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Actually an interesting question since after the period of Méhul, Gossec, Onslow et al (none of whom I know well enough to nominate) the French basically stopped writing symphonies altogether except for a handful of composers.... I guess it was seen as irreparably Germanised, and therefore bad??

Berlioz Roméo et Juliette
Bizet C major
Bizet Roma
Poulenc Sinfonietta
Milhaud No.1
Dutilleux Le double
Thought this might be an interesting poll, since some of the major French composers - Debussy, Fauré, Ravel - never seriously attempted a symphony. Debussy wrote a rather insubstantial one at age 18 that he never orchestrated, and Fauré destroyed his and (apparently) reused the material from it in other works. So, I'm looking for 6 of your favorite French symphonies besides the ever-popular Berlioz Fantastique and Saint-Saëns Organ, and preferably not more than one or two per composer. I know some will disagree with me about this, but for the intents and purposes of this poll, let's consider Franck to be Belgian and Honegger to be Swiss. Anyway, here's my current list:

Chausson B flat major
Dutilleux 1
Ferroud A major
Magnard 4 (no. 3 is great as well)
Paray 1
Roussel 3 (no. 1 is great as well)

I'm ashamed to say I still haven't listened to Dukas' Symphony (!) or most of the non-Organ symphonies of Saint-Saëns. I'm also completely unfamiliar with the symphonies of Ropartz, Sauguet, and Tournemire, which I know some here think highly of. I hope to rectify all of that soon! Anyway, looking forward to your lists!  :)
General Classical Music Discussion / Re: Purchases Today
« Last post by amw on Today at 08:27:26 AM »
I keep ordering stuff I can't afford..... spent $35 on two used CDs from dusty grooves (we'll see if they ever arrive) and now contemplating a $100 presto classical order (six CDs) sometime in the next few days while their sale is still on. Everything is expensive in this country :S
The Diner / Re: Non-Classical Music Listening Thread!
« Last post by George on Today at 08:25:58 AM »

Great Recordings and Reviews / Re: New Releases
« Last post by kyjo on Today at 08:10:14 AM »
I know you didn’t ask me, and I hate to be so negative, but Sgambati’s 1st Symphony is one of the most boring pieces I’ve ever heard.

I would like to retract this comment. It was rude and uncalled-for. I know I certainly wouldn't like it if someone said that about a piece I enjoy.  :-[
General Classical Music Discussion / Re: What are you listening to now?
« Last post by kyjo on Today at 08:07:45 AM »
It has been a while since I listened to the Concerti Grossi But I remember that they are two wonderful works which have a completely different feel from one another; not surprising really as they were written many years apart. Both are very interesting in their own right and obviously have different things to say. They are definitely worth a listen for those who have not heard them.

Indeed! I recall finding the Concerto Grosso no. 2 less immediately appealing than the instantly lovable no. 1, but I should give it another listen soon.
General Classical Music Discussion / Re: What are you listening to now?
« Last post by kyjo on Today at 08:05:40 AM »
Prompted by the monumental B-minor symphonies, today's been an unforgettable journey with guilty pleasures:

Manfred Symphony

It may not be the greatest Tchaikovsky's symphony, but it's certainly exciting and doesn't disappoint. The use of the woodwinds is particularly striking in the 2nd and 3rd movements, creating a singular elvish environment.

Symphony No. 1 Klippepastoraler

I don't hear Mahler echoes in this majestic saga as others point out, but rather from Tchaikovsky and Wagner. It's impossible not to be amazed by such a prodigious utterance by a teenager, the orchestration is superb and the symphonic construction is very well sustained in its 67 minutes (of this recording). A truly inspiring score.

Symphony No. 2 The Legendary

Along with the No. 4 Sinfonia Lirica, this is my absolute favorite symphony by Tubin. They can't be more different from each other. The No. 2 is just raw, violent, bleak, with no sun glimpses. The atmosphere this piece depicts is spectacular, I can't get enough of it. I can't live without it!

Symphony No. 3 Ilya Muromets

The epitome of epic symphonies. Period.

Great stuff! As far as great B minor symphonies go, there's also Atterberg's 1st, Braga Santos' 2nd, Casella's 1st, Lyatoshinsky's 2nd and 3rd, Myaskovsky's 22nd, and Weinberg's 3rd. They may not be as monumental as the ones you listened to, but they certainly have some element of epicness to them!
General Classical Music Discussion / Festival Amuz 2018
« Last post by Mandryka on Today at 07:57:59 AM »
I've just got back from a couple of days in Antwerp, I went there because I wanted to hear Cappella Pratensis sing Obrecht's Missa Maria Zart. Imagine my surprise when I found that there's a full blown long festival of early polyphonic music happening there, with people coming from all over Flanders and beyond for weeks to catch groups like Huelgas Ensemble, Marc Mauillon, Style Antico . . . It's true that the Amuz people mailed me an email in Flemish last week which may mention the festival. Even now I can't find a calendar online for it in English, French, Flemish or German. But I can assure you that it is taking place and that it's fabulous.

I ended up seeing two things, the aforementioned Obrecht and a concert by Huelgas Ensemble, consisting of  motets between 1400 and 1600, based on Paul van Nevel’s new book Het landschap van de polyfonisten, which as far as I can see is only available in Dutch,  it comes with a CD and if it's anything like the concert, it's well worth having. If anyone buys the book I hope they can upload the CD to me.

What a brilliant sound the Huelgas Ensemble make live! The concert was chronological, given in the round in a baroque church, and was accompanied by some tasteful and rather attractive landscape photography of Brabant and Flanders. Here's one

And here's the programme

Het landschap van de polyfonisten:
de wereld van de Franco-Flamands
1. Johannes Symonis Hasprois       Haspres ca.1360-Rome 1428
            Ma douce amour   virelai  à 3

2. Reginaldus Liebert  omgeving Kamerijk ca.1395-Kamerijk nà 1435
            Alleluia. Ora pro nobis     à 3

3. Antoine Busnois    Busnes ca.1430-Brugge 1492
            Bel Acueil        rondeau  à 1, 2 & 3

4. Johannes Ockeghem    St.-Ghislain ca.1420-Tours 1497
            Sanctus uit de “Missa Caput”  à 4

5. Josquin Desprez   St. Sauveur (?) ca.1455-Condé-sur-l’Escaut 1521
            a. Du mien amant      chanson à 5
            b. Agnus Dei uit de “Missa Malheur me bat”   à 4, 2 & 6

6. Antoine de Févin     Atrecht ca.1470-Blois ca.1511
            Lamentaties voor Witte Donderdag, Lectio Primo  à 4

7. Jean Mouton   Samer ca. 1459-St.-Quentin 1522
            a. Qui ne regrettoit le gentil Févin     lamento  à 4
            b. Nesciens Mater     motet à 8

8. Nicolle des Celliers de Hesdin    Hesdin ca.1490-Beauvais 1538
              Parasti in dulcedine tua       motet à 5

9. Jean l’Héritier         bisdom Teerenburg ca.1480-Avignon ca.1552
                 Locutus est Dominus      motet à 9
10. Josquin Baston      Artois ca.1495-ca.1550
             Ung souvenir me conforte     chanson  à 5

11. Pierre de Manchicourt   Béthune ca. 1510-Madrid 1564
             Agnus Dei uit de “Misa Veni Sancte Spiritus”    à 6

12. Nicolas Gombert    La Gorgue  ca.1495-Tournai ca. 1560
           a. O Malheureuse journee    chanson à 5
           b. Agnus Dei uit de “Missa Tempore Paschali”   à 6 & 12

 The concert was interesting because you could hear a sort of arch of style. The very early motets, up to and including Busnois,  were interesting harmonically, full of dissonances. The opening piece, by Johannes Symonis Hasprois called  Ma douce amour has been recorded before by Munrow and La Reverdie, but I can assure you, it has nothing on what Nevel did with it! Nevel made it into great, challenging music. The central and main section the harmonies were less interesting I thought and the textures thickened.  And then suddenly, we were presented with a wonderful piece by Mouton, Qui ne regrettoit le gentil Févin, and the voices become clear and independent, and when they clash they do so expressively. I suppose this is the transition from renaissance to baroque style.

Anyway, even if the above is unsustainable, the concert was full of stimulating food for thought.

The first concert was Cappella Pratensis. This group consists of eight men dressed in black and a book. The book, which is about A1 size, is a new edition of the Obrecht mass that they've prepared with great care. They're proud of it, and it's treated very dramatically  -- at the end, they line up for a bow, and the partition is presented to the audience too, as if it's as much part the ensemble as the singers. I thought that was a wonderful symbolic gesture.

They all crowd round the score and sing, their faces hidden by the enormous book. The "concert" started just before dusk, and by the time we were on to the Credo the light had fallen, the church was dim apart from a spotlight on the singers. Unforgettable.

I was surprised by how much variety there is in the mass, sometimes the high voices dominated, sometimes the deeper ones. The Gloria and the Agnus Dei were particularly moving and exciting. To be honest, in the credo, my attention wondered.

There was a certain amount of theatricality. After each section of the ordinarium they move to a corner of the church and sang a chorale, and before they sang a little marian motet, I don't know who by, which of course, broke up Obrecht's music. But theatricality isn't the right word. What was I seeing? A performance? A ritual? A prayer? I suppose it is what it is, its category is none of those things. Anyway, more food for thought there.

One thing I kept thinking during both concerts is how cruel and bloody the world was between 1400 and 1600, and yet this is hardly shown at all in the music. It shows, I guess, that renaissance sacred music is really about the contemplation of beauty and order, divine beauty and order. I'm close to thinking it's a limitation, and that for me, a 21st century atheist, the really alien music is not medieval or modern, but renaissance.

This is a great way to discover a city, because it takes you to obscure ancient churches tucked away in narrow streets. I've known Antwerp since the 1980s, I've always liked it very much, I like the Flems, but I'd never seen these churches before and it shone new light on an special city. I intend to go to more festivals like this.

Composer Discussion / Re: Haydn's Haus
« Last post by Gurn Blanston on Today at 07:53:36 AM »
Very cool, Gurn. Thanks for posting. I'm anxious to give a read later. Seeing The Creation performed live last year was an eye-opening experience. Definitely elevated the respect i already had for the work.

Thanks, Greg. It is intimidating for a writer to come up against something like this. Even breaking it into small bites has its challenges! :)  Hope you enjoy.

The Diner / Re: Last Movie You Watched
« Last post by k a rl h e nn i ng on Today at 07:41:52 AM »
Yet people complain much less about a much more recent film, Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America (1984) where the protagonist brutally rapes Deborah yet in one of the later scenes of the movie Deborah chats with him like there had happened absolutely nothing.

I never watched to that point, the rape scene sent me packing.
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