GMG Classical Music Forum

The Music Room => General Classical Music Discussion => Topic started by: Judith on July 01, 2020, 01:39:21 AM

Title: Monthly Focus
Post by: Judith on July 01, 2020, 01:39:21 AM
Every month, I focus on a work that am not very familiar with. Repeatedly listen so I can familiarise myself. End result is expansion of my listening repertoire. Anyone else do anything similar?

This month is Sibelius Symphony no 6.
After finding his 4th "hard work", this one seems easier.
Although have three recordings, listened to
Neeme Jarvi
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra🎼🎼
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Mirror Image on July 01, 2020, 05:21:19 AM
I tend to focus on certain composers rather than singling out a certain work. I couldn’t imagine focusing on one work and that be my primary focus, but to each their own.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on July 01, 2020, 05:28:17 AM
Every month, I focus on a work that am not very familiar with. Repeatedly listen so I can familiarise myself. End result is expansion of my listening repertoire. Anyone else do anything similar?

This month is Sibelius Symphony no 6.
After finding his 4th "hard work", this one seems easier.
Although have three recordings, listened to
Neeme Jarvi
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra🎼🎼

I like this idea.  I suppose I have indeed listened similarly.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Judith on July 01, 2020, 05:37:31 AM
I tend to focus on certain composers rather than singling out a certain work. I couldn’t imagine focusing on one work and that be my primary focus, but to each their own.
Listen to other works as well but I make sure listen to focus more often that month🎼🎼
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: some guy on July 01, 2020, 11:11:10 AM
I've done something similar, but only once, and under specific compulsion.

In the long, long ago, I was intrigued by a couple of pieces by Sibelius and utterly baffled by the rest. How I could ever have been baffled by Sibelius baffles me now, but so it was.

So I went over to the downtown library in Sacramento (was driven there, that is--it was, after all, in the before time) and checked out all the Sibelius LPs they had, took them home, listened to them over and over again for a week.

That did it. Sibelius became a favorite.

I've never had to do that again. Knowing from that one experience that bafflement was inevitable--and temporary--I have spent the subsequent decades simply listening to music and enjoying it.

If you need to keep doing it, however, then I think you should keep doing it. "It" is not at all a bad thing to do. Wanting to understand and hence to enjoy is a perpetual condition, and whatever you have to do to achieve understanding and enjoyment is bound to be a good thing.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: T. D. on July 01, 2020, 11:22:43 AM
I tend to focus on certain composers rather than singling out a certain work. I couldn’t imagine focusing on one work and that be my primary focus, but to each their own.

I also generally focus on a composer. But sometimes I'll focus on a set of works, for instance LvB piano sonatas or string quartets. Maybe an opera, though I very rarely purchase multiple recordings of operas (a while back I compared the Solti and Goodall Gotterdammerungs).
I don't predefine the duration (e.g. month); that winds up being determined by how the project goes and my (questionable) attention span.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: mc ukrneal on July 01, 2020, 11:27:26 AM
Every month, I focus on a work that am not very familiar with. Repeatedly listen so I can familiarise myself. End result is expansion of my listening repertoire. Anyone else do anything similar?

This month is Sibelius Symphony no 6.
After finding his 4th "hard work", this one seems easier.
Although have three recordings, listened to
Neeme Jarvi
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra🎼🎼
Great idea! That can open lots of doors - other works by that composer, works written around the same time, works that influenced the current work (before or after), etc. Sounds like you are enjoying the process!!
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Mirror Image on July 01, 2020, 02:46:58 PM
I also generally focus on a composer. But sometimes I'll focus on a set of works, for instance LvB piano sonatas or string quartets. Maybe an opera, though I very rarely purchase multiple recordings of operas (a while back I compared the Solti and Goodall Gotterdammerungs).
I don't predefine the duration (e.g. month); that winds up being determined by how the project goes and my (questionable) attention span.

Well, for me, it’s never a composer, but composers. :) I go with the flow and explore what I want when I want. There isn’t a timeline and there never should be one.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: aligreto on July 02, 2020, 05:04:25 AM
Every month, I focus on a work that am not very familiar with. Repeatedly listen so I can familiarise myself. End result is expansion of my listening repertoire. Anyone else do anything similar?


I have really only done this once in my listening lifetime and it was for a very specific reason. As a piece of background information I have always disliked the sound of solo piano music with few exceptions. I find it difficult to listen to the instrument for prolonged periods. It has always been thus. [Piano concertos and a well balanced piano chamber ensemble are fine.]

Anyway, a long time ago on another forum we had monthly listening projects and one of those was Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. The object was to listen to the work in as many presentations as one liked, particularly if one was not familiar with the work.

At the time I had one or maybe two of the orchestral versions in my collection and I would not have listened very often to those. My listening companions were putting pressure on me [knowing my aversion] to listen to the original piano version. I did so in the cause of science! I ended up buying four different versions, which in itself was a miracle, and I never looked back. The original piano version has long been the only version of that music that I will listen to now. My conversion, in this particular case, was complete!
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Pohjolas Daughter on July 02, 2020, 11:33:56 AM
I have really only done this once in my listening lifetime and it was for a very specific reason. As a piece of background information I have always disliked the sound of solo piano music with few exceptions. I find it difficult to listen to the instrument for prolonged periods. It has always been thus. [Piano concertos and a well balanced piano chamber ensemble are fine.]

Anyway, a long time ago on another forum we had monthly listening projects and one of those was Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. The object was to listen to the work in as many presentations as one liked, particularly if one was not familiar with the work.

At the time I had one or maybe two of the orchestral versions in my collection and I would not have listened very often to those. My listening companions were putting pressure on me [knowing my aversion] to listen to the original piano version. I did so in the cause of science! I ended up buying four different versions, which in itself was a miracle, and I never looked back. The original piano version has long been the only version of that music that I will listen to now. My conversion, in this particular case, was complete!
Oh, how interesting Fergus!  Do you have a favorite recording of the piano version?  I believe that I only have one version (but with those boxed sets, who knows?!) and it's with S. Richter.  It's the Sofia (live) one.  Sound is rough, but I was mesmorized by the performance!

Getting back on topic, I do like the idea of listening to an unfamiliar work multiple times...don't often do it, but attempt to do so every once in a while.  I can't read music, so am unable to follow along with a score and also have a rather limited knowledge of musical terms, so it's a bit frustrating.  I do get Judith's point about it helping one to focus...I suspect also to appreciate new/different aspects of the work, etc. too.  In these days and times of 'instant everything', it's a good skill to cultivate me thinks.   :)

Best,

PD
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Mirror Image on July 02, 2020, 11:51:09 AM
I think one reason why I don’t do a monthly focus on one particular work is to avoid burnout. There is much to be said with listening to a variety of music. It’s kind of like if I focused on Holst’s The Planets for example for an entire month. I’d get sick of it and I don’t want this to happen, because I love this piece. This is why my listening is composer-centric and not focused on one work in particular. Not only that, I could never stick to some kind of regiment in my listening anyway.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: 71 dB on July 02, 2020, 11:55:00 AM
For me it's very difficult to focus. I feel I have a chaos in my head. It's a vortex of thoughts, ideas, frustrations,... ...it's a hard life to be intellectually curious in the information era. I was just today thinking maybe I should just ignore 99.9 % of information available to me and concentrate on the rest 0.1 %.

Lately I have tried to "semi" focus on Englund, Haydn and Atterberg.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Pohjolas Daughter on July 02, 2020, 12:11:51 PM
I think one reason why I don’t do a monthly focus on one particular work is to avoid burnout. There is much to be said with listening to a variety of music. It’s kind of like if I focused on Holst’s The Planets for example for an entire month. I’d get sick of it and I don’t want this to happen, because I love this piece. This is why my listening is composer-centric and not focused on one work in particular. Not only that, I could never stick to some kind of regiment in my listening anyway.
I do admire your enthusiastic (right word?) explorations of composers of which maybe one work really clicks with you; it seems, to me anyway, that you then heartily dive in ....heart first.   :) 

I've noticed that other enthusiasts for a particular composer, when they hear that you've enjoyed something by composer 'X', are then keen to suggest other works for you to listen to (sometimes feeling rather like an inundation...LOL  ;) ).  But it's all good; that's why were here.   :)

If a composer really starts to resonate with me, I do love exploring other works by them....and learning about their life and times, influences on their music, who all they influenced, etc.  In short:  it opens up Pandora's Box!  ;D

Best wishes,

PD
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Mirror Image on July 02, 2020, 01:43:48 PM
I do admire your enthusiastic (right word?) explorations of composers of which maybe one work really clicks with you; it seems, to me anyway, that you then heartily dive in ....heart first.   :) 

I've noticed that other enthusiasts for a particular composer, when they hear that you've enjoyed something by composer 'X', are then keen to suggest other works for you to listen to (sometimes feeling rather like an inundation...LOL  ;) ).  But it's all good; that's why were here.   :)

If a composer really starts to resonate with me, I do love exploring other works by them....and learning about their life and times, influences on their music, who all they influenced, etc.  In short:  it opens up Pandora's Box!  ;D

Best wishes,

PD

Yes, indeed, PD. I certainly love exploring many different composers. It’s a bit easy for me to get overwhelmed, but I’m starting to take things slower and just enjoy the journey. Yes, those enthusiasts you speak of are my posse. ;) You and I are of the same mind as I, too, find much to gain from reading about a composer’s life, the possible influences on their music, etc. It’s good to read that you’re just as enthusiastic about this music as I am. 8)
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: aligreto on July 02, 2020, 11:55:03 PM
Oh, how interesting Fergus!  Do you have a favorite recording of the piano version?  I believe that I only have one version (but with those boxed sets, who knows?!) and it's with S. Richter.  It's the Sofia (live) one.  Sound is rough, but I was mesmorized by the performance!

Best,

PD

Without deviating too much off topic my favourite is also, of course, the Richter "Sofia" version.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Judith on August 02, 2020, 05:26:13 AM
Decided my focus for this month is Beethoven String Quartet in C Major op 59 no 3 Razumovsky.   Familiar with the other two because have seen them performed live but not this one.  Very easy to take in and some lovely melodies also.  Performed by Endellion String Quartet🎻🎻🎼🎼
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: aligreto on August 02, 2020, 05:35:55 AM
Decided my focus for this month is Beethoven String Quartet in C Major op 59 no 3 Razumovsky.   Familiar with the other two because have seen them performed live but not this one.  Very easy to take in and some lovely melodies also.  Performed by Endellion String Quartet🎻🎻🎼🎼

It is indeed wonderful music. I was only listening to those quartets recently myself.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on August 02, 2020, 07:36:21 AM
Decided my focus for this month is Beethoven String Quartet in C Major op 59 no 3 Razumovsky.   Familiar with the other two because have seen them performed live but not this one.  Very easy to take in and some lovely melodies also.  Performed by Endellion String Quartet🎻🎻🎼🎼

Excellent!
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Judith on September 05, 2020, 04:49:33 AM
This month, it is
Shostakovich Piano Trio no 2 in E Minor

Lively, vibrant and challenging (who says I don't like a challenge?).

Listening to a lovely recording by
Joshua Bell
Steven Isserlis
Olli Mustonen
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on September 05, 2020, 05:00:59 AM
This month, it is
Shostakovich Piano Trio no 2 in E Minor

Lively, vibrant and challenging (who says I don't like a challenge?).

Listening to a lovely recording by
Joshua Bell
Steven Isserlis
Olli Mustonen

Excellent!
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: André on September 05, 2020, 06:47:57 AM
When listening to a new work, if my interest reaches a certain level I’ll play it 3 times to get a better understanding. I’ve discovered that each successive listening is like uncovering another layer. Sometimes features that struck me at first listening recede into the background and something else comes into focus.

When it’s a work I know well, if the performance is sufficiently interesting I’ll be moved to listen to other versions and make ABCD etc comparisons. Sometimes old opinions are confirmed, but sometimes they’re not. That’s the virtue of comparative listening. Never take oneself’s opinions as definitive !
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: some guy on September 05, 2020, 08:44:19 AM
I've said this before. I'll doubtless say it again: "Expectations are the devil."

My problem with "reaches a certain level" is that reaching a level means that the new piece is already fulfilling expectations. Is already in certain ways familiar. Successive listens will likely simply confirm those expectations, strengthening them. OK as far as it goes, but what if a new piece does not fulfil any expectations? Does not reach "a certain level"? It is too likely then that the piece will be deemed unclean and cast into outer darkness. As it were. Whereas it is more than likely that the problem lies with the expectations, not with the piece, and that overcoming (jettisoning) the expectations can lead to enjoyment of pieces that would ordinarily never reach the magical level. Ordinarily being the ordinary condition of having expectations. Of having expectations so ordinary that they pass without even being noticed as such.

In my own listening, I have had to confront my expectations over and over again. Over and over again, I have heard pieces that did not meet my expectations for what I liked or wanted or even considered to be music. Over and over again, I have come to enjoy, to love, to prefer pieces that I had previously rejected. Right before Christmas last year, I was diagnosed with cancer, so had to leave Europe and come to the US where I had medical insurance. I moved in with the friends who had become the custodians of my most precious books and CDs. Since then, I've been going through my four DJ boxes, again, this time ripping every unripped CD, making no decisions about whether I really thought I wanted this or that piece or not. Everything.

It has been embarrassing. CD after CD of music I know I didn't like 10 or 15 years ago, music I knew I'd never care about, turning out to be captivating and essential. No expectations, hearing the music as far as is possible as it is, not as I want it or need it to be. Embarrassed, but happy.

It's not a hundred percent, of course. Some things I will never like, and that's OK, too. But so many things I've thought of as unlikable that turn out to be altogether lovely and delightful that I feel I should probably never say "some things I will never like" ever again. I just never know.

Well, I gotta go, now. I have a lot of ripping to do. The cancer is retreating nicely, but I don't want to go home until I've ripped every single one. Ta.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: aligreto on September 06, 2020, 12:36:08 AM
This month, it is
Shostakovich Piano Trio no 2 in E Minor

Lively, vibrant and challenging (who says I don't like a challenge?).

Listening to a lovely recording by
Joshua Bell
Steven Isserlis
Olli Mustonen

This is a work that I do not know and, checking my spreadsheet, I see that I have only one version of it. I will dig that out and give it a listen.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: aligreto on September 06, 2020, 12:37:54 AM
I've said this before. I'll doubtless say it again: "Expectations are the devil."

My problem with "reaches a certain level" is that reaching a level means that the new piece is already fulfilling expectations. Is already in certain ways familiar. Successive listens will likely simply confirm those expectations, strengthening them. OK as far as it goes, but what if a new piece does not fulfil any expectations? Does not reach "a certain level"? It is too likely then that the piece will be deemed unclean and cast into outer darkness. As it were. Whereas it is more than likely that the problem lies with the expectations, not with the piece, and that overcoming (jettisoning) the expectations can lead to enjoyment of pieces that would ordinarily never reach the magical level. Ordinarily being the ordinary condition of having expectations. Of having expectations so ordinary that they pass without even being noticed as such.

In my own listening, I have had to confront my expectations over and over again. Over and over again, I have heard pieces that did not meet my expectations for what I liked or wanted or even considered to be music. Over and over again, I have come to enjoy, to love, to prefer pieces that I had previously rejected. Right before Christmas last year, I was diagnosed with cancer, so had to leave Europe and come to the US where I had medical insurance. I moved in with the friends who had become the custodians of my most precious books and CDs. Since then, I've been going through my four DJ boxes, again, this time ripping every unripped CD, making no decisions about whether I really thought I wanted this or that piece or not. Everything.

It has been embarrassing. CD after CD of music I know I didn't like 10 or 15 years ago, music I knew I'd never care about, turning out to be captivating and essential. No expectations, hearing the music as far as is possible as it is, not as I want it or need it to be. Embarrassed, but happy.

It's not a hundred percent, of course. Some things I will never like, and that's OK, too. But so many things I've thought of as unlikable that turn out to be altogether lovely and delightful that I feel I should probably never say "some things I will never like" ever again. I just never know.

Well, I gotta go, now. I have a lot of ripping to do. The cancer is retreating nicely, but I don't want to go home until I've ripped every single one. Ta.

Best wishes with your health and your ripping.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: some guy on September 06, 2020, 10:52:02 AM
Best wishes with your health and your ripping.
Thanks!!

I've got five Galás lined up to go. That'll be excitin'. Not the ripping part. That is dead boring. But the listening part once the files are ready is fine.

The part involving rogue cells is boring, too. But the healing part is very nice.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on September 06, 2020, 11:33:31 AM
Thanks!!

I've got five Galás lined up to go. That'll be excitin'. Not the ripping part. That is dead boring. But the listening part once the files are ready is fine.

The part involving rogue cells is boring, too. But the healing part is very nice.

We are for you!
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: aligreto on September 06, 2020, 01:52:46 PM
Thanks!!

I've got five Galás lined up to go. That'll be excitin'. Not the ripping part. That is dead boring. But the listening part once the files are ready is fine.

The part involving rogue cells is boring, too. But the healing part is very nice.

That is the important part.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: some guy on September 06, 2020, 09:16:10 PM
Thanks gents!

And, my nickel's worth for aligreto:

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.

(While Shostakovich, as a Suffering Victim of Soviet repression, suffers from a lot of misplaced solemnity in performances, he's by no means the only one. I noticed right after Kagel died--Kagel the harlequin, the irrepressible, the comic--there were performances that even solemnized his humor into respectful Great Works of Art. Shudder.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Irons on September 06, 2020, 11:22:27 PM
I've said this before. I'll doubtless say it again: "Expectations are the devil."

My problem with "reaches a certain level" is that reaching a level means that the new piece is already fulfilling expectations. Is already in certain ways familiar. Successive listens will likely simply confirm those expectations, strengthening them. OK as far as it goes, but what if a new piece does not fulfil any expectations? Does not reach "a certain level"? It is too likely then that the piece will be deemed unclean and cast into outer darkness. As it were. Whereas it is more than likely that the problem lies with the expectations, not with the piece, and that overcoming (jettisoning) the expectations can lead to enjoyment of pieces that would ordinarily never reach the magical level. Ordinarily being the ordinary condition of having expectations. Of having expectations so ordinary that they pass without even being noticed as such.

In my own listening, I have had to confront my expectations over and over again. Over and over again, I have heard pieces that did not meet my expectations for what I liked or wanted or even considered to be music. Over and over again, I have come to enjoy, to love, to prefer pieces that I had previously rejected. Right before Christmas last year, I was diagnosed with cancer, so had to leave Europe and come to the US where I had medical insurance. I moved in with the friends who had become the custodians of my most precious books and CDs. Since then, I've been going through my four DJ boxes, again, this time ripping every unripped CD, making no decisions about whether I really thought I wanted this or that piece or not. Everything.

It has been embarrassing. CD after CD of music I know I didn't like 10 or 15 years ago, music I knew I'd never care about, turning out to be captivating and essential. No expectations, hearing the music as far as is possible as it is, not as I want it or need it to be. Embarrassed, but happy.

It's not a hundred percent, of course. Some things I will never like, and that's OK, too. But so many things I've thought of as unlikable that turn out to be altogether lovely and delightful that I feel I should probably never say "some things I will never like" ever again. I just never know.

Well, I gotta go, now. I have a lot of ripping to do. The cancer is retreating nicely, but I don't want to go home until I've ripped every single one. Ta.

I do wonder if your diagnosis has led you to appreciate music you previously thought you did not?

Great to read you are joining the ever-growing percentage of cancer survivors thanks to medical advances in treatment.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: aligreto on September 07, 2020, 12:11:33 AM
Thanks gents!

And, my nickel's worth for aligreto:

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.

(While Shostakovich, as a Suffering Victim of Soviet repression, suffers from a lot of misplaced solemnity in performances, he's by no means the only one. I noticed right after Kagel died--Kagel the harlequin, the irrepressible, the comic--there were performances that even solemnized his humor into respectful Great Works of Art. Shudder.

Thank you for the insight.
Stay well.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: some guy on September 07, 2020, 06:47:40 AM
I do wonder if your diagnosis has led you to appreciate music you previously thought you did not?

Great to read you are joining the ever-growing percentage of cancer survivors thanks to medical advances in treatment.
My urologist said that the cancer would return in about three years. He also said that if the advances in treatment continue advancing at the same pace, the treatments then will be way better than today's are. And today's are spectacular.

So there's that.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on September 07, 2020, 07:13:23 AM
My urologist said that the cancer would return in about three years. He also said that if the advances in treatment continue advancing at the same pace, the treatments then will be way better than today's are. And today's are spectacular.

So there's that.

Very good. Proceed!
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Irons on September 07, 2020, 12:39:28 PM
My urologist said that the cancer would return in about three years. He also said that if the advances in treatment continue advancing at the same pace, the treatments then will be way better than today's are. And today's are spectacular.

So there's that.

I have been on the journey with a close family member and she came out the other side. It is all consuming, takes over. I do have some idea what you are going through, but you sound so positive which is half the battle won.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Pohjolas Daughter on September 08, 2020, 10:25:38 AM
All the best wishes to you Some Guy!

And enjoy your music.   :)
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: some guy on September 08, 2020, 10:59:53 AM
Thanks very much!

It's been more fun than I can describe to work through my collection and discover all sorts of treasures.

I was for long an inveterate collector, one who bought dozens, hundreds, of CDs sound unheard. Sometimes that worked; sometimes it didn't. What I'm finding now, over and over again, is that as I have changed, music that didn't much impress me 15 years ago now pleases me quite easily. In that regard, the cancer has been a clear gain.

Ripping is a boring task, so it goes slowly. But that just means that I have quite naturally fallen into a variant of Judith's monthly focus: I focus on however many CDs I can get through in a week. Indeed, as I'm writing this, I'm listening to Vinko Globokar's Zlom, which is delightful.

Someone has put it up on youtube, too, so anyone can listen to it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00loPL4RyYY

More Globokar to rip today. What fun!
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: aligreto on September 11, 2020, 07:32:48 AM
This month, it is
Shostakovich Piano Trio no 2 in E Minor



Shostakovich: Piano Trio No. 2 [Leonskaja/Borodin Quartet]


(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/410IRE3FGcL._AC_SX425_.jpg)


I do not know when I last listened to this work but it certainly was a long time ago. Revisiting it, I find the musical language sparse and harsh but I do like the work, its tone and its moods. It has moments of dubious joyous spontaneity [the second movement] and moments of bleak and poignant despair [third movement]. It is a product of both its time and circumstances in terms of its inspiration and it is a wonderful work.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on September 11, 2020, 10:06:39 AM
Excellent!
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on September 11, 2020, 10:08:31 AM
And, while in principle I take some guy's point about unctuous reverence, the composer did write it as an elegy dedicated to a dear musical friend.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: aligreto on September 11, 2020, 01:27:15 PM
And, while in principle I take some guy's point about unctuous reverence, the composer did write it as an elegy dedicated to a dear musical friend.

Yes, I also took his valid point but there is that large element of the elegiac in the work, be it for his friend, his country or both. Either way, a wonderful work methinks, and a fine choice for a "Monthly Focus".
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on September 11, 2020, 02:09:50 PM
Конечно (Of course)
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: amw 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.)
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: some guy 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.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Judith 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🎹🎹🎼🎼
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Mandryka 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.)
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Judith 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🎻🎻🎼🎼
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Judith 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🎻🎻🎼🎼
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Irons 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.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Judith 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🎼🎼
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Judith 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 🎼🎼
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: DavidW 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.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Judith 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🎹🎹 🎼🎼
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: DavidW 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.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: aligreto 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]


(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/511GJrl5nIL._AC_SX425_.jpg)



Dvorak: Piano Concerto [Moravec/Belohlavek]


(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/71uCvTQTgUL._SS500_.jpg)



Dvorak: Piano Concerto [Ponti/Rohan]


(https://www.stereo.net.au/forums/uploads/monthly_2020_04/P1010080.JPG.b50a54c47c44d30ba10a4da55864c9b6.JPG)



I will write a comment on each one in the Dvorak's Den Thread (https://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,75.620.html)
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Judith 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🎼🎼
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: aligreto 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.


(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/71TO4F9YutL._AC_UL320_.jpg)


This recording is very powerful and has a great presence.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Judith 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.


(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/71TO4F9YutL._AC_UL320_.jpg)


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🎼🎼
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Judith 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🎻🎻🎼🎼
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: aligreto 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.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: OrchestralNut 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!  :)
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Florestan 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.msg828070.html#msg828070)

https://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,21492.msg828105.html#msg828105 (https://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,21492.msg828105.html#msg828105)
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: OrchestralNut on May 03, 2021, 07:39:08 AM
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.msg828070.html#msg828070)

https://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,21492.msg828105.html#msg828105 (https://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,21492.msg828105.html#msg828105)

Nice, Andrei. The work obviously made an impression on you at that time.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Florestan on May 03, 2021, 07:41:54 AM
Nice, Andrei. The work obviously made an impression on you at that time.

Yes, it did. (Tchaikovsky does that to me, usually). I should revisit it asap and see if that impression still stands.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: OrchestralNut on May 03, 2021, 07:43:31 AM
Yes, it did. (Tchaikovsky does that to me, usually). I should revisit it asap and see if that impression still stands.

I might do the same.  :D
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: aligreto on May 09, 2021, 03:35:42 AM
Tchaikovsky: String Quartet No. 2 [Borodin Quartet]


(https://img.discogs.com/puzZbvOJe94KBLnjT6Gwsh3hOT0=/fit-in/300x300/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(40)/discogs-images/R-10372854-1496181428-3902.jpeg.jpg)


The opening movement of this work is a very fine piece of writing. The musical language is on the edge; it is a touch dissonant and always exciting with great forward momentum, drive and energy; indeed, frantic in parts. Emotionally, it is highly charged and it is very well delivered here; quite exhilarating in places, I find. The first movement is a complete entity and is self possessed. The second movement, Scherzo, is a tense and agitated affair throughout. It is well driven and delivered here with great tension and urgency. I like the musical language of the slow movement in terms of its questioning and probing nature. It is emotionally very challenging and demanding but ultimately very rewarding in the delivery of its message. There is terrific emotional turmoil and conflict here which strives for and finds a resolution of sorts. The final movement is an altogether different affair. It is confident and assertive in its message which is robustly delivered here. This is a terrific performance of this wonderful and emotionally powerful work.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: OrchestralNut on May 09, 2021, 03:55:31 AM
Tchaikovsky: String Quartet No. 2 [Borodin Quartet]


(https://img.discogs.com/puzZbvOJe94KBLnjT6Gwsh3hOT0=/fit-in/300x300/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(40)/discogs-images/R-10372854-1496181428-3902.jpeg.jpg)


The opening movement of this work is a very fine piece of writing. The musical language is on the edge; it is a touch dissonant and always exciting with great forward momentum, drive and energy; indeed, frantic in parts. Emotionally, it is highly charged and it is very well delivered here; quite exhilarating in places, I find. The first movement is a complete entity and is self possessed. The second movement, Scherzo, is a tense and agitated affair throughout. It is well driven and delivered here with great tension and urgency. I like the musical language of the slow movement in terms of its questioning and probing nature. It is emotionally very challenging and demanding but ultimately very rewarding in the delivery of its message. There is terrific emotional turmoil and conflict here which strives for and finds a resolution of sorts. The final movement is an altogether different affair. It is confident and assertive in its message which is robustly delivered here. This is a terrific performance of this wonderful and emotionally powerful work.

Fergus, this must be a later Borodin recording than the one I have (on Chandos Historical). Although the liner notes strangely don't indicate the recording dates, but I am assuming late 1950's.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: aligreto on May 09, 2021, 04:12:56 AM
Yes, my Teldec set was recorded in 1993.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Pohjolas Daughter on May 12, 2021, 09:58:32 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.


(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/71TO4F9YutL._AC_UL320_.jpg)


This recording is very powerful and has a great presence.

I don't recall ever having heard this concerto before; I do love his later one, so will have to look into it!  :)
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: aligreto on May 12, 2021, 10:14:11 AM
I don't recall ever having heard this concerto before; I do love his later one, so will have to look into it!  :)

Definitely worth your time.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Mirror Image on May 12, 2021, 10:19:11 AM
I could never do a ‘monthly focus’ on a piece of music for the reason that I think variety is the spice of life and even if you absolutely love a piece of music, it can become something that you wouldn’t want to listen to for a long-time. Plus, there are too many composers to have a monthly focus anyway.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Irons on May 12, 2021, 10:47:55 PM
Fergus, this must be a later Borodin recording than the one I have (on Chandos Historical). Although the liner notes strangely don't indicate the recording dates, but I am assuming late 1950's.

I think maybe the Chandos set is the same that EMI released (LP) under licence from Melodiya. They were all recorded between 1965 - 1969. This set had Dubinsky as first violin who was later to defect.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Que on May 12, 2021, 11:29:36 PM
Fergus, this must be a later Borodin recording than the one I have (on Chandos Historical). Although the liner notes strangely don't indicate the recording dates, but I am assuming late 1950's.

There are three different recordings. The Chandos is, according to its website (https://www.chandos.net/products/catalogue/CHAN%209871), recorded in 1964 by the original members of the quartet. Never heard that recording, it is bound to be fascinating. The line up of the quartet changed in 1974, and the Melodiya-EMI recordings were made between 1978 and 1980. I think those are from a technical and artistic point of view superior to the 1993 Teldec recording, never mind the better recording technique.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Pohjolas Daughter on May 13, 2021, 01:56:22 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🎻🎻🎼🎼
I don't know his string quartets Judith.  How are you enjoying the second one?  And out of curiosity, about how often do you listen to a work over the course of a month?  And besides listening to it, do you do much research about it and/or follow along with a score?  I can't read music myself but do envy those who can.  :)

I could never do a ‘monthly focus’ on a piece of music for the reason that I think variety is the spice of life and even if you absolutely love a piece of music, it can become something that you wouldn’t want to listen to for a long-time. Plus, there are too many composers to have a monthly focus anyway.
I imagine that she listens to other music over the course of the month too.  ;)  But to each his/her/their own.  I admire her ability to focus on a work and get to know it better myself.

Definitely worth your time.
Will do Fergus!

PD

Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Judith on June 01, 2021, 11:00:41 PM
Well, said goodbye to Tchaikovsky SQ and it's hello to Faure Violin Sonata no 1.
Don't know if it's me but find in some of his works, there are elements of Schumann including this one. Was one influenced by the other?
Using a lovely performance by
Joshua Bell
Jean-Ives Thibaudet

To answer questions on how I do this,  I listen to the same work until it sticks so it may be every day (depending on time) but at least 3 or 4 times a week that month.
Can't read music so wouldn't be able to follow score but do find info about it!
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: foxandpeng on June 02, 2021, 12:33:55 AM
Thank you for a helpful thread. I tend to listen to composers in focused blocks, and certainly do that when discovering something new. Hearing a new work repeatedly is the only way I can access, remember, appreciate and partly understand it. Focus on one set of symphonies, quartets, etc., at a time also works with my personal quirks. 

For me, last week and this one will be Alla Pavlova, and fixing Bax/Arnold symphonies in my head, and probably Miaskovsky after that.

Thanks for setting me thinking.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: André on June 02, 2021, 04:24:45 AM
I, too, listen by blocks. Same composer, same work in multiple versions, same artist etc. Repeated exposure is a well known aid to understanding a subject.  :)
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: foxandpeng on June 02, 2021, 09:03:41 AM
I, too, listen by blocks. Same composer, same work in multiple versions, same artist etc. Repeated exposure is a well known aid to understanding a subject.  :)

Nice to know I'm not alone 🙂
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: aligreto on June 03, 2021, 02:42:30 AM
The Fauré Violin Sonata in A Op. 13 is indeed a wonderful work. To me the first movement reminds me of a slight boat, the violin, flitting along over a heavy sea, the piano. There are two different independent elements at work here whose synergy works very well. The slow movement is also atmospheric but, obviously, in a more restrained and meditative way but which is not melancholy. The third movement flits about wonderfully on both instruments in a joyous and playful way like two small birds on a light wind. The final movement is more grounded but it still has great energy and forward momentum. The piano line in this movement is worth keeping one’s ear tuned to. It is very fluid indeed.


Here are the only two versions of this work that I own:


(https://img.discogs.com/vWD2qM5Rfjd5ELcLiFKhSw-MQYA=/fit-in/600x527/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-10295053-1494833388-8307.jpeg.jpg)    (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51lBs1a7JlL._SY355_.jpg)


When I was initially building my collection Grumiaux was a soloist whom I always sought to hear in works that I was interested in or wanted. I don't think that he has ever disappointed me with any performance. Crossley is also a very fine musician and the two work very well together. I have honestly never felt the need to go beyond this presentation.

Both Barbizet & Collard are also two fine musicians but they are not as successful, in my opinion, as Grumiaux and Crossley in this work. Grumiaux and Crossley are lighter in touch fleeter of tempo. If one heard the Barbizet & Collard version in a stand alone situation one would be quite satisfied, I think, with the interpretation. However, when one hears the Grumiaux and Crossley presentation one gets a sense of a different dimension in this work; they bring it to another level altogether, to my mind/ear anyway.

Both delivery times, incidentally are almost identical both for individual movement times and overall time [obviously]. The EMI recording is also made in a more dry acoustic. This is only by way of recording comparison as it makes no appreciable difference to the interpretation issue which I have discussed.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Mirror Image on June 07, 2021, 05:58:24 AM
You know what, I’ve decided to do a monthly focus that will take much longer than a mere month, but I will be rediscovering the music of the following composers: Vaughan Williams, Holst, Elgar, Arnold, Langgaard, Nielsen, Berlioz, Saint-Saëns, Dvořák, Glazunov, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev and Shostakovich. I’ve already started to listen to more Shostakovich and Glazunov lately.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: OrchestralNut on June 07, 2021, 06:01:33 AM
You know what, I’ve decided to do a monthly focus that will take much longer than a mere month, but I will be rediscovering the music of the following composers: Vaughan Williams, Holst, Elgar, Arnold, Langgaard, Nielsen, Berlioz, Saint-Saëns, Dvořák, Glazunov, Prokofiev and Shostakovich. I’ve already started to listen to more Shostakovich and Glazunov lately.

That's a lot of composers to focus on in just one month. I notice twelve composers listed. Time well spent, regardless of the actual time frame.  :)
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Mirror Image on June 07, 2021, 06:27:22 AM
That's a lot of composers to focus on in just one month. I notice twelve composers listed. Time well spent, regardless of the actual time frame.  :)

Well, I did mention it’ll take longer than a month, which there’s no doubt that it will. ;)
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: OrchestralNut on June 07, 2021, 07:44:34 AM
Well, I did mention it’ll take longer than a month, which there’s no doubt that it will. ;)

True, you did.  :)
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 07, 2021, 08:25:08 AM
Well, said goodbye to Tchaikovsky SQ and it's hello to Faure Violin Sonata no 1.
Don't know if it's me but find in some of his works, there are elements of Schumann including this one. Was one influenced by the other?
Using a lovely performance by
Joshua Bell
Jean-Ives Thibaudet

To answer questions on how I do this,  I listen to the same work until it sticks so it may be every day (depending on time) but at least 3 or 4 times a week that month.
Can't read music so wouldn't be able to follow score but do find info about it!

The Fauré is a marvelous work.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Mirror Image on June 07, 2021, 05:44:17 PM
You know what, I’ve decided to do a monthly focus that will take much longer than a mere month, but I will be rediscovering the music of the following composers: Vaughan Williams, Holst, Elgar, Arnold, Langgaard, Nielsen, Berlioz, Saint-Saëns, Dvořák, Glazunov, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev and Shostakovich. I’ve already started to listen to more Shostakovich and Glazunov lately.

Never mind. Scratch all of this. :P
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Judith on July 03, 2021, 10:40:42 PM
Well, for July, it's Brahms's turn for my "monthly focus" with his Cello Sonata no 2.
A lovely recording also by
Isserlis/Hough
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Mirror Image on July 04, 2021, 05:57:22 AM
Well, for July, it's Brahms's turn for my "monthly focus" with his Cello Sonata no 2.
A lovely recording also by
Isserlis/Hough

Why? A monthly focus on one work and that’s it? ???
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: foxandpeng on July 04, 2021, 12:56:19 PM
Well, for July ...

It looks like July for me will be filled with Shostakovich SQs and probably continuing to get a proper grasp on Hindemith symphonies.

Best wishes with Brahms 🙂
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: vers la flamme on July 04, 2021, 02:47:24 PM
Why? A monthly focus on one work and that’s it? ???

Makes more sense than choosing the general works of 13 composers as a monthly focus  :laugh:
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Mirror Image on July 04, 2021, 06:00:47 PM
Makes more sense than choosing the general works of 13 composers as a monthly focus  :laugh:

 ;D
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: aligreto on July 14, 2021, 03:24:36 AM

Well, for July, it's Brahms's turn for my "monthly focus" with his Cello Sonata no 2.


Brahms: Cello Sonata No. 2 [Sellheim/Sellheim]


(https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/xfoAAOSwmwtg6YD~/s-l1600.jpg)


This is a robust and ardent presentation of the first movement. This tone and approach tends to follow through into the Slow movement. It is a big performance. The recorded sound is also very big and forward but is well balanced.



Brahms: Cello Sonata No. 2 [Isserlis/Evans]


(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/91jQnt4QzYL._AC_SX355_.jpg)


The approach on this recording is not as robust as that of the Sellheim/Sellheim pairing. It is still a spirited one but one that has more subtlety in both the presentation and interpretation. This also enhances the inherent excitement and drive in the music for me. The slow movement is much more subtle and sensitive here. The recorded sound is also more relaxed and enjoyable.

Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: aligreto on July 15, 2021, 01:15:32 AM
Brahms: Cello Sonata No. 2 [Du Pré/Barenboim]


(https://www.popsike.com/pix/20140214/191071207810.jpg)


The approach on this recording is as robust as others but it is infused with a lyrical, singing quality that the others do not have. The first movement performance is quite enthralling and the slow movement is emotion laden in a wonderful performance. The energy and drive of the third movement is engaging and the atmosphere ranges from tense and dramatic to delicate and back again. The wonderful singing quality from the first movement returns in the final movement to play out what is a compelling performance from both musicians.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: DavidW on July 15, 2021, 05:36:37 AM
Why? A monthly focus on one work and that’s it? ???

I did that.  I listened to nothing but different recordings of Mahler's 9th for several weeks.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Mirror Image on July 15, 2021, 05:41:55 AM
I did that.  I listened to nothing but different recordings of Mahler's 9th for several weeks.

I admire your tenacity. ;) As much as I love Mahler’s 9th, I couldn’t listen to it for several weeks and this be the only work I listen to. If anything, it’d make me not want to hear this symphony for a long time.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: aligreto on July 16, 2021, 05:59:04 AM
Brahms: Cello Sonata No. 2 [Gastinel/Guy]


(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/81ZrhAxtRQL._SS500_.jpg)


This is a strong, robust but not overly assertive performance. The power in the delivery of the two voices portrays wonderful passion. For me, the performance of Gastinel really shines through. She both attacks and caresses the music equally, as required and is very comfortable doing both. This is another performance that has a lyrical quality inducing one to sing along with it.




Brahms: Cello Sonata No. 2 [Rostropovich/Serkin]


(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71bXoNtRLjL._AC_SL1200_.jpg)


This is a very smooth and well rounded, tonally rich, and quite powerful performance. The two instrumentalists need no introduction and are at the top of their game here. The music making is of an expectantly high standard and it is powerful and robust in its delivery but also with great depth of feeling. The recording is very well balanced and does great justice to the individual instrumentalists. This is a terrific performance that is filled with power, emotion and intensity and it is well deserving of your attention.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: aligreto on July 17, 2021, 06:33:20 AM
Brahms: Cello Sonata No. 2 [Wispelwey/Komen]


(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/81P6GFcCA5L._SS500_.jpg)


This is a very, very different sounding presentation to all of the others that I have in my collection. It is played on suitable period instruments which sound wonderful with great bite, particularly the cello. The piano also sounds very different, and very effective to me. However, the phrasing is very different to others’ and it is intriguing and both of these elements create their own sound world for this very unique sounding presentation: it is quite a compelling contrast in comparison to other recordings. This interpretation clamours and deserves to be heard.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on July 17, 2021, 07:58:34 AM
Why? A monthly focus on one work and that’s it? ???

Chacun à son goût
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Florestan on July 17, 2021, 08:40:01 AM
Chacun à son goût

The most abused maxim in the world.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on July 17, 2021, 11:46:31 AM
The most abused maxim in the world.

Possibly. Did I abuse it here?  I also like Live and let live.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: DavidW on July 18, 2021, 05:36:11 AM
I admire your tenacity. ;) As much as I love Mahler’s 9th, I couldn’t listen to it for several weeks and this be the only work I listen to. If anything, it’d make me not want to hear this symphony for a long time.

Well you don't strike me as the type that would just relisten repeatedly to the same thing.  You're always on the prowl.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: DavidW on July 18, 2021, 05:37:35 AM
I also did the same thing for Tchaikovsky's 6th. :o
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Mirror Image on July 18, 2021, 05:39:15 AM
Well you don't strike me as the type that would just relisten repeatedly to the same thing.  You're always on the prowl.

While I do agree with this, there was one instance where I listened to the same work 11 times in a row and that was Berg’s Violinkonzert (the Mutter/Levine performance). This concerto was completely new to me at the time, but I became rather obsessed with it (and I still am but obviously to a lesser degree ;)).
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on July 18, 2021, 07:14:23 AM
I also did the same thing for Tchaikovsky's 6th. :o

While I do agree with this, there was one instance where I listened to the same work 11 times in a row and that was Berg’s Violinkonzert (the Mutter/Levine performance). This concerto was completely new to me at the time, but I became rather obsessed with it (and I still am but obviously to a lesser degree ;)).

It isn't crazy.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Jo498 on July 18, 2021, 08:56:26 AM
Possibly. Did I abuse it here?  I also like Live and let live.
This was at least good for a decent Bond movie title...
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on July 18, 2021, 09:05:30 AM
This was at least good for a decent Bond movie title...

(* chortle *)
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Judith on August 04, 2021, 05:15:26 AM
Well, after Brahms  last month, it's another cello sonata no 2 with Faure.  After the beautiful no 1, wanted to know this one better.
Performed by Steven Isserlis and Pascal Devoyon🎼🎼
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: aligreto on August 11, 2021, 11:41:40 PM
It has been quite a while since I had listened to Fauré's Cello Sonata No. 2 so I took my versions down and dusted them off:


1. Igloi & Benson:

(https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/W7AAAOSw4tVeNfra/s-l1600.jpg)


2. P. Tortelier & Heidsieck

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/proxy/r6HnodLrEJ7NI5coXfHThEgEtqKy8etRP5tTX0eZ4BkXL-074Iq7NQRvlh0s_2GBPl9h1fnWt8qKSdB620ppYAGZLqgdgDrzaumZfHlttI8CrHbNK2hrh6eoja8)


3. Isserlis & Devoyon

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71eidSe6jIL._SX355_.jpg)


4. Bruns & Ishay

(https://img.discogs.com/UcKsJdRzbqqsY8_IYFGTx0B4Z3U=/fit-in/600x596/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-7234274-1436785279-1527.jpeg.jpg)



I will post relevant comments in the Fauré thread for anyone interested.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on August 12, 2021, 08:26:50 AM
Well, after Brahms  last month, it's another cello sonata no 2 with Faure.  After the beautiful no 1, wanted to know this one better.
Performed by Steven Isserlis and Pascal Devoyon🎼🎼

Nice!
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Judith on September 04, 2021, 04:01:58 AM
Well, for this months focus it's Mendelssohn Cello Sonata no 2. Wanted to know this one better and ashamed to say not very familiar with it because it is beautiful and easy to listen.
Recording that am using is by
Steven Isserlis
Stephen Hough
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on September 04, 2021, 05:37:59 AM
Interesting, Judith. I don't know it at all.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: aligreto on September 04, 2021, 07:20:29 AM
Well, for this months focus it's Mendelssohn Cello Sonata no 2. Wanted to know this one better and ashamed to say not very familiar with it because it is beautiful and easy to listen.
Recording that am using is by
Steven Isserlis
Stephen Hough

You also have me there, Judith. I neither have this in my collection nor have ever heard it. I will have to search the web for listening samples.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: foxandpeng on September 06, 2021, 06:47:40 AM
Well, for this months focus it's Mendelssohn Cello Sonata no 2. Wanted to know this one better and ashamed to say not very familiar with it because it is beautiful and easy to listen.
Recording that am using is by
Steven Isserlis
Stephen Hough

I must say, I admire your single-mindedness. I have spent the last three months listening to 2 or 3 Shostakovich SQs each day, and toward the end, despite their innate beauty and fascination, have begun to weary of them due to over exposure. One piece per month is outstanding focus and concentration. I need to up my game. Perhaps my lack of stamina is holding me back in my ability to know the deep nuances of particular pieces as I should. Having said that, I think I now know the Shostakovich better than any other SQ cycle that I have heard.

This month is more SQs, continuing with Holmboe at a rate of two a day, every day, but I need the variety of a couple of listening projects alongside a broad smattering of other works both new and familiar. Bartok, Sculthorpe, Mansurian, etc. Oh, and a Shostakovich symphony daily. I take my hat off to your patient attention! I am a mere amateur in a school of experts, I think.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: DavidW on September 06, 2021, 07:29:10 AM
I really like Telemann's concerti and cantatas... Telemann will probably be my monthly focus.  Last month it was Holmboe's string quartets (not all of them just one volume).
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on September 06, 2021, 09:21:20 AM
I must say, I admire your single-mindedness. I have spent the last three months listening to 2 or 3 Shostakovich SQs each day, and toward the end, despite their innate beauty and fascination, have begun to weary of them due to over exposure. One piece per month is outstanding focus and concentration. I need to up my game. Perhaps my lack of stamina is holding me back in my ability to know the deep nuances of particular pieces as I should. Having said that, I think I now know the Shostakovich better than any other SQ cycle that I have heard.
You've earned an informed overview.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: aligreto on September 06, 2021, 10:33:30 AM
Well, for this months focus it's Mendelssohn Cello Sonata no 2. Wanted to know this one better and ashamed to say not very familiar with it because it is beautiful and easy to listen.
Recording that am using is by
Steven Isserlis
Stephen Hough

I had not heard this work before so I went in search of it. I chose Maisky/Tiempo as my introduction. I very much liked the work on first listen and I felt that the musicians presented it very well indeed.


https://www.youtube.com/v/A4t-OBAgX7A
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Jo498 on September 06, 2021, 11:41:16 AM
Both of Mendelssohn's cello sonatas are very good pieces. I dislike calling such a famous composer underrated (because the term is used inflationary) but a lot of his brilliant chamber music is neglected in favor of the (justly) famous octet, 1st piano trio and a minor and f minor string quartets.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: foxandpeng on September 06, 2021, 10:01:12 PM
You've earned an informed overview.

Indeed. Time well spent.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: DavidW on September 07, 2021, 04:06:49 AM
Both of Mendelssohn's cello sonatas are very good pieces. I dislike calling such a famous composer underrated (because the term is used inflationary) but a lot of his brilliant chamber music is neglected in favor of the (justly) famous octet, 1st piano trio and a minor and f minor string quartets.

Don't forget the string quintets!
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Pohjolas Daughter on September 07, 2021, 05:10:41 AM
Well, for this months focus it's Mendelssohn Cello Sonata no 2. Wanted to know this one better and ashamed to say not very familiar with it because it is beautiful and easy to listen.
Recording that am using is by
Steven Isserlis
Stephen Hough
Must admit, I haven't hauled out any Mendelssohn in quite some time but I enjoyed listening to this work.  I believe that the only recording that I have of it is with Janos Starker and Gyorgy Sebok.  It's a lovely recording and is on Mercury (great sound!).  If you're interested in listening to this version, it's on youtube here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMIRDPisPSo (other uploads to youtube too).

PD
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Judith on October 04, 2021, 05:00:36 AM
Must admit, I haven't hauled out any Mendelssohn in quite some time but I enjoyed listening to this work.  I believe that the only recording that I have of it is with Janos Starker and Gyorgy Sebok.  It's a lovely recording and is on Mercury (great sound!).  If you're interested in listening to this version, it's on youtube here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMIRDPisPSo (other uploads to youtube too).

Sorry for the late reply but thank you for this. Enjoyed this one!

PD
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Judith on October 04, 2021, 05:00:58 AM
Decided I wanted to explore Saint Saens further, so this month it is his piano concerto no 1 in D major.
Lovely recording also by
Stephen Hough
CBSO
Sakari Oramo!
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: OrchestralNut on October 04, 2021, 05:15:31 AM
Decided I wanted to explore Saint Saens further, so this month it is his piano concerto no 1 in D major.
Lovely recording also by
Stephen Hough
CBSO
Sakari Oramo!

Saint Saens piano concerti are amazing works! And I love the Hough recordings.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: carol235 on October 15, 2021, 03:37:21 PM
I can never decide which Saint Saens piano concerto I like the best.  They are all good.  Right now my favorite is No. 5.  But that could change tomorrow  :)
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: aligreto on October 16, 2021, 01:12:13 AM
Saint-Saens: Piano Concerto No. 1 [Rogé/Dutoit]


(https://static.universal-music.de/asset_new/123326/195/view/saint-saens-concertos-orchestral-works-0028947546526.jpg)


I am not overly familiar with this work and this is the only version of it that I have in my collection. The most noteworthy thing for me in the first movement, to be honest, is the exposition with that wonderful horn theme. The horns continue to play an important role in the texture of the orchestration. The lower register strings in the slow movement are slightly disconcerting. The final movement is a buoyant and lively affair. After a long gap since my last listen I was not enthused by my re-acquaintance with this work I must admit. 
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: Jo498 on October 16, 2021, 02:51:09 AM
Yes, the horn theme is the most remarkable thing as far as I recall. I should re-listen to the pieces but last time I thought it was not totally unjustified that No. 2 and 4 were the most famous of these pieces.
Title: Re: Monthly Focus
Post by: aligreto on October 16, 2021, 06:10:10 AM
Yes it is good to revisit works that did not originally appeal to us. Sometimes that opinion changes and sometimes not. That is one thing that I like about this particular thread.