Author Topic: Monthly Focus  (Read 10775 times)

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Offline amw

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Re: Monthly Focus
« Reply #40 on: September 12, 2020, 12:17:32 AM »
Shostakovich is tricky. Performances can be heavy on the dour for this guy, particularly ones made after his death. It's as if everyone is saying, OK, here is A Master; we must be reverent. But it's never really genuine reverence. More like lugubriousness. Reverent would respect the music, letting it be itself without needing to force it into a long-faced version of itself.

I got interested in various recordings of the piano trio nr. 2. It's a lively work, full of dance and sparkle. But you'd never know that in most recordings of it. The most interesting pair, for my thesis, are the ones the Beaux Arts did, one while Shostakovich was alive, one after he had died. The early one is the finest performance of it I've ever heard, precise, lively, moving through all the quick changes with elegance and elan. It fair crackles with spirit and liveliness. The later one is funereal. It's slow and solemn and sanctimonious. It is a pompous rendering of A Great Work by A Great Master.
I think my entire conception of this piece changed when I heard the two recordings Shostakovich himself made at the piano, both in the 1940s. He plays fast, often much faster than any modern musician would dare to, & his playing is clean and objective and completely lacking in sentimentality. The work has dry humour but also a kind of ferocious relentlessness, especially in the last movement, which recalls that his personal reaction to unjustified or premature death was always anger. The piece is a memorial, sure, but he believed death was something to be fought against, not a reason to slow down and contemplate.

I had a similar reaction to the 24 Preludes & Fugues which I got to know originally through a number of recordings made after Shostakovich's death by artists who worked with him: Tatyana Nikolayeva (the dedicatee), Vladimir Ashkenazy, individual selections by Sviatoslav Richter etc. Then I heard the complete recording by Roger Woodward, who not only attempts to emulate Shostakovich's clean, objective piano style but also takes seriously Shostakovich's notoriously fast metronome marks (even Nikolayeva's first recording, made in the presence of the composer, disregards them; Shostakovich was clearly comfortable with a wide range of interpretations of his own music). The 24 Preludes and Fugues have often been reviewed as anodyne, soporific, etc (most famously by Richard Taruskin) but while one might initially rebel at the tempi Woodward sets in the C major, as one keeps listening they're revealed to be definitely not anodyne or soporific, but rather witty, quirky, neoclassical and sometimes exceptionally violent. Even the slower movements have an inner agitation to them that keeps them moving. This is why I make a big deal about metronome marks; they do a great deal to indicate the character of a piece, even if you as the performer aren't going to follow them to the letter all the time.

(Everything by Shostakovich is generally these days performed 15-25% slower than he indicated. He is of course not the only composer with this problem.)

Offline some guy

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Re: Monthly Focus
« Reply #41 on: September 12, 2020, 06:20:54 AM »
I think my entire conception of this piece changed when I heard the two recordings Shostakovich himself made at the piano, both in the 1940s. He plays fast, often much faster than any modern musician would dare to, & his playing is clean and objective and completely lacking in sentimentality.
I would love to hear this. Composer performances are often revelatory. (I've got it playing on youtube right now. I should probably wait until I've listened to it all the way through before posting. I will say that the sound is astonishingly good for 1946. And so far--I waited for a bit--what I'm hearing certainly bears out your conclusion.)

(Everything by Shostakovich is generally these days performed 15-25% slower than he indicated. He is of course not the only composer with this problem.)
I remember reading years ago that later performances of practically everything are slower than when the pieces were new. I have certainly noticed that recordings made by composers are often quite remarkably fast compared to later performances by others.

Offline Judith

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Re: Monthly Focus
« Reply #42 on: October 04, 2020, 10:25:04 PM »
Well just started October's monthly focus which is a lovely Brahms Piano Sonata no 3 which is beautifully performed by Stephen Hough.  A Brahms I'm not too familiar with so want to know this work more🎹🎹🎼🎼

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Monthly Focus
« Reply #43 on: October 24, 2020, 02:29:42 AM »
Then I heard the complete recording by Roger Woodward, who not only attempts to emulate Shostakovich's clean, objective piano style but also takes seriously Shostakovich's notoriously fast metronome marks (even Nikolayeva's first recording, made in the presence of the composer, disregards them; Shostakovich was clearly comfortable with a wide range of interpretations of his own music). The 24 Preludes and Fugues have often been reviewed as anodyne, soporific, etc (most famously by Richard Taruskin) but while one might initially rebel at the tempi Woodward sets in the C major, as one keeps listening they're revealed to be definitely not anodyne or soporific, but rather witty, quirky, neoclassical and sometimes exceptionally violent. Even the slower movements have an inner agitation to them that keeps them moving. This is why I make a big deal about metronome marks; they do a great deal to indicate the character of a piece, even if you as the performer aren't going to follow them to the letter all the time.


Yes very good, the Woodward, and an eye opener for me too, so thanks for prompting me to find it. Have you seen this?

https://asq4.wordpress.com/2010/09/21/zak-on-roger-woodwards-dsch-recordings/

(That being said I'm not sure that what The Alexander Quartet do is really like Woodward, at least in the C minor.)
« Last Edit: October 24, 2020, 02:35:07 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Judith

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Re: Monthly Focus
« Reply #44 on: November 02, 2020, 02:16:24 AM »
My November focus is one of my favourite French composers Saint Saens.  Violin has been neglected recently so chosen his Violin Sonata no 1 op 75. 
Recording by Joshua Bell  and Jeremy Denk from French Impressions CD🎻🎻🎼🎼

Offline Judith

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Re: Monthly Focus
« Reply #45 on: December 02, 2020, 12:42:46 AM »
Well, said farewell to Saint Saens Violin Sonata no 1(not literally because I love it and will be listening to it lots)and hello to Ravel Violin Sonata from same "French Impressions" album by Joshua Bell and Jeremy Denk🎻🎻🎼🎼

Offline Irons

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Re: Monthly Focus
« Reply #46 on: December 02, 2020, 08:36:25 AM »
Well, said farewell to Saint Saens Violin Sonata no 1(not literally because I love it and will be listening to it lots)and hello to Ravel Violin Sonata from same "French Impressions" album by Joshua Bell and Jeremy Denk🎻🎻🎼🎼

Great piece. Classical meets the Blues and thanks to Ravel it works.
You must have a very good opinion of yourself to write a symphony - John Ireland.

Offline Judith

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Re: Monthly Focus
« Reply #47 on: January 01, 2021, 06:11:26 AM »
Starting this new year with January's monthly focus and it's Mendelssohn Symphony no 1. Didn't know it very well and  it is a lovely work and want to know it better🎼🎼

Offline Judith

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Re: Monthly Focus
« Reply #48 on: February 03, 2021, 02:17:02 AM »
Well, February's focus is
Elgar Symphony no 1.
A work that I hardly know but exploring this month.
Using a lovely recording by
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Vasily Petrenko 🎼🎼

Online DavidW

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Re: Monthly Focus
« Reply #49 on: February 03, 2021, 06:37:57 AM »
My long term focus (not specifically a monthly project) is to listen to and get to know Villa-Llobos' symphonies.

Offline Judith

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Re: Monthly Focus
« Reply #50 on: March 03, 2021, 12:50:33 AM »
Well, my this month my focus is
Dvorak Piano Concerto in G minor
Listened a couple of times already and feel as though it's a shame it is underrated when it's a beautiful Concerto.
Using a lovely recording also by Stephen Hough CBSO and Andris Nelsons🎹🎹 🎼🎼

Online DavidW

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Re: Monthly Focus
« Reply #51 on: March 03, 2021, 08:51:12 AM »
My long term focus (not specifically a monthly project) is to listen to and get to know Villa-Llobos' symphonies.

Well I screwed that up!  Guess I'm not focused.

Offline aligreto

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Re: Monthly Focus
« Reply #52 on: March 08, 2021, 03:23:28 AM »
Well, my this month my focus is
Dvorak Piano Concerto in G minor
Listened a couple of times already and feel as though it's a shame it is underrated when it's a beautiful Concerto.
Using a lovely recording also by Stephen Hough CBSO and Andris Nelsons🎹🎹 🎼🎼

I have always liked this work from the first time that I heard it. I only have three versions of this work in my collection but I like them all:


Dvorak: Piano Concerto [Firkusny/Susskind]






Dvorak: Piano Concerto [Moravec/Belohlavek]






Dvorak: Piano Concerto [Ponti/Rohan]






I will write a comment on each one in the Dvorak's Den Thread
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.

Offline Judith

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Re: Monthly Focus
« Reply #53 on: April 03, 2021, 04:48:59 AM »
Well, this month, staying with Dvorak and it is a cello Concerto. Not the popular B minor but the underrated A major (I think it is anyway).

The one I'm listening to is:-
Steven Isserlis
Mahler Chamber Orchestra
Daniel Harding🎼🎼

Offline aligreto

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Re: Monthly Focus
« Reply #54 on: April 05, 2021, 01:53:40 AM »
Well, this month, staying with Dvorak and it is a cello Concerto. Not the popular B minor but the underrated A major (I think it is anyway).

The one I'm listening to is:-
Steven Isserlis
Mahler Chamber Orchestra
Daniel Harding🎼🎼

What an unusual, interesting and wonderful choice. I would like to know what prompted that decision.

The only version that I have is the wonderful version from one of the Supraphon Dvorak box sets with Neumann conducting Milos Sadlo on cello and the ever wonderful Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.





This recording is very powerful and has a great presence.
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.

Offline Judith

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Re: Monthly Focus
« Reply #55 on: May 03, 2021, 03:22:33 AM »
What an unusual, interesting and wonderful choice. I would like to know what prompted that decision.

The only version that I have is the wonderful version from one of the Supraphon Dvorak box sets with Neumann conducting Milos Sadlo on cello and the ever wonderful Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.





This recording is very powerful and has a great presence.
It is on same CD as B Minor and because it is so popular,  was curious to know the A major.  Pleased I did because it is beautiful🎼🎼

Offline Judith

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Re: Monthly Focus
« Reply #56 on: May 03, 2021, 03:24:30 AM »
Well, this month it's Tchaikovsky SQ no 2. Love the no 1 but not so familiar with this one and want to know it better.  Recording is by Endellion SQ🎻🎻🎼🎼

Offline aligreto

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Re: Monthly Focus
« Reply #57 on: May 03, 2021, 03:31:43 AM »
It is on same CD as B Minor and because it is so popular,  was curious to know the A major.  Pleased I did because it is beautiful🎼🎼

Thank you for that. Enjoy your Tchaikovsky. I will follow you at some stage as I am not familiar with that work myself.
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.

Offline OrchestralNut

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Re: Monthly Focus
« Reply #58 on: May 03, 2021, 03:43:15 AM »
Well, this month it's Tchaikovsky SQ no 2. Love the no 1 but not so familiar with this one and want to know it better.  Recording is by Endellion SQ🎻🎻🎼🎼

A great work, and probably my favourite of the three string quartets.  I have the Borodin Quartet historical recordings, which include a B flat major early movement, plus the Souvenir de Florence string sextet, which is probably my favourite Tchaikovsky work.  Enjoy!  :)

Offline Florestan

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Re: Monthly Focus
« Reply #59 on: May 03, 2021, 07:32:32 AM »
A great work, and probably my favourite of the three string quartets.  I have the Borodin Quartet historical recordings, which include a B flat major early movement, plus the Souvenir de Florence string sextet, which is probably my favourite Tchaikovsky work.  Enjoy!  :)

https://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,21492.msg828070.html#msg828070

https://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,21492.msg828105.html#msg828105
“I love melody, I love to sing. I refuse to compose music only intended to be discovered and understood by future generations.” 

--- Carlos Guastavino (1912-2000), Argentinian composer