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Author Topic: I Hear A Symphony: A "classical" music topic?  (Read 38622 times)
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« Reply #225 on: August 04, 2019, 03:03:28 AM »

"Stunning, stunning, stunning. Have just heard the BBC proms concert and want to hear it again and again. The dissonances are uplifting. I find the whole thing inspiring. (I am a writer.) Thanks for uploading it."

Thus YT commenter Nick Ashton-Jones earlier this morning. He was describing the early (1915) version of Sibelius's Symphony No. 5 as performed at last night's Proms. I heard it too. I've never warmed to this work in its final (1919) version and now I know why. It had been sanitized, admittedly by its composer, but such operations are not always for the good. (Think of Zappa's later meddlings with albums that were fine as they were.) This is indeed stunning. Long may it be performed!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4XuOPgHC9Y

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphony_No._5_(Sibelius)
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« Reply #226 on: September 03, 2019, 10:58:19 AM »

We're a month further down the line and now I'm listening to another symphony, Carl Nielsen's third, subtitled Sinfonia Expansiva, under Leonard Bernstein. Funny how I used to pooh-pooh Lenny as just another brash American. But since learning of his involvement with Brian (however tenuous) I've come to love the man. I also learned that when Serge Koussevitsky was taken ill and couldn't conduct Oliver Messiaen's Turangalîla-Symphonie, a large-scale work he had commissioned from the Frenchman, the 31-year-old Bernstein took over the formidable task.

I've said before that it's wonderful to lose yourself in a symphony or a landscape and this work fits the bill perfectly.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-E_yy28_4A4

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphony_No._3_(Nielsen)
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« Reply #227 on: September 17, 2019, 10:48:51 AM »

No end of symphonies on Dutch radio today. This was the first, in another version but when I saw Lenny had recorded it (in 1953!) how could I resist? Just the first movement, mind, as that's what I heard this morning:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tiLyokFdaY

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphony_No._2_(Schumann)

Now for an interesting aside (from the wiki): The year of 1845 was important for Schumann because it signaled a shift in his compositional strategy. He began to compose away from the piano, as he noted in his writing:

"Not until the year 1845, when I began to conceive and work out everything in my head, did an entirely different manner of composition begin to develop."   

The French composer Hector Berlioz couldn't play the piano, so that "an entirely different manner of composition" had always been his way of doing things--and it shows. More on him later... Wink
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« Reply #228 on: September 19, 2019, 05:05:03 AM »

I recently attended a stunning performance of Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust, an astonishingly opulent patchwork quilt of music and drama. The definitive full-length recording I'm told is that conducted by Berlioz champion Colin Davis. However, one commentator enthused about the more "feminine" treatment given to Part One, Scene One under Seiji Ozawa. So I shall link that instead:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jVOAp_kibg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_damnation_de_Faust 
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« Reply #229 on: September 27, 2019, 02:59:28 AM »

I have this ancient tape of stuff by the Austrian composer Hanns Eisler. The musical heavyweights on it are the Lenin Requiem (1935, written before he emigrated to the US) and Die Teppichweber von Kujan-Bulak for soprano and orchestra (1957). This is the moving "Vorspiel" from Winterschlacht-Suite, a purely instrumental work written in exile in 1954:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D25oRGu8TOk

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanns_Eisler
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« Reply #230 on: October 26, 2019, 03:35:50 AM »

I didn't envisage posting anything much before Haydn in this topic but here I am linking overtures and sinfonias (my early morning/later night listening project right now) by the late Baroque composer George Frideric Handel.

My evenings spent accompanying an amateur choir at rehearsals for a decade or two some years back opened my ears to the wonders of older choral music. And it was Cool Cool Water at my "hobby' forum (and an occasional visitor here) who first fuelled my interest in earlier instrumental music with his Renaissance and Baroque music topics (the Medieval one is just a little too early for my liking). So thank you that man!

And now aeijtzsche's love of Handel has inadvertently pointed me at what is a pretty specific musical area. Who would have thought it? What message boards are good for! Thank you, JH.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgx5FRSJDFk
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« Reply #231 on: October 30, 2019, 06:25:14 PM »

Talking about Buxtehude now, the great north-German organist, composer, and church musician;

I read a sensationally interesting book about him last year: Buxtehude: Organist in Lübeck

What a great book.  Such an interesting cultural milieu to be a part of.  Unlike Bach and his churches, Buxtehude didn't get to compose a ton of music for Marienkirche; he was just the organist.  Nevertheless, what a great treasure of early-mid Baroque music he left us.  His vocal and choral music I find to be especially moving.

My favorite of his is a cantata called "Jesu meines lebens leben".
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« Reply #232 on: October 31, 2019, 04:34:24 AM »

Talking about Buxtehude now, the great north-German organist, composer, and church musician;

I read a sensationally interesting book about him last year: Buxtehude: Organist in Lübeck

What a great book.  Such an interesting cultural milieu to be a part of.  Unlike Bach and his churches, Buxtehude didn't get to compose a ton of music for Marienkirche; he was just the organist.  Nevertheless, what a great treasure of early-mid Baroque music he left us.  His vocal and choral music I find to be especially moving.

My favorite of his is a cantata called "Jesu meines lebens leben".

Your link didn't work for me so I found a new one:

https://books.google.nl/books/about/Dieterich_Buxtehude.html?id=qSXGOoambNcC&redir_esc=y

Thanks for the tip, JH. It looks fascinating. I wonder if my local university library could get hold of it? They're usually pretty good.*

My wife was in Lübeck a few years back and visited St. Mary's. A young Thomas Mann lived just across from the church (she's a huge fan) and Buddenbrooks is about a Lübeck family based on his own.

I've bookmarked the cantata you mention (YT video with score). What an adventure this has turned out to be!

Right now though, I'm listening to Bach's Musical Offering under Sir Neville Marriner. (I know the "Ricercar a 6" from Webern's Klangfarbenmelodie-style orchestration of it.) I don't know if it's because this version is particularly colourful in its instrumentation but it's a wonderful listen. I see the same CD includes The Art of Fugue so that's up next.

All listening suggestions (Bach or Buxtehude) gratefully accepted!

[A couple of hours later]

* Ordered! (Unless I screwed up somewhere.) It's only available as a hardback these days (thus far) and too expensive for me to buy. To say nothing of the 1987 original on Amazon!
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« Reply #233 on: November 01, 2019, 09:36:36 PM »

My favourite part about the Buxtehude book is the insight into the musical life of a community.  Specifically Lübeck, but it is so fascinating to imagine what European musical life was like then.  Municipal musicians, trumpet guild members who served in martial and sacred contexts, traveling showmen virtuosi, church as the center of it all, etc, etc...
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« Reply #234 on: November 02, 2019, 03:44:40 AM »

My favourite part about the Buxtehude book is the insight into the musical life of a community.  Specifically Lübeck, but it is so fascinating to imagine what European musical life was like then.  Municipal musicians, trumpet guild members who served in martial and sacred contexts, traveling showmen virtuosi, church as the center of it all, etc, etc...

I'm clearly in for a treat! Loved the Buxtehude cantata, by the way. It packs quite a punch! I like the way the two violin parts share the top line, so to speak.

On the Bach front, I've since moved on to the Art of Fugue, also under Sir Neville. I'm a sucker for orchestral colour, which may be why his interpretations of this and the Musical Offering really appeal to me. (My damascene moment in "classical" music was hearing Rimsky's incredibly colourful Capriccio Espagnol as a teenager.)

Next up? Probably more Buxtehude. No doubt the book will help me decide what. Of course, if you have any further recommendations...
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« Reply #235 on: November 02, 2019, 11:10:44 AM »


Next up? Probably more Buxtehude. No doubt the book will help me decide what. Of course, if you have any further recommendations...

Well, it's a bit early to be in the Christmas spirit, I suppose but two of Buxtehude's more adventy numbers are among my most treasured:

Das Neugeborne Kindelein

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRi8c1FO_PI


In Dulci Jubilo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqZBpKwUfKw



And then more Lenty:

Herzlich tut mich verlangen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rih2yfB48cw

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« Reply #236 on: November 02, 2019, 03:34:12 PM »


Next up? Probably more Buxtehude. No doubt the book will help me decide what. Of course, if you have any further recommendations...

Well, it's a bit early to be in the Christmas spirit, I suppose but two of Buxtehude's more adventy numbers are among my most treasured:

Das Neugeborne Kindelein

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRi8c1FO_PI


In Dulci Jubilo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqZBpKwUfKw



And then more Lenty:

Herzlich tut mich verlangen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rih2yfB48cw

Much appreciated! I'll throw caution to the wind and give them a listen out of season. Smokin
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« Reply #237 on: November 03, 2019, 03:45:34 AM »

Right now I'm listening to the final part of Bach's Art of Fugue. The purists may object to the colourful (but not Stokowskian!) instrumentation wielded by Neville Marriner but for me it's absolutely perfect. And a riveting listen--right up to the moment it breaks off, for whatever reason. (Theories abound, judging from the wiki page.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbUAxZi-_pI

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Art_of_Fugue
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« Reply #238 on: November 03, 2019, 02:22:36 PM »

Well, it's a bit early to be in the Christmas spirit, I suppose but two of Buxtehude's more adventy numbers are among my most treasured:
Das Neugeborne Kindelein
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRi8c1FO_PI
In Dulci Jubilo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqZBpKwUfKw
And then more Lenty:
Herzlich tut mich verlangen
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rih2yfB48cw

At the risk of flooding the forum (again):

I listened to these three this evening. "Das Neugeborne Kindelein" failed to register for some reason. Then there were things happening in "In Dulci Jubilo" that made my ears prick up. And lastly, "Herzlich tut mich verlangen" held my attention from start to finish.

They're all short, so I'll give them another spin tomorrow. I should imagine that like a lot of music they need more than one hearing to sink in, especially for someone new to the genre. I see CarolusGustavusRex has a lot of Buxtehude things on board so I'll look in there too.

I was much taken by the Vivaldi mandolin concerto. A nicely understated work! I'm sure it helped to have heard your Handel ouvertures first. Before now my experience of the mandolin in "classical" music was limited to its use as "local colour" in Mahler's Seventh Symphony:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlImU0EAE2A
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« Reply #239 on: November 03, 2019, 03:33:46 PM »

Well, it's a bit early to be in the Christmas spirit, I suppose but two of Buxtehude's more adventy numbers are among my most treasured:
Das Neugeborne Kindelein
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRi8c1FO_PI
In Dulci Jubilo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqZBpKwUfKw
And then more Lenty:
Herzlich tut mich verlangen
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rih2yfB48cw

At the risk of flooding the forum (again):

I listened to these three this evening. "Das Neugeborne Kindelein" failed to register for some reason. Then there were things happening in "In Dulci Jubilo" that made my ears prick up. And lastly, "Herzlich tut mich verlangen" held my attention from start to finish.

They're all short, so I'll give them another spin tomorrow. I should imagine that like a lot of music they need more than one hearing to sink in, especially for someone new to the genre. I see CarolusGustavusRex has a lot of Buxtehude things on board so I'll look in there too.

I was much taken by the Vivaldi mandolin concerto. A nicely understated work! I'm sure it helped to have heard your Handel ouvertures first. Before now my experience of the mandolin in "classical" music was limited to its use as "local colour" in Mahler's Seventh Symphony:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlImU0EAE2A

My dream is to get called (by whom I have no idea) to play one of the very few orchestral mandolin parts with an orchestra, or even better, an opera orchestra.  Mahler has several, Verdi has the nice mandolin part in Otello, Stravinsky wrote for it in Agon, Prokofiev in Romeo & Juliet, Mozart in Don Giovanni...  There are some others.  I'm available, major symphony and opera orchestras of the world.  I'll do it for free.
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« Reply #240 on: November 04, 2019, 04:20:34 AM »

My dream is to get called (by whom I have no idea) to play one of the very few orchestral mandolin parts with an orchestra, or even better, an opera orchestra.  Mahler has several, Verdi has the nice mandolin part in Otello, Stravinsky wrote for it in Agon, Prokofiev in Romeo & Juliet, Mozart in Don Giovanni...  There are some others.  I'm available, major symphony and opera orchestras of the world.  I'll do it for free.

Wish I had strings to pull, JH, but I'm just a member of the music-loving public. As a classical musician you must have contacts in the orchestral world, surely, so one thing could easily lead to another, the way things do. And of course life is full of surprises.

"Das Neugeborne Kindelein" sounded great this morning (perhaps evenings are just a bad time to listen critically to stuff). I was aware of many more details this time--old DB is definitely getting under my skin.

On a completely different tack, on Saturday we gave a listen to a massive Russian symphony (spanning two LPs) by Reinhold Glière, his third, subtitled "Ilya Muromets". I see it was a favourite of Stokowski (him again). Our version is by (wait for it) "The Large Symphony Orchestra, Moscow Radio And Television" under Nathan Rakhlin (aka Natan Rachlin). Regrettably I screwed up and followed side one with side four and then played the second LP. Tongue (I hadn't the heart to tell my wife.) It did mean that the hero was depetrified (side four sees Ilya turned to stone) so it ended on a happier note. This is the not-so-happy ending as Glière intended:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdVXInnaVBs

https://www.discogs.com/Gliere-The-Large-Symphony-Orchestra-Moscow-Radio-And-Television-Nathan-Rakhlin-Symphony-No-3-In-B-M/release/4211101
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« Reply #241 on: November 05, 2019, 03:00:31 AM »

Still on the subject of Russian music: one of our party on the trip to St. Petersburg has found the balalaika he used to have but lost sight of until yesterday. (How you can lose sight of a balalaika is a mystery to me.) I was wondering, JH: how does a mandolinist like yourself regard that instrument?

Mahler has several, Verdi has the nice mandolin part in Otello, Stravinsky wrote for it in Agon, Prokofiev in Romeo & Juliet, Mozart in Don Giovanni...  There are some others.

I've been looking around for "classical" orchestral pieces which include a part for a balalaika. It seems there aren't any (yet):

"Just as the mandolin and even banjo have found a secure place on classical music stages in recent years, perhaps it may be the balalaika and domra’s moment. 'On the one hand, the balalaika is a symbol of Russia, and you can never confuse it with any other instrument,' [balalaika player Ivan] Kuznetsov reflects. 'The sound and tremolo are very particular and allow creating powerful and diverse tunes of any complexity. On the other hand, it is not that often that we hear balalaika or domra performances in leading world concert halls.' The modern version of the instrument is barely 130 years old, Kuznetsov notes. 'That is why the balalaika and domra have not won worldwide recognition—they are not seen on stage like the violin and other symphonic strings, or even an American banjo, so they are not so popular. Yet I believe that balalaika can do it.'" [Source]
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« Reply #242 on: November 10, 2019, 06:39:37 PM »

Still on the subject of Russian music: one of our party on the trip to St. Petersburg has found the balalaika he used to have but lost sight of until yesterday. (How you can lose sight of a balalaika is a mystery to me.) I was wondering, JH: how does a mandolinist like yourself regard that instrument?

Mahler has several, Verdi has the nice mandolin part in Otello, Stravinsky wrote for it in Agon, Prokofiev in Romeo & Juliet, Mozart in Don Giovanni...  There are some others.

I've been looking around for "classical" orchestral pieces which include a part for a balalaika. It seems there aren't any (yet):

"Just as the mandolin and even banjo have found a secure place on classical music stages in recent years, perhaps it may be the balalaika and domra’s moment. 'On the one hand, the balalaika is a symbol of Russia, and you can never confuse it with any other instrument,' [balalaika player Ivan] Kuznetsov reflects. 'The sound and tremolo are very particular and allow creating powerful and diverse tunes of any complexity. On the other hand, it is not that often that we hear balalaika or domra performances in leading world concert halls.' The modern version of the instrument is barely 130 years old, Kuznetsov notes. 'That is why the balalaika and domra have not won worldwide recognition—they are not seen on stage like the violin and other symphonic strings, or even an American banjo, so they are not so popular. Yet I believe that balalaika can do it.'" [Source]

A balalaika is one of the very few instruments I've never played! 

Just gotta get composers to write for it.  Hard to get "serious" composers on board with new (ie, invented after 1800) instruments.
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« Reply #243 on: November 11, 2019, 03:32:51 AM »

A balalaika is one of the very few instruments I've never played! 

Just gotta get composers to write for it.  Hard to get "serious" composers on board with new (ie, invented after 1800) instruments.

If Khachaturian could write a part for a "flexatone" (musical saw) in his Piano Concerto (and he wasn't the first "serious" composer to do so), it may happen yet! Maybe something for you if ever you're bored. Wink 

My favourite post-1800 musical invention that's still seen in concerts is the ondes Martenot, as used by Messiaen in, among other things, his massive Turangalîla-Symphonie. We attended a performance of this mind-numbing work two years ago with Valérie Hartmann Claverie on ondes. We were on one of the balconies (if that's what they're called) and had a great view of the "keyboard park" (insanely virtuosic piano, keyed glockenspiel and ondes). One of my favourite concerts ever. Here's Ms Hartmann Claverie getting the thing set up:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6LhwVQnfgA
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« Reply #244 on: November 11, 2019, 04:14:32 AM »

EGDON HEATH

The CD [that I've used to illustrate each planet--see previous page] concludes with my favourite among Holst's compositions, the orchestral miniature Egdon Heath. Written in 1927, the composer considered it his most perfectly realized work.

The version linked here (recorded in 1961 by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Sir Adrian Boult) is the one I've always known and loved. The YouTube blurb is pretty well complete in itself, with the wiki page providing some additional background information:

"A place perfectly accordant with man's nature--neither ghastly, hateful nor ugly; neither commonplace, unmeaning nor tame; but like man, slighted and enduring; and withal singularly colossal and mysterious in its swarthy monotony." This quotation from Thomas Hardy's 1878 novel The Return of the Native appears on the score of Gustav Holst's tone poem Egdon Heath, dedicated to Hardy (who, at age 87, had one more year of life remaining), and long regarded by the composer as his finest work. It was commissioned by the New York Symphony Orchestra, which premiered it under the direction of Walter Damrosch at New York's Mecca Auditorium on 12 February 1928. The next day Holst led the City of Birmingham Symphony in the British premiere at Cheltenham, where the first major festival of Holst's music had taken place the previous year. Those initial performances went well, but another in London a few days later was greeted poorly by a noisy and unreceptive audience. This seems to have made Holst a bit anxious about the work, and may have led to his desire that the above Hardy quotation should always appear in any explanatory programme notes.

In her book on her father's music, Holst's daughter Imogen evokes the Hardy quotation in referring to the "mysterious monotony" of the tone poem, which begins with a sombre melody heard first in the double basses, then taken up by the rest of the strings. A nostalgic theme in the brass and woodwinds, and a scurrying theme in the strings and oboe, work their way into the texture as well, leading to moody, twilit music and what has been described as a "strange, ghostly dance". This dark, evocative work finishes the same way it started: quietly, and somewhat mysteriously. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msIL7eavgk4

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egdon_Heath

JH, on the subject of Holst, Egdon Heath is my favourite work of his, especially in the version I've linked.
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« Reply #245 on: November 15, 2019, 03:31:08 AM »

Talking about Buxtehude now, the great north-German organist, composer, and church musician;

I read a sensationally interesting book about him last year: Buxtehude: Organist in Lübeck.

What a great book.  Such an interesting cultural milieu to be a part of.

I'd never been much of a fan of the harpsichord--the Baroque stuff, that is. (Brian and other pop artists did nice things with it and so did a handful of modern "classical" composers, notably Poulenc and Martin.) My new-found friend Buxtehude seems to have changed all that (helped by the super book Kerala J. Snyder has written about him--thanks again!). Last week I listened to (and thoroughly enjoyed) the first of these two CDs of Herr B's works for that instrument. The performer is Dutch Baroque music champion Ton Koopman, whom I was dragged to see in concert many years ago. I'd go willingly now--on foot if necessary: Tongue   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_j62i63OdQ

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« Reply #246 on: November 17, 2019, 04:28:43 AM »

I've moved this here from the long-suffering opera thread. Tongue   

I would heartily recommend seeking out recordings by the sensational French harpsichordist Pierre Hantaï.  He gets the baroque thing without going over the top, and is a very sensitive, methodical player.  I love his interpretations of Couperin, but he is also an excellent Bachist.

His Couperin sounds wonderful! I'll give his Bach a listen tonight (I have a concerto under Jordi Savall lined up).   

It might have been the Vesper Voluntaries that you heard at church last Sunday. One track on the Donald Hunt CD of all Elgar's organ music is a version of "Nimrod" from Elgar's orchestral Enigma Variations, which lends itself very well to the organ (I've no idea whether Elgar made the transcription himself):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwAxldeOmLw

Now this is most encouraging:

https://www.harrisonparrott.com/news/2019-11-14/angela-hewitt-to-receive-the-city-of-leipzig-bach-medal

I'm no expert but she seems to have a very delicate touch. Next time you drop in, JH, I'd be curious to know how piano versions of music by Bach, Scarlatti etc. square with you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyhTI7vUbNI
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« Reply #247 on: November 27, 2019, 10:43:37 AM »

I've said before that symphonies are great for getting lost in. My first such symphony (in 1962) was Beethoven's Fifth. The first and third movements have some wonderful moments (the finale is, well, the finale) but it's the slow movement that has always captivated me. It's like making your way through a dense forest shot through with shafts of sunlight. But nothing surpasses the magical passage about six minutes in, with those churning low cellos and the single notes in the oboe. The nocturnes in Mahler's Seventh Symphony are but a few steps away.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQIVWhKhwPA
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« Reply #248 on: November 27, 2019, 12:31:22 PM »

I've said before that symphonies are great for getting lost in. My first such symphony (in 1962) was Beethoven's Fifth. The first and third movements have some wonderful moments (the finale is, well, the finale) but it's the slow movement that has always captivated me. It's like making your way through a dense forest shot through with shafts of sunlight. But nothing surpasses the magical passage about six minutes in, with those churning low cellos and the single notes in the oboe. The nocturnes in Mahler's Seventh Symphony are but a few steps away.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQIVWhKhwPA

Here's a revelation for you:  I'm ambivalent about Beethoven in all genres he wrote for.
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« Reply #249 on: November 27, 2019, 01:37:41 PM »

Here's a revelation for you:  I'm ambivalent about Beethoven in all genres he wrote for.

Oooff! That's quite something, JH. I'm not the biggest Beethoven fan myself, basically just the overtures and symphonies (I'm still out on #9).

H'mm. Right now I couldn't name one composer I'm ambivalent about in all genres. It's something to ponder while I'm out walking the dog...
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