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Recommend me some classical music

19:47 / 06.05.03
I really never thought much about classical music, until I recieved the soundtrack to Lord of the Rings: the Two Towers, a fantastic CD. I fell quickly in love with the sound of so many different instruments moving and playing together, invoking so many different feelings and pictures... it's such a powerful genre, and I hardly even considered it before.

So now, I'm a-thirsting for more. But I honestly don't have a clue. What songs, which composers or artists make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck? What kind of sub-genres are there, what are the different styles?

One of you wise and all-knowing Barbelithers must know!

20:22 / 06.05.03
Well, the different styles generally correspond to the different periods in time: Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and the plethora of styles that is Modern. For most people, I think, the best place to start would be in the Romantic period, because that's where all the big heart-string pullers are, such as Schubert (check out his Unfinished Symphony as well as the Death and the Maiden Quartet), Beethoven (even though he's technically Classical, not Romantic; any of the odd-numbered symphonies should do it), Tchaikovsky (Symphonies 4-6, Piano Concerto #1, and Violin Concerto #1), Brahms (Symphony No. 1), etc.

If you want something lighter, try Mozart (the later Piano Concertos + last three Symphonies) or Haydn (string quartets Opus 76), from the Classical period; if you want something heavier (and LOOOOOONGER), try Bruckner (9th symphony) or Mahler (6th or 9th, or the 1st, with its perverse Frere Jacques), both of whom straddle the edge between Romantic and Modern.

In the Modern era, there are all the hyper-dramatic and romantic Russian composers, such as Shostakovich (Symphony No. 5, 10), Rachmaninov (Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 3), and Russia's prankster, Prokofiev (Violin Concerto No. 1, Piano Concerto No. 3). Then there're the impressionists, most important of which is Debussy (La Mer, String Quartet); and the expressionists, such as Stravinsky (Le Sacre du Printemps), Bartok (String Quartets Nos. 4,5: music to murder by), Schoenberg, and Berg (who honestly wrote a pretty beautiful Violin Concerto). After Berg, I don't listen to much, nor do I listen to much Baroque...maybe others could fill you in on the minimalists and serialists.

My personal favorite classical CD of all time is a recording of Jacqueline du Pre playing both the Dvorak Cello Concerto and, more importantly, the Elgar Cello Concerto. It's pretty heart-wrenchingly fantastic.
Mourne Kransky
20:47 / 06.05.03
Remember that the field is vast, fidrich, and don't worry if something people rave over leaves you cold. If you persevere, your patience will be rewarded when you discover a composer or an artist who excites you. dragonstout's list has some joyous stuff in it but, IMHO, you'd have to be tone deaf and stonyhearted not to be moved by his last recommendation, the Dupré rendition of Elgar's 'Cello Concerto.
21:25 / 06.05.03
I likes the Baroque. It sounds like math rock. OK, not really. But still.

Pick up a Bach sampler - there are dozens out there. See if you can get one with the Double Concerto in ... ummm.. E minor, I think. I've got a version with oboe & violin. No, it's D minor. Something minor, anyway, and I think it was written for two violins. It'll break your heart.

A lot of that elfy-celtic stuff on the LOTR soundtrack plays on the same Renaissance/"Early Music" motifs you'll find in early Baroque. (Just... avoid some of the vocal stuff. Allegri's church stuff is celestial & gorgeous, but most oratorios leave me, well, actually, I leave them.)

The Baroque period is when the orchestra as such was really invented (by Lully, I think). So most baroque music is more oriented to smaller groups of instruments (although you'll find orchestral arrangements for most of the big hits, since you've got to give orchestras something to do nowadays).

As far as musicians go, I dig anything with Yo-Yo Ma on the label. He's not afraid to have fun with the stuff, and he's a superstar.


You might get something out of cruising around this site for more background on periods and whatnot.


Oh, and if it's sweeping drama you're into, have some fun with Tchaikovsky & Mussorgsky. "Pictures at an Exhibition" especially. I think they count as "Modern" but basically they're Russians. (Actually, that site above classes them as Romantics. But basically, they're Russians.) Holst always sounded like a Russian to me, too. He's English, technically. You've heard bits of "The Planets" before. And all the Star Wars theme music is basically ripping off Holst unabashedly.
So you might like him, too.
Capitalist Piglet
23:49 / 06.05.03
One of the nice things about classical/instrumental is that it is cheap. I'd pick up a few samplers from your local music store, then focus on checking out a few CDs each week from your local library. That is what I did when I discovered classical/instrumental music. My favorites are probably Debussy, Ravel, Chopin, and king Mozart.
Brigade du jour
00:57 / 07.05.03
I hereby endorse the following because for various reason they rock:

Thieving Magpie by Rossini
William Tell Overture by Rossini (especially the pisstaking droopy cello bit at the start)
Marriage Of Figaro Overture by Mozart
Beethoven's Ninth and Fifth Symphonies
That thing by Tchaikovsky which I need to check the details of - I think it's from Swan Lake

See, this is the trouble with classical music, why couldn't they have just had Artist and Title?

Will check some CDs and come back to you.
Tryphena Absent
02:27 / 07.05.03
Hmm... I have a real thing for that whole series of Russian composers particularly Prokofiev's communist ordered-by-the-state work. I'd definitely kick you in the direction of Ravel because some of the string pieces bring me close to tears (in the most positive way). I think I'll add Liszt because the music's all terribly romantic and dashing and beautifully complicated. It might be an idea to buy the Shine soundtrack if you're starting out but it's mostly piano rather than orchestral music so I don't know if it's your kind of thing really.

If you're in Britain Virgin has installed these wonderful listening posts that allow you to listen to practically any artist stocked in the store. I'd just pop down to one and type some random names in if I was you.
The Return Of Rothkoid
03:30 / 07.05.03
More when I get home and can see my CDs, but there's a piano music thread here which may be of use.

Off the top of my head: Arvo Part's Tabula Rasa, the rerecording of Philip Glass's Koyaanisqatsi, the third last movement of Beethoven's Violin Concerto (which rocks harder than anything than man has ever created and I defy you not to grin when you hear the riff that leads it off.. it's fucking beautiful), Mahler's 4th and 6th symphonies, Bach's Christmas Oratorio, Gounoud's Faust, Mozart's Don Giovanni... will get more into it when I get home.
The Return Of Rothkoid
03:31 / 07.05.03
And, duh, Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. How could you not?
at the scarwash
05:10 / 07.05.03
I saw Ingmar Bergman's The Magic Flute last night. I forget (wut wiff me bein' inta rok muzik) how absolutely fucking much that shit is the jam! Mozart just wrote some great tunes. I have a hard time with classical music myself, some sort of feeling of inadequacy to "understand" it. But I can hang with Mozart. I lean more towards 20th century stuff otherwise. Gorecki is beautiful, especially Miserere. I like Varese, the percussion ensemble (with klaxon)especially. And of course, Erik Satie. Satie is brilliant stuff, full of jokes and incredible textures. Pick up a collection of his piano works.
The Return Of Rothkoid
07:09 / 07.05.03
The Essential Classics range on Sony has a good one for about a three quid in HMV sales. It's worth checking out.
03:51 / 11.04.08
Thought i'd dig up this thread as i seem to be listening to more and more classical music these days. The discordant compositions of Gyorgy Ligeti, Krzysztof Penderecki, Schnittke and Gorecki are doing it big time for me at the moment but where to go from here (realising that there is so much more for me to hear from these composers)

Any other fans?

Ligeti is the one i'm having so much joy from at the moment. Both his cello and piano concertos are fabulous. I also have his opera, Le Grand Macabre, which is pretty nuts and takes a bit of getting into.

Where to go from here?
04:03 / 11.04.08
Perhaps 'joy' is not quite the right term when its about Ligeti though, but you know what i mean.
04:06 / 18.04.08
I really like Vanessa Mae's rendition of Vivaldi's Four Seasons. I think it is one of the better classical albums worth getting.
Sir Raconteur
04:25 / 18.04.08
Nikolai Rimsky-Korakov's Sheherazade is one of my favorite pieces of music, regardless of genre. It builds on a few simple musical ideas an entire symphony. Basically, it's hand's down the shit.
01:22 / 24.09.08
I'd been trying to get into Bach a while back but didn't get too far as the tracks I've got all feature some sort of harpsichord thing I'm not too keen on. A few weeks ago I spent a few hours tidying to some jazz on bbc radio three which turned out to be jazz Bach day, I have fond memories of the music and I'm not sure where to start exploring Jazz versions of Bach. Any pointers before I throw myself into fairly random selection?

*mods - feel free to move this to a jazz thread or whatever, I wasn't sure.*
Tuna Ghost: Pratt knot hero
04:59 / 24.09.08
Re: Holst, I've always enjoyed his chamber stuff more than the stuff he wrote for larger ensembles. I remember playing St. Paul's suite in school and some bit with British folksongs and enjoying it very much...I've heard Planets, of course. But Holst, for me, has always meant the pieces he wrote for chamber groups.
05:13 / 24.09.08
Jazz Bach? I had no idea it was a whole genre.

My dad has a great old record called Come Bach by I think the Ensemble P. Gossez. Or Vincent Gossez?

No! It's Pierre Gossez!

Anyway, it's a lot of fun. Sounds very peculiarly 1960s, like the soundtrack to something one expects to see David Niven or Peter Sellers popping up in.
10:10 / 24.09.08
The only Jazz Bach I know is on the Collateral soundtrack: "A jazz version of Air on the G String, by the Klazz Brothers & Cuba Percussion, is featured on the soundtrack for the Michael Mann movie Collateral."
Professor Silly
19:44 / 26.01.09
I feel the need to second the post by Ghadis up above. Penderecki especially is one of my current favorites. I'd go so far as to say that most every modern horror movie filmscore rips him off...badly.

I enjoy Bartok and Varese...both early 20th century.

Bare in mind that I have become very picky when it comes to classical/orchestral music. It seems like the more modern it is, the more likely I'll like it. A lot of the romantic time period just plain irritates me.

Mozart especially rubs me the wrong way. I'm not saying he sucks, or that you'd be dumb for liking his stuff...I just don't enjoy it myself. His style reminds me of some of the prog-metal (like Dragonforce or Dream Theater) that I dislike in modern times--where it seems the music is more about showing off than about feelings. Notable exception: I do like Mozart's Requiem.

Other modern composers that I like and don't think get enough acclaim: John Zorn is known for his jazz and avant gard stuff, but I really enjoy his orchestral works. Same goes for Zappa--it's "classical" for the modern person...those of us that grew up on Warner Brothers cartoons and have short attention spans.

More recently I heard some Terry Riley for the first time, and absolutely fell in love. I heard a version of "In C" on a local radio station and it reminded me of both the hyper-kinetic feel of the Akira motion picture soundtrack combined with the scariness of Penderecki. "In C" is written to be played by any combination of instruments--the version I heard was vocals and percussion only.

I also have to agree that borrowing CD's from your local library seems the best way to sample all the different time-periods and styles. I've used this method both with classical as well as jazz...and it was due to a library owned compilation that I discovered my all time favorite jazz-guy, Charles Mingus. It's free, and effective...and I'm not just saying that because I married a librarian!
21:37 / 28.01.09
if you live in the UK i recommend spending a year or 2 lisrening to radio 3, it is remarkable, over that time you will have been exposed to a breadth and depth of listening to orchestral music that will amaze you, and generally top orchestras and conductors. they also do some beginners guides to...programmes through the year and focus on particular composers over several weeks.

the sunday evening show The Choir is also amazing, 90 minutes of choral music.
22:54 / 01.02.09
i'm too lazy to see if someone posted this: but Bela Bartok's chamber music deserves a listen.

also JS bach's sonatas for viole de gambe and clavinet make me feel smarter just listening to them.

and if you want a change from the mainstream classical, try Carlos Montoya's classical spanish guitar solos. absolutely beautiful
22:27 / 15.04.09
Then there's Alfred Schnittke.
00:06 / 16.04.09
Ooo, I missed that thread Deja. I do love Schnittke. I should really find some more. I have the piano quintet and trio as well the choral 'Penitential Psalms' which is fantastic.

One contemporary composer i'm really enjoying at the moment is Max Richter. 'The Blue Notebooks' is beautiful. Mostly piano but with a fair bit of strings, it weaves in and out of the wonderful Tilda Swinton reading passages from Kafka equally wonderful texts. It really is some of the most emotional, beautiful music i've heard in a long time. His 'Songs from Before' is also worth checking out.

More along the lines of Pendrecki, Ligeti etc is Thomas Ades' 'Asyla' which is great. A composition about an abandoned asylum so you know what you're going to get i guess!

Also seconding John Zorns orchestral pieces. Recently got 'Love, Madness & Mysiticism' which is wonderful.
03:40 / 17.04.09
Silent Hill on Celtic Harp
11:29 / 11.02.10
mahler's 1st
13:49 / 18.02.10
Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet - Montagues and Capulets
Holst- Mars, the Bringer of War- The Planets Suite
Yoshiki - Black Diamond
Yngwie Malmsteen - Ocean Sonata
Yanni - One Man's Dream
Andre Rieu - Dark Eyes
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