song". A masterpice of German romantic Lied. Based on poems by German lyric poet, Wilhelm Müller. A story about a young miller, who falls out of love with a beautiful watermill-girl and commits suicide. Originally suitable for tenor, but often sung by baritone or bass, transposed to a lower range. A German baritone (who studied with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf), Matthias Goerne's beautiful deep voice. The piano accompaniment by Eric Schneider. Released on Decca.
|Schubert/Winterreise (Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, 1972)|
Austrian composer, Franz Schubert's "Winterreise/Winter Journey". A song cycle (24 songs) based on poems by German lyric poet, Wilhelm Muller. A gloomy music on the subject of unrequited love. Images of the scenes in despair and hopelessness. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone) had recorded "Winterreise" seven times. This was recorded in 1972 (Deutsche Grammophon). The piano accompaniment by Gerald Moore.
|Schubert/String Quintet (Alban Berg Quartett/Schiff, 1982)|
The Austrian composer of the late Classical and early Romantic eras, Franz Schubert's "String Quintet in C major" D.956 (EMI). His final chamber work composed in his last days. A long (around 50 minutes) and large-sized piece for string quintet plus the second cello, with well-developed bass oart, like a string orchestra. Featurng lots of flowing melodies filled with pathos and lyricism. The tranquil and sublime second movement, including intensely emotional central part, is famous. Performed by Alban Berg Quartett and Heinrich Schiff (cello).
|Brahms/Symphonie No.1 (Karajan, 1987)|
Symphony No.1. Maybe this is the most popular one of all his symphonies. Herbert von Karajan conducts Berliner Philharmoniker.
|Brahms/Symphony No.4 (Walter, 1959)|
An archaic piece with Phrygian mode (one of the old church modes) in the first movement and chaconne/passacaglia (a variation form in the baroque period) in the last movement, but full of romanticism and sentimental lyricism (sense of loneliness). One of Brahms' complete symphony recordings by Bruno Walter (conductor) in his last days and Columbia Symphony Orchestra (Sony).
|Brahms/21 Hungarian Dances (Abbado, 1982)|
The German composer, Johannes Brahms' "Hungarian Dances" (all the 21 tunes). Nos.11, 14 and 16 are Brahms' original compositions. Others are Brahms' arrangements based on Roma (Gypsy) folk music. The originals are written for piano four hands. This is the orchestral arrangements. Nos.1, 3, and 10 are arranged by Brahms, and others are arranged by Dvorák and so on. No.5 is a very famous tune everyone knows. Claudio Abbado conducts Wiener Philharmoniker.
|Brahms/Piano Concerto No.2, Mozart/Piano Concerto No.27, K595 (Böhm/Backhaus, 1967/1955)|
Brahms' Piano Concerto No.2 in B flat major, op.83 and Mozart's Piano Concerto No.27 in B flat major, K.595 (on Decca). A collaboration between the two virtuosi, pianist Wilhelm Backhaus and conductor Karl Böhm with Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. They are both filled with beautiful melodies. Brahms' No.2 is a long and heavy piece like 'a symphony with piano solo' (performed by Backhaus in his last days). Mozart's No.27 is a masterpiece with clear sound and melancholy atmosphere, composed in his last days.
|Brahms/Violin Concerto in D, Op.77 (Neveu, 1948)|
Brahms' Violin Concerto in D major, Op.77 is a heavy-sounding piece like a symphony. A French violinist, Ginette Neveu's live recording at the Hamburger Musikhalle on May 3rd 1948, with Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt (conductor) and Sinfonieorchester des NWDR (North German Radio Symphony Orchestra). Recorded in mono. Neveu's bold, energetic, dense and passionate solo performance is worth listening to.
|Brahms/String Sextets op.18 & op.36 (Members of the Berlin Philharmonic Octet, 1966-1973)|
Brahms' "String Sextets No.1" in B flat major (op.18) is one of the Romantic chamber music masterpieces. Heavy sound by two violins, two violas and two cellos. Sober atmosphere. The second movement with passionate and romantic melody is quite famous, and also known as the music used in Louis Malle's film "Les Amants/The Lovers". Performed by Members of the Berlin Philharmonic Octet (Berliner Philharmoniker Oktet). Also features "String Sextets No.2" in G major (op.36), "Piano Quintet" in F minor (op.34) and "Clarinet Quintet" in B minor (op.115).
|Brahms/10 Intermezzi for Piano (Gould, 1960)|
Interludes for piano. Gould's meditative performance. Marvelous. Highly recommended.
|Brahms/Ballades Op.10, Rhapsodies Op.79 (Gould, 1982)|
Brahms' 4 ballades and 2 rhapsodies. Lyrical romantic character pieces. The last recording by Glenn Gould (piano).
|Brahms/3 Intermezzi Op.117, 6 Klavierstücke Op.118, 4 Klavierstücke Op.119 (Afanassiev, 1992)|
"Late Piano Works" by Brahms. A Russian extraordinary pianist also known as a writer, Valery Afanassiev's recording. Includes "3 Intermezzi" (Op.117), "6 Klavierstücke" (Op.118) and "4 Klavierstücke" (Op.119). Unique interpretations with the tempos sometimes extremely slow. Beautiful performance filled with loneliness and tranquility. "Brahms at degree zero". Glenn Gould's recordings of Brahms late piano works are excellent, but this is quite good too.
|Brahms/Ein deutsches Requiem (Klemperer, 1961)|
Brahms' "A German Requiem" (EMI). A large-scale (about 70 minutes), sacred piece for for mixed chorus, orchestra, and soprano/baritone soloists. Unlike catholic requiems based on liturgy in Latin, the text is based on the German Bible translation by Martin Luther, because Brahms was a protestant. Composed as a concert piece, not for liturgy. A classical masterpiece conducted by Otto Klemperer, performed by Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus. Features the strongest soloists in their prime, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (soprano) and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone).
|Berlioz/Symphonie Fantastique (Münch, 1967)|
A masterpiece of romantistic 'program music' with a storyline. Gorgeous orchestration by full use of brass instruments. The historic performance by Munch/Paris Orchestra.
|Berlioz/Overtures (Davis, 1997)|
Berlioz's "Overtures" (RCA). Includes seven major overtures composed by Hector Berlioz, the French Romantic composer. Each of the five pieces ("Les francs-juges", "Waverley", "Le roi Lear/King Lear", "Le carnaval romain/Roman Carnival" and "Le corsaire/The Corsair") except overture to the opera "Beatrice and Benedict" and overture to the opera "Benvenuto Cellini", is a concert overture without a main opera. "Roman Carnival Overture" is most famous and one of his major orchestral works, along with "Fantastic Symphony". A prominent Berlioz conductor from England, Sir Colin Davis conducts Staatskapelle Dresden.
|Mendelssohn/Symphonien Nos.3 & 4 (Abbado, 1984/1985)|
A German composer of the early Romantic period, Felix Mendelssohn's symphonies No.3 "Schottische/The Scottish" and No.4 "Italienische/The Italian". No.3 is a fantastic piece filled with rich romanticism, and No.4 is a popular piece with dynamic rhythms and cheerful melodies. From Mendelssohn's complete symphony recordings by Claudio Abbado (conducter) and London Symphony Orchestra. Also includes the orchestral overture "The Hebrides (Fingal's Cave)".
|Mendelssohn/A Midsummer Night's Dream, incidental music (Klemperer, 1960)|
A German composer of the early Romantic period, Felix Mendelssohn's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (Op. 61, EMI). A fantasy incidental music for Shakespeare's play. Most popular orchestral music composed by Mendelssohn, along with "Hebrides Overture". This CD includes all the numbers except melodramas, including the Overture (Op. 21). "You Spotted Snakes" (Op. 61-3) featuring soprano/mezzo-soprano solos and female chorus is beautiful. "Wedding March" (Op. 61-9) is well-known as music used at wedding celebrations. Otto Klemperer (conductor), the Philharmonia Orchestra & Chorus, Heather Harper (soprano), Janet Baker (mezzo-soprano).
|Chopin/12 Etudes, op.10/25 (Pollini, 1972)|
Pollini's transcendent virtuosity.
|Chopin/24 Préludes, op.28 (Pollini, 1974)|
Chopin's 24 Préludes (op.28). A piano suite by using all the 24 major/minor keys under the influence of J.S. Bach's Well-tempered Clavier Book. Graceful and sentimental music. No.15 in D flat major "Sostenuto" is well-known. Performed by Maurizio Pollini.
|Chopin/Ballades, Scherzos (Rubinstein, 1959)|
A Polish composer/pianist of the Romantic era, Frédéric Chopin's solo piano pieces, Ballades Nos.1-4 and Scherzi Nos.1-4 (RCA). The four ballades based on 6/4 or 6/8 meter are beautifl pieces including dramatic motif and subjective expressions. In these works, Chopin established the genre of ballade as pure instrumental and abstract musical form in piano music, and influenced later piano ballade composers, such as Franz Liszt and Johannes Brahms. The four scherzos based on 3/4 are large-scaled pieces including serious emotion and difficult techniques, and piano music classics ranking with his ballades. A Polish American pianist, Arthur Rubinstein's classical recordings at his mature period, aged over 70. Idyllic, spontaneous and straightforward performance excluding excessive decoration.
|Chopin/Nocturnes No.1-16 & 19 (Pollini, 2005)|
A Polish composer/pianist of the Romantic era, Frédéric Chopin's nocturnes (Deutsche Grammophon). The excerpted version which includes 17 pieces (Nos.1-16 and No.19) except Nos.17 and 18, selected from the complete recording (19 pieces) by Maurizio Pollini. Piano solo pieces filled with mellow and sentimental melodies. In this pieces, Chopin succeeded the style (song-like melodies with accompaniment in an arpeggio) of Irish composer John Field, considered as the founder of nocturne, and created his distinctive poetic world of piano music with wide range of emotional expressions. The No.2 (Op.9-2) is his best-known nocturne. The No.13 (Op.48-1) is a sublime and gorgeous piece regarded as one of Chopin's greatest works.
|Chopin, Liszt/Piano Concertos (Argerich, 1968)|
Chopin's Piano Concerto No.1 is an early-romantic masterpiece full of poetic sensibility and sentimentality, as if to cherish sweet and wistful memories in his youth. Performed by Martha Argerich (piano) and the London Symphony Orchestra. Conducted by Claudio Abbado. Also features Liszt's Piano Concerto No.1.
|Chopin/Polonaises, Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise (Rubinstein, 1950/1951)|
A Polish composer/pianist, Frédéric Chopin's works for piano solo, 7 Polonaises and "Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise". 'Polonaise' is a slow dance form of Polish origin, in 3/4 time. No.3 in A, Op.40-1 "Military" and No.6 in A-flat, Op.53 "Heroic" are quite famous. No.7 in A-flat, Op.61 "Polonaise-Fantaisie" is a fantasia-style piece with a dreamy atmosphere in his last days. "Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise" is a cheerful and spectacular piece in his early days. A Polish virtuoso, Artur Rubinstein had recorded Chopin's Polonaises three times (in 1934-1935 on SP (EMI), in 1950-1951 on mono LP (RCA), in 1964 on stereo LP (RCA)). This is the second.
|Chopin/14 Piano Waltzes (Lipatti, 1950)|
A Polish composer/pianist, Frédéric Chopin's waltzes (Nos.1-14). A Romanian pianist, Dinu Lipatti's historic performance (EMI). Recorded in mono in 1950. The sound quality is not good, but the performance itself is neat, elegant and technically excellent. You can enjoy Chopin's waltzes full of poetic sentiment and melancholy. Also includes Nocturne No.8, Mazurka No.32 and others.
|The Glenn Gould Edition: Chopin/Piano Sonata No. 3, Mendelssohn/Songs without Words, Scriabin/Piano Sonatas Nos. 3, 5, Prokofiev/Piano Sonata No. 7 (Gould, 1967-1972)|
One of Glenn Gould's recording series of piano works. Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 3 is the only recording in which Gould tried Chopin (though he was a pianist, Gould was prejudiced against the Romantics, especially Chopin). Unemotional performance with solid rhythms. Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No. 7 (the second of the so-called trilogy of 'War Sonatas') is an atonalistic and modern piece with percussive piano playing. Also features Scriabin's Piano Sonata Nos. 3 & 5, five pieces selected from Mendelssohn's "Songs without Words". Personally, I recommend Proko's No. 7.
|Schumann, Grieg/Piano Concertos (Zimerman/Karajan, 1981/1982)|
Includes the two popular pieces of Romantic piano concerto, Robert Schumann (Germany) and Edvard Grieg (Norway). Lyrical performance full of poetic sentiment by Krystian Zimerman (piano), Herbert von Karajan (conductor) and Berliner Philharmoniker.
|Schumann/Kinderszenen, Kreisleriana (Argerich, 1983)|
Includes piano works "Scenes of Childhood" and "Kreisleriana".
|Schumann/Symphonische Etüden, Arabeske (Pollini, 1981/1983)|
A German Romantic composer of the 19th century, Robert Schumann's "Symphonische Etüden/The Symphonic Etudes" and "Arabeske" (Deutsche Grammophon). "Symphonische Etüden" is a set of etudes for solo piano, which consists of a theme and twelve etudes in the variation form. A piece with a orchestral sound and a magnificent scale. "Arabeske" is a small piano piece with delicate melodies and a calm atmosphere. Maurizio Pollini's great performances filled with clear lyricism and sharp technique. Pollini played "Symphonische Etüden" based on the 1837 edition, and inserted five so-called "posthumous" variations that had been cut by Schumann between the the fifth and sixth etudes.
|Schumann/Symphonie No.4 (Furtwängler, 1953)|
A German Romantic composer of the 19th century, Robert Schumann's Symphony No.4 in D Minor (Deutsche Grammophon). A symphony like a symphonic fantasia, performed without any break between the movements (attacca), filled with phantasmagoria and poetic romanticism. The development of latter half resembles Beethoven's Symphony No.5. Wilhelm Furtwängler conducts Berliner Philharmoniker. Burning and uplifting performance unique to Furtwängler. An old mono recording, but the sound quality is pretty good, so considered one of his greatest recordings.
|Schumann/Dichterliebe, Liederkreis, Op.39 (Fischer-Dieskau/Eschenbach, 1974-1976)|
A collection of songs composed by Robert Schumann, a German Romantic composer of the 19th century (Deutsche Grammophon). "Dichterliebe (A Poet's Love)" is his best-known song cycle. A masterpiece of romantic song cycle filled with melancholy and lyricism. The texts come from Heinrich Heine's "Lyrisches Intermezzo (Lyrical Intermezzo)" (from the collection of poems "Buch der Lieder (Book of Songs)"), and it depicts the pleasure of love and sadness of unrequited love. "Liederkreis" Op.39 is a song cycle based on Joseph Eichendorff's poems. Also seven songs from "Myrten" Op.25, a collection of songs with poems by Rückert, Goethe, Heine, Burns and others. Performed by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone) and Christoph Eschenbach (piano). "Dichterliebe" is Fischer-Dieskau's fourth recording. "Liederkreis" is his second recording.
|Liszt/Klaviersonate h-moll, Nuages Gris, Unstern!-Sinistre, La Lugubre Gondola I, R.W.-Venezia (Pollini, 1988/1989)|
Franz Liszt's "Piano Sonata in B minor" is a masterpiece of romantic sonata with advanced technique and complex structure. Maurizio Pollini's accurate and elaborate performance. Also includes Liszt's four atonal piano pieces composed in his last days, "Nuages Gris (Grey Clouds)", "Unstern!-Sinistre (Evil Star!)", "La Lugubre Gondola I (The Funeral Gondola I)" and "R.W.-Venezia".
|Liszt/André Watts Plays Liszt (Watts, 1984/1985)|
A pianist from Germany, noted for his playing romantic composers, especially Franz Liszt, André Watts plays Liszt's "Six Grand Etudes after Paganini: No.3, La Campanella", "No4 in E", "No.5, La Chasse", "Au lax de Wallenstadt", "Les jeux d'eau a la villa d'este", "Hungarian Rhapsody No.13 in A minor", "Nuages Gris", "Bagatelle sans tonalité", "Transcendental Etude No. 10" and others. 12 tracks selected from two albums on EMI, "André Watts Plays Liszt: Album 1" and "2". Songful, virtuoso and delicate performances. "La Campanella" is worth listening to. "Nuages Gris" and "Bagatelle sans tonalité" are atonal pieces in Liszt's last days.
|(Various Artists)/Fête à la Française (Dutoit, 1987)|
A collection of French small orchestral works composed in the 19th and 20th centuries (Decca). Lots of light pieces in a festive mood, filled with humor and esprit. Includes Emmanuel Chabrier's rhapsody for orchestra "España" and "Joyeuse marche", Paul Dukas' symphonic poem "L'apprenti sorcier/The Sorcerer's Apprentice", Erik Satie's "2 Gymnopédies" (orchestrations of the first and third "Gymnopédies" by Debussy), Camille Saint-Saëns' "Bacchanale" from the opera "Samson et Dalila" (a famous piece also used in figure skating), Georges Bizet's petit suite "Jeux d'enfants/Children's Games", Ambroise Thomas' overture to the opera "Raymond or: Le secret de la reine", Jacques Ibert's "Divertissement pour orchestre de chambre". Colorful performances with sophisticated sounds by Charles Dutoit (conductor) and Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal.
|Verdi/La Traviata (complete opera, Callas/Giulini, 1955)|
An opera in three acts (1853) composed by Giuseppe Verdi, an Italian Romantic composer, and based on " La Dame aux camélias/The Lady of the Camellias", a play adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas, fils (EMI, 2CD). A sad love story featuring a courtesan Violetta Valéry, set in Paris in the 1850s, and a popular opera filled with mellow and catchy melodies. A live recording at Teatro alla Scala, Milano, on May 28, 1955. A mono recording and the sound quality is not good, but a precious recording of a historic, great performance starring Maria Callas (Violetta/soprano) in her prime, conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini, and the stage directed by Luchino Visconti. Sung in Italian.
|Verdi/Messa da Requiem (Karajan, 1972)|
Verdi's Requiem Mass. An operatic and dramatic sacred music. Performed by Karajan/Berliner Philharmoniker.
|Wagner/Orchestral Works: Tannhauser, Lohengrin, Tristan und Isolde, Die Meistersinger, The Flying Dutchman, Parsifal (Karajan, 1974)|
Richard Wagner's orchestral works (2 CDs). Herbert von Karajan conducts Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Includes Overture and Venusberg Music from "Tannhäuser" (Paris version), Preludes to Act 1 and 3 from "Lohengrin", Prelude to Act 1 and Liebestod from "Tristan und Isolde", Prelude to Act 1 from "Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg", Overture from "Der fliegende Holländer", Preludes to Act 1 and 3 from "Parsifal". Flowing and beautiful performance. The sound quality is fine. Useful for overviewing Wagner's orchestral music.
|Wagner/Tristan und Isolde (Böhm, 1966)|
Richard Wagner's musical drama in three acts "Tristan und Isolde" (complete. 3 CDs). A long opera (over three hours) depicting romantic love ecstasy or 'Liebestod' (lovedeath). In terms of technique, known for its "unendliche Melodie" (unending melody), which means endless progression of entanglement melodies, "Tristan chord" in the beginning of the prelude, which is ambiguous in tonality, and harmonic progression with using lots of chromatic scales. The prelude and the last aria, so-called "Isolde's Lovedeath" are famous. Karl Böhm (conductor), Chor und Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele, Wolfgang Windgassen (Tristan/tenor), Birgit Nilsson (Isolde/soprano) and others. Live recording in 1966 Bayreuth Festival.
|Wagner/Parsifal (Solti, 1971/1972)|
Richard Wagner's last musical drama "Parsifal", described as "Bühnenweihfestspiel (a festival play to consecrate the stage)" by the composer himself, the complete version. A long (more than four hours) opera based on the Christian mysticism, like a religious cultus. Conducted by Georg Solti, and performed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Features splendid singers such as Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone), Hans Hotter (bass), Christa Ludwig (mezzo-soprano), René Kollo (tenor), Lucia Pop (soprano), Kiri te Kanawa (soprano) and the Vienna Boys Choir.
|Offenbach/Gaîté Parisienne (Rosenthal, 1976)|
A complete ballet "Gaîté Parisienne" (EMI). A popular ballet score orchestrated by Manuel Rosenthal (a French composer and conductor) with use plenty of the melodies of operettas composed by Jacques Offenbach (a German-born French composer) in between the 1850s and the 1870s (during the era of the Second French Empire). A comical, glorious and roaring piece. Featuring the famous melodies of "Orphée aux enfers (Orpheus in the Underworld)", "La vie parisienne" and "Barcarolle" from the opera "The Tales of Hoffmann". Performed by Monte Carlo Opera Orchestra, conducted by Manuel Rosenthal himself.
|Franck/Sonata in A major (Grumiaux, 1961)|
A composer of Belgian origin, César Franck's sonata for violin and piano in A major is a famous violin sonata of modern France. Tight-knit construction with the cyclic form (a motif occurs in more than one movement for unifying music). Performed by Arthur Grumiaux (violin) and Istvan Hajdu (piano).
|Smetana/Má Vlast (My Country) (Ančerl, 1963)|
The Czech composer, Smetana's cycle of symphonic poems 'Ma Vlast/My Country' (all the six). Nationalistic music based on Bohemian myths, history and scenery. The second 'Vltava/The Moldau' is well-known for its excellent melody. Karel Ancerl conducts Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.
|Bruckner/Symphony No. 4 "Romantic" (Böhm, 1973)|
Austrian composer, Anton Bruckner's fourth symphony (so-called "Nowak edition" of the year 1953). One of his most accessible and easy-to-listen works. A magnificent and large-scaled symphony tinged with German Romanticism literally, as if to sing sublime beauty of nature. Orthodox performance at a relaxed tempo by Karl Böhm (conductor) and the Wiener Philharmoniker.
|Bruckner/Symphony No. 7 (Asahina, 1975)|
An Austrian composer in the late Romantic era, known for his long symphonies influenced by Richard Wagner's harmonics, Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 7 in E major (Victor). One of his most popular symphonies, along with No. 4. Sublime and glorious piece featuring a muscial composition relatively accessible as his symphonies. The second and fourth movements features Wagner tubas. Takashi Asahina conducts Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra. Live recording in St. Florian Marmor Hall (associated with Bruckner) in Linz. A performance in slow tempo, based on the Haas edition. The sound with deep reverberation.
|J. Strauss II/Die Fledermaus (Kleiber, 1975)|
The operetta "Die Fledermaus" (The Bat) composed by Johann Strauss II, the composer of Vienna, Austria in the 19th century, is a three-act musical comedy and the most popular operetta by Johann Strauss. A light and comical piece with lots of Viennese waltz rhythm. The great recording by Carlos Kleiber (conductor), Bayerischer Staatsopernchor, Bayerisches Staatsorchester, Hermann Prey (baritone), Julia Varady (soprano), Lucia Popp (soprano), Bernd Weikl (baritone), Iwan Rebroff and others. The polka "Unter Donner Und Blitz" (Thunder and lightning) is played in the ballet scene of the second-act finale.
|Borodin/String Quartets Nos.1 and 2 (Haydn Quartet, Budapest, 1993)|
The Russian composer (a chemist by profession) and one of 'The Mighty Handful', Alexander Porfirevich Borodin's String Quartets Nos.1 and 2. Romantic pieces filled with lyrical beauty. The third "Nocturne" movement of the No.2 is immensely popular. Performed by Haydn Quartet, Budapest.
|Saint-Saëns/Symphony No. 3 in C minor "Organ", Debussy/La Mer, Ibert/Escales (Munch, 1956/1959)|
French composer, Camille Saint-Saens' Symphony No. 3 is a splendid and magnificent piece by a large orchestra with organ and two pianos for four hands. Charles Munch conducts Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Berj Zamkochian plays organ. A classical masterpiece in the beginning of stereo recording on RCA Records. Also features Debussy's "La Mer" and Ibert's "Escales".
|Delibes/Coppélia, Sylvia (highlights) (Ansermet, 1957/1959)|
Léo Delibes is a 19th-century French Romantic composer known for his operas and ballets. Includes the excerpts (highlights) of his two ballet masterieces, "Coppélia" and "Sylvia" (Decca). "Coppélia" (1867) is a comic ballet based on E. T. A. Hoffmann's short story "Der Sandmann/The Sandman". "Sylvia" (1876) is a ballet in three acts based on Torquato Tasso's play "Aminta". They are both pioneering pieces of Romantic ballet filled with grace and subtlety, featuring symphonic orchestrations. Ernest Ansermet conducts L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. Clorful and exquisite performances. Historic recordings.
|Bruch/Violin Concerto No.1 (Heifetz, 1962)|
A German late-Romantic composer, Max Bruch's "Violin Concerto No.1" in G minor, Op.26 (RCA). One of the most popular violin concertos of all time, and regarded as Bruch's best composition. A typically-German Romantic piece featuring lyrical and sweet melodies. A virtuoso performance by a Lithuanian-born violinist, Jascha Heifetz, Sir Malcolm Sargent (conductor) and New Symphony Orchestra of London.
|Bizet/L'Arlésienne Suites Nos. 1 and 2, Carmen Suites Nos. 1 and 2 (Dutoit, 1986)|
A French composer known for his incidental music for plays and operas, Georges Bizet's popular orchestral works. The suites "L'Arlésienne/The Girl from Arles" Nos. 1 and 2 are the arrangements of the incidental music to the play written by Alphonse Daudet. Popular and approachable pieces using a Christmas folk song of Provence in southern France, "The March of the Three Kings". Also features the suite version of the opera "Carmen". Performed by Charles Dutoit (conductor) and Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal.
|Bizet/Carmen (Karajan, 1982/1983)|
A 19th century French composer known for his incidental music for plays and operas, Georges Bizet's opera in four acts "Carmen" (complete, Deutsche Grammophon). A masterpiece of French opera featuring lots of accessible melodies and Spanish-style exotic mood. A story is about a freewheeling gypsy girl Carmen. The libretto was written by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, based on the novella "Carmen" by Prosper Mérimée. "Prélude (Prelude)" (orchestra) to Act 1, Carmen's aria in Act 1 "Habanera: L'amour est un oiseau rebelle (Love is a Rebellious Bird)" with using a habanera (Cuban dance) "El Arreglito" composed by a Spanish composer Sebastián Iradier, Carmen's aria in Act 1 "Seguidilla" with the Castilian (Spanish) folksong and dance form in quick triple time, a bullfighter Escamillo's aria in Act 2 "Toreador Song", Corporal of Dragoons Don José's aria "The Flower Song", Don José's fiancée, Micaëla's aria in Act 3 are are famous pieces widely known. Herbert von Karajan conducts Berliner Philharmoniker. Karajan's second recording of "Carmen". Performed in the original opéra comique form with dialogues. Sung by Agnes Baltsa (Carmen/mezzo-soprano), José Carreras (Don José/tenor), José van Dam (Escamillo/bass), Katia Ricciarelli (Micaëla/soprano), Choœur de l'Opéra de Paris and others. The runtime is about 2 hours and 50 minutes (3 CD box).
|Mussorgsky/Pictures at an Exhibition, Night on the Bare Mountain, "Khovanshchina" Prelude (Ansermet, 1959/1964)|
"Pictures at an Exhibition" is the orchestrated version of the original piano piece composed by Russian nationalist composer, Modest Mussorgsky. Colorfully orchestrated by Maurice Ravel. An example of musical inheritance from 19th-century Russia to 20th century France. Also features the symphonic poem, "Night on the Bare Mountain" (orchestrated by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov). Conducted by Ernest Ansermet, and performed by L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.
|Mussorgsky/Pictures at an Exhibition, Ravel/Valses nobles et sentimentales pour piano (Pogorelich, 1995)|
Mussorgsky's suite for piano "Pictures at an Exhibition" and Ravel's suite of waltzes for piano "Valses nobles et sentimentales/Noble and Sentimental Waltzes" (DG). Performed by Ivo Pogorelich, a pianist born in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia. Unique performances with extreme dynamics and agogics (sometimes extremely slow). He takes 42 minutes to play "Pictures at an Exhibition", though Valery Afanassiev (44 minutes) is slower.
|Tchaikovsky/Symphonies Nos.4, 5 & 6 "Pathétique" (Mravinsky, 1960)|
Includes three popular symphonies by Tchaikovsky, the composer of Russia in the 19th century. The No.6 "Pathétique" is most famous. Beautiful melodies with a touch of melancholy and burst of passion like Romanticism. A historical recordings conducted by Evgeni Mravinsky and performed by Leningrad Philharmonic. Dynamic performances.
|Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn/Violin Concertos (Heifetz, 1957/1959/1970)|
Includes the two violin concertos by Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn. Both very famous and popular as the dulcet melodies and transcendental technique. A virtuoso from Russia, Jascha Heifetz's performance with exquisite precision.
|Tchaikovsky, Sibelius/Violin Concertos (Chung, 1970)|
South Korean violinist, Kyung-Wha Chung's debut album. Features the two violin concertos by Tchaikovsky and Sibelius. Intense and youthful performances when she was about 22 years old. Conducted by André Previn. Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra.
|Tchaikovsky/Piano Concerto No.1, Rachmaninov/Piano Concerto No.2 (Richter, 1959/1962)|
Tchaikovsky's piano concerto No.1 is a magnificent and romantic piece noted for the transcendental technique in piano playing. Symphonic and exquisite intertwining of orchestra and piano. The first and third movements use Ukrainian folk music in the motifs. Performed by Svjatoslav Richter (piano), Herbert von Karajan (conductor) and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. Also features Rachmaninov's piano concerto No.2 (conducted by Stanislaw Wislocki).
|Tchaikovsky/Swan Lake (Ansermet, 1961)|
'Swan Lake' is one of the classical masterpieces of ballet music, and the most famous one of Tchaikovsky's three ballets. The abridged version performed by Ernest Ansermet (conductor) and L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. A great performance with delicate orchestration, full of symmetrical beauty, and vivid rhythm.
|Tchaikovsky/The Nutcracker (Complete Ballet) (Ansermet, 1959)|
The complete recording of Tchaikovsky's ballet, 'The Nutcracker'. A delightful music can be enjoyed by both children and adults. An historical, established performance by the conductor Ernest Ansermet and L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. The recording is old, but good in sound quality.
|Dvorák/Symphonie No.9, Smetana/Moldau (Karajan, 1985)|
Includes Dvorak's symphony No.9, "From the New World" and Smetana's "The Moldau" (from the cycle of symphonic poems "My Fatherland"). Herbert von Karajan conducts Wiener Philharmoniker.
|Dvorák/Slavonic Dances, opp.46 & 72 (Kubelik, 1973-1974)|
One of the leading composers of Czech nationalist school and Bohemian school along with Smetana, Dvorák's 'Slavonic Dances' (opp.46 & 72, all the 16 pieces). Originally composed for piano duet, and later arranged as orchestral pieces, like Brahms' 'Hungarian Dances'. Pan-slavistic music based on Czech, Slovak, Polish, Ukrainian and Yugoslavian folk dance forms. No.10 (op.72-2) is the most famous piece filled with lyricism and romanticism. A Czech conductor, Rafael Kubelik conducts Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks (Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra).
|Dvorák/Cellokonzert, Tchaikovsky/Rokoko-Variationen (Rostropovich/Karajan, 1968)|
Dvorak's "Concerto for Violincello and Orchestra" is known as one of the greatest cello concertos of all time. An earthy and rustic piece fusing Bohemian folk music with American Indian's folk songs and black spirituals. Nostalgic and beautiful melodies. The historic performance by Mstislav Rostropovich (violincello), Herbert von Karajan (conductor) and Berlin Philharmoniker. Also includes Tchaikovsky's "Variations on a Rococo Theme for Violincello and Orchestra".
|Dvorák/String Quartet Op.96 (No.12) "American", Smetana/String Quartet No.1 "From My Life" (Alban Berg Quartett, 1989/1990)|
Includes famous string quartets by the Czech composers of the late-Romantics and musical nationalism in the late 19th century, Smetana and Dvorák (EMI). Dvorák's String Quartet No.12 in F Major, Op.96 "American" is the most popular piece in his chamber music. Idyllic and nostalgic piece using the idiom of American music such as black spirituals and Indian's folk songs, and featuring earthy and catchy melodies with pentatonic scale. Smetana's String Quartet No.1 in E Minor "From My Life" is a romantic piece based on the Viennese classics form and features the idiom of folk music, which has a semi-autobiographical character, including the sketches of periods in Smetana's life. Live recordings in Vienna by Alban Berg Quartett. Sophisticated and flexible performances with contemporary and elaborate ensemble, not too sentimental.
|Dvorák/String Quartet No.12 in F Major, Op.96 "American", Tchaikovsky/String Quartet No.1 in D Major, Op.11 "Andante Cantabile" (Smetana String Quartet, 1966)|
Dvorák's String Quartet No.12 in F Major, Op.96 "American" is the most popular piece in his chamber music. Sentimental and pop-oriented piece using the idiom of American music such as black spirituals and Indian's folk songs. Earthy and catchy melodies. Tchaikovsky's String Quartet No.1 in D Major, Op.11 "Andante Cantabile" is a good piece filled with sensitive and beautiful melodies. The famous opening melody of the second movement, which is based on Ukrainian folk music, is often performed as a single piece. Performed by the Smetana String Quartet (Czech).
|Grieg/Peer Gynt Suites Nos.1 & 2 (Karajan, 1971)|
A Norwegian composer and pianist of the late romanticism/musical nationalism, Edvard Grieg's "Peer Gynt Suites" Nos.1 & 2 (DG). The original was incidental music to Henrik Ibsen's play, but the two four-movement suites for orchestra (arrenged from original eight movements) is more famous. Lyrical and exotic music inspired by Norwegian folk music. "Morning Mood", "Anitra's Dance" and "Solveig's Song" are especially popular. Herbert von Karajan conducts Berliner Philharmoniker.
|Lalo/Symphonie Espagnole, Saint-Saëns/Violin Concerto No.3 (Grumiaux/Rosenthal, 1963)|
Two French late-Romantic composers' pieces for violin and orchestra (composed in the late 19th century), Edouard Lalo's "Symphonie Espagnole" in D minor, Op.21 and Camille Saint-Saëns' "Violin Concerto No.3" in B minor, Op.61 (Philips). Both pieces are composed for a Spanish violinist and composer Pablo de Sarasate. Lalo's "Symphonie Espagnole" is a gorgeous and exotic piece with lots of Spanish themes. Although titled a symphony, a violin concerto in fact. Saint-Saëns' "Violin Concerto No.3" is a graceful piece featuring a balance of classical organization and romantic lyricism. Performed by Arthur Grumiaux (violin), Manuel Rosenthal (conductor) and Orchestre des Concerts Lamoureux.
|Sarasate/Zigeunerweisen (Heifetz/Steinberg, 1951)|
A Spanish violinist and composer of the Romantic period, Pablo de Sarasate's "Zigeunerweisen" (Op.20, written in 1878) is a piece for violin and orchestra, which is popular and famous as a virtuoso violin masterpiece featuring melodies of the Romani folk music and lots of the rhythms of the csárdás (Hungarian folk dance). A classical performance by a virtuoso violinist born in Lithuania, Jascha Heifetz (violin), William Steinberg (conductor) and RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra. This recording is included in several kinds of Jascha Heifetz's showpieces albums released on RCA.
|Rimsky-Korsakov/Scheherazade, Capriccio Espagñol (Dutoit, 1983)|
One of the "Russian Five" of the late 19th century, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's symphonic suite "Scheherazade" is popular and famous for its gorgeous orchestration and exotic/oriental atmosphere. Elegant and sophisticated performances by Charles Dutoit (conductor), Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal with Richard Roberts on violin solo. Also features "Capriccio Espagnol".
|Fauré/Requiem (Cluytens, 1962)|
The French composer, Gabriel Faure's "Requiem" is a masterpiece of sacred vocal music filled with limpid beauty and a tender feeling of prayer. Music for comfort and peace. An emotional performance by André Cluytens (conductor), Victoria de los Angeles (soprano), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone), Chœurs Elisabeth Brasseur (Elisabeth Brasseur Choir) and Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire (Paris Conservatory Orchestra).
|(Various Artists)/The Art of Segovia (Segovia, 1952-1970)|
A compilation album (2 CDs) of the Spanish guitarist called 'the father of the modern classical guitar playing', Andrés Segovia's recordings on the US Decca label (released on Deutsche Grammophon). Includes Francisco Tarrega's "Recuerdos de la Alhambra", Fernando Sor's "Variations on a Theme From Mozart's The Magic Flute", Heitor Villa-Lobos' "Preludio" Nos.1 and 3, Handel's Sarabande from "Suite for Harpsichord No.4 in D minor", J.S.Bach's Tempo di Bourrée from "Partita for solo violin No.1 in B minor", Courante from "Suite for solo cello No.3 in C major", Gavotte en Rondeau from "Partita for solo violin No.3 in E major", Debussy's "La fille aux cheveux de lin" from "Préludes" Livre I, No.8 and others (41 tracks in total).
|(Various Artists)/Spanish Guitar Favorites (Williams, 1964/1969)|
A compilation album which includes the classical guitarist from Australia, John Williams' great performances of Spanish guitar music in his twenties (1964 and 1969). Features Granados' "Spanish Dance No. 5", "Valses Poéticos", "La Maja de Goya", Tárrega's "Recuerdos de la Alhambra", Albéniz's "Asturias", "Tango", De Falla's "The Corregidor's Dance" and "The Miller's Dance" from "The Three Cornered Hat", "Fisherman's Song" from "Love the Magician", A Catalonian folk song "El Testamen de Amelia", and Rodrigo's "Fandango". Clear-cut and unemotional performances with dry lyricism. His master Andrés Segovia also acclaimed his virtuosity.
|Janáček/Sinfonietta, Taras Bulba (Mackerras, 1980)|
Includes the two orchestral pieces composed by the Czech composer from Moravia, Leos Janacek. "Sinfonietta" is a famous piece based on Moravian folk music, featuring the fanfare by a brass band (9 trumpets, 2 bass trumpets, 2 tenor tubas and timpani). "Taras Bulba" is a symphonic rhapsody inspired by Gogol's novel. Sir Charles Mackerras conducts Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
|Janáček/String Quartets No.1 "Kreutzer Sonata" and No.2 "Intimate Pages" (Smetana Quartet, 1979)|
The Czech composer from Moravia, Leos Janacek's two string quartets, No.1 "Kreutzer Sonata" and No.2 "Intimate Pages". No.1 is a dramatic piece inspired by Tolstoi's novel of the same title. No.2 is a rhapsodic piece full of rapidly-changing tempo/rhythm, and it was inspired by his long and spiritual friendship with Kamila Stosslova, a married woman 40 years his junior. They are both technical and contemporary pieces written in his last years of the 20th century. The Smetana Quartet's fourth recording. Recorded live in Prague in 1979.
|Janáček/Sinfonietta, Tagebuch eines Verschollenen (Abbado, 1987)|
The Czech composer from Moravia, Leos Janacek's "Tagebuch eines Verschollenen" and "Sinfonietta" (Deutsche Grammophon). "Tagebuch eines Verschollenen (The Diary of One Who Disappeared)" is a song cycle for tenor, alto, three female voices and piano. Dramatic songs in the opera style, dealing with the forbidden love between a village boy and a gipsy girl, and filled with bewitching sensuality. The text was based on the verses published in the newspaper anonymously, and it was written in the dialect of Moravian Wallachia. The originally accompanied by a piano, but in this disc the orchestra-arranged version is performed. "Sinfonietta" is a famous piece based on Moravian folk music, featuring the fanfare by a brass band (9 trumpets, 2 bass trumpets, 2 tenor tubas and timpani). Claudio Abbado conducts Berliner Philharmoniker.
|Milhaud/Le Bœuf sur le Toit, Chausson/Poème, Vieuxtemps/Fantasia appassionata (Kremer/Chailly, 1980)|
Three pieces for violin and orchestra. One of the French "Les Six (The Sextet)", Darius Milhaud's "Le Bœuf sur le Toit/The Ox on the Roof (Cinéma-Fantaisie)" is a rhythmic and rhapsodic piece based on Brazilian folk music. French post-romantic composer (Franckist), Ernest Chausson's "Poème" is a lyric piece full of poetic sentiment. Also includes the 19th-century romantic composer/violinist (Belgium), Henri Vieuxtemps' "Fantasia appassionata". Performed by Gidon Kremer (violin), Riccardo Chailly (conductor) and London Symphony Orchestra.
|Elgar, Delius/Cello Concertos (Du Pré, 1965)|
Includes two cello concertos of the early 20th century, written by English composers, Sir Edward Elgar and Frederick Delius. Elgar's cello concerto is a masterpiece that features the melody full of pathos. The great female cellist, Jacqueline du Pré's recording at about age 20, with Sir John Barbirolli (conductor) and the London Symphony Orchestra. Delius' cello concerto is a recording with Malcolm Sargent (conductor) and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
|Elgar/Enigma Variations, Pomp and Circumstance Marches (Solti, 1974/1976)|
The English modern composer, Edward Elgar's orchestral works. "The Enigma Variations" (Variations on an Original Theme for Orchestra, Op.36) are a set of a theme and its fourteen variations for orchestra. "Pomp and Circumstance Marches" (Op.39) are a series of five marches for orchestra. The melody of the March No.1 is very famous and it has been performed in a variety of contexts. Romantic and nationalistic style. Sir Georg Solti conducts Chicago Symphony Orchestra (The Enigma Variations) and London Philharmonic Orchestra (Pomp and Circumstance).
|Leoncavallo/I Pagliacci (Molinari-Pradelli, 1959)|
Italian composer, Ruggiero Leoncavallo's opera "I Pagliacci/Clowns" (complete). One of the early masterpieces of verismo (realism) opera, along with Mascagni's "Cavalleria Rusticana". Often performed with "Cavalleria Rusticana" in one night (so-called 'Cav and Pag'). Mario Del Monaco (tenor), Cornell MacNeil (baritone), Gabriella Tucchi (soprano) and others. Francesco Molinari-Pradelli conducts Coro e Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Roma. The highlights are Del Monaco's vivid singings (at the age of 44) in the last of the Act 1 "Vesti la giubba/Put on your costume" and the last of the Act 2 "No! Pagliaccio non son/I'm not the Clown!".
|Puccini/Madama Butterfly (Callas/Karajan, 1955)|
The complete opera "Madama Butterfly (Madam Butterfly)" by the Italian composer, Giacomo Puccini. An exotic opera set in Nagasaki, Japan. The original story is David Belasco's play based on the novel written by John Luther Long. Performed by Maria Callas (soprano), Herbert von Karajan (conductor) and Orchestra e coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano. Sung in Italian.
|Mahler/Symphonie No.1 (Rattle, 1991)|
Symphony No.1 "Titan". Originally composed as a symphonic poem that consists of five movements, but revised as a symphony of four movements later. Mahler's angst and tumultuous passions in his young days. The highlight is the loud explosion of the last movement with roaring brass. Also includes the "Blumine", the original second movement deleted. Conducted by Simon Rattle. Performed by City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (live recording).
|Mahler/Symphony No.2 (Solti, 1980)|
Mahler's Symphony No.2 in C minor "Resurrection" is a large-scaled symphony (five movements, over 80 minutes) with a big orchestra including organ, an offstage ensemble of brass and percussion, soprano/alto solos and a mixed choir. The lyrics of the last movement is based on German poet, Klopstock's lyrics for a choral "Die Auferstehung/The Resurrection" (touched up by Mahler). Sir Georg Solti conducts Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Solti had recorded Mahler's all symphonies with Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and London Symphony Orchestra in the 1960s and he recorded them again with Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1970 to 1983.
|Mahler/Symphony No.4 (Klemperer, 1961)|
The Symphony No.4 in G major by Gustav Mahler (EMI). This piece has the smallest scale of all Mahler's symphonies, an approachable composition, and a Märchen-like atmosphere, so it is a good introduction to Mahler's symphonies. The fourth movement is a soprano solo song with orchestra accompaniment, and the lyrics are taken from German folk poems "Des Knaben Wunderhorn/The Youth's Magic Horn". Otto Klemperer conducts Philharmonia Orchestra. The highlight is the song by Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (soprano) in the fourth movement.
|Mahler/Symphonie Nr.5 (Sinopoli, 1985)|
Mahler's Symphony No.5. The 4th movement (Adagietto) is well-known for using as the music of Luchino Visconti's movie "Death In Venice". Giuseppe Sinopoli conducts Philharmonia Orchestra.
|Mahler/Symphony No.6 (Tennstedt, 1991)|
Mahler's Symphony No.6 in A minor. Sometimes called with the subtitle "Tragische" (Tragic). Pessimistic gloom and heroic tragedy. Multilayered polyphony-writing. Innovative harmony. Full use of winds and percussions (including timpani, cowbells, tamtam, Glockenspiels, Xylophone, rute and hammer). Schöenberg, Berg and Webern praised this symphony for its modernity. Live recording by Klaus Tennstedt (conductor) and London Philharmonic Orchestra (EMI).
|Mahler/Symphonie No.8 (Boulez, 2007)|
The Symphony No.8 in E-flat major by Gustav Mahler, also known as 'the Symphony of a Thousand', is an extraordinary piece like oratorio or cantata, with the largest scale of Mahler's compositions, with a big orchestra, two mixed choirs, a boy's choir and eight soloists. It consists of two parts: The first part with medieval Latin hymn 'Veni, Creator Spiritus' and the second part with German lyrics based on Goethe's drama 'Faust' (the last of the second part). The last of Mahler's all symphonies recordings (Mahler Zyklus) conducted by Pierre Boulez on DG since 1994. He had recorded this piece with BBC Symphony Orchestra on mono in 1975. This 2007 recording is performed by Choir der Deutschen Staatsoper Berlin, Rundfunkchor Berlin, Aurelius Sängerknaben Calw and Staatskapelle Berlin.
|Mahler/Symphony No.9 (Abbado, 1999)|
The Symphony No.9 in D major by Gustav Mahler, a late-Romantic Austrian composer (Deutsche Grammophon). His last completed symphony. Often considered as his greatest work. A long piece (about 80-90 minutes) with lots of theme quotations (like collage) from his and other composers' works (Beethoven, Johann Strauss Jr., Lehár, Bruckner, etc). Consists of four movements, the first is atonal and polyphonic (like later Second Viennese School), the second and third are cynical and humorous, and the fourth is a post-romantic, very slow adagio. The conductor Claudio Abbado's second recording of No.9 with Berliner Philharmoniker is a live recording, but very precise. The sound quality is clear and brilliant too.
|Mahler/Das Lied von der Erde (Walter, 1952)|
Mahler's "The Song of the Earth". A symphony with vocal solos. The 3rd movement has the Chinese musical scale. A classical recording (mono, 1952) by Bruno Walter (conductor), Kathleen Ferrier (contralto), Julius Patzak (tenor) and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
|Mahler/Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Kindertotenlieder, 5 Rückertlieder, 5 Gesänge aus "Des Knaben Wunderhorn" (Furtwängler/Kempe, 1952/1955/1978)|
Gustav Mahler's song (Lied) cycles sung by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone). "Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen/Songs of a Wayfarer" (Wilhelm Furtwängler conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra) and "Kindertotenlieder/Songs of the Death of Children" (Rudolf Kempe conducts Berliner Philharmoniker) are sentimental and pessimistic songs with orchestra. Also includes songs with piano (played by Daniel Barenmoim), five pieces from the song cycle "Des Knaben Wunderhorn/The Youth's Magic Horn" and "5 Ruckertlieder/5 Ruckert Songs".
|Debussy/La Mer, L'Après-Midi D'Un Faune, Nocturnes, Jeux (Boulez, 1966/1968)|
Includes the symphonic poem "The Sea", "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun", "Nocturnes" and "Jeux" (Games). Pierre Boulez conducts New Philharmonia Orchestra.
|Debussy/Petite Suite, Danses Sacrée Et Profane, Six Épigraphes Antiques, Trois Sonates (Laskine/Paillard, 1962/1968)|
Includes small orchestral pieces and chamber music composed by Claude Debussy, a French composer of modernist music (Erato). "Petite Suite" (arranged by Henri Büsser) and "Six Épigraphes Antiques/Six Antique Epigraphs" (arranged by Jean-François Paillard) are orchestral arrangements of the original piano pieces for four hands. "Danses Sacrée Et Profane/Sacred and Profane Dances" is a piece for solo harp and string orchestra. The three sonatas, "Cello Sonata", "Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp" and "Violin Sonata " are his chamber music masterpieces composed in his last days. Conducted by Jean-François Paillard. Performed by Lily Laskine (harp), Orchestre de chambre Jean-François Paillard and others.
|Debussy/Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli Plays Debussy (Michelangeli, 1971/1978/1988)|
Includes Debussy's piano works, "Préludes" book one and two, "Children's Corner", and "Images" one and two (2 CDs). Imaginative music characterized by use of whole tone scale and arpeggio, parallel motion of harmonies, and variety of rhythms and colors. Manieristic perfoemance by Italian pianist, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (on Deutsche Grammophon). I recommend "Images" one and two.
|Debussy/Œuvres pour piano III (François, 1968-1970)|
The third of piano works of Claude Debussy, a French composer of modernist/impressionist music, recorded y a French pianist Samson François in his last days (EMI). Includes "Children's Corner", "Estampes (Prints)", "Suite bergamasque", "Pour le piano (For the piano)", and "Berceuse héroïque". Freewheeling, spontaneous and beautiful performances. The highlight is "Suite bergamasque", which includes Debussy's most popular piece "Clair de lune (Moonlight)". This is regarded as the great recording of this piece, because superior Debussy player Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli didn't record it. François' Debussy can be listened to in the box set of 3 CDs (EMI) too.
|Debussy, Ravel/String Quartets (Alban Berg Quartett, 1984)|
Features Debussy and Ravel's works known as the masterpieces of string quartets of the Impressionism. Performed by Alban Berg Quartett.
|Ravel/L'Oeuvre pour Orchestre: Boléro, La Valse, Rapsodie Espagnole (Cluytens, 1961/1962)|
Ravel's orchestral works. "Bolero" is a ballet which repeats the 2 melodies at a regular rhythm. Andre Cluytens conducts Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire.
|Ravel/Piano Concertos, Jeux d'eaux, Sonatine (Rogé/Dutoit, 1973/1974/1982)|
Ravel's two piano concertos are excellent works (which introduced the idiom of jazz) in his later years. "Jeux d'eau" and "Sonatine" are popular piano pieces. Charles Dutoit (conductor), Pascal Rogé (piano) and Montreal Symphony Orchestra.
|Ravel/Daphnis et Chloé (Dutoit, 1980)|
The comlete ballet 'Daphnis et Chloe' by Ravel. The greatest ballet of modern France. Composed at the request of Diaghilev from the Ballets Russes. Exquisite and colorful music with a mysterious atmosphere. Excellent performance by Charles Dutoit (conductor) and Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal.
|Ravel/Oeuvres Pour Piano (Perlemuter, 1973)|
The recordings by Vlado Perlemuter in his last years. "Miroirs" (Mirrors), "Pavane pour une infante defunte" (Pavane for a Dead Princess), "Jeux d'eau" (Fountains), "Gaspard de la nuit" (Gaspard of the Night), "Sonatine" and so on. 2 discs.
|Mascagni/Cavalleria Rusticana (Serafin, 1960)|
Italian composer, Pietro Mascagni's opera "Cavalleria Rusticana" (complete). The title means something like "Rustic Chivalry". One of the early masterpieces of verismo (realism) opera, along with Leoncavallo's "I Pagliacci (Clowns)". Based on Giovanni Verga's novel of the same title. A sensational love-hate drama set in Sicilia. Giulietta Simionato (mezzo-soprano), Mario Del Monaco (tenor) and others. Tullio Serafin conducts Coro e Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Roma.
|R. Strauss/Also Sprach Zarathustra, Till Eulenspiegel, Don Juan (Karajan, 1972/1973)|
The German composer of the late Romantic era, Richard Strauss's tone poem (symphonic poem) "Also Sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spake Zarathustra)" is a gorgeous and magnificent orchestral work inspired by Nietzsche's philosophical book. The opening section is well-known for its use in Stanley Kubrick's film "2001: A Space Odyssey". Performed by Herbert von Karajan (conductor), Michel Schwalbé (violin) and Berliner Philharmoniker. Karajan's second recording of "Zarathustra". Also features the tone poem "Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche (Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks)", the tone poem "Don Juan", and "Tanz der sieben Schleier (Dance of the Seven Veils)" from the opera "Salome".
|R. Strauss/Eine Alpensinfonie (Karajan, 1980)|
The German composer of the late Romantic era, Richard Strauss's "Eine Alpensinfonie (An Alpine Symphony)" (Deutsche Grammophon). R. Strauss's largest orchstral work with about 125 players in total, including Wagner tuba, wind machine and thunder machine. A descriptive program music in the tone poem (symphonic poem) style, dealing with climbing an Alpine mountain. A magnificent and sublime work including depictions of natural landscapes and climber's feelings. It also has influences from Mahler's symphonies, and an underlying theme of "anti-Christian nature" derived from Nietzsche. The running time is about 50 minutes. Herbert von Karajan conducts Berliner Philharmoniker.
|R. Strauss/Ein Heldenleben (Karajan, 1985)|
The German composer of the late Romantic era, Richard Strauss's tone poem (symphonic poem) "A Hero's Life" (Deutsche Grammophon). A dramatic and vigorous piece for a large orchestra with quadruple woodwind (over one hundred players), which is similar in type to Beethoven's Symphony No.3 (Eroica). It has an enlarged sonata form, and it consists of six parts without breaks. The second part includes virtuoso violin solo. The fifth part includes quotations from the melodies of Strauss's previous works, such as "Death and Transfiguration", "Don Quixote", "Don Juan", "Till Eulenspiegel", "Also sprach Zarathustra", "Macbeth" and others. Herbert von Karajan conducts Berliner Philharmoniker. Karajan's third recording of this piece (digital recording).
|R. Strauss/Vier Letzte Lieder (Karajan, 1972)|
The German composer of the late Romantic era, Richard Strauss's songs for soprano and orchestra, "Four Last Songs" (Deutsche Grammophon). Famous pieces composed in his last days (at age 84), and most popular ones among his songs. The lyrics of first three songs, "Frühling (Spring)", "September" and "Beim Schlafengehen (Going to Sleep)" are Hermann Hesse's poems, the lyrics of fourth song "Im Abendrot (At Sunset)" is Joseph von Eichendorff's poem. The songs deal with fatigue of life and anticipation of death, but, instead of anguish and resignation like Mahler, filled with a sense of calmness and peace, like acceptance of death in the end of a fulfilled life. The introduction of fourth song is especcially beautiful, like looking at the setting sun. A great recording by Herbert von Karajan (conductor), Gundula Janowitz (soprano) and Berliner Philharmoniker.
|Sibelius/Symphony No.2 (Bernstein, 1986)|
Finland's composer, Jean Sibelius' symphony No.2 is one of the 20th century's most popular symphonies. A dramatic and romantic piece with a northern-European flavor. Leonard Bernstein conducts Wiener Philharmoniker. A performance at a slow tempo. Live recording.
|Sibelius/Finlandia, The Swan of Tuonela, Valse triste, Tapiola (Karajan, 1984)|
Finland's composer, Jean Sibelius' orchestral works. Clear and spirituel music based on post-romanticism and nationalism. The symphonic poem 'Finlandia' is an exhilarating nationalistic ode full of patriotic passion. 'The Swan of Tuonela' is a fantastic piece featuring English horn. 'Valse triste (Sad Waltz)' is a melancholy piece from the drama 'Kuolema (Death)'. The last symphonic poem 'Tapiola' is a great piece that describes the mystic ambience of Finland's woods. Herbert von Karajan conducts Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Digital recording.
|Nielsen/Symphonies 4 & 5 (Blomstedt, 1987)|
Includes two great symphonies of Carl Nielsen, the composer from Denmark, the famous No.4 'The Inextinguishable' ('Det Uudslukkelige' in Danish) and No.5, which is regarded as his greatest symphony. Unique and modern/contemporary style based on the classical form of symphony, sort of like 'Shostakovich in North Europe'. Impressive use of percussion. In the last movement of No.4, two sets of timpani are pounded. Herbert Blomstedt conducts San Francisco Symphony.
|Cilea/Adriana Lecouvreur (Capuana, 1961)|
The Italian composer, Francesco Cilea's opera 'Adriana Lecouvreur' (complete). A lyrical and romantic opera depicting the life of Adrienne Lecouvreur, an actress at the Comédie Française of the 18th century France. A good work of verismo (realism) opera or the Giovane Scuola (Young School). "Io son l'umile ancella del Genio creator (I'm the Humble Servant of the Creative Genius)" and "La dolcissima effigie" are well-known as beautiful arias. Renata Tebaldi (soprano), Mario del Monaco (tenor), Giulietta Simionato (mezzo-soprano) and others. Franco Capuana conducts Coro e Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.
|Satie/Integrale de la Musique pour Piano (Barbier, 1963/1968/1971)|
Erik Satie's complete piano works. "3 Gymnopedies" and "6 Gnossiennes" are famous. The piano played by Jean-Joel barbier. 4 CDs.
|Satie/Entr'acte, Sonnerie, Musique d'ameublement, Vexations (Constant, 1980)|
Includes "Cinéma: Entr'acte symphonique de Relâche" (music for the film 'Entr'acte' by René Clair, shown in the intermission of the ballet 'No Performance Tonight'), "Musique d'ameublement" (Furniture Music), "Vexations" and so on. The roots of today's ambient/environmental music, BGM and minimalism. Conducted by Marius Constant, performed by Ensemble Ars Nova.
|Satie/Orchestral Works (Parade/Trois Gymnopédies/Mercure/Relâche) (Kaltenbach, 1997)|
Erik Satie's orchestral Works (Naxos). "Parade" is music for a humorous and bizarre ballet on traveling entertainer's street performance to attract audience. It has noises of unmusical items such as a typewiter and siren. "Trois Gymnopédies" (Three Gymnopédies) is orchestrated renditions of famous piano pieces. Also includes ballet music "Mercure" and ballet music "Relâche" (No Performance Today). Jérô Kaltenbach conducts Orchestre Symphonique et Lyrique de Nancy.
|Lehár/Die Lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow) (Gardiner, 1994)|
An Austrian composer, Franz Lehár's operetta 'Die Lustige Witwe/The Merry Widow' (complete). A romantic drama depicting adult love affair. A popular Viennese operetta performed in many countries in the world and also cinematized in the US (directed by Ernst Lubitsch). Contemporary and sophisticated performance by John Eliot Gardiner (conductor), Wiener Philharmoniker and the Monteverdi Choir. Sung in German.
|Zemlinsky/Lyrische Symphonie (Maazel, 1981)|
An Austrian composer and conductor, who was influenced by Mahler and Schöenberg, and acted as a bridge between the late Romanticism and Second Viennese School, Alexander von Zemlinsky's "Lyric Symphony, in Seven Songs after Poems by Rabindranath Tagore for Orchestra, Soprano and Baritone" (Deutsche Grammophon). An exotic and luscious symphony with vocals, like a song cycle, inspired by Mahler's "The Song of the Earth", making effective use of the glissando in strings and trombones. The motif of the third movement was quoted in Alban Berg's "Lyric Suite". A great classical recording by Lorin Maazel (conductor), Julia Varady (soprano), her husband Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone), and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
|Scriabin/Le Divin Poème, Le Poème de l'Extase, Rêverie (Ashkenazy, 1990)|
"Le Poeme de l'Extase" (the Poem of Ecstasy, Symphony No.4) is the most well-known work by Russian composer/pianist Scriabin. A kind of symphonic poem, sensual and fascinating, with unique harmonics called "mystic chord". Vladimir Ashkenazy conducting Radio Symphony Orchestra, Berlin. Also features "Le Divin Poeme" (the Divine Poem, Symphony No.3) and the Symphonic Movement "Reveries" (Dreams).
|(Various Artists)/Music of the Russian Avant-Garde 1905-1926 (Woodward, 2009)|
A collection of rare piano works composed in Russia in the early 20th century, in the period of transition from Tsarist Russia to the establishment of the Soviet Union through the Russian Revolution, so-called the "Russian Avant-Garde" period (celestial harmonies). Includes two "Feuillet d'Album" (1905, 1910) by Aleksandr Skryabin, "Deux Préludes Op.3" (1918) and "Prélude" (1919) by Julian Skryabin (Skryabin's son. He died at the age of 11), "Révélation" (1915) and "Six tableaux psychologiques" (1915) by Nikolai Obukhov, "Prélude and Fugue in G minor" (1909) by Aleksei Stanchinsky, "Two Préludes" (1906) by Boris Pasternak (A poet and novelist known for his "Doctor Zhivago"), "Two Nocturnes Op.15" (1926) by Alexander Mosolov (known for his "Iron Foundry"), and others. Lots of atonal and modern pieces. The highlights are Obukhov's works. He reached his distinctive style of atonality through the influence of Scriabin, and his pioneering music is akin to later Messiaen and post-World War II contemporary music. Performed by Australian pianist Roger Woodward.
|Vaughan Williams/Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, The Lark Ascending, Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus, Fantasia on Greensleeves (Marriner, 1972)|
The English composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams' orchestral works. Simple and idyllic style like the English countryside landscape. "Fantasia on Greensleeves" is an arrangement (by Ralph Greaves) of an intermezzo from Vaughan Williams' opera "Sir John in Love", and its melody based on a British folk song is quite famous. Also includes "Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis (Tallis Fantasia)", "The Lark Ascending" and "Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus". Sir Neville Marriner conducts Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields.
|Rachmaninov/Symphony No.2 (Previn, 1973)|
A Russian composer/pianist descended from the late Romantics, Sergei Rachmaninov's Symphony No.2 in E minor, Op.27 (EMI). The complete version. A long (about one hour) symphony filled with mellifluous melodies and romanticism. The melody of the third movement (adagio) is especially impressive. Accessible for its dramatic excitement and catharsis like popular film music. This piece once had been usually performed in the revised shorter versions for its lengh, but it is increasingly performed as the complete version since this first recording of the complete version conducted by André Previn and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra (Previn's second recording).
|Rachmaninov/Piano Concertos No.2 & No.4 (Ashkenazy/Haitink, 1984)|
Russian composer/pianist, Sergei Rachmaninov's "Piano Concerto No.2: In C Minor" (Op.18) is a masterpiece of post-romanticism, filled with subtle beauty. Also known as the music used in the movies: "Brief Encounter", "The Seven Year Itch" and "September Affair". The second theme of the third movement is famous for its sweet melody. Performed by Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano) and Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam. Conducted by Bernard Haitink. The third recording by Ashkenazy. Also features "Piano Concerto No.4: In G Minor" (Op.40).
|Varèse/Amériques, Ives/Symphony No.4, The Unanswered Question (Dohnányi, 1992-1994)|
A French composer (naturalized in the United States), Edgard Varese's 'Amériques' is scored for a massive orchestra with eleven percussionists, including two sets of timpani and a siren. A noisy music features colorful timbres and razor-sharp rhythms, influenced by Italian Futurism and Stravinsky. An American composer, Charles Ives' Symphony No.4 is an ultra-polyphonic piece of music collecting fragmentary quotations such as hymns, marches and college songs. More Mahler-ish than Mahler. Performed by Christoph von Dohnányi (conductor), the Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus.
|Ives/Holidays Symphony (Thomas, 1986)|
An American composer, Charles Ives' "A Symphony: New England Holidays", also known as "Holiday Symphony" is an assemblage of four orchestral works written in 1897 to 1913 separately. A set of pieces like impressionistic tone poems, with lots of quotations and dissonances, inspired by his childhood memories in Danbury, Connecticut in the end 19th century. It has quotations from marches, hymns, patriotic songs and others. It consists of four movements, "Washingtonfs Birthday", "Decoration Day", "The Fourth of July", and "Thanksgiving and Forefathers' Day", The third movement "The Fourth of July" is something like a schizophrenic rave-up in which each part performs a different piece in a multilayered way. Michael Tilson Thomas conducts Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Symphony Chorus (SONY).
|Schöenberg/Verklärte Nacht, Streichtrio (Lasalle Quartet, 1982)|
Includes "Transfigured Night" (The string sextet version. An omen of breakup of tonality in the late romanticism) and String Trio (Serialism). Performed by Lasalle Quartet.
|Schoenberg, Berg, Webern/Orchesterwerke (Karajan, 1972-1974)|
Second Viennese School's orchestral works (3 CDs). Schoenberg's symphonic poem "Pelleas und Melisande/Pelleas and Melisande" (op.5) is his early work in the post-romanticism style. Schoenberg's "Variation für Orchester/Variation for Orchestra" (op.31) is the first orchestral work based on twelve-tone technique (cool). "Drei Orchesterstücke/Three Orchestral Pieces" (op.6/1929 revised version) is Berg's only orchestral work. Also features Schoenberg's "Verklärte Nacht" (revised version for string orchestra), Berg's "Drei Stücke aus der Lyrischen Suite/Three Pieces from Lyric Suite" (version for string orchestra), Webern's "Passacaglia für Orchester/Passacaglia for Orchestra" (op.1), "Fünf Sätze für Streichquartett/Five Movements for String Quartet" (op.5/version for string oechestra), "Sechs Stücke für großes Orchester/Six Pieces for Large Orchestra" (op.6), and "Symphonie/Symphony" (op.21). Herbert von Karajan conducts Berliner Philharmoniker. Sensuous performance accessible for those who don't like contemporary music.
|Schöenberg/Pierrot Lunaire (Boulez/Schäfer, 1997/1998)|
Schoenberg's "Pierrot Lunaire" is a weird, morbid piece of vocal music for reciter (female voice in between speech and song. A way of singing called "Sprechstimme"), piano, flute, clarinet, violin and cello. A masterpiece of expressionistic music based on atonality. Conducted by Pierre Boulez, performed by Members of Ensemble InterContemporain. The third recording by Boulez. Features Christine Schäfer on soprano/reciter.
|Schöenberg/Die Jakobsleiter (Boulez, 1980)|
Schoenberg's "Jacob's Ladder". An oratorio for soloists, choruses and orchestra (Sony). A mystical vocal music inspired by 'Genesis' (Old Testament), Balzac's 'Seraphita' and Strindberg's 'Jacob Wrestles'. Composed in his expressionism/atonality period before his his transition to twelve-tone technique. Features speech-style vocals, like his 'Pierrot Lunaire', and hexachords. Unfinished, but the orchestration of the first part was completed by his student Winfried Zillig. Conducted by Pierre Boulez and performed by BBC Symphony Orchesatra with BBC Singers. Also includes his early piece, 'Chamber Symphony No.1' (Op.9) and 'Accompaniment to a Film-Scene' (Op.34).
|Schöenberg/Gurrelieder (Rattle, 2001)|
Schoenberg's "Songs of Gurre". Large-scale vocal music with five soloists, reciter, chorus & an extremely large orchestra (a total of 400 performers). A ghost from late-Romanticism filled with sensuality. The live recording by Simon Rattle (conductor) and Berliner Philharmoniker.
|Schoenberg/Moses und Aron, Chamber Symphony No.2 (Boulez, 1974/1980)|
An unfinished three-act opera "Moses and Aaron" (Sony, 2 CDs) is one of Schoenberg's master works. Features speech-style vocals (Sprechstimme), solos and choruses. Composed by twelve-tone technique. The German libretto was based on 'Exodus' (Old Testament), but interpreted uniquely from the viewpoint of the Jews. The first and second acts were completed including orchestrations, but the third was unfinished. One of the greatest atonal operas, appeared after his disciple, Alban Berg's "Wozzeck". Conducted by Pierre Boulez and performed by BBC Symphony Orchesatra. Also includes 'Chamber Symphony No.1' (Op.38).
|Schöenberg/The Piano Music (Pollini, 1974)|
Includes all Schoenberg's piano pieces with numbers. Lucid and unemotional performance by Maurizio Pollini. 'Three Piano Pieces' (op.11) is atonal works in his early days. In 'Six Little Piano Pieces' (op.19), tonality is almost totally deserted, and then in 'Five Piano Pieces' (op.23) and 'Suite for Piano' (op.25), the twelve-tone technique is established.
|Schoenberg/Piano Concerto, Klavierstücke, opp.11 & 19, Berg/Sonata, Webern/Variations (Uchida/Boulez, 1998/2000)|
The "Concerto for Piano" (op.42), which was composed by Schoenberg in 1942 when he was in exile in the United States, is composed with twelve-tone technique (dodecaphonism), but a clean-cut piece returning to traditional, as if "Viennese classical school meets serialism". Performed by . Also includes Schoenberg's early two piano solo works, "3 KMitsuko Uchida (piano), Pierre Boulez (conductor) and the Cleveland Orchestralavierstücke" and "6 Kleine Klavierstücke", Webern's "Variations for Piano", and Berg's "Piano Sonata".
|Schoenberg, Sibelius/Violin Concertos (Hahn/Salonen, 2007)|
A unique coupling of Schoenberg's "Concerto for Violin and Orchestra" (Op.36), which is known as a super challenging piece based on tweleve-tone technique and rarely given in concert or on recordings, and Sibelius' popular "Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in d minor" (Op.47). Deutsche Grammophon. Sharp and modernistic performance filled with the late Romantic lyricism, by an American violinist, Hilary Hahn with Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Hilary Hahn's violin solo with superhuman technique in Schoenberg's concerto is worth listening to. A hit album that recorded #1 on the Billboard classical charts.
|Webern/Das Gesamtwerk Opp.1-31 (Boulez, 1967-1972/1932)|
The complete works. Includes all Webern's works with opus numbers. 'Five Movements for string quartet', 'Six Pieces for large orchestra', 'Five Pieces for orchestra', 'String Trio', 'String Quartet', 'Cantatas' Nos.1, 2 and so on. Strict application of tweleve-tone technique and serialism. Extremely purified and compressed music in concise form. Conducted by Pierre Boulez. Performed by Juilliard String Quartet and London Symphony Orchestra. Also includes J.S. Bach's 'Fuga/Ricercata' (from 'Musical Offering', arranged by Webern) and F.Schubert's 'German Dances' (arranged and conducted by Webern).
|Schöenberg, Webern, Berg/Piano Works of New Viennese School (Takahashi, 1977)|
The complete piano works of Neue Wiener Schule/New Viennese School. Includes Schöenberg's 'Suite für Klavier/Suite for Piano' (Op.25), Webern's 'Variationen/Variations' (Op.27), Berg's 'Sonate für Klavier/Piano Sonata' (Op.1) and others. Played by Yuji Takahashi (piano), a Japanese pianist/composer of contemporary music. Ryuichi Sakamoto joined on 2nd piano in Schöenberg's 'Sechs Stücke für Klavier zu vier Händen/Six Pieces for Piano for Four Hands'.
|Kreisler/Famous Violin Pieces (Perlman, 1975/1976/1978)|
An Austrian-born violinist and composer who had worked in the first half of the 20th century, known for his sweet tone, sophisticated phrasing, and small violin pieces with accessible melodies, Fritz Kreisler's small pieces (compositions and arrangements) for violin (EMI). "Caprice Viennois, Op. 2", "Schön Rosmarin", "Liebesfreud (Love's Joy)", "Liebesleid (Love's Sorrow)", and "Tambourin Chinois, Op. 3" are particularly famous original pieces composed by Kreisler. Also features arrangements, such as "Londonderry Air" (Irish folk music), "Hungarian Dance No. 17" (Brahms), "Slavonic Dance No. 3" (Dvorák's Op. 72, No. 8 for piano 4-hands), "Lied ohne Worte: May Breezes" (Mendelssohn), "Andante cantabile" (Tchaikovsky's "String Quartet No. 1"), "Danse espagnole" (from Falla's opera "La vida breve"), and "Caprice No. 20" (Paganini). Performed by Itzhak Perlman (violin) and Samuel Sanders (piano). Sensual performances for enjoying Kreisler's songs.
|Falla/El Sombrero de Tres Picos, El Amor Brujo (Ansermet, 1955/1961)|
'El Sombrero de Tres Picos/The Three Cornered Hat' is an excellent ballet music by Spanish composer Manuel de Falla. Based on the novel by Alarcon. A humorous and cheerful piece with the style of Spanish folk dance. Colorful orchestration. Conducted by Ernest Ansermet. Performed by L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and Teresa Berganza (mezzo-soprano). Also features 'El Amor Brujo/Love the Magician', the ballet with the style of Andalusian gypsy music, and the orchestral interlude and dance from his first opera, 'La Vida Breve/Life is Short'.
|Bartók/Klavierkonzerte Nr.1 & 2 (Abbado/Pollini, 1977)|
The modern composer from Hungary, Bartok's Piano Concertos Nos.1 and 2. The No.2 is famous as a masterpiece featuring wind instruments and piano playing in a style like a percussion instrument. Conducted by Claudio Abbado, performed by Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Maurizio Pollini on piano.
|Bartók/Concerto for Orchestra, Music for Strings, Percussion & Celesta (Solti, 1981/1989)|
Includes two masterpieces of orchestral works by Bartok. Stirring performances by Georg Solti and Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The 3rd movement (Adagio) of 'Music for Strings...' is also known as the BGM of horror movie 'The Shining'.
|Bartók/Sonate für 2 Klaviere und Schlagzeug, Ravel/Rapsodie espagnole, Ma Mère l'Oye (Argerich/Freire/Sadlo/Guggeis, 1993)|
Bartok's "Sonata for 2 Pianos and Percussion" is a percussive and sharp-edged piece which modernized and restructured the material of Eastern European folk music, under the influence of neoclassicism. The pianos played by Martha Argerich and Nelson Freire. The percussion played by Peter Sadlo and Edgar Guggeis. Also features Ravel's "Rapsodie espagnole (Spanish Rhapsody)" and "Ma Mère l'Oye (Mother Goose)", which are arranged for 2 pianos and percussion.
|Bartók/String Quartets Nos.1-6 (Alban Berg Quartett, 1983-1986)|
Bartók's all the 6 String Quartets. A Gem of chamber music in the 20th century. Performed by Alban Berg Quartett.
|Bartók/Zoltán Kocsis Plays Bartók (The Works for Solo Piano) (Kocsis, 1991-1999)|
The Hungarian pianist, Zoltan Kocsis plays all of Bartok's solo piano music (8 CD set). "14 Bagatelles" is an avant-garde work in his early days. "Allegro Barbaro" is a masterpiece of 'barbarian' Bartok. "Suite" (Op.14) is a great piece summarizing his techniques of composition based on eastern European (Hungarian and Romanian) folk music materials. "Mikrokosmos" is a famous series of etudes for piano lessons. Also features "6 Romanian Folk Dances", "For Children", "Sonata for Piano", "Outof Doors", "Fifteen Hungarian Peasant Songs" and others.
|Bartók/Choral Works (Vásárhelyi/Szabó/Doráti, 1966/1970/1971)|
A Hungarian composer, Béla Bartók's choral works based on Eastern European (Hungarian and Slovak) folk music. A CD released on Hungaroton Records, Hungary in 1994. Includes "Four Old Hungarian Folksongs" (for four-part male chorus, a cappella, Sz.50, 1910 version), "Four Hungarian Folksongs" (for mixed chorus, a cappella, Sz.93), "Three Village Scenes" (for two sopranos, chorus and chamber orchestra, Sz.79), "Székely Songs" (for six-part male chorus, a cappella, Sz.99), "From Olden Times" (for three-part male chorus, a cappella, Sz.104), and "Seven Choruses with Orchestral Accompaniment" (Sz.103). Performed by Hungarian Army Male Chorus, Slovak Philharmonic Chorus, Györ Girls' Choir, Chamber Chorus of the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, Budapest Chamber Ensemble, and Budapest Symphony Orchestra. Conducted by ZolTán Vásárhelyi, Miklós Szabó, and Antal Doráti. Sung in Hungarian and Slovak.
|Bartók/Bluebeard's Castle (Boulez, 1976)|
The Hungarian composer, Bartók's only opera (one-act, about one hour) "Bluebeard's Castle" (SONY). A fantastic opera with dark and ominous atmosphere, featuring pentatonic scale like folk music and a rich sense of color. The libretto was written by Béla Baĺzs, a poet, based on Charles Perrault's fairy tale "Bluebeard" and Maurice Maeterlinck's drama "Ariane and Bluebeard". Pierre Boulez conducts BBC Symphony Orchestra. Performed by Siegmund Nimsgern (bass) and Tatiana Troyanos (mezzo-soprano). Boulez had recorded this opera twice, and this is the first. Sung in the originak Hungarian lyrics.
|Kodaly/Háry-János-Suite, Marosszéker Tänze, Tänze aus Galánta, Psalmus hungaricus (Fricsay, 1953/1954/1961)|
The Hungarian composer, Zoltan Kodaly's orchestral works. Greatly influenced by Hungarian folksongs. The music full of rustic flavor and ethnicity. "Hary Janos Suite" is an arrangement of the opera (Singspiel) "Hary Janos". Also features "Marosszeker Tanze (Marosszeker Dance)", "Tanze aus Galanta (Dances of Galanta)" and "Psalmus hungaricus (Hungarian Psalm)". Performed by Ferenc Fricsay (conductor), Ernst Haefliger (tenor) and RIAS-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin.
|Respighi/Pini di Roma, Feste Romane, Fontane di Roma (Dutoit, 1982)|
Includes three symphonic poems (Roman Trilogy) by Italian composer Respighi: 'Pini di Roma/The Pines of Rome', 'Feste Romane/Roman Festivals' and 'Fontane di Roma/The Fountains of Rome'. Colorful and gorgeous orchestrations. Beautiful and elegant performances by Charles Dutoit (conductor) and Montreal Symphony Orchestra.
|Stravinsky/Le Sacre du Printemps (Boulez, 1969)|
A Russian composer, Igor Stravinsky's "Le Sacre du printemps/The Rite of Spring" (Sony) is a ballet with music written for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. An exciting piece featuring primitive, complex rhythms, odd time signatures, dissonances and blistering brass attacks. Pierre Boulez's 1969 second recording with the Cleveland Orchestra. A spectacular and structure-analytic performance suitable for listening to this as contemporary music. Also includes Stravinsky's another ballet masterpiece "Petrouchka".
|Stravinsky/The Firebird, Bartók/The Miraculous Mandarin (Boulez, 1971/1975)|
Includes Stravinsky's ballet 'The Firebird' (the complete original 1910 version) and Bartok's ballet 'The Miraculous Mandarin' (the uncut original version). Colorful and vivid performances by Pierre Boulez (conductor) and New York Philharmonic. 'The Miraculous Mandarin' is a decadent piece influenced by Stravinsky's 'The Rite of Spring'.
|Stravinsky/Histoire du Soldat (Markevitch, 1962)|
"The Soldier's Tale", a kind of theater piece "to be read, played and danced". Written in French by novelist Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz, based on the Russian folktale "The Deserter and the Devil", and composed by Stravinsky for a small ensemble of seven musicians (violin, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, double bass and percussion) with a narrator and actors (the devil, the soldier and the princess). Bizarre and unique music using lots of odd time signatures and assimilating American ragtime/Dixieland jazz. Conducted by Igor Markevitch. Performed by Ensemble de Solistes. The narrator is the French writer/poet, Jean Cocteau.
|Stravinsky/Pétrouchka, Prokofiev/Sonate No.7, Webern/Variationen op.27, Boulez/Sonate No.2 (Pollini, 1971/1976)|
Includes four contemporary piano works of the 20th century, recorded by Maurizio Pollini in the 1970s. His superhuman technique is incredible, for he plays with ease the most difficult piano pieces to play, such as Stravinsky's Three Movements from "Petrouchka" and Boulez's "Second Sonata for Piano". Also features Prokofiev's "Piano Sonata No.7" and Webern's "Variations for Piano".
|Berg/Wozzeck, Lulu (Böhm, 1965/1968)|
Includes the two operas composed by Alban Berg, the Austrian composer and one of the Second Viennese School. "Wozzeck", based on the play by Georg Büchner, is a famous opera with atonal music based on twelve tone technique. Karl Böhm conducts Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper, Berlin, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (as Wozzeck), Evelyn Lear (as Marie), Fritz Wunderlich (as Andres) and others. "Lulu" is an uncompleted opera (2 acts) based on the plays by Frank Wedekind.
|Berg/Violin Concerto, Three Orchestral Pieces (Kremer, 1983/1984)|
Alban Berg's violin concerto is a tonal piece based on twelve-tone technique. Sir Colin Davis conducts Gidon Kremer (violin) and Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.
|Mozart 13 Berg (Mozart/Gran Partita, Berg/Chamber Concerto) (Boulez/Tetzlaff/Uchida, 2008)|
Two compositions with 13 wind instruments, Mozart's Serenade in B flat major for 13 wind instruments "Gran Partita" and Berg's "Chamber Concerto for piano, violin and 13 wind instruments" (DECCA). Pierre Boulez conducts Ensemble Intercontemporain. Boulez's first Mozart recording, "Gran Partita" is a clear and minute performance. "Chamber Concerto" with Christian Tetzlaff (violin) and Mitsuko Uchida (piano) has a late-romantic rendering. Boulez and Uchida did a great recording of Schoenberg's "Piano Concerto" in 2000. This "Chamber Concerto" is pretty good too.
|Holst/The Planets (Dutoit, 1986)|
The English composer, Holst's orchestral suite. An exquisite and delicate performance by Charles Dutoit (conductor) and Montréal Symphony Orchestra.
|Holst/The Planets (Tomita, 1976)|
The Japanese composer/arranger and synthesizer player, Isao Tomita performed Gustav Holst's orchestral suite 'The Planets' with the Moog synthesizer and Mellotron. His fourth album released under the name of 'Tomita' in 1977 on the US RCA records, following "Snowflakes are Dancing" (Debussy, 1974), "Pictures at an Exhibition" (Mussorgsky, 1975), and "The Firebird Suite" (Stravinsky, 1976). A spectacular stereophonic work, as if to simulate a spaceship trip through the solar system, with sound effects such as a rocket fire and contacts with control tower. One of the pioneering masterpieces of the early electronic music in the 1970s.
|Villa-Lobos/Bachianas Brasileiras (Capolongo, 1973)|
Includes the Nos.2, 5, 6 and 9 from the cycle "Bachianas Brasileiras (Brazilian Bach-like Pieces)" (9 pieces in total), composed by the Brazilian composer, Heitor Villa-Lobos in the 1930s and 1940s. Based on Bach's style (polyphony, counterpoint) and Brazilian folk/popular music (choro and others). Various composition of the musical instruments, such as orchestral music (No.2), soprano and 8 violoncellos (No.5), and string orchestra (No.9). Paul Capolongo conducts Orchestre de Paris.
|Villa-Lobos/Complete Music for Solo Guitar (Kraft, 1998-1999)|
The Brazilian composer, Heitor Villa-Lobos is known for his numerous works, but his compositions for solo guitar are few, and they are all included on this one CD (NAXOS). Includes " Choros" No.1, "Suite Populaire Bresilienne" Nos.1-5, "12 Etudes" and "5 Preludes". Exotic and smoochy music based on Brazilian folk music. The guitar performed by a Canadian guitarist, Norbert Kraft.
|Canteloube/Chants d'Auvergne (selection) (Kiri Te Kanawa, 1982-1984)|
Includes 21 songs selected from "Songs of the Auvergne" (5 volumes, 27 songs in total), the French composer, Joseph Canteloube's collection of orchestrated and arranged folk songs from his birthplace, the Auvergne region. Refreshing and beautiful like the French countryside landscape. Performed by Kiri Te Kanawa (soprano), Jeffrey Tate (conductor) and English Chamber Orchestra.
|Szymanowski/Stabat Mater, Litany to the Virgin Mary, Symphony No.3 (Rattle, 1993)|
The most prominent Polish composer of the early 20th century, Karol Szymanowski's works (EMI). The Symphony No.3 'Song of the Night' (1914-1916), a one-movement work for mixed chorus, tenor solo and large orchestra, is a unique piece filled with eastern/Arab exoticism and sensuality, with use of a poem by the 13th-century Persian mystic poet Jalal ad-Din Rumi as text. This piece includes atonality, chromatic harmony, impressionism and mysticism under the influence of Scriabin, Debussy and Schoenberg. "Stabat Mater" (1925-1926) for soprano, alto, baritone solos, mixed chorus and orchestra is a mystic choral piece with use of the Polish translation of the Latin liturgical text of the Catholic hymn. This is regarded as Szymanowski's greatest work, and it had a big impact on later composers such as Górecki and Pärt. Also includes a choral piece "Litany to the Virgin Mary" (1930-1933) for soprano, female chorus and orchestra. Sir Simon Rattle conducts City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Chorus.
|Ibert/Escales (Dutoit, 1992)|
Jacques Ibert is a 20th-century French composer who had close relations with Dalius Milhaud and Arthur Honegger of "Les Six (The Sextet)". Features his elegant orchestral pieces full of humor, wit (esprit) and clearness like neoclassical music: "Escales/Ports of Call -Trois Tableaux Symohonique", Flute Concerto, Suite Symphonique "Paris" and others. Exquisite orchestration. Performed by Charles Dutoit (conductor) and Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal.
|Prokofiev/Symphony 1 "Classical", Symphony 5 (Dutoit, 1988)|
Prokofiev's Symphony No.1 "Classical" is a short (about 15 minutes) and brisk piece of work, something like a contemporary version of Haydn's symphony. The symphony No. 5 is one of the greatest symphonies of the 20th century. A magnificent piece blending modernism and traditional Russian lyricism. Charles Dutoit conducting Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal.
|Prokofiev/Symphony No.3, Varèse/Arcana, Mosolov/Iron Foundry (Chailly, 1991/1992)|
A collection of the 1920s modernistic/avant-garde orchestral works (Prokofiev, Varèse, Mosolov) featuring dissonances and dynamic rhythms (Decca). Prokofiev's Symphony No.3 is a piece based on the themes and materials of his opera "The Fiery Angel", and the third movement features strange glissandos of strings divided into 13 parts. Varèse' "Arcana" is a piece for a large orchestra, including 40 percussions. Mosolov's orchestral episode "Iron Foundry", which is well-known as Russian avant-garde music, is a small piece (about three and a half minutes) arranged from his ballet "Steel". This work uses the rhythmical movement of the machine as a motif, like Honegger's "Pacific 231", and it features chromatic scales, mechanistic rhythms and ostinato technique. Riccardo Chailly conducts Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
|Prokofiev/Romeo and Juliet (highlights) (Dutoit, 1990)|
Prokofiev's ballet music, "Romeo and Juliet", based on Shakespeare's play, is one of the greatest masterpieces of modern ballet. The excerpt (highlights) version by Charles Dutoit (conductor) and Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal. Vivid and dynamic piece of work with aggressive sounds of percussion and inharmonic tones, but it also contains lyrical and beautiful music.
|Prokofiev/Cinderella (the complete ballet) (Ashkenazy, 1983)|
Prokofiev's ballet music, "Cinderella", the complete version (Decca). Based on Charles Perrault's fairy tale. Consists of 50 pieces. More romantic, lyrical and faithful to traditional ballet style than his modern ballet masterpiece "Romeo and Juliet". Melodic and listener-friendly. Vladimir Ashkenazy conducts the Cleveland Orchestra. Recommended to those who like Tchaikovsky's ballet music.
|Prokofiev/Piano Concerto No.3 (Argerich, 1967)|
'Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No.3 in C major' (op.26) is the most widely-known one of the five piano concertos written by Prokofiev. A dynamic and crisp piece balanced between the romantic lyricism, melodiousness and modern sounds with lots of dissonances. The Argentine pianist, Martha Argerich's spectacular performance recorded on Deutsche Grammophonwith Claudio Abbado (conductor) and Berliner Philharmoniker in her young days (26 years old). Also includes Ravel's 'Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in G major' and 'Gaspard de la nuit'.
|Prokofiev/Violin Sonatas Nos.1 and 2 (Shoji, 2003)|
Prokofiev's two sonatas for violin and piano, Nos.1 and 2, written under the policy of socialist realism in the Soviet Union. No.1 is an introspective piece filled with gloomy lyricism, and No.2 is a cheerful piece with classical simplicity. Delicate and nuance-filled performances by Sayaka Shoji (violin), who is the first Japanese and youngest winner (sixteen years old) at the Paganini Violin Competition in 1999, and Itamar Golan (piano), a Lithuanian-born Israeli pianist. Also includes Shostakovich's "4 Preludes" and "10 Preludes" (from "24 Preludes", Op.34. Arranged for violion and piano by Dmitri Zyganov).
|Honegger/5 Symphonies (complete) (Baudo, 1960/1963/1973)|
A set of 2 CDs that includes all the five symphonies and other three orchestral works composed by Arthur Honegger, a Swiss composer born in France and a member of Les Six. Modernistic orchestraton with lots of heavy dissonances. Constructional and sharp music based on classical counterpoint. Post-impressionist/neoclassical sytle. Symphonies No.2, No.3 "Liturgigue (Liturgical)", No.4 "Deliciae Basiliensis (The Delights of Basel)" and No.5 "Di tre re" are popluar works frequently performed and recorded. The 'Symphonic Movement No.1 "Pacific 231" is an orchestral work which describes the movement of a steam locomotive. Serge Baudo conducts Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.
|Honegger/Jeanne d'Arc au Bûcher, Une Cantate de Noël (Baudo, 1966/1974)|
A Swiss composer born in France and a member of Les Six, Arthur Honegger's dramatic oratorio "Jeanne d'Arc au Bûcher" (1935) and "A Christmas Cantata" (1953). A set of 2 CDs. "Jeanne d'Arc au Bûcher" (Serge Baudo conducts Czech Philharmonic Orchestra) is a dramatic and emotional stage work featuring vocal solos, voices, children's chorus, mixed chorus and Ondes Martenot (electronic musical instrument), like an opera or passion. His last composition "A Christmas Cantata" (Serge Baudo conducts Prague Symphony Orchestra) is also an impressive vocal music.
|Hindemith/Mathis Der Maler, Trauermusik, Symphonic Metamorphoses on Themes of Weber (Blomstedt, 1987)|
The German composer, Paul Hindemith's works in his neoclassical years. "Mathis Der Maler" is a symphony compiled from the three parts of his opera of the same title, which is based on the historical fact of Matthias Grünewald, the German painter in the 16th century. A concentrated piece with post-romantic modern harmony and classical counterpoint. "Trauermusik" (Funeral Music) for viola and string orchestra is a piece to commemorate the death of King George V of England. "Symphonic Metamorphoses on Themes of Weber" is a popular symphonic piece with using the themes of Weber's piano works and incidental music. Herbert Blomstedt conducts San Francisco Symphony.
|Hindemith/The 3 Piano Sonatas (Gould, 1966/1967/1973)|
One of the great contemporary music recordings by Glenn Gould (piano). Features the German composer, Paul Hindemith's three piano sonatas (published in 1936), No.1 "Der Main", No.2 and No.3. Atonal, but lucid and full of lyricism. Characteristic style described by Gould as "amalgam of ecstasy and reason: repose". Relatively accessible as contemporary music. Recommended.
|Hindemith/Violin Sonatas & Concerto (Zimmermann, 2009)|
The German composer, Paul Hindemith's works for violin (BIS). Composed in 1918-1939. Each composition has dissonance and tonal ambiguity, but it is contrapuntal, clear and stable, for it is based on neoclassicism/neo-Baroque idiom, and it is lyrical and melodic. Includes "Violin Sonata in E-flat" (Op.11-1, 1918), "Sonata for Solo Violin" (Op.31-2, 1924), "Sonata in E for Violin and Piano" (1935), "Sonata in C for Violin and Piano" (1939), and "Concerto for Violin and Orchestra" (1939). Violin Concerto is a piece commissioned by conductor Willem Mengelberg, and is regarded as the culmination of Hindemith's violin works. Performed by Frank Peter Zimmermann (violin), Enrico Pace (piano), Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Paavo Järvi (conductor). The highlights are Zimmermann's shiny and flowing performances.
|Orff/Carmina Burana (Jochum, 1967)|
The German composer Carl Orff's secular songs 'Carmina Burana'. A secular cantata based on the anthology of Medieval European poems mainly written in Latin. Monophonic, repetitive and simple music. Bawdy lyrics. Concucted by Eugen Jochum. Performed by Chorus and Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper, Berlin. The vocal solos (Gundula Janowitz in soprano, Gerhard Stolze in Tenor, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in Baritone) are brilliant.
|Gershwin/Rhapsody in Blue, An American in Paris, Grofé/Grand Canyon Suite (Bernstein, 1959/1964)|
Orchestral works by two American composers. Includes George Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue' (a famous piece fusing classical music and jazz. The orchestral version arranged by Ferde Grofe. Performed by Columbia Symphony Orchestra) and 'An American in Paris' (performed by New York Philharmonic), and Ferde Grofe's 'Grand Canyon Suite' (performed by New York Philharmonic). Conducted by Leonard Bernstein.
|Poulenc/Piano Works (Rogé, 1986/1989)|
A composer of French modern music and a member of the French group Les Six, Francis Poulenc's piano works (2 CDs). Includes "Les soirées de Nazelles", "Trois Novelettes", "Trois Mouvements perpetueles", "Trois pieces", "Humoresque", "8 Nocturnes", "2 Intermezzi" and others. Smart and refined style with the dominance of melody and harmony. Simple and clear music like the classical school, especially Mozart. The piano performed by Pascal Rogé.
|Copland/The Copland Collection: Orchestral & Ballet Works 1936-1948 (Copland, 1965-1976)|
A compilation (3 CDs) of the recordings in which American composer, Aaron Copland conducts his own orchestral works. Known for his perspicuous and popular style that introduced American folk music. "El Salón México" (the title comes from a dance hall in Mexico City) is a famous piece using Mexican folk music as theme. "Billy the Kid", "Rodeo (Four Dance Episodes)" and "Appalachian Spring" are suites extracted from his three ballets set in the Wild West. "Music for the Movies" is a suite consisting of excerpts from his film music, 'The City', 'Of Mice and Men' and 'Our Town'. "Symphony No. 3" is an integration of American style of his orchestral works with Mahler-like symphonic form. "Concerto for Clarinet" commissioned by clarinetist Benny Goodman is a piece with the jazz idiom. Performed by New Philharmonia Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, New England Conservatory Chorus, Columbia Symphony Strings and Benny Goodman.
|George Antheil/Fighting the Waves: Music of George Antheil (Gruber, 1994-1995)|
Works of George Antheil, a German American composer and pianist known for his avant-garde and modern style in the 1920s, influenced by Stravinsky and jazz (RCA). His music features repetitive rhythms and motifs associated with mechanical behavior, and introduction of jazz idiom. His best known work "Ballet Mécanique" was originally composed for Fernand Léger's film, but it was not used in the film and released as a concert piece. The original is an orchestral piece for 8 pianos, 4 xylophones, player piano, 2 electric bells, 2 airplane propellers, tam-tam, 4 bass drums, and siren. This CD includes the 1953 arranged version for 4 pianos, 2 electric bells, 2 airplane propellers, timpani, glockenspiel, and other percussion. "Fighting the Waves" for tenor, chorus and chamber orchestra is incidental music for W. B. Yeats' play with the same title. "A Jazz Symphony" (the 1955 revised version) and "Jazz Sonata" (the arranged version for chamber ensemble) are jazz-oriented pieces as their names suggest. Also includes "Violin Sonata No.1", his early piece "Lithuanian Night" for string quartet, and a neoclassical piece "Concerto for chamber orchestra". Performed by Ensemble Modern (a Frankfurt-based contemporary music ensemble), conducted by HK Gruber.
|Kurt Weill/Die Dreigroschenoper (Lemper/Kollo/Milva/RIAS Berlin/Mauceri, 1988)|
A kind of musical theater called Singspiel (sung play) in German, "The Threepenny Opera", adapted by Bertolt Brecht from John Gay's ballad opera "The Beggar's Opera", and composed by Kurt Weill. A pop-oriented piece with lots of catchy songs. "Die Moritat von Mackie Messer" (Mack the Knife) is famous as a jazz standard. The singers are René Kollo, Ute Lemper, Milva and others. Conducted by John Mauceri.
|Rodrigo/Concierto de Aranjuez (Yepes/Argenta, 1958?)|
The Spanish composer, Rodrigo's "Aranjuez Concerto" is a famous concerto with guitar. The second movement is famous for its excellent melody filled with melancholiness. A virtuoso on the guitar, Narciso Yepes' performance in his young days. Ataulfo Argenta conducts Spain National Orchestra.
|Duruflé/Requiem (Corboz, 1984)|
A 20th-century French composer and organist, Maurice Duruflé's " Requiem", Op.9, the full orchestra version (Erato). A sacred vocal music modeled on Gabriel Faure's "Requiem", and filled with limpid beauty and a tender feeling of prayer. It is similar in the structure (liturgical texts) and instrumentation (for soloists, mixed choir, organ and orchestra) to Faure's "Requiem". Unlike Faure's "Requiem", it uses the melodies from Gregorian chants, so it has strangely fresh feeling for the combination of its archaism and modern, sophisticated harmonies. Conducted by Michel Corboz. Performed by Teresa Berganza (mezzo-soprano), José van Dam (baritone), Ensemble Vocal "Audite Nova" de Paris and Chœur et Orchestre Colonne. Also includes "Quatre Motets sur des thèmes Grégoriens/4 Motets on Gregorian Themes", Op.10, for mixed choir (SATB) a capella.
|Khachaturian/Gayne (the complete ballet) (Gorkovenko, 1997)|
The composer of the former Soviet Union (an Armenian born in Georgia), Aram Il'ich Khachaturian's ballet "Gayne" (spelled also "Gayane"). The complete recording (a set of 2 CDs) of the 1957 Bolshoi Theater version. The suite version for orchestra is more famous than the original ballet. His modernized orchestration built up the south Caucasian (Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijani) folk music into a spectacular ballet full of wild rhythms. "Lezginka (Dance of the Young Men)" (act 1, scene 1) is based on the traditional folk dance of the Lezghian. "Sabre Dance" (act 3, scene 7) is a famous piece based on the Kurdish war dance. Stanislas Gorkovenko conducts St. Petersburg Radio Symphony Orchestra.
|Khachaturian/Violin Concerto in D Minor (Oistrakh, 1965)|
The composer of the former Soviet Union (an Armenian born in Georgia), Aram Khachaturian's "Violin Concerto in D Minor" (Melodiya). A masterpiece of 20-century Soviet Union's violin concerto, and a popular piece featuring exotic, melancholic melodies including folk music of Yerevan, Armenia, and exhilarating sense of running. Dedicated to the Soviet violinist David Oistrakh, who advised Khachaturian on the violin part, and wrote his own cadenza of the first movement. Also well known for its arrangement of flute concerto by Jean-Pierre Rampal. Performed by David Oistrakh on violin, Aram Khachaturian (conductor) and Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra. Also includes Shostakovich's "Violin Concerto No.2 in C Sharp Minor" (David Oistrakh on violin, Kiril Kondrashin conducts Moscow Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra).
|Khachaturian/Masquerade Suite, Kabalevsky/The Comedians, Tchaikovsky/Capriccio Italien, Rimsky-Korsakov/Capriccio Espagnol (Kondrashin, 1958)|
A collection of Russian/Soviet orchestral pieces recorded by a Russian conductor Kirill Kondrashin with pickup members from the U.S. orchestras (RCA). Recorded in 1958, when Kondrashin came to the U.S. Khachaturian's "Masquerade Suite" is an orchestral suite, which consists of the five movements extracted from the original incidental music to Mikhail Lermontov's play "Masquerade". The first "Waltz" movement is also known as music used in figure skating. Kabalevsky's orchestral suite "The Comedians" is a cheerful and amusing piece for children. The No.2 "Comedians' Galop" is frequently played as as a single piece. Also features Tchaikovsky' "Capriccio Italien" and Rimsky-Korsakov's "Capriccio Espagnol". Performed by RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra and Oscar Shumsky (violin).
|Shostakovich/Symphony No.4 (Slatkin, 1989)|
A Soviet Russian composer, Dmitri Shostakovich's symphony No.4 in C minor, Op.43 (RCA). A massive and heavyweight symphony (the duration is about one hour) highly influenced by Mahler. Composed in 1935-1936, but the premiere was cancelled probably because of his political decision under Stalinism, and premiered in 1961 through the criticism against Stalin. An edgy, modernism-oriented piece featuring heavy use of brass and percussion, chaotic complexity, lack of coherence, contemporary music elements such as cluster-like sounds, dissonance and atonalism, quotation and parody, mixing of all kinds of musical elements including banal, popular music forms, and sense of humor. Leonard Slatkin conducts Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra.
|Shostakovich/Symphony No.5, op.47 (Bernstein, 1979)|
The Russian composer of the Soviet period, Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No.5. Also known as the music of Sergei M. Eisenstein's movie "Battleship Potemkin". Leonard Bernstein conducts New York Philharmonic. This live recording in Tokyo Bunka Kaikan, Japan in 1979 is his masterpiece in the LP era.
|Shostakovich/Symphony No.7 'Leningrad' (Barshai, 1991)|
Shostakovich's seventh symphony 'Leningrad' is an exciting and entertaining piece of work can be listened without reference to the historical background (German Nazi invasion of Soviet Union and the Siege of Leningrad) and the political context (Stalin's oppression). The highlights are the violent repetitive motif with the rhythm of snare drum in the development of the first movement (like Ravel's 'Bolero') and the explosive finale of the last movement featuring brass fanfares. Live recording by Rudolf Barshai (conductor), Junge Deutsche Philharmonie with Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra.
|Shostakovich/Symphonies No.5 & No.9 (Haitink, 1979/1981)|
Includes No.5 and No.9 from Shostakovich complete symphonies recording on Decca UK, conducted by a Dutch conductor Bernard Haitink, performed by Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and London Philharmonic Orchestra. No.5 is a popular piece featuring a classical composition, symmetry and theme of victory over repression, like Beethoven's No.5. The light, refined and humorous style of No.9, as if to poke fun at Stalin, was heavily criticized by Soviet authorities, and it led to later Zhdanov Doctrine.
|Shostakovich/Symphonie No.10 (Karajan, 1981)|
A Soviet Russian composer, Shostakovich's symphony No.10 in E minor, op.93 (Deutsche Grammophon). A piece based on classical sonata form and premiered in 1953 after the death of Stalin. Filled with dark, tragic pathos and passion. One of his most popular and famous symphonies, along with No.5 and No.7. Consists of four movements, long and slow first (moderato), stormy and scherzo-like second (allegro), third (allegretto) and fourth (andante - allegro) which are both influenced by Mahler. DSCH motif (a musical monogram of the composer's name "Dimitri Schostakowitsch" in German transliteration) is heavily used in the third and fourth movements. Herbert von Karajan conducts Berliner Philharmoniker. This piece is Karajan's only recording of Shostakovich's symphony, and he recorded it twice (1966 and 1981), This is the second.
|Shostakovich/Piano Concerto No.1, Haydn/Piano Concerto No.11 (Argerich, 1993)|
Shostakovich's "Piano Concerto No.1" (The Concerto in C minor for Piano, Trumpet, and String Orchestra, Op.35) is a rhythmic and roaring piece full of humor and wit, like circus acrobats. It has lots of quotations of his own pieces and parodies of other composers' compositions such as Beethoven's Piano Sonata No.23 "Appassionata" and "Rage Over a Lost Penny" (The Rondo a capriccio). Recommended to those who like Stravinsky. Performed by Martha Argerich (piano), Guy Touvron (trumpet), Jörg Faerber (conductor) and Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn. Also includes Haydn's "Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in D major" (Hob.XVIII:11).
|Shostakovich/The Jazz Album (Chailly, 1981/1988/1990)|
A collection of humorous, witty, light and easy pieces composed by a Soviet Russian composer, Shostakovich, under the influences of Western European jazz, or rather, light music such as popular and dance (Decca). "Jazz Suite No.1" in three movements (1934) and "Suite for Variety Orchestra" in eight movements (the 1950s. Erroneously written as "Jazz Suite No.2" on this CD, because this piece had been misidentified as the lost "Jazz Suite No.2" (1938) for many years) are pop-oriented pieces with the instrumentation like a promenade concert. The Waltz 2 movement of "Suite for Variety Orchestra" of this recording was used on the soundtrack to the 1999 Stanley Kubrick film "Eyes Wide Shut" in the opening/closing credit. "Piano Concerto No.1" (The Concerto in C minor for Piano, Trumpet, and String Orchestra, 1934) is a rhythmic and roaring piece full of humor and wit, like circus acrobats. "Tahiti Trot" (1928) is an orchestration of "Tea for Two", a jazz standard number composed by Vincent Youmans. Riccardo Chailly conducts Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
|Varese/Ionisation, Ohana/Quatre Études Chorégraphiques, Kabelac/Huit Inventions, Xenakis/Perséphassa (Les Percussions de Strasbourg, 1967/1970/1971)|
Includes 4 pieces of contemporary music featuring percussion instruments: Edgar Varese's "Ionisation", Maurice Ohana's "Quatre Etudes Choregraphiques", Miloslav Kabelac's "Huit Inventions", and Iannis Xenakis' "Persephassa". Performed by the Strasbourg Percussion Group.
|Varèse/Arcana, Octandre, Offrandes, Intégrales, Déserts (Lyndon-Gee, 2000)|
The French-born American composer of contemporary music, Edgard Varèse's works. Released on Naxos. Includes "Arcana" for orchestra, "Offrandes" for soprano and chamber orchestra, "Octandre", "Intégrales" and "Déserts" for an ensemble of 14 winds, piano, 5 percussionists and two-track tape. Vivid and energetic music using lots of percussions and featuring an emphasis on timbre and rhythm. Performed by Christopher Lyndon-Gee (conductor), Maryse Castets (soprano) and Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra.
|Messiaen/Turangalîla Symphonie, Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Rattle, 1986)|
The French composer, Olivier Messiaen's 'Turangalila Symphony' is a big orchestral piece featuring Ondes Martenot (electronic musical instrument) and a masterpiece of contemporary music. A monument of orchestral music in the 20th century. Filled with sensual beauty in full color. Simon Rattle conducts City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Also features 'Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Quartet for the End of Time)'.
|Messiaen/Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus (Aimard, 1999)|
The French composer, Olivier Messiaen's 'Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus' ('Twenty Contemplations on the Infant Jesus') is a long piano suite (about two hours) based Catholicism. One of his masterpieces featuring lots of his original musical languages, such as 'modes of limited transposition', 'irreversible rhythms' and use of 'Songs of the Birds' as materials. It contains twenty movements, and the whole suite is organically constructed by using cyclic themes as leitmotifs. Clear and exquisite performance by a French pianist, Pierre-Laurent Aimard. Great. A set of 2 CDs.
|Messiaen/Éclairs sur l'Au-Delà... (Rattle, 2004)|
Olivier Messiaen's "Eclairs sur l'au-dela" (Illuminations of the Beyond) is a large-scale orchestral piece in his last days. Commissioned for the New York Philharmonic's 150th anniversary in 1992. A vast work of 11 movements, written for a 128-piece orchestra. The five movements based on Catholicism (the Book of Revelation) and other movements (birdsongs and star music) inserted between them. Sharp performance by Sir Simon Rattle (conductor) and Berliner Philharmoniker. Recommended to those who like Messiaen's "Turangalîla Symphonie".
|Messiaen/Messiaen Edition (various artists, 2005/1963-2000)|
The 20th century French composer also known as an organist/ornithologist, Olivier Messiaen's works. A 18-CD set which offers a comprehensive overview of his major works. The original 17-CD set was released by the Erato label in celebration of Messiaen's 80th birthday in 1988. The Warner Classics label rereleased this with adding "Turangalîla-Symphonie" (Kent Nagano conducts Berliner Philharmoniker, Teldec) in 2005. Includes piano pieces such as "Préludes", "Visions de l'Amen/Visions of the Amen", "Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus/Twenty Contemplations on the Infant Jesus", "Quatre Études de rythme/Four Studies in Rhythm", "Catalogue d'oiseaux/Catalogue of Birds", organ pieces such as "Le Banquet céleste/The Heavenly Banquet", "La nativité du Seigneur/The Lord's Nativity", "Méditations sur le mystère de la Sainte-Trinité/Meditations on the Mystery of the Holy Trinity", song cycles such as "Poèmes pour Mi/Poems for Mi", "Chants de terre et de ciel/Songs of Earth and Heaven", "Harawi", choral music "Cinq Rechants", chamber music "Quatuor pour la fin du Temps/Quartet for the End of Time", orchestral music such as "L'Ascension/The Ascension", "Turangalîla-Symphonie", "Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum/And I Await the Resurrection of the Dead", "Des canyons aux étoiles.../From the Canyons to the Stars...", "Sept Haïkaï/Seven Haikai" for piano solo and orchestra, and others. The performers are Yvonne Loriod (piano, Messiaen's widow), Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano), Messiaen himself (organ), Marie-Claire Alain (organ), Marius Constant (conductor), Pierre Boulez (conductor), Orchestre Philharmonique de l'ORTF, Ensemble Ars Nova and others. The 18th CD includes Messiaen's interview. Features a 311-page French/English booklet which includes a full English translation of the interview.
|(Various Artists)/Adventures in Sound (Schaeffer/Stockhausen/Xenakis/Varèse/Henry, 1948-1958)|
A compilation of masterpiece of musique concrète and electronic music at the earliest days (él/Cherry Red). Pierre Schaeffer's "Cinq études de bruits (Five Studies of Noises)" (1948), which include the sounds of trains and sauce pans, are the earliest pieces of musique concrète (electroacoustic music by using recorded sounds, such as musical instruments, voice, natural sound and noise, as materials). Karlheinz Stockhausen's "Studie Nr. 1" (1953) and "Studie Nr. 2" (1954), which are based on total serialism and use sine tones, are the world's first electronic music pieces. Stockhausen's "Gesang der Jünglinge (Song of the Youths)" (1955-56), using sine tones and singing voice of boy soprano, is a famous piece which integrated musique concrète and electronic music. Iannis Xenakis's "Diamorphoses" (1957-58) is a musique concrète work using the noises of jet engines, car crashes and an earthquake. Xenakis's musique concrète piece "Concret PH" (1958) and Edgard Varèse's electronic music piece "Poème électronique" (1957-58) are both written for the Philips Pavilion at the 1958 Brussels World's Fair. Pierre Henry's "Voile d'Orphée (Veil of Orpheus)" (1953) is a symphonic musique concrète piece blending orchestral, choral and speech recordings.
|John Cage/Music for Keyboard 1935-1948 (Kirstein, 1969)|
Includes the American experimental music composer, John Cage's early keyboard music (a set of 2 CDs). Mainly features the pieces for prepared piano. "Metamorphosis" is a piece based on serialism. "Bacchanale" is the first piece for prepared piano. "Suite for Toy Piano" is a piece in a limited range of tone (only the nine white keys). Performed by Jeanne Kirstein (prepared piano, piano and toy piano). Cage himself raved about her playing. The world's first release on CD in Japan in 2002.
|John Cage/Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano (Takahashi, 1975)|
'Prepared piano' developed by John Cage is a piano with objects, such as metals (bolts, nuts and screws), rubbers and pieces of plastic, placed between the strings. It has unpredictable, accidental tones, and makes percussive noises. Subtle and profound music influenced by the Oriental thoughts such as Indian philosophy. The piano prepared and played by Yuji Takahashi.
|John Cage/Sixteen Dances for Soloist and Company of 3 (Ensemble Modern, 1992)|
The American contemporary music composer, John Cage's "Sixteen Dances for Soloist and Company of 3" (RCA). Written in 1951 to accompany a dance program choreographed by a choreographer Merce Cunningham for himself and his company of three dancers. The Last work Cage composed before he began using chance operations (introducing chances into composition). Tranquil music (about 50 minutes) with and oriental mood, in which fragmentary instrumental sounds (flute, trumpet, piano, violin, cello, and percussions) are performed on and off. It consists of nine dances and seven interludes, and the dances correspond to permanent emotions of Hindu classical aesthetics. Cage composed this piece using a sound chart (a table of 64 different sounds) to deliberately limit his compositional choices. Performed by Ensemble Modern, a German chamber ensemble dedicated to contemporary music. Conducted by Ingo Metzmacher.
|Britten/The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, Prokofiev/Peter and the Wolf, Saint-Saëns/Carnival of the Animals (Dorati/Henderson, 1960/1965)|
"The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra: Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell", composed by British composer Benjamin Britten, is music for an educational film "The Instruments of the Orchestra", which introduces a variety of instruments of the orchestra to young people and the general public. The theme is a rondeau from Henry Purcell's incidental music for the play "Abdelazar, or the Moor's Revenge". Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf" is a musical tale for the children and an adaptation of a Russian folk tale. Saint-Saëns' suite "Carnival of the Animals: Fantaisie Zoologique" is a humorous piece describing the animals by the instruments. "The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" and "Peter and the Wolf" are performed by Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Antal Dorati and narrated (in English) by the actor Sean Connery. "Carnival of the Animals" is performed by London Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Skitch Henderson.
|Britten/War Requiem (Britten, 1963)|
An English composer of the 20th century, Benjamin Britten's "War Requiem" (Decca). A requiem mass composed for the 1962 reconsecration of St Michael's Cathedral in Coventry after the the original structure was destroyed in a World War II bombing raid by German air forces. A large-scale piece (about 90 minutes) for an orchestra, a chamber orchestra, soprano, tenor and baritone soloists, mixed chorus in four voices and boys' choir. They sing the traditional Latin Requiem texts and Wilfred Owen's English poems. The first recording featuring Galina Vishnevskaya (soprano) from the former Soviet Union, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone) from Germany, Peter Pears (tenor. Britten's life-long partner) from England, with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Britten. This recording is old, but the vocal solos are beautiful.
|Bernstein/Candide (Bernstein, 1989)|
The American composer and conductor, Leonard Bernstein's musical (Bernstein called it comic operetta) "Candide" for New York's Broadway. The complete edition conducted by Bernstein himself (the 1989 final revised version). A rhythmic and cheerful stage play based on the novella "Candide, ou l'Optimisme" by Voltaire. Filled with excellent music, such as the famous overture and "Glitter and Be Gay" featuring coloratura soprano. "Quiet" is a piece using twelve-tone technique. A recording in concert style. Performed by Jerry Hadley (Candide/tenor), June Anderson (Cunegonde/soprano) and others, London Symphony Orchestra and London Symphony Chorus.
|Xenakis/Eonta, Metastasis, Pithoprakta (Maurice Le Roux/Simonovic, 1965)|
Greek composer of contemporary music, Iannis Xenakis' works. Includes two early orchestral works, 'Metastasis' and 'Pithoprakta' (conducted by Maurice Le Roux, performed by Orchestre National de l'ORTF), and a masterpiece of ensemble, 'Eonta' for piano and 5 brass (conducted by Konstantin Simonovic, preformed by Ensemble Instrumental de Musique Contemporaine de Paris/Yuji Takahashi on piano). 'Stochastic' music based on theories of statistical probability.
|Xenakis/Iannis Xenakis (ed. RZ 1015-16) (various artists, 2003/1969-1974)|
A compilation (2 CDs) featuring the historical recordings (from the late 1960s to the early 1970s) of Iannis Xenakis' essential works. Released on a German contemporary music label, EDITION RZ in 2003. Most of the tracks had been released on LP on a French label Erato, but Erato has not reissued them on CD, so this is a valuable reissue. Disc 1 includes his orchestral works such as "Polytope de Montréal" (spectacle of light and sound for 4 identical orchestras of 15 musicians. Composed for the French Pavilion at the Montreal Expo of 1967. Marius Constant conducts Ensemble Ars Nova de l'O.R.T.F.) and "Nomos Gamma" (for 98 musicians dispersed among the audience. Charles Brück conducts Orchestre Philharmonique de l'O.R.T.F.). Disc 2 includes two pieces of electroacoustic music on 8-track tape with clear sound, "Persepolis" (A noisy musique concrète with tremendous roar. Remastered and mixed by Daniel Teige at the Electronic Music Studio of Technical University of Berlin in 2003) and "Polytope de Cluny".
|Xenakis/Pléiades, Psappha (Kroumata Percussion Ensemble, 1981/1990)|
Greek composer of contemporary music, Iannis Xenakis' percussion works. 'Pléiades' (1979) is a piece for six percussionists, and it has four movements (in random order): 'Métaux' with the original metal instrument 'SIXXEN', 'Claviers' with three vibraphones, marimba, xylophone and xylorimba, 'Peaux' with bongos, tom-toms, drums and so on, and 'Mélanges' (Mixtures) with all of these instruments. The sound is like Indonesian Gamelan. Performed by Swedish percussion group, the Kroumata Percussion Ensemble. Also includes 'Psappha' (1975) performed by Gert Mortensen.
|Xenakis/Evryari, Herma, Messiaen/Quatre Études de rythme (Takahashi, 1976)|
Yuji Takahashi plays Iannis Xenakis and Olivier Messiaen's contemporary piano solo pieces. Xenakis' "Evryari" and "Herma" are both extremely-difficult to play, as if it is not assumed that they are played by humans. "Evryari" is the first piece compsed by the technique based on mathematic 'tree diagram/tree structure'. Characterized by its melodies as 'branching lines' and pulse structure. "Herma" (organized by operation of combined piano-key sets) is a piece composed for Takahashi and based on mathematical/semiotic logic (Boolean algebra). Also features Messiaen's "Quatre Études de rythme".
|Xenakis/Orchestral Works (Tamayo, 2000-2006)|
A 5-CD box set which includes orchestral works by a Greek composer of contemporary music, Iannis Xenakis (Timpani). A collection of Xenakis' "Orchestral Works" volumes 1-5 released on Timpani. Avant-garde music featuring stochastic movements and exquisite entanglement of sound cluster formed by lots of instruments, with heavy use of discordance, strings glissando and pulse-like rhythms. A flood of discordant sounds like horror film music. but once you can taste it, you get addicted. The highlights are "Jonchaies" and a ballet "Antikhthon". "Metastaseis" and "Pithoprakta" are his early famous works. The piano concertos, "Synaphaï" and "Erikhthon" ("Erikhthon" is the world's first recording) are super challenging pieces for pianists (performed by a Japanese pianist Hiroaki Ooï). Arturo Tamayo conducts Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg.
|Ligeti, Nono, Boulez, Rihm/Wien Modern (Abbado, 1988)|
Recorded in the first Wien Modern (festival of contemporary music started by the conductor Claudio Abbado in 1988). Includes Wolfgang Rihm's "Départ", György Ligeti's "Atomosphères" and "Lontano", Luigi Nono's "Liebeslied", and Pierre Boulez's "Notation I-IV". Ligeti's "Atomosphères for large orchestra" is a famous orchestral piece with so-called 'tone cluster' technique and micropolyphony. Clear and sharp performance by Claudio Abbado (conductor), Wiener Philharmoniker and Wiener Jeunesse-Chor.
|Ligeti/Boulez Conducts Ligeti: Concertos for Cello, Violin & Piano (Boulez, 1992/1993)|
A Hungarian composer born in Romania, György Ligeti's concertos (Deutsche Grammophon). "Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra" (1966) is a good piece of 'tone cluster' technique and micropolyphony, filled with a sense of tension in silence, like his "Atomosphères" and "Aventures" (both were used in Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey"). "Concerto for Piano and Orchestra" (1985-1988) is a piece with complex rhythms and unusual instruments such as a harmonica, slide whistles, and an ocarina, influenced by polyrhythms of Sub-Saharan African music, Conlon Nancarrow's piano rolls and fractal geometry, like his "Études pour piano" (since 1985). "Concerto for Violin and Orchestra" (1990-1992) is a complex and chaotic piece with elements of Eastern European folk music, microtonality and polyrhythms, alternate tuning (scordatura) of strings (violin and viola), ocarinas, and recorders. Performed by Pierre Boulez (conductor), Ensemble InterContemporain, Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano), Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello) and Saschko Gawriloff (violin).
|Ligeti/György Ligeti Edition 3, Works for Piano: Études, Musica Ricercata (Aimard, 1995/1996)|
A Hungarian composer born in Romania, György Ligeti's piano works. Post-Bartók style. 'Études pour piano' (Book I, six etudes, 1985; Book II, eight etudes, 1988-1994; No.15 'White on White' from the Book III, 1995) are polyrhythmic pieces inspired by Scarlatti, Chopin, Schumann, Debussy, African music, jazz piano technique such as Thelonious Monk and Bill Evans, and Conlon Nancarrow's works for the player piano. 'Musica Ricercata' is an early work (in the 1950s) using limited notes. Performed by Pierre-Laurent Aimard.
|Ligeti/György Ligeti Edition 8, Le Grand Macabre (1997 Version) (Salonen, 1998)|
A Hungarian composer born in Romania, György Ligeti's only opera "Le Grand Macabre" (1997 version. 2 CDs, SONY). One of popular operas with avant-garde contemporary music after World War II. A grotesque, preposterous, cynical and humorous drama about Nekrotzar (Death), who prophesies the end of the world, set in a fictional country named Breughelland. An "Anti-anti-opera" which is critical of both traditional operas and avant-garde anti-operas. Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts Philharmonia Orchestra and London Sinfonietta Voices. Recorded live in Paris, France, at the Théâtre du Châtelet, on February 1998. Performed in English.
|Ligeti, Reich/African Rhythms (Aimard/Aka Pygmies, 2001-2002)|
A pianist, Pierre-Laurent Aimard's unique project aiming for interaction between African music and György Ligeti/Steve Reich's contemporary music inspired by African music, by alternately including them on one album (teldec). Includes Aimard's recordings of three pieces from Ligeti's 'Études pour piano' Book III (Nos.16-18. No.18 is the world's first recording), his re-recordings of three pieces from other Books (Nos.4, 8 and 12), Reich's 'Clapping Music' and 'Music for Pieces of Wood' (originally for 5 pairs of tuned claves. Arranged for piano), and Central Africa, Aka Pygmies' polyphonic vocal music (8 pieces). Performed by Pierre-Laurent Aimard (clapping, piano) and Aka Pygmies. Aimard himself calls this disc 'mosaic of polyrhythms' and 'celebration of rhythm and pulse'.
|Nono/Como una ola de fuerza y luz, .....sofferte onde serene..., Contrappunto dialettico alla mente (Pollini/Abbado, 1973/1977)|
An Italian composer of contemporary music, Luigi Nono's works. Electronic music by using taped material, and avant-garde music with extreme political messages. "Como una ola de fuerza y luz" (Like a Wave of Strength and Light) (for soprano, piano, orchestra and tape) is a piece based on the poem dedicated to Lusiano (Luciano) Cruz, a Chilean revolutionary, and composed with the cooperation of Maurizio Pollini and Claudio Abbado. Performed by Slavka Taskova (soprano), Maurizio Pollini (piano), Claudio Abbado (conductor) and Symphonie-Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks. ".....sofferte onde serene... (.....serene waves suffered...)" (for piano and magnetic tape) is composed for Pollini, and performed by Maurizio Pollini (piano) himself. "Contrappunto dialettico alla mente (Dialectic Counterpoint for the Mind)" (for magnetic tape) is a piece with electronic voices and texts such as a poem about the assassination of Malcolm X and a pamphlet opposing the Vietnam War. Performed by Liliana Poli (soprano), Coro de camera della RAI, Roma and others, directed by Nino Antonellini.
|Berio/Sinfonia, Eindrücke (Boulez, 1981/1984)|
An Italian composer of contemporary music, Luciano Berio's 'Sinfonia: for Eight Voices and Orchestra' is an avant-garde orchestral work in the context of the social events in the late 1960s, such as the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and the May-Revolution in Paris. The first movement quotes the text of structuralist anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss. The second is a hommage to Rev. King. The third is a collage of pieces of various music and words: the scherzo from Mahler's symphony No.2 'Auferstehung/Resurrection', Bach, Beethoven, Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, graffiti, slogan, Samuel Beckett's poem and so on. Conducted by Pierre Boulez. Performed by New Swingle Singers and Orchestre National de France.
|Berio/Complete Piano Music (Tristano, 2004)|
Includes an Italian composer of contemporary music, Luciano Berio's all compositions for solo piano (Piano Classics). "Petite Suite" (1947) is a dance suite and Berio's youthful composition influenced by Ravel, Prokofiev and neoclassicism. "Cinque variazioni (The Five Variations)" (1952/53, revised 1966) is a twelve-tone piece in the line of Webern's "Variations for piano" (Op.27). "Six encores" is a collection of six little pieces composed in 1965-1990, featuring impressionistic lyricism. "Sequenza IV" (1965) is the fourth of "Sequenza (Sequence)", fourteen compositions for solo instruments or voice, featuring virtuosity, complexity and extended technique like free jazz. "Rounds" (1965/1967) is a short, avant-garde piece and an adaptation of a piece for harpsichord. "Piano Sonata" (2001) is an about half-hour piece composed in his last years, featuring flowing beauty, like Liszt or Debussy. Performed by a pianist from Luxembourg, Francesco Tristano. "Piano Sonata" is the world's first recording.
|Boulez/Le Marteau Sans Maître (Boulez, 1965)|
A French composer/conductor of contemporary music, Pierre Boulez's "Le Marteau Sans Maître/The hammer without a master" (deutsche harmonia mundi). The work has nine-movements. For female alto and six instruments: alto flute, guitar, vibraphone, viola, xylorimba, and percussions. The text was taken from the three poems of René Char's collection of surrealist poems, "Le Marteau sans maître". A piece of contemporary music, inspired by Schöenberg's "Pierrot Lunaire", and based on post-Webern total serialism. A beautiful piece with both hard, cold sounds and depth of feeling. Recorded at Salles des Fêtes, Strasbourg, in May, 1965. Performed by Jeanne Deroubaix (alto) and others. Conducted by Pierre Boulez.
|Boulez/The Three Piano Sonatas (Jumppanen, 2004)|
A French composer/conductor of contemporary music, Pierre Boulez's avant-garde piano works in his young days, Piano Sonata No.1, No.2 and No.3. No.3 is based on the method of 'controlled chance', which was inspired by John Cage's "chance music" and Mallarmé's "Livre" concept. The piano performed by Paavali Jumppanen, a young pianist from Finland, who was chosen by Boulez in an audition.
|Boulez/Répons, Dialogue de l'ombre double (Boulez, 1996)|
Includes the early-1980s two pieces composed by Pierre Boulez, a French composer/conductor of contemporary music, in collaboration with IRCAM/Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (Deutsche Grammophon). "Répons" (1981-1984) is an electro-acoustic work for a chamber orchestra with six soloists (two pianos, harp, vibraphone, xylophone/glockenspiel, cimbalom) and live electronics. Originally for the performance space, in which the audience surrounds a chamber orchestra and conductor, and six soloists and speakers surround the audience. The acoustic sounds are transformed electronically in real time, and their responses give a beautiful sense of color, like a kaleidoscope. Pierre Boulez conducts Ensemble InterContemporain. "Dialogue de l'ombre double" (1985) is a piece for a solo live clarinet and another one on prerecorded tape. The clarinet played by Alain Damiens. Won a Grammy in 2000 for best contemporary classical album.
|Boulez/Pli selon pli (Boulez, 2001)|
Includes "Pli selon pli", a long piece (over an hour) for solo soprano and orchestra, composed by Pierre Boulez, a French composer/conductor of contemporary music (Deutsche Grammophon). Profound and quiet music introducing the elements of improvisation or "controlled chance". Consists of five movements. Based on the poems of Stéphane Mallarmé, and it intends to transplant formal rigidity of Mallarmé's poems into music. The piece was begun in 1957 with two "Improvisations on Mallarmé" for soprano and percussion ensemble, and then it had been revised many times by 1989. Pierre Boulez conducts Ensemble InterContemporain. Features Christine Schäfer on soprano. Boulez's third recording of this piece.
|Morton Feldman/Durations I-V, Coptic Light (Ensemble Avantgarde/Morgan, 1992/1994)|
Includes An American composer, Morton Feldman's two works, series of chamber music "Durations" 1-5 (1960-1961) and an orchestral piece composed in his last days "Coptic Light" (1986) (CPO). "Durations" (performed by Ensemble Avantgarde) are quiet pieces in which the interaction between muted, sustained tones of instruments (piano, violin, violoncello, vibraphone and others) give strangely drawling sense of time. "Coptic Light" (Michael Morgan conducts Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin) is a minimalistic, beautiful piece inspired by Middle Eastern textiles, featuring repeating and subtly changing patterns from various instrumental groups, like restless waves. Recommended to those who like John Cage's quiet pieces and minimalist music such as Steve Reich.
|Pierre Henry, Michel Colombier/Messe Pour le Temps Présent (Henry/Colombier, 1967)|
A French composer known as a pioneer of musique concrète, Pierre Henry's best-known work. All the pieces were composed for a French choreographer, Maurice Béjart's ballets. A classic of electroacoustic music which developed techniques like sampling and cut-up. "Messe Pour le Temps Présent (Mass for the Present Time)", a collaboration with a French composer and arranger Michel Colombier, is a piece created by using dance music (called "jerk") in the rock-band style by Michel Colombier, metal sounds, electronic sounds, tubular bells and Moog synths as materials, and editing and processing them. This piece was revalued in the context of club music and techno since the 1990s, and in 1997 an album featuring remixes of this piece by William Orbit, Fatboy Slim, Coldcut, Dimitri from Paris and others, "Métamorphose - Messe Pour Le Temps Présent" was released. "La Reine Verte (The Green Queen)", "Le Voyage" and "Variations pour Une Porte et Un Soupir (Variations for a Door and a Sigh)" are musique concrète pieces by Pierre Henry.
|Stockhausen/Eötvös Conducts Stockhausen: Gruppen, Punkte (Eötvös, 1997/2004)|
Includes two orchestra works composed by a German experimental composer, Karlheinz Stockhausen in the 1950s, and recorded by Péter Eötvös, a Hungarian composer and conductor (BMC). "Gruppen (Groups)" for three orchestras (1955-1957), a piece based on serialism and group composition, is a spectacle stereophonic work with three conductors and three orchestras (109 players in total) as "groups" performing in a semicircle around the audience (the left, front, and right). This piece is difficult to perform in a normal concert hall, and its spatial effect in two-channel stereo recording is only a simulated experience. In this recording, the three orchestras are conducted by Arturo Tamayo (left), Péter Eötvös (front) and Jacques Mercier (right). Performed by WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln). "Punkte (Points)" for orchestra (1952/1962) is a piece based on serialism and punctualism (Eötvös conducts WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln). Stockhausen revised this piece in 1962, and revised it two more times after its 1963 premiere. This recording is based on the 1993 final version.
|Stockhausen/Kontakte (Stockhausen, 1960)|
Stockhausen's electronic music 'Kontakte' (Contact). Electronic sounds (pulse) with piano and percussion.
|Stockhausen/Klavierstücke I-XI, Mikrophonie I & II (Kontarsky, 1965)|
A German experimental composer, Karlheinz Stockhausen's early works (the 1950s and the early 1960s) (Sony, 2CDs). "Klavierstücke" (Piano Pieces) I-IV make a process from point music to group composition. V-XI introduce "variable form" or "polyvalent form", featuring indeterminacy (unmeasurable, irrational factors). Also includes two pieces of live-electronic music, "Mikrophonie I" (for tamtam, 2 microphones, 2 filters, and controllers) and "Mikrophonie II" (for choir, Hammond organ, and ring modulators). "Mikrophonie I" featuring the sound of tamtam is an early classic of live-electronic music. Performed by Alois Kontarsky (piano, tamtam) and others.
|Stockhausen/Stimmung (Singcircle Version) (Rose/Singcircle, 1983)|
A meditative and mysterious vocal ensemble with six voices (two sopranos, mezzo soprano, tenor, baritone and bass). The harmonic overtone vocals singing the names of the gods and goddesses (called 'magic names') from different cultures of the world, such as the Aztecs, Aborigine and ancient Greece. Performed by Singcircle (an avant-garde vocal group based in London). Directed by Gregory Rose.
|Toshiro Mayuzumi/Nirvana-Symphony (Iwaki, 1972)|
The volume 1 of the Odaka Prize-winning Japanese contemporary music works performed by NHK Symphony Orchestra. Toshiro Mayuzumi's "Nirvana-Symphony" (1958) (conducted by Hiroyuki Iwaki) is a stereoscopic piece with "Campanology Effect" technique (the orchestra reproduces the sound of Buddhist temple bell based on its data analysis) and Buddhist (Zen and Tendai) texts performed by three groups of male chorus and orchestra, like Shomyo (Japanese Buddhist chant). Recommended to those who like Messiaen's "Turangalîla Symphonie". Also includes Akira Miyoshi's "Concerto for Orchestra" (1964) (conducted by Hiroyuki Iwaki) and Michio Mamiya's "Two Tableaux for Orchestra '65" (1965) (conducted by Yuzo Toyama).
|Joji Yuasa/Piano Works & Tape Music (Takahashi, 1973)|
A collection of works by Joji Yuasa, a Japanese composer of contemporary classical music, born in 1929, known for his compositional activities in a wide range of fields, including electronic music, musique concrète and computer music (Denon). "Cosmos Haptic" (1957) is a piano piece including Messiaen's "modes of limited transposition". "Projection Topologic" (1959) is a piano piece with twelve-tone technique. "On the Keyboard" (1972) is a piano piece like free jazz, including tone cluster, with a mixture of silences and heavy blows. "Music for Space Projection" (1969) is tape music composed for Expo 1970 Fiber Pavilion's audiovisual projection, including orchestral fragments, electronic sounds and modulated human voices. "Voices Coming" (1969) is tape music with using human voices as musical materials, such as voices of telephone exchange operators, filler words in interviews, and political speeches. "Icon on the Source of White Noise" (1966) is a classical masterpiece of electronic music, which consists of nothing but white noises. The piano performed by Yuji Takahashi.
|Takemitsu/November Steps, Viola Concerto "A String around Autumn", Requiem for Strings, Ceremonial, My Way of Life (Ozawa, 1989-1996)|
The Japanese composer of contemporary music, Toru Takemitsu's works. He is known for his unique style influenced by Olivier Messiaen and John Cage. "November Steps for Orchestra with Shakuhachi and Biwa" is a famous piece by using Shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) and Biwa (Japanese lute). "Requiem for Strings for String Orchestra" is his early work critically acclaimed by Stravinsky. Also includes his later three pieces, Viola Concerto "A String around Autumn", "Ceremonial for Orchestra with Sho" and "My Way of Life -In Memory of Michael Vyner- for Baritone, Mixed Chorus and Orchestra". Seiji Ozawa conducts Saito Kinen Orchestra.
|Toru Takemitsu/Peter Serkin Plays the Music of Toru Takemitsu (Serkin, 1978-1996)|
An American pianist Peter Serkin plays the major piano works of Toru Takemitsu, a Japanese composer of contemporary music, known for his unique style influenced by Claude Debussy, Olivier Messiaen and John Cage. Released on RCA. Includes eight pieces, and features four pieces recorded with the supervision of the composer. Introspective and meditative pieces featuring silence between the sounds, and afterglow, performed at slow tempos. Lyrical and relatively accessible as contemporary music. "Litany" is an adaptation of his early piece "Lento in Due Movimenti". "Uninterrupted Rests" I, II and III are derived from Shuzo Takiguchi's poem. "Piano Distance" is dedicated to Japanese composer/pianist Yuji Takahashi. "For Away" is inspired by Indonesian Gamelan. "Les Yeux Clos II" is dedicated to Peter Serkin.
|Penderecki/Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima, Canticum Canticorum Salomonis, De Natura Sonoris Nos. 1 & 2 (Penderecki, 1972-1975)|
The recordings in which the Polish composer and conductor, Krzysztof Penderecki conducted his own works (No.5 of EMI Classics Matrix series). "Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima" for 52 string instruments is a famous piece which makes great use of tone clusters. Also features "Anaklasis", "De Natura Sonoris (Concerning the Nature of Sound)" Nos. 1 & 2, "Capriccio" for violin and orchestra, "Canticum Canticorum Salomonis"for chorus and orchestra, and others. Sound effects to inflame fears and tensions. Best for the BGM of sci-fi movie or horror film. "Anaklasis" is performed by London Symphony Orchestra. The others are performed by Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra.
|Terry Riley/In C (State University Center of Creative and Performing Arts, 1968)|
The first recording of 'In C', composed by an American composer, Terry Riley in 1964. A monumental piece in which the methodology of minimalism was established. Features Riley himself on saxophone.
|Terry Riley/A Rainbow in Curved Air (Riley, 1967)|
An American composer, Terry Riley's second studio-recording album. A classic of electronic/minimalist music. This album sold well in the US and Europe, and popularized minimalism. Riley himself plays all the instruments, such as electric organ, electric harpsichord, tambourine, and soprano saxophone.
|Steve Reich/Drumming (Steve Reich and Musicians, 1987)|
An American minimalist composer, Steve Reich's "Drumming" (Elektra/Nonesuch). An ensemble piece influenced by African music (drumming of the Ewe people, Ghana), but it features not polyrhythm, but gradation of rhythm and timbre by one basic rhythm pattern repeated and shifted on various percussion instruments. Part I is for four pairs of tuned bongo drums. Part II is for three marimbas and two female voices. Part III is for three glockenspiels, piccolo, and whistling. Part IV is for all previous instruments, including voices. An early classic of minimal music. This 1987 Nonesuch recording has a duration of about 57 minutes, shorter than the old 1974 DG recording (about 84 minutes).
|Steve Reich/Music for 18 Musicians (Steve Reich Ensemble, 1976)|
The first recording of 'Music for 18 Musicians', composed by an American composer, Steve Reich in 1974-1976 (ECM). A masterpiece of minimalism as music of repetitions and gradations. Written for a cello, violin, two clarinets, four pianos, three marimbas, two xylophones, a metallophone, and four women's voices.
|Steve Reich/Octet, Music for a Large Ensemble, Violin Phase (various artists, 1980)|
An American composer, Steve Reich's works (ECM). "Octet" for 2 flutes, 2 clarinets, 2 bass clarinets, 2 pianos, 2 violins, viola & cello is the original of "Eight Lines". "Music for a Large Ensemble" (for string instruments, flutes, clarinets, saxophones, trumpets, pianos, marimbas, vibraphones, xylophones and two female voices) is an excellent minimalist orchestral music.
|Steve Reich/Variations for Winds, Strings and Keyboards, John Adams/Shaker Loops (Edo de Waart, 1983)|
Includes two minimalist orchestral pieces, Steve Reich's "Variations for Winds, Strings and Keyboards" and John Adams' "Shaker Loops" (Philips). Edo de Waart conducts San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.
|Steve Reich/Tehillim (Steve Reich and Musicians, 1981)|
An American composer known for pioneering minimal music, Steve Reich's "Tehillim" (ECM). "Tehillim" is the Hebrew word for "Psalms" (it originally means "Praises"). Vocal music of four parts, based on the Hebrew texts selected from Psalms of the Old Testament. The performing time is about 30 minutes. This chamber version for four women's voices (high soprano, 2 lyric sopranos, alto), six winds, six percussion, two electric organs, and five strings. The voices, winds and strings are amplified. There is also the orchestral version. The rhythm comes from the rhythm of the Hebrew text, and it has flexibly changing meters. The melodies are freely composed without using Jewish traditional themes. The piece climaxes with "Halleluyah" repeatedly sung in the fourth and last part. A very accessible and exhilarating piece which offers an uplifting feeling. Performed by Steve Reich (percussion) and others. Produced by Manfred Eicher.
|Steve Reich/Different Trains, Electric Counterpoint (Kronos Quartet/Pat Metheny, 1987-1988)|
An American composer, Steve Reich's two minimalist pieces in the late 1980s (Nonesuch). "Different Trains" performed by Kronos Quartet and "Electric Counterpoint" performed by Pat Metheny (guitar).
|Philip Glass/Music with Changing Parts (Philip Glass, 1971)|
One of the early masterpieces composed by an American composer, Philip Glass, "Music with Changing Parts" (Nonesuch). One track of 61 minutes. A music purely based on the form of minimalism, by electric organ, flute, electric violin, saxophone, voice and others. Repetitions and subtle changes in the same theme produce hypnotic euphoria. Performed by Philip Glass (electric organ, alto flute) and others. The digitally remastered CD was released in 1994.
|Philip Glass/Einstein on the Beach (Robert Wilson/Philip Glass Ensemble, 1993)|
A long opera based on minimalism. The music and lyrics by Philip Glass, the contemporary composer. Directed by Robert Wilson, the stage director. The first performance was in 1976. The uncut version (over 190 minutes) recorded in 1993. A set of 3 CDs. Performed by the Philip Glass Ensemble. Cunducted by Michael Riesman.
|Jo Kondo/Sen no Ongaku (Linear Music) (Yuji Takahashi and others, 1974)|
A Japanese composer of contemporary classical music (born in Tokyo in 1947), Jo Kondo's first LP (ALM). Works based on his own experimental composition methodology "Sen no Ongaku (Linear Music)", which means a row of tones articulated minutely in single tone units, and it has a continuity as an endless pulse. "Linear Music" gives interspaces to tones, and changes music into a place of relationships between a tone and its shadow. The composer applys the word "metaphonesis" to its method of "attaching a shadow to a sound". As ways of metaphonesis, staggering attacks between instruments are used in "Orient Orientation" (harps, multiple recording) and "Standing" (flute, marimba, piano), slippage of mobility of continuously transitional tones are used in "Falling" (two violas, contrabass, electric piano), and harmonics are used in "Click Crack" (piano) and "Pass" (banjo, two guitars, Taisho-koto, harp, harmonica). Performed by Yuji Takahashi (piano), Ayako Shinozaki (harp), Aki Takahashi (piano, Taisho-koto, electric piano) and others. The original LP was released in 1974. The first CD released in 2014. Kondo also published his first music theory book "Sen no Ongaku (Linear Music)" in 1979.
|Jo Kondo/Hunisuccle (Bernas, 1994)|
A Japanese composer of contemporary classical music (born in Tokyo in 1947), Jo Kondo's works (Fontec). "Threadbare Unlimited, for 8 strings" (1979) is a piece treating chords on the basis of the methodology of "linear music" (the whole structure is derived from a single melodic line), and being composed of a combination of sounds which begin piano and then proceed crescendo to forte. "Left Bank, for 13 instruments" (1981) and "Hunisuccle, for 14 instruments" (1984) are pieces for large ensembles written to study harmonics (chords and their progressions), focusing juxtapositions of chords in the former, and overlappings of them in the latter. "Diptych, for 5 instruments" (1983) and "Isthmus, for 7 instruments" (1985) are small pieces with a strong tendency toward chromatic scale. "Serenata secca con obbligato, for flute and 13 instruments" (1991) is an atonal piece like a concerto, commissioned by the Ensemble 2E2M of Paris. "Hunisuccle" and "Serenata secca con obbligato" are conducted by Richard Bernas and performed by Music Projects, London. The others are sound resources from NHK. Recommended to those who like John Cage and Morton Feldman.
|Rzewski/The People United Will Never Be Defeated! (Takahashi, 1978)|
"The People United Will Never Be Defeated!" composed in 1975 by Frederic Rzewski, a Polish-American composer and pianist (ALM Records). A set of 36 variations for piano solo, based on the theme from the Chilean revolutionary song "El pueblo unido jamás será vencido!" (composed by Sergio Ortega and written by Quilapayún). A difficult composition of contemporary music requiring virtuoso technique, and a pretty long piece (usually it takes over one hour, though this recording has about 58 minutes), but it includes not only contemporary music techniques such as pandiatonicism (using the diatonic scale without the limitations of tonality) and serialism, but also the elements of popular songs, Chilean folk music, the Romantics and jazz, so it is relatively accessible and popular as contemporary music. Also includes the quotations of "Bandiera Rossa/Red Flag", a song of the Italian labour movement, and "Solidaritätslied/Solidarity Song", a song composed by Hanns Eisler and written by Bertolt Brecht. The piano performed by Yuji Takahashi.
|Arvo Pärt/Tabula Rasa (Gidon Kremer/Keith Jarrett, 1977/1983/1984)|
An Estonian composer, Arvo Pärt's works (ECM). Simple, calm and meditative sounds. Includes "Fratres", "Cantus in memory of Benjamin Britten" and "Tabula Rasa". Performed by Gidon Kremer (violin), Keith Jarrett (piano) and others.
|Arvo Pärt/Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi secundum Joannem (The Hilliard Ensemble, 1988)|
An Estonian composer, Arvo Pärt's "Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi secundum Joannem (The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ According to John)" (ECM). A long sacred vocal music (the duration is about 70 minutes) with the Latin text from the Gospel of John (chapters 18 and 19). Solo bass (Jesus), solo tenor (Pilate), solo vocal quartet (Evangelist), and choir accompanied by a simple organization of violin, oboe, cello, bassoon and organ. A monophony-based piece consisting of repetitive brief melodies based on the simple triad, using the style called "tintinnabuli style" by the composer, which is influenced by medieval and Renaissance music (the Gregorian Chant and the plain chant of the Eastern Christianity, among others). It has no dramatic element like J.S. Bach's Passions and it is pretty monotonous, but it is filled with solemn and clear sounds, and it features a static character, as if the time comes to rest. Paul Hillier conducts the Hilliard Ensemble (the British male vocal quartet).
|Gorecki/Symphony No.3 (Zinman/Upshaw, 1991)|
A Polish composer, Henryk Górecki's Symphony No.3 (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs) (Nonesuch). David Zinman conducts London Sinfonietta. Dawn Upshaw's soprano is clear and beautiful. A smash-hit disc in Europe and the US.
|Schnittke/Kremer Plays Schnittke: Concerto grosso No.1/Quasi una sonata/Moz-Art à la Haydn/A Paganini (Kremer, 1984/1988)|
A Latvian violinist and conductor, Gidon Kremer plays Alfred Schnittke, a Soviet composer (Deutsche Grammophon). "Concerto grosso No.1" for two violins, harpsichord, prepared piano and string orchestra (1976-77) is a famous piece based on a postmodern polystylism (multiple use of various styles old and new), and a tonal and beautiful piece mixing of consonance and dissonance, also featuring baroque style and tango. Kremer's second recording of this piece. Also includes "Quasi una sonata" for violin and chamber orchestra (arrangement of Sonata No.2 for violin and piano), "Moz-Art à la Haydn" and "A Paganini".
|Meredith Monk/Book of Days (Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble, 1989)|
Meredith Monk is an American composer, voice performer, director, filmmaker and choreographer, born in 1942. Known as one of the pioneers of "extended vocal technique" and "interdisciplinary performance". Her 1989 album recorded for ECM New Series (ECM's series for classical/contemporary music). Very beautiful, clear and minimalistic vocal ensemble. This is a work for both images and music, and an independent film of the same title was also created, featuring medieval Jews as characters.
|Carl Stone/Mom's (Carl Stone, 1992/1986-1991)|
An American composer of electronic music and computer music (born in 1953), Carl Stone's 1992 album (recorded in 1986-1991, New Albion Records). Experimental and minimalistic electronic music with using sampling/sound collage/cut-up techniques, but can be listened to as soothing ambient techno, or meditative psychedelic music too. "Mom's" and "Chao Nue" were created for the choreographer Katsuko Orita. "Shing Kee" uses a short fragment of Schubert lieder sung in English by the Japanese pop singer Akiko Yano (fron the album "Brooch" (1986)) as a source. "Gadberry's" is a 1989 live performance featuring metallic sounds like gamelan. Recommended to those who like Steve Reich and Brian Eno.
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