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: Dowder on July 02, 2020, 03:25:25 PM
Last month was primarily Goldberg Variations. Still not quite done but gave several different recordings a spin. Also LVB Symphony 4 and Bartok Concerto for Orchestra.

This month may continue with last month.  ;D

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.)