Classical music kittens?

I know I'm not the only one, since there are at least a few of you in the Mozart in the Jungle thread.

What are your favorite pieces? Always looking for some new, or new-to-me, really (since, I gotta be honest, I don't like much that was written after 1940) things to listen to.

I love Dvorak's 7th symphony and cello concerto, Shostakovich's Festive Overture, Tchaikovsky's 5th symphony, Britten's War Requiem, and pretty much anything by Bach, for starters.
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  • I love classical music, but my tastes are pretty pedestrian.  Anything by Mozart or Bach. Tchaikovsky ballet music.  Strauss waltzes always make me want to dance.  I've recently fallen in love with classical guitar music.
  • Zoeg said:
    I've recently fallen in love with classical guitar music.
    Do tell. This is an area I know NOTHING about. Last year I happened to get a free ticket to a classical guitar quartet recital. I figured it wasn't my thing but it was free, so what the hell? I ended up enjoying myself immensely, but then never did anything about (ie, getting any guitar music for my own collection). So now I STILL know nothing.

    Also, for everyone who looks in this thread, I mentioned this in the book recommendations also: Indivisible by Four by Arnold Steinhardt is probably my favorite book about classical music ever. He was the first violinist of the Guarneri String Quartet, one of the most long-lived quartets in history, and he tells amazing stories about what it's like to be a musician who's good enough to be a concert soloist, but chooses a less star-of-the-show life in a quartet. I loved it, and I wish it were longer so I could have kept reading it longer.
  • I've not seen any of Mozart in the Jungle but I do love listening to classical music - I grew up hearing it and jazz from family, and learning to play an instrument led to more discovery too. I haven't played for a while, but still love listening to it. I could go on and on with things I like, and I discover new things all the time, but I'll put a few in just now.

    I adore Saint-Saens' Symphony No. 3 with organ, and think it is rather beautiful. Plus I have fond memories of performing it in the Charterhouse school chapel after a Christmas holiday orchestra workshop at the school.

    The Carnival of the Animals is also rather fun, and I still enjoy all the little references in there. 

    Smetana's Ma Vlast is another favourite, particularly Vlatava, and also Borodin's Polovtsian Dances.
  •  Cavalleria Rusticana by Mascagni .... because (to my soul) it sounds like flowers opening up.



  • I was raised on Segovia and saw him in concert when I was studying classical. My favorite who sometimes is classical, sometimes not, it Ottmar Liebert.
  • edited February 2015
    I love quite a bit of classical: Bach, Händel, Chopin... As for individual pieces, I adore Sibelius' Violin Concerto and 2nd Symphony, Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony, Prokofyev's Romeo & Juliet score, the Beethoven symphonies and Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings, among others.

    When it comes to opera, I don't have a single opera I love (though La Boheme comes close), but I'm a big fan of Verdi's chorus scenes, Puccini's arias and Wagner's orchestrations.

    Most of the classical music I actually play tends to be medieval or baroque (Bach, Purcell, Telemann, Byrd) or modern classical (Hindemith, Tavener, Britten), because I play 4 types of recorder.
  • @HotTamale @Pennymac ; Thanks for the music selections. Beautiful.  I have heard the Cavalleria Rusticana before but I didn't know what it was.  I'm adding that to my play list.

    @JocastaDeVilleneuve ; Chopin, yes!  Love his work.

    The first classical guitar piece I heard (while driving) was Carulli's Guitar Concerto in A and I was entranced.  I came in at middle and missed the announcement of what it was.  Luckily my husband is a classical music afficionado and was able to guess at what it was based on my poor attempt to sing the tune.


  • edited February 2015
    @JocastaDeVilleneuve ; Oh, you and I need to get together sometime!  I play recorders as well, c, f and g instruments, with either baroque or medieval/renaissance fingerings.  I also play crumhorn and shawm.  Early music is one of my passions!

    I'm also a choral singer and my tastes are REALLY wide there.  I love the early stuff (Josquin, Byrd and Palestrina being favorites) but there are some contemporary composers I really like (Lauridsen, Gjello and Fedak come to mind).  I've done just about everything in between.  The one who drives me nuts is Rutter.  His stuff is just too gimmicky for me.

    Vaughan Williams "Variations on a theme by Thomas Tallis" is one of my all time favorite orchestral pieces and the Bach Brandenberg Concerti never fail to make me smile.
  • Anybody like Gilbert & Sullivan?

  • I'm also a choral singer and my tastes are REALLY wide there.  I love the early stuff (Josquin, Byrd and Palestrina being favorites)
    I like Palestrina a lot but haven't heard much of the other two. I will have to fix that.

    I've been singing in a 200-voice choir for the last 7 years -- it's awesome to do big works like the War Requiem and the St. Matthew Passion, but we tend not to do early music where it's harder to get a big group like ours moving nimbly through the lines. I miss that!
  • @stellavision  

    What I miss is the big stuff.  The last big work I did was Beethoven's 9th at Lincoln Center (which was an amazing experience!).  I belong to two choirs, one a small, invitation-only community ensemble and the other a good sized church choir.  Both groups do early music quite well.  The church choir is big enough for some larger works (Messiah, Duruffle Requiem), but doesn't have the numbers for the large works with full orchestra.

    If you're looking for good recordings of early stuff, The Sixteen is a fabulous group.  My favorite Byrd piece is his "Ave Verum" though when my brother gave me a facsimile of the original printing of his masses for 3, 4 and 5 voices I squealed like a fangurl.  Josquin's "Ave Maria" is gorgeous and his secular stuff is beautiful too ("Si J'avoy Marion" is a fave).
  • I am a huge fan of baroque and early music, and jokingly say that nothing worth listening to has been written since Mozart died, but I don't really mean it.   After all, I also love John Adams; Doctor Atomic blew me away (no pun intended!).
  • @SingingPhoenixD:

    cool! I play soprano, alto, tenor and bass recorder, and was the lead tenor in our local recorder orchestra.

    Also play the piano, metallophone and shakuhachi and have noodled a bit on the guitar, oboe, clarinet and bass.
  • @JocastaDeVilleneuve

    My first instrument was the flute, which I still play.  When I got into living history, I expanded out.  I'll actually be doing shawms this weekend.  The most recent toy is a tabor pipe that friends loaned to me.  It only has 3 holes, so you can play one handed.

    So, I'm in NJ, where are you?
  • I love classical music but I'm really bad at remembering the names of the pieces or who composed them. I get strange looks from classical lovers when I say that so I'm sorry!  I do know however that I love Liebestraum by Liszt, a lot of early Beethoven, and quite a bit of Mozart. I love Le Mer by Debussy but not a lot else by him. I like the Brandenburg concertos by Bach, but find a lot of Bach to be too heavy for me.  I tend to like music that is "light" feeling at least to me, so can't listen to Wagner to save my life.

  • Hehe this is an entertaining thread. I'm a composer/artist by vocation and I used to run a classical music specialist CD and DVD in New Zealand for 10 years. Ironically enough I dislike a great deal of the "standard" repertoire in "classical music" (I especially dislike the term itself and even more so the reams of pretension and attempts at prestige that attach themselves to the works). I live in Australia and accordingly never get to hear either the performers or the works I love most performed well. My last trip to the US was specifically to see Andras Schiff perform a long program of Bach Bartok and Beethoven and meeting him and spending almost an hour with him afterwards at UC Berkeley was probably the artistic highlight of my life. 

    Skftex, if you find Bach "too heavy" that is probably entirely because of the performers, not the music! Bach is actually one of the wittiest and funniest of the great composers. It's the overly reverential attitude of older performers that usually gives the impression of "teutonic seriousness". The older, slower, undecorated way of performing Bach turned me off much of his work entirely until I heard Andras Schiff playing the Goldberg Variations (recording available on ECM1825, the top selling record in a decade in my store in NZ): all the wit and humour of the music is there (Tureck and Gould pointedly miss both). Now that work would probably be my example of a "perfect work of art".

    "Classical music" is unique in that the performance of a piece can sometimes make the work unrecognisable and yet no performance can ever be "definitive" or "unsurpassable". That's what's fascinating about it. Spotify could well be your friend as it features multiple performances of the same work by different performers. If you only ever hear one performance you're never hearing the work itself, just one view of it and yet, the work "itself" doesn't really exist.

    Written out music is the earliest example of conceptual art :-) 
  • Skftex, if you find Bach "too heavy" that is probably entirely because of the performers, not the music!
    Even though I've always loved Bach, I recently learned just how much the performers can make a difference! I have always loved the b minor Mass -- did it once in college and once about 6 years ago with my current (ginormous) choir, and the recording I had of it was with another large group. Then I learned of the Joshua Rifkin recording of the mass, which has just one person on each voice part. It's the same music, but a completely different experience -- so much more intimate and warm. Now I'm in danger of never listening to a large-choir recording again!

    (BTW, I am in awe of the Rifkin ensemble. I could never perform that piece with no one else on my part so that we can cover for each other when someone needs to breathe in the middle of a phrase!)
  • Well my picture avatar is George Balanchine's Serenade, music by Tchaikovsky. Most of what I know of classical music is from being such a fan of Balanchine and NYCB.
    Bach's Double Violin Concerto used for Mr. B's Concerto Barocco is tops for me. The music and the ballet are what I imagine heaven sounds and looks like.
  • @vulfturner -- I have a friend who adores the Gould Goldberg recording and I just don't get it.  Besides, I like my keyboards played with about 60 lbs of air pressure behind them, or with plucked, not hammered strings.  :-)    I'm also glad you made the comment to Skftex about performers, because the idea of Bach being heavy is so foreign to me.

    If you like lighter sounds, The Sixteen are wonderful.  I have a couple of the Cantatas which they recorded.  It's such a shame that we lost Christopher Hogwood.  He was really instrumental (no pun intended) in changing how we hear Baroque music.

    @stellavision -- I LOVE doing one on a part singing.  You need to try it in a non-performance setting to get you past the terror and you'll probably start to love it.  You can be so supple and responsive that way.  We're doing the Allegri "Miserere" in a couple of weeks (which is currently playing in honor of the day) and I love being part of the quartet for that.
  • @JocastaDeVilleneuve


    So, I'm in NJ, where are you?
    Way over yonder across the pond, in Finland. So, jamming sessions are sadly unlikely :(
  • Skftex, if you find Bach "too heavy" that is probably entirely because of the performers, not the music!
    Even though I've always loved Bach, I recently learned just how much the performers can make a difference! I have always loved the b minor Mass -- did it once in college and once about 6 years ago with my current (ginormous) choir, and the recording I had of it was with another large group. Then I learned of the Joshua Rifkin recording of the mass, which has just one person on each voice part. It's the same music, but a completely different experience -- so much more intimate and warm. Now I'm in danger of never listening to a large-choir recording again!

    (BTW, I am in awe of the Rifkin ensemble. I could never perform that piece with no one else on my part so that we can cover for each other when someone needs to breathe in the middle of a phrase!)

    I HIGHLY recommend the Bach Collegium Japan recording of the B Minor Mass which is the only performance I've ever heard with a small choir (12 to 15 singers) that gets the fugue in Cum Sancto Spiritu absolutely right, down to the tiniest details of phrasing and rhythm. It also has the radiantly beautiful voice of Carolyn Sampson as soloist and as a member of the choir. I'm firmly in the camp of believing that Bach never wrote for a choir but for a small ensemble of highly trained soloists, maximum 3 per part. My favourite St Matthew Passion is the McCreesh version with 8 singers only and it changed my whole view of the work.
  • Skftex, if you find Bach "too heavy" that is probably entirely because of the performers, not the music!
    Even though I've always loved Bach, I recently learned just how much the performers can make a difference! I have always loved the b minor Mass -- did it once in college and once about 6 years ago with my current (ginormous) choir, and the recording I had of it was with another large group. Then I learned of the Joshua Rifkin recording of the mass, which has just one person on each voice part. It's the same music, but a completely different experience -- so much more intimate and warm. Now I'm in danger of never listening to a large-choir recording again!

    (BTW, I am in awe of the Rifkin ensemble. I could never perform that piece with no one else on my part so that we can cover for each other when someone needs to breathe in the middle of a phrase!)

    I HIGHLY recommend the Bach Collegium Japan recording of the B Minor Mass which is the only performance I've ever heard with a small choir (12 to 15 singers) that gets the fugue in Cum Sancto Spiritu absolutely right, down to the tiniest details of phrasing and rhythm. It also has the radiantly beautiful voice of Carolyn Sampson as soloist and as a member of the choir. I'm firmly in the camp of believing that Bach never wrote for a choir but for a small ensemble of highly trained soloists, maximum 3 per part. My favourite St Matthew Passion is the McCreesh version with 8 singers only and it changed my whole view of the work.
  • Sorry about the double post I'm on an iPad and it seemed to go through twice
  • I've been having a very operatic week.  I went to a dress rehearsal of Weinberg's The Passenger last Friday, and then the opening night of it, at Lyric Opera on Tuesday. Very powerful stuff.

    In between, Tobias Picker's Thérèse Raquin, at Chicago Opera Theatre, which I quite liked, even if it's not nearly as claustrophobic as the book. 

    Tonight a klezmer opera, The Property (commissioned by Lyric), and on Friday, it'll be Tosca, despite the very negative reviews of the production (not the singing).
  • Spent quite a lot of today working to the sounds of my new favorite Pandora station, which I based off Stephen Hough. He's a classical pianist who is also a wonderfully articulate writer. Here's his blog, which he does not update nearly often enough!
  • edited March 2015
    How did I miss this thread??? I play violin in two volunteer orchestras. It is truly my sanity since I'm currently a stay at home mom and I yearn for adult interaction.

    Rattling off some favorites in bullet points:
    - Tchaikovsky: bring on the schmaltz, he is a master of orchestration. To @stellavision who mentioned symphony #5, definitely a favorite of mine, and I spent most of December playing the Nutcracker and loving every minute of it. I've also played the Romeo & Juliet Fantasy Overture at LEAST 3 times and I never tire of it.
    - Beethoven: The "Of Course" of classical music, but he has earned his pop-culture status. The 7th symphony is one of my all time favorite pieces of all time. That second movement gets me every time with it's sheer power.
    - Dvorak: His late symphonies are to DIE for. I'm playing #9 in one of my orchestras right now. My husband proposed to me on stage after one of my orchestra concerts during which we played #7, so that one always gives me tingly feelings. The Slavonic Dances were one of my favorite things to study to in college.
    - Bach: I tend to find most baroque music somewhat repetitive, but Bach was still a master of weaving parts together. I almost got a chance to play a chamber music concert with Brandenburg #4, but I got sick and I'm still pouting about missing it. I performed the solo second violin part of the bach double violin concerto in high school and it was one of my most exciting musical memories.

    My next concert for orchestra #1 is this Friday, and we're playing Liszt (Piano Concerto & Les Preludes), Offenbach Overture to Orpheus in the Underworld (which I can no longer hear anything but the ShopRite Can-Can sale music), and Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.  Will be fun, but we just got snowed out of one of our last rehearsals... heh

  • Vaughan Williams "Variations on a theme by Thomas Tallis" is one of my all time favorite orchestral pieces

    It is one of the must lush and beautiful pieces of music I've ever been lucky enough to play. HIGHLY recommended.  The orchestration is stunning. To those who might not know the piece, they used it in a dramatic scene of the Russell Crowe movie "Master & Commander" to great effect.

  • Skftex, if you find Bach "too heavy" that is probably entirely because of the performers, not the music! Bach is actually one of the wittiest and funniest of the great composers. It's the overly reverential attitude of older performers that usually gives the impression of "teutonic seriousness".
    This is very true... As a violinist, I had a recording of the complete Sonatas and Partitas by Bach (a staple for aspiring violinists) and I was never a fan of my recording. But then someone gave me a copy of the Julia Fischer version, and it was like a completely different composition. The performers DO make a big difference!
  • Classical music lover, here!  My degree is in music and I spent years trying to have a career in voice.  Especially opera!  Bring it!
  • violina23 said:
    - Dvorak: His late symphonies are to DIE for. I'm playing #9 in one of my orchestras right now. My husband proposed to me on stage after one of my orchestra concerts during which we played #7, so that one always gives me tingly feelings. The Slavonic Dances were one of my favorite things to study to in college.
    @violina23 LOVELOVELOVE 7. One of the first big orchestral works I got to play. I haven't touched my viola since I was in college but I've been in love with that piece since I was 16 and I always will be!
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