Author Topic: Gurn's Classical Corner  (Read 492282 times)

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Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #240 on: March 13, 2009, 05:06:01 PM »
Maciek,
Wow, what a bunch of information you found! As I told you earlier in a PM, I haven't heard of any of these guys, but now that I see what they've done, I will try to add at least a few of them to my collection. The first, it seems will be Lessel. Impeccable credentials, and 12 or 2 disks that appear to be of real interest to my rather narrow tastes... :)  Like especially this one, for starters:



Thanks for that!

8)

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« Last Edit: March 13, 2009, 05:07:41 PM by Gurn Blanston »
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Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #241 on: March 13, 2009, 06:08:16 PM »
Hi Miciek - you have overwhelmed this thread w/ a listing of Polish composers who many of us have not really heard about - not a complaint, but there are 'so many' other considerations from elsewhere in Europe of those times, so please can you recommend maybe 2-3 CDs that may be available for us to appreciate these composers - just a suggestion to one who would like to try several (but not ALL of the CDs shown) of these individuals - thanks,  Dave  :)

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #242 on: March 13, 2009, 07:08:49 PM »
This is a continuation of the series of recommended listening for people who want to start listening to classical era music. If you haven't read back that far, I have recommended that people begin with the well-known composers, and then with the solo keyboard music, chamber music, concerti, symphonies, vocal music and finally opera. My admittedly personal reason for this is that the smaller and more intimate chamber forms allow one to become more easily familiar with the composer's idiom and personal voice before expanding out into the larger, public works. Of course, if you are already a big opera or sacred music fan, or you have been dealing with symphonies for years and have no taste for smaller works, then have at it. Just please don't overlook the smaller works, since many of the brightest gems are hidden there. :)

F. Joseph Haydn -

Solo keyboard - The late sonatas (from #49 to #62) are a great start. But don't overlook the various other works, like the Andante & Variations in f minor, or the Arietta & Variations in A, and especially the lovely Fantasia in C.

Chamber music - So many riches to choose from!!! 

Piano trios - The last 10 or so. And don't be fooled by the Hoboken numbers. Some of the earliest are numbered in the "30's", while some of the later ones have numbers from 6-10. Not that they aren't all worth a good listen!  Particularly don't miss Hob XV:25 in G major, the one with the Gypsy Rondo finale. It's a piece of work, and shows how Haydn incorporated (among the first to do so) local "folk" music into serious art music.

String Quartets - The first to develop the string quartet into the finished form it is today. In all likelihood, the 68 recognized today are all the authentic ones to survive. How to choose though! Here are my thoughts: Start with Op 76. It is brilliant from start to finish. After that, you're on your own, but I would go (by Opus) 77, 50, 64, 33, 20. There will be plenty of legitimate arguments for 54, 55, 71 & 74, not to mention 17, but there is time to get to those. We still have to move ahead for now. :)

Other chamber works - You can't get into Haydn without at least one disk of his baryton trios. The most intimate chamber music, written expressly for him to play with the Boss after dinner... The remainder to choose from include string trios and duos. And lots of wonderful divertimentos, mainly (but not exclusively for winds). A disk of each will serve to familiarize you with this facet of Haydn's talent.

Concertos - Although not known for his concertos (he didn't particularly care for the form, and didn't have many great virtuosos coming to visit to provide inspiration and necessity). Still, there are a big handful of "don't miss this one" works. The cello concertos, the piano concerto in D major, 1 or 2 horn concertos, and above all, the famous Trumpet Concerto. There are disks available that have a mixture of different solo instruments on them (Pinnock has a splendid one, for example, but there are several others). And by all means, don't miss out on the Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Cello, Oboe & Bassoon. It is a very fine example of that form, and will serve well to introduce you to this particularly Classical style of music. :)

Symphonies - Ummm... OK 104 to choose from, where do you start? Well, right at the end, of course! At least, that's the common wisdom. My personal view is that you need a bit of leading up before traveling to London. A disk with #6, 7 & 8 (Morning, Noon and Night) is a great intro to early Haydn. Then take a bit of a skip and try things from the early 1770's, in his more stormy and dramatic period (Stürm und Drang). Some good choices here are #44, 45, 49 & 52. Then another bit of a jump and the Paris Symphonies present themselves. After that, I wouldn't ever skip over the next few, particularly #88 & 92. Finally you are ready for the last great dozen, the London Symphonies. You would think that with such a huge oeuvre he would repeat himself a lot, but in fact his genius was such that each symphony has its own unique style and memorable bits. I wouldn't be surprised if you went back in the future and picked up on all the ones you missed... ;)

Sacred Music & Oratorios - Another wealth of beauties! The last 6 masses are not to be missed. Written after all the symphonies, these works clearly show what the master learned from his earlier works. Must have! And then, the last works of his creative career, the 2 oratorios, "The Creation" and "The Seasons". Some of the most beautiful music Haydn ever wrote.

Operas - Finally just discovering these myself, so I can't give a proper description of any of them. On first listening though, "Armida", "La Fedelta Premiata" and "Orlando Paladino" are works to be reckoned with. I hope an opera fan (Gabriel?) will jump in here and fill this in a bit. :)

I know this looks like a lot of music, and a big investment too. But to listen to all the works recommended here amounts to perhaps 25 CD's, and I am quite sure that when you are done you will consider it money well invested. Haydn seems to intimidate a lot of people due to the sheer number of works he composed, but my experience of over 300 CD's (and as of yet, not a single "big box") is that I don't regret a single one of them, because the man rarely misfired. All his music is good, and much of it is great. Try it and see!   :)

8)


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Offline Sorin Eushayson

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #243 on: March 13, 2009, 09:31:10 PM »
Listening to:
La Petite Bande / Kuijken - Hob 01 090 Symphony #90 in C 1st mvmt - Adagio - Allegro assai

How fitting that you were listening to Haydn whilst writing that!  Great synopsis, Gurn, as usual!  If I may add a comment or two of my own...  ;D

With regards to the masses the late six are usually the most popular, but I think the best one came at No. 5 with his magnificent cantata-mass "Missa Sanctae Caeciliae."  A magnificent work and one of my Top 5 favourite pieces in the genre.

With regards to dramatic works, don't miss Haydn's full-fledged revamping of his string quartet "Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross" into an oratorio.  This isn't just another arrangement, it's another piece entirely!

The concerti album by Pinnock you've mentioned comes with Haydn's Oboe Concerto in C.  This is certainly the best oboe concerto I've heard by a mile and my favourite of Haydn's; one of the highlights of his concerto oeuvre.

All right, I'll be quiet now!  8)

Offline Maciek

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #244 on: March 14, 2009, 12:42:26 AM »
Hi Maciek - you have overwhelmed this thread w/ a listing of Polish composers who many of us have not really heard about - not a complaint, but there are 'so many' other considerations from elsewhere in Europe of those times, so please can you recommend maybe 2-3 CDs that may be available for us to appreciate these composers - just a suggestion to one who would like to try several (but not ALL of the CDs shown) of these individuals - thanks,  Dave  :)

Dave, I think the two "mixed" discs, with works by both composers, are the best place to "start". ;D


Offline Gabriel

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #245 on: March 14, 2009, 06:16:44 AM »
Operas - Finally just discovering these myself, so I can't give a proper description of any of them. On first listening though, "Armida", "La Fedelta Premiata" and "Orlando Paladino" are works to be reckoned with. I hope an opera fan (Gabriel?) will jump in here and fill this in a bit. :)

There's not very much I can add to your appreciation, Gurn. In general, Haydn's operas are less outstanding than Mozart's, but there is great music nevertheless. I have always felt Il mondo della luna as a very sincere and beautiful work. The overture to L'isola disabitata is marvelous, while the rest of it is a bit less appealing. The closest to an introduction towards this music is unfortunately out of print: when Philips decided to release in CD the Dorati recordings, they also released a synopsis called "Opera Highlights" with excerpts from them.

In any case, my personal opinion is that the first approach towards Haydn's secular vocal music shouldn't be through the operas, but three individual scenes: Arianna a Naxos, Hob. XXVIb:2, originally for piano and voice but there an orchestral version; Miseri noi, misera patria, Hob. XXIVa:7; and particularly the Scena di Berenice (Hob. XXIVa:10) which I would place with no doubt among the vocal masterpieces of the classical era.

For a recording of all these three scene di concerto, there is a fine - and not expensive - performance by Hogwood and Auger. But if you wish to experience the amazing Scena di Berenice in all its splendour, go for the recording by Jacobs and Fink in Harmonia Mundi (coupled with symphonies 91 and 92). It is not just beautiful: it is unforgettable.

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #246 on: March 14, 2009, 06:31:25 AM »
In any case, my personal opinion is that the first approach towards Haydn's secular vocal music shouldn't be through the operas, but three individual scenes: Arianna a Naxos, Hob. XXVIb:2, originally for piano and voice but there an orchestral version; Miseri noi, misera patria, Hob. XXIVa:7; and particularly the Scena di Berenice (Hob. XXIVa:10) which I would place with no doubt among the vocal masterpieces of the classical era.

Those scenes are fascinating - I have two of them on the following disc, and had assumed that they were taken from full operas, but they are works unto themselves?

Peanut butter, flour and sugar do not make cookies. They make FIRE.

Offline Gabriel

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #247 on: March 14, 2009, 06:41:15 AM »
Those scenes are fascinating - I have two of them on the following disc, and had assumed that they were taken from full operas, but they are works unto themselves?

Lethe, yes, they were meant as independent works. The text is a different story, as it could come from the text of a complete opera, but to take a selection from it and make an independent work was normally done during this period (Mozart, for instance, provides wonderful examples).

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #248 on: March 14, 2009, 07:13:15 AM »
Dave, I think the two "mixed" discs, with works by both composers, are the best place to "start". ;D



Yes, those looked like the 2 best choices for starters to me, too. As Dave says, that's a lot of music there, but you gotta start somewhere, and a variety of genres like that gives a nice overview. :)

8)

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Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #249 on: March 14, 2009, 07:19:43 AM »
How fitting that you were listening to Haydn whilst writing that!  Great synopsis, Gurn, as usual!  If I may add a comment or two of my own...  ;D

With regards to the masses the late six are usually the most popular, but I think the best one came at No. 5 with his magnificent cantata-mass "Missa Sanctae Caeciliae."  A magnificent work and one of my Top 5 favourite pieces in the genre.

With regards to dramatic works, don't miss Haydn's full-fledged revamping of his string quartet "Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross" into an oratorio.  This isn't just another arrangement, it's another piece entirely!

The concerti album by Pinnock you've mentioned comes with Haydn's Oboe Concerto in C.  This is certainly the best oboe concerto I've heard by a mile and my favourite of Haydn's; one of the highlights of his concerto oeuvre.

All right, I'll be quiet now!  8)

Sorin,
Yes, you have pointed out 2 of the probable results of my venture here. 1 - people will like what they've heard and go in search of other gems, of which there are plenty! And 2 - Other things on the disks they do get will also be discovered as first rate and have the same effect. With a composer with a body of works the size of Haydn's, it is virtually impossible to hit on everything worth listening to, and I have seen lots of posts from people who were giving Haydn a miss simply because there was too much there and they didn't know where to start. I think that's a real pity, since they will miss out on some of the great music of all time. :)

Cheers,
8)

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Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #250 on: March 14, 2009, 07:28:37 AM »
There's not very much I can add to your appreciation, Gurn. In general, Haydn's operas are less outstanding than Mozart's, but there is great music nevertheless. I have always felt Il mondo della luna as a very sincere and beautiful work. The overture to L'isola disabitata is marvelous, while the rest of it is a bit less appealing. The closest to an introduction towards this music is unfortunately out of print: when Philips decided to release in CD the Dorati recordings, they also released a synopsis called "Opera Highlights" with excerpts from them.

In any case, my personal opinion is that the first approach towards Haydn's secular vocal music shouldn't be through the operas, but three individual scenes: Arianna a Naxos, Hob. XXVIb:2, originally for piano and voice but there an orchestral version; Miseri noi, misera patria, Hob. XXIVa:7; and particularly the Scena di Berenice (Hob. XXIVa:10) which I would place with no doubt among the vocal masterpieces of the classical era.

For a recording of all these three scene di concerto, there is a fine - and not expensive - performance by Hogwood and Auger. But if you wish to experience the amazing Scena di Berenice in all its splendour, go for the recording by Jacobs and Fink in Harmonia Mundi (coupled with symphonies 91 and 92). It is not just beautiful: it is unforgettable.

Thanks for reminding me of those, Gabriel. I have heard (and enjoyed) them, but on looking through my collection this morning, it seems that I don't have them. That will be soon remedied! :)

And really, I skipped over a huge number of songs and arias by Haydn too. He actually considered himself to be a vocal composer. His career started out as a singer, and even though he lost his pure soprano voice at puberty (and narrowly escaped becoming a castrato! :o  :o ), he could still sing very well indeed. In addition to his scenas, some works that people might enjoy are from late in his career, like "Battle of the Nile" and "Spirit's Song", as well as the many English and Scottish folksongs he set for Thompson.

8)
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Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #251 on: March 14, 2009, 07:47:48 AM »
Dave, I think the two "mixed" discs, with works by both composers, are the best place to "start". ;D

 

Hi Maciek - thanks for the two recommendations - looks like a great 'start'!  Now adding to my GMG 'wish list' - Dave  :D

UPDATE:  Just ordered the 2 CDs suggested from GiGi in Poland - $30 total, including S&H; Amazon USA had just 1 disc & wanted $25 - but I did find another CD of Lessel's Wind Sextets on MDG (inserted above, far right) - will probably picked that one up in my next Amazon order!   ;D
« Last Edit: March 14, 2009, 08:47:11 AM by SonicMan »

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #252 on: March 14, 2009, 07:53:24 AM »
Here is a disk I just found on Amazon (thus available on this side of the pond!) that has some music that I will look forward to hearing, too. It is 3 sextets for 2 Clarinets, 2 Horns & 2 Bassoons. My kind of music!  :)



8)

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Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #253 on: March 14, 2009, 08:48:47 AM »
Gurn - amazingly, we were looking @ the same MDG disc & typing at the same time!  ;D

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #254 on: March 14, 2009, 08:53:43 AM »
Gurn - amazingly, we were looking @ the same MDG disc & typing at the same time!  ;D

Not amazing, Dave; great minds think alike... ;D  Yes, I will have a shop-about before committing $25 to any disk. Guess it's the Scot in me (or my wife... ;D ). :)

8)

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Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #255 on: March 14, 2009, 09:42:39 AM »
I would be interested to know your thoughts on whether the Classical and the Romantic were 2 different eras in music history, or whether they represent a spectrum of one style that stretched from the (putative) end of the Baroque through the advent of atonalism.  Obviously I have an opinion, which I have expressed here a couple of times already, but I would like to hear what champions of both points of view have to say to maintain their points of view. Clearly we won't get far without a definition of terms, so if you are a believer in a Romantic Era, then it would be a good start to define precisely what it entails... :)

Thanks for your interest,
8)
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Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #256 on: March 14, 2009, 04:41:15 PM »


C.P.E. Bach (courtesy of bach-cantatas.com)
Born: March 8, 1714 - Weimar, Thuringia, Germany
Died: December 14, 1788 - Hamburg, Germany

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was a German musician and composer, the second son of J.S. Bach and Maria Barbara Bach. He was a founder of the Classical style.

When he was ten years old C.P.E. Bach entered the St. Thomas School at Leipzig, of which in 1723 his father had become cantor, and continued his education as a student of jurisprudence at the universities of Leipzig (1731) and of Frankfurt an der Oder (1735). In 1738 he took his degree, but at once abandoned all prospects of a legal career and determined to devote himself to music.

A few months later C.P.E. Bach obtained an appointment in the service of the crown prince of Prussia, on whose accession in 1740 he became a member of the royal household. He was by this time one of the foremost clavier-players in Europe, and his compositions, which date from 1731, included about thirty sonatas and concert pieces for his favourite instrument. His reputation was established by the two sets of sonatas which he dedicated respectively to Frederick the Great and to the grand duke of Württemberg; in 1746 he was promoted to the post of chamber musician, and for twenty-two years shared with Carl Heinrich Graun, Johann Joachim Quantz, and Johann Gottlieb Naumann the continued favour of the king.

During his residence at Berlin, C.P.E. Bach wrote a fine setting of the Magnificat, in which he shows more traces than usual of his father's influence; an Easter cantata; several symphonies and concerted works; at least three volumes of songs; and a few secular cantatas and other occasional pieces. But his main work was concentrated on the clavier, for which he composed, at this time, nearly two hundred sonatas and other solos, including the set Mit veränderten Reprisen (1760-1768) and a few of those für Kenner und Liebhaber. Meanwhile he placed himself in the forefront of European critics by his Versuch über die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen, a systematic and masterly treatise which by 1780 had reached its third edition, and which laid the foundation for the methods of Muzio Clementi and Cramer.

In 1768 C.P.E. Bach succeeded Georg Philipp Telemann as Capellmeister at Hamburg, and in consequence of his new office began to turn his attention more towards church music. Next year he produced his oratorio Die Israeliten in der Wüste, a composition remarkable not only for its great beauty but for the resemblance of its plan to that Felix Mendelssohn's Elijah, and between 1769 and 1788 added over twenty settings of the Passion, and some seventy cantatas, litanies, motets, and other liturgical pieces. At the same time, his genius for instrumental composition was further stimulated by the career of Joseph Haydn.

Through the latter half of the 18th century, the reputation of C.P.E. Bach stood very high. W.A. Mozart said of him, "He is the father, we are the children." The best part of Haydn's training was derived from a study of his work. Ludwig van Beethoven expressed for his genius the most cordial admiration and regard. This position he owes mainly to his clavier sonatas, which mark an important epoch in the history of musical form. Lucid in style, delicate and tender in expression, they are even more notable for the freedom and variety of their structural design; they break away altogether from the exact formal antithesis which, with the composers of the Italian school, had hardened into a convention, and substitute the wider and more flexible outline which the great Viennese masters showed to be capable of almost infinite development.

The content of C.P.E. Bach's work, though full of invention, lies within a somewhat narrow emotional range, but it is not less sincere in thought than polished and felicitous in phrase. Again he was probably the first composer of eminence who made free use of harmonic colour for its own sake since the time of Lassus, Monteverdi, and Gesualdo, and in this way also he takes rank among the most important pioneers of the First Viennese School. His name fell into some neglect during the 19th century, with Robert Schumann notoriously opining that "as a creative musician he remained very far behind his father"; in contrast, Johannes Brahms held Emanuel Bach in high regard and edited some of his music. Today, no student of music can afford to disregard Emanuel's Sonaten für Kenner und Liebhaber, his oratorios Die Israeliten in der Wüste and Die Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt Jesu, and several harpsichord concertos such as those in G major (Wq. 3) and D major (Wq. 11). Also, his Flute Concerto in D Minor (Wq. 22), due to its unparalleled mellifluous opening movement, has been performed by the greatest flautists world-wide, including Jean-Pierre Rampal.


As you can see from this, Emanuel Bach was a prodigious and influential composer. It is rather surprising that many people have heard little if any of his work. Bach is now considered to be a member of (founder?) the School of Sensibility or Empfindsang, who rebelled from the simplicity of the galant by writing works (particularly on the keyboard) which were heavily sentimental and emotional, and with a good deal more intricacy than galant works possessed. His keyboard instrument of choice was the clavichord, something that we haven't discussed much so far except in passing. Since we have a clavichord expert here on the forum, I shall essay to have him lead a bit of a discussion for us. But suffice to say that the clavichord offers more possibilities for expressing emotion in music than do either the harpsichord or the rather primitive versions of the fortepiano that existed in the period from 1745-65 when much of Bach's greatest works were produced. If you would like to hear, not only Bach, but a clavichord in action, Miklos Spanyi has done a great many of the sonatas and fantasias on BIS, and they are available for download (at 320kbps MP3) at eclassical.com. I might recommend the Württemberg Sonatas set as a first choice. Some others of his works which are more generally known are his cello concertos and sinfonias. Very recommendable. :)

8)
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Offline Bogey

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #257 on: March 14, 2009, 05:47:06 PM »
I would be interested to know your thoughts on whether the Classical and the Romantic were 2 different eras in music history, or whether they represent a spectrum of one style that stretched from the (putative) end of the Baroque through the advent of atonalism. 

2 different with some well crafted bridgework in between, but not always.  ;D
There will never be another era like the Golden Age of Hollywood.  We didn't know how to blow up buildings then so we had no choice but to tell great stories with great characters.-Ben Mankiewicz

Offline Sorin Eushayson

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #258 on: March 14, 2009, 06:28:05 PM »
Gurn,

What a wonderful post you've dedicated to CPE Bach!  I'm ashamed to say that I'm one of those people who have heard little of his music, but what I have heard I've liked greatly.  I have the symphony and cello concerto set from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (Anner Bylsma on the cello) and adore it.  I should probably go get some more some time!  :)

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #259 on: March 14, 2009, 06:46:34 PM »
Gurn,

What a wonderful post you've dedicated to CPE Bach!  I'm ashamed to say that I'm one of those people who have heard little of his music, but what I have heard I've liked greatly.  I have the symphony and cello concerto set from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (Anner Bylsma on the cello) and adore it.  I should probably go get some more some time!  :)

Thanks, Sorin. I think that Bach is one of the most ignored composers around, so don't feel like you're alone. In fact, you have more than many do. One thing I will say, he isn't an easy composer to get into. He has his own idiom, and since he preceded what we call High Classical, his idea of sonata form is not OUR idea of sonata form. In fact, in keeping with his "emotionalism in music" ideas, many of his best works are fantasias so they don't adhere to a particular form, or at least not to one that is easy to pick out. It took me a while to get my mind around Bach, but it was worth the effort. :)

8)



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