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  1. #1

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    Question Classical Music: Your "Must Have" List

    What are your "must have" selections for classical music?

    List your top 5 at least, or more if you are inclined.

    I hope there are at least some Polk owners who still listen to classical music and want to share their preferences - there doesn't seem to be much posting activity in this area since the Home Theater and DVD explosion.

    I need some suggestions since my ex took most of my classical CDs and I need to rebuild my collection and I want to see if I was missing anything music lovers generally concurred was a "must have" in the classical music arena.

    Thanks,

    Doc
    "What we do in life echoes in eternity"

    Ed Mullen (emullen@svsound.com)
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  2. #2

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    The 1 I most often listen to is Mozart, Ein Klein Nackt Music.

    I live by phonics but I hope you get the point.

    The rest of my stuff are collections of many not just single symphony's.
    ***WAREMTAE***

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    Holst: The Planets


    BDT
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    I don't listen to much of it, but here's what I have and like:

    Holst: The Planets
    Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man (and others)
    Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture

    Aaron

  5. #5
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    One good thing about rebuilding your collection is that many of the current crop of classical recordings are supposed to be very good in terms of recording quality. I can't vouch for this, but that seems to be the opinion of many reviewers. I don't have a must have list--my taste tends toward the Baroque, so I like JS Bach, but I don't really keep track of names of composers & compositions. I only know that I'm more likely to like something from that period than from other periods. You should be able to find some sites that are primarily oriented towards classical music. But I'm not sure what they are--any ideas, polksters? Even a cultureless fool like me may actually need it sometime!

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    Default side note

    One of the things I find with classical music is that I don't enjoy it unless I have it turned up pretty loud. You lose so much of the music when the volume is down, particularly details and dynamics. Has anyone else noticed with with classical music?

    Aaron

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    Agreed,

    I would also suggest browsing anything in the telarc library. All of the recordings that I have are top notch.

    BDT
    I plan for the future. - F1Nut

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    Default Telarc

    I have many Telarc orchestral recordings, but my latest one, "1812 Overture" is by far the best. It was recorded using Sony's DSD technology (SACD sampling method). I was skeptical until I heard the disc. It is truly amazing. I can't imagine what the SACD version sounds like.

    Aaron

  9. #9
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    Ah, Doctor. A thread I can really dig into.

    Give me this evening to go home and look thru the racks and make a list of the best of the best, and watch for my post tomorrow. On the edge of your seat? HA!

    Stay tuned.

    MC
    ultramicah@yahoo.com

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  10. #10

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    Beethoven - 5th, 7th and 9th Symphonies
    Handel - Water Music and Messiah
    Copeland - Appalachan Spring
    Vivaldi - The 4 Seasons
    Holst - The Planets
    Tchaikovsky - 1812 Overture
    Mahler - Symphony No. 1 and Symphony No. 2
    Berlioz - Symphony Fantastique

    These are pretty basic classical standards.
    "Just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right." - Ricky Gervais

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  11. #11

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    Angry Oh no!

    This thread is going to cost me more money. Now I have to go out and buy more classical CD's.

    See what you guys do to me!!!


    John
    I'm not saying she's a slut, but if her vagina had a password...it would be password.

  12. #12

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    Thanks, guys. Looking forward to Micah's post, too. Will print the thread when it finishes.

    Doc
    "What we do in life echoes in eternity"

    Ed Mullen (emullen@svsound.com)
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    In addition to the many fine submissions already:

    Bach: organ works (Preludes, Tocattas, Fugues)
    Bruckner: Sym. No. 4, "Romantic"
    Mahler: Sym. No. 2, "Resurrection"
    Mozart: Requiem
    Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition
    Rachmaninoff: Sym. No. 2
    Rachmaninoff: Pno. Cto. No. 2
    Saint Saens: "Organ" Symphony
    Shostakovich: Sym. No. 5
    Tchaikovsky: Sym No. 4
    Tchaikovsky: Sym. No. 6, "Pathetique"
    Tchaikovsky: Romeo & Juliet Overture

    Give War A Chance

  14. #14
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    Post the king is here (with his list)

    You guys have made some great suggestions. You'll see some of the same stuff here. I've tried to include the labels and disc numbers to help out.

    A Short List of The Classical Best

    Why listen to Classical Music? Because it's the original rock and roll, that's why. And when you get bored by the sameness of rock or pop, there is nothing like the endless depth and interesting nuances of classical music. Plus, these guys are demented -- some truly evil and wacked out personalities here. Worthy not only of your ear, but of your research. Rock stars have nothing on these guys.

    This is a short selection of some of the recordings in my collection (my faves). They are in most cases the best of the best if I do say so myself. I know this because I have a very well-read classical music mentor who is up on all this stuff. I am a mere amateur here, but I know enough to be dangerously judgemental. Ready? You will be amazed at how much free time I have. In no order:

    BACH Pretty much all you need, if you're just getting into classical music, is the SIX BRANDENBURG CONCERTOS played by Trevor Pinnock and The English Concert (pronounced "consort" by snooty classical music people) on ARCHIV BMG (3-disc set #D284161). Glorious and moving, and instantly recognizable as "classical."

    COPLAND You can't be an American if you don't like this modern American classical music by Aaron Copland (really, among the last great composers of the age). Sony Classical has remastered all the early Copland recordings by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic (Berstein was a personal pal of Copland so you know he got it right) and they sound pristine and powerful. Check APPALACHIAN SPRING/RODEO/BILLY THE KID/FANFARE FOR THE COMMON MAN on Sony Classical disc SMK 63082. The only better version of RODEO is the on by Emerson Lake & Palmer on the live "Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends..."

    Sony Classical has also included Bernstein's rendition of BIZET's CARMEN Suites 1 & 2 in their remastered reissues. If I liked opera I'd like CARMEN first, because the music is tremendously powerful and emotional. This disc is the most moving of versions. (Too bad I didn't write down the disc number when I made my list last night. Up to you.)

    TCHAIKOVSKY No composer beats the tortured Tchaikovsky (of "Nutcracker" fame) for angry evil music. The man was demented and depressed, and he poured his emotion into his wonderful music. Amazingly, the best representative bit of this music is available on a cheapy-cheap disc produced by a company called NAXOS. It's called TCHAIKOVSKY FESTIVAL and it's stuff like "1812 Overture," "Romeo & Juliet" and more played by Adrian Leaper and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on NAXOS 8.550500. The TELARC discs are pretty good, and really filled with dynamic response, but this disc is filled with the spirit of the man himself and contains overwhelmingly well recorded and well played versions of these pieces. (Gotta love a composer who uses real cannon on stage!)

    As an aside, look to the NAXOS label for cheap discs that often trump the expensive labels in quality and "best version" recommendation. I have all my VIVALDI, TELEMANN and HAYDN string pieces on NAXOS discs. Quality and performance-wise, you can't go wrong with the NAXOS Classical label.

    MUSSORGSKY's PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION has always been one of my favorite pieces of classical music -- since hearing ELP do it, my first exposure to it. It comes in two versions, the original solo piano one, and the more familiar orchestral version. For a version of the former that will enlighten you as to why this piece would attract such a wacko as Keith Emerson, listen to the solo piano version played by young pianist Mikhail Pletnev on Virgin Classics (disc 0777 75961126). This is one of my favorites because it's simply astonishing what the original piece of music accomplishes with minimal instrumentation. Pletnev makes the piece come alive. You will be surprised at what a piano can do. The classic orchestral version is done well by Bernstein again on CBS Basic Rep disc MYK 36726.

    BRAHMS once left a gathering by saying "If there is anyone here whom I have not offended, I am sorry." Gotta love that. The best versions of his four symphonies are performed by Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonica on a Musical Heritage Society 4-disc set #5446042. I like this stuff because you can instantly tell the influence it had on guys like Rick Wakemen (YES) and Keith Emerson: lots of flowing, crashing familiar big-orchestra stuff that would have made Beethoven smile. (We'll get to him in a sec.)

    For something lighter, but still tremendous, check out the recordings of Brahms' and Tchaikovsky's VIOLIN CONCERTOS peformed by Fritz Reiner & the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (violin played by Jascha Heifetz) on the acclaimed RCA Living Stereo Cd 09026-61495-2.

    Now for the big two:

    MOZART Another easy-to-get-into classical composer, obviously. Mozart Rule of Thumb: Always go with Marriner's Mozart. That would be Sir Neville Marriner & The Academy of Ancient Music. No one does Mozart better. Witness THE LAST 5 SYMPHONIES on Philips 438 332-2 (2-disc set) and THE BEST KNOWN PIANO CONCERTOS (this is all stuff you'll instantly recognize) with Alfred Brendel at the piano on Philips 442 269-2 (another 2-disc set). Another of my favorites is a two-2-disc set of Mozart's PIANO SONATAS (Concertos include the orchestra, Sonatas are solo piano), the best versions of which are found on the cut-rate VOX BOX label (Vol 1 CDX 5026, Vol 2 CDX 5046), played by pianist Walter Klein. It's relaxing, moving, soft and powerful at the same time, filled with recognizable themes and variations. Heck, it's Mozart!

    BEETHOVEN is my favorite of all. He's angry, he struggled (whereas it came easy to Mozart) and he produced some of the most beautiful music ever made... And he was deaf. If that's not enough to make you pissed, I don't know what is. My absolute favorite piece of Beethoven's music is his set of FIVE PIANO CONCERTOS. And the greatest, most moving, most well done version of these concertos is found on a Sony Classical 3-disc set (SB3K 48397) which retails for around $20! Baltimore's own Leon Fleischer is the master at the piano for these early 1950s recordings, and no one has done it better since. Beethoven's Piano Concertos are endlessly fun and innovative and familiar, filled with recognizable and easily assimilated music that really rocks.

    But nothing rocks like his symphonies. Simple fact is that they changed western music (from dainty old classical Mozart stuff, to a thundering new wave of orchestral music). You could get all nine of them in one box a myriad of ways: old style, played on "orginal instruments," by Christopher Hogwood & The Academy of Ancient Music on L'oiseau-Lyre 425 696-2, or great new versions, using recently found original never-seen-before transcriptions of Beethoven himself, done by Baltimore's own David Zinman on the Arte Nova label #74321 654102 -- a set of nine discs that retails for cheap, too. The one set to get, tho, remains the set that is the paradigm, the way Beethoven himself must have heard the great symphonies in his own head: performed by Herbert Von Karajan & the Berlin Philharmonic (1963 performances, Deutsche Grammaphone label, 5-disc set 453 701-2). What can I say about Beethoven's symphonies that hasn't already been said, except that there is nothing that compares to them. They just are, and this is the best way to hear them.

    Another of my favorite Beethoven pieces are his PIANO SONATAS, 32 in all, that are found on another DG set (8 discs) performed in the early 1950s by Wilhelm Kempff. The recordings are mono, but the realism is astonishing: it sounds like the piano is in your living room. Every nuance of these great piano pieces is reproduced perfectly, with all the emotion and joy and darkness that befits them. It is said that when Beethoven finished the last of these piano pieces, many years after he wrote the first one, he remarked: "The piano has nothing more to say." And he is right.

    'Kay.

    Day's half over now. I guess I should do some real work around here, huh? :D

    Go home and listen to music!

    Micah
    ultramicah@yahoo.com

    "There's nothing funny about a clown in the moonlight." - Lon Chaney

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    Wow,

    Coherent, well though out and well written. That's refreshing. Now I got some things to add to my shopping list.

    Thanks MC

    BDT
    I plan for the future. - F1Nut

  16. #16

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    Very informative, I may have to print it to read it on the can later....

    Man, this post shows 3 things to me.

    First and foremost, a great selection of classical music. A guide if you will....

    Second, Micah uses the King's English very well. It makes reading his posts FUN.

    Third, Micah must be a very, very lonely man.

    Cheers,
    Russ
    Check your lips at the door woman. Shake your hips like battleships. Yeah, all the white girls trip when I sing at Sunday service.

  17. #17
    Ruler of the gnome universe
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    Never lonely. Look at all the cool people I have to hang out with: Beethoven, Brahms... These guys are inneresting!

    :D

    MC
    ultramicah@yahoo.com

    "There's nothing funny about a clown in the moonlight." - Lon Chaney

  18. #18

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    Yeah, but you dig us. We are funny and interesting. Best of all, we aren't dead.

    BDT
    I plan for the future. - F1Nut

  19. #19

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    Talking My theory

    Micah must have a sixth sense. He sees dead people and talks with them.
    I'm not saying she's a slut, but if her vagina had a password...it would be password.

  20. #20

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    Goddamn, Micah. I owe you huge. That was an incredible effort. I was hoping someone would mention Brahms and Mussorgsky - I HAD (note the past tense) those. Thanks to all, this thread has definitely achieved the rarified "must print and file" status.

    Doc
    "What we do in life echoes in eternity"

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  21. #21
    Stronzo
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    Chopin- Waltz in C# minor

    btw: Excellent reading Micah

  22. #22
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    Chopin... I have the complete Chopin boxed set played by Vladimir Horowitz. It's beautiful and astonishing and comforting and amazingly well-played. When it comes to Chopin, always go with Horowitz. He had gigantic hands, long finger spread, as did Chopin himself, allowing him to play it the way Chopin would have wanted. True.

    And one of the things that makes me happy happy is when a cheapy, super-bargain, obscure East European conductor/orchestra produces a version of a great work that just SMOKES the big names. That's why this definitive version of Brahms' very-recognizable HUNGARIAN DANCES makes me dance around the room:

    Brahms HUNGARIAN DANCES 1-21 (complete)
    Istvan Bogar & The Budapest Symphony Orchestra
    NAXOS 8.550110

    Hurrah for NAXOS!

    Hey, thanks for the kudos. I really love classical music. If you have the right state of mind about it, it's really as fun and exciting as any rock, if not moreso.

    MC
    ultramicah@yahoo.com

    "There's nothing funny about a clown in the moonlight." - Lon Chaney

  23. #23

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    That's why this definitive version of Brahms' very-recognizable HUNGARIAN DANCES makes me dance around the room
    Micah - POLKDANCE or Lord of the Sock Dance.
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  24. #24

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    I fell in love with Pix @ an Exhibition when we played the final section in H.S. marching band--awesome. I don't have the piano version. Of the two orchestral recordings I have (Atlanta/Telarc and Chicago/Chandos), the Chicago under Neeme Jarvi on the Chandos label is king. I also have a version played by the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble on Decca, and an organ transcription on the Dorian label.

    Dvorak is another very accessable classical composer. His "New World" symphony and Sym. No. 8 have some very hummable melodies in them.

    Those who like Copland should check out his Third Symphony. The last movement (13 minutes) is based soley on his Fanfare For The Common Man. I have the Atlanta/Telarc version and it's very well done--both musically and sonically.

    Samuel Barber--another American composer of Copland's time--is worth checking out. Again, an Atlanta S.O./Telarc pairing is awesome and contains his first and second Essays for Orchestra, as well as his most famous work--Adagio for Strings (it was featured in a war flick in the 70s or 80s).
    Last edited by pensacola; 07-17-2002 at 11:45 PM.

    Give War A Chance

  25. #25

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    If you don't have this CD you need to get it! It's called Time Warp by the Cincinnati Pops. It's the only CD I have that comes with a warning label on it. It makes my SDA 1A's jump off the ground!
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/AS...146037-1151236
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  26. #26
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    WHOA! Cool disc. I'm going to have to look into that for demos and stuff! Thanks!

    MC
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    "There's nothing funny about a clown in the moonlight." - Lon Chaney

  27. #27

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    Time Warp by the Cincinnati Pops
    I have it and agree that it's a good one. A similar disc that I like at least as much, if not more, is called "Star Tracks" (click here)

    Aaron

  28. #28

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    Default Mine

    Rossini - William (Guillame) Tell overture
    Bach - Toccata & Fugue
    Vivaldi - Four Seasons
    Stravinsky - Rite of Spring
    Holst - The Planets

    My favorite composer is Mozart. I like more pieces from Tchiakovsky and Beethoven, but not to the same degree.

    There are some quality recordings to be found fairly cheaply at the local K-mart. A collection of greatest hits from your top 5 artists will run you about $30. I picked up a "100 classical favorites" 3-cd set for about $7. Most pieces are cut down to about 2 or 3 minutes, but you can say "hey, so that's who does that".
    Make it Funky! :)

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    Great list Micah -

    My faves -
    Dvorak Symphony No. 9 (Symphony for the New World)
    J.S. Bach - Organ Works
    Berlioz- Symphony Fantastique
    Mahler- Symphony no. 1 (Titan)
    Holst- The Planets
    Mussoursky- Pictures at an Exhibition
    Orff- Carmina Burana - An absolute must have... I think Micah will back me up on this one too!
    Mozart- Symphony 41
    Stravinsky - Rite of Spring
    And of course Beethoven Symphonies 5, 7 and 9.
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    I'm gonna sound like a broken record about this but here goes.
    Stravinsky-The Firebird Telarc #80270
    This recording is very similar to the Robert Shaw/Atlanta Symphony but the David Zinman/Baltimore Symphony Orchestra recording just has a better sense of ambience and depth. This work will lull you into complete tranquility then shake the foundation with tremendous impact. One of my favorite demos.

    Stubby

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