Basic Repertoire


Long ago, in a different galaxy, Stereo Review published in instalments and also made available as a little brochure something called "The Basic Repertoire" of orchestral or symphonic music. I remember avidly buying on the basis of these recommendations. People with a massive library of serious music probably have multiple recordings of all these old chestnuts and don't need such a listing. Many others, though, could benefit from something similar, especially all those who are curious about how good a system performs when seriously challenged but are a bit gun shy about stuffy, old, serious or "classical" music. Audiophiles could also benefit from such listings for performances with the best sound quality. Is there anything similar already out there and, if not, maybe developing one here under the " music " heading would be a good idea. How to assess and validate all recommendations and to edit such a list would be a problem, it would seem. Any thoughts? Would keep a bunch of us from the well known equipment debates. I always wondered why such a list was not available for chamber music as well. Trying both would double our chances of keeping us out of mischief.
pbb
Pbb:

I have two books in my library that provide an excellent starting point for building a classical music collection:

1. The NPR Guide To Building a Classical CD Collection, by Theodore Libbey. Available from Amazon.com for $11.17 (paperbound).

2. The Essential Canon of Classical Music, by David Dubal. Available from Amazon.com for $28, or as little as $23 from other sellers affiliated with Amazon. (This book is also
available from the Quality Paperbook Book club for those who are members.)
http://shop.npr.org/catalog/Product.jhtml?PRODID=86&CATID=8&TOPCATID=

http://shop.npr.org/catalog/Product.jhtml?PRODID=78&CATID=8&TOPCATID=
Hi, thanks for the suggestion, I realise that many books are available. Covering types of music quite removed from "classical" music, I have the AMG All Music Guide to Jazz and The Music Hound Guide to Blues. I don't know if any of you remember, but the little guide issued by Stereo Review was really a simple affair, maybe eight pages in all. The problem with books is that by the time they are in print, some new recordings have been issued that may be preferable to the ones listed. The problem with serious music magazines like Fanfare is that a lot of people are not interested in becoming full-blown record collectors and buying multiple recordings of the same piece. I also think that, while not relegating the quality of the performance itself to the level of a minor concern, the emphasis could be put on the quality of the recording. The idea is to have what basically would be a short list of available audiophile quality (or as near to any such ideal may exist, all arcane disputes aside) recordings of what is the more standard bread and butter repertoire. Moreover, the opinion of audiophiles on what recordings someone should really short-list would be interesting, I guess... How someone might decide to branch out later is another issue. Regards.
The problem is getting someone who both knows music and can identify good sound. The only guy I know who's written anything rating recordings on their sound quality is Howard Ferstler, and I wouldn't necessarily ask him which Beethoven 5 to buy.

For that matter, I'd take a bad recording of a good performance over the reverse any day of the week. And if I weren't prepared to go out and buy multiple versions of a piece, I wouldn't get hung up about whether I'd found the very best one--or whether a better one had come out since the guidebook I had consulted was published.
If you do not want to buy those NPR books (which I recommend), they have listings on their website as well.


http://www.npr.org/programs/pt/features/pt50/index.html


http://www.npr.org/programs/pt/features/brl/index.html

The NPR materials are quite useful.

Dubal's book has received a warm reception but I found it heavily biased toward the piano (he's a pianist) and quite idiosyncratic. A good read, though.

will
Pbb, you might be onto something. It doesn't have to limited to classical, though thats where it will probably do the most good. Perhaps we could solicit a "best recording of: ..... " thread. A discussion of parameters might be in order, so that a template could be made, followed by a space for a brief review of x# of words.
Obviously this is much more complex a resource than what you're looking for, it may help. Once you've narrowed it down and clicked on a particular composer, there are usually suggested recordings and CD reviews for various works.

http://www.classical.net/music/rep/top.html

Chris
I know this sounds like the fellow going to the doctor and saying he is describing his friend's symptoms, but I think the use of such a repertoire would be more for those wishing to develop an interest in music they have not been into before, since good systems are often the gateway to serious music for many of us. It was, in great measure, the case for me. I have either as lps or cds, often both, sometimes with alternate recordings, most of these musical pieces. I am curious in knowing, however, if more recent recordings offer better sound quality. Like I said previously, sound quality should not be the overriding factor, but an emphasis should be put on it since these are, after all, audiophile pages. As Unsound said, some idea of how (if anyone is interested, obviously) this should be approached so that it does not become unwieldy, boring or worse should be decided upon at the outset. My suggestion is that as "Best of", we go down the list, one or a few composer(s) at a time ( depending on how many individual entries there are) , on a weekly basis, and keep these individual threads open for a while. People could then go through the posts (assuming there are some, of course) and decide if a consensus exists or take whatever suggestion makes the most sense to their mind. I would also suggest that the recordings should be in the catalogue so that people could actually buy them from regular record sources.

This is what Richard Freed way back in the early 80s believed such a basic repertoire should consist of. I have not been so bold as to reproduce his suggestions, although I found them to be excellent.

BACH:
Brandenburg Concertos
Suites for Orchestra

BARBER:
Adagio for Strings

BARTOK:
Concerto for Orchestra

BEETHOVEN:
Piano Concerto No 1, in C Major
Piano Concerto No 2, in B-flat Major
Piano Concerto No 3, in C Minor
Piano Concerto No 4, in G Major
Piano Concerto No 5, in E-flat Major ("Emperor")
Violin Concerto in D Major
Overtures
Symphony No 1, in C Major
Symphony No 2, in D Major
Symphony No 3, In E-flat Major ("Eroica")
Symphony No 4, in B-flat Major
Symphony No 5, in C Minor
Symphony No 6, in F Major ("Pastoral")
Symphony No 7, in A Major
Symphony No 8, in F Major
Symphony No 9, in D Minor

BERLIOZ:
Harold in Italy
Symphonie Fantastique

BIZET:
Symphony in C Major

BRAHMS:
Piano Concerto No 1, in D Minor
Piano Concerto No 2, in B-flat Major
Violin Concerto, in D Major
Concerto for Violin and Cello, in A Minor
Symphony No 1, in C Minor
Symphony No 2, in D Major
Symphony No 3, in F Major
Symphony No 4, in E Minor
Variations on a Theme by Haydn

BRITTEN:
The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra

BRUCH:
Violin Concerto No 1, in G Minor

BRUCKNER:
Symphony No 4, in E-flat Major ("Romantic")
Symphony No 7, in E Major
Symphony No 8, in C Minor
Symphony No 9, in D Minor

CHOPIN:
Piano Concerto no 1, in E Minor and No 2, in F Minor

COPLAND:
Appalachian Spring
Billy the Kid; Rodeo

DEBUSSY:
The Afternoon of the Faun
Iberia
La Mer
Nocturnes

DUKAS:
The Sorcerer's Apprentice

DVORAK:
Cello Concerto, in B minor
Symphony No 7, in D Minor
Symphony No 8, in G Major
Symphony No 9, in E Minor ("From the New World")

ELGAR:
Enigma Variations

FALLA:
Nights in the Gardens of Spain
The Three Cornered Hat

FRANCK:
Symphony in D Major

GERSHWIN:
An American in Paris
Concerto in F
Rhapsody in Blue

GRIEG:
Piano Concerto in A Minor
Peer Gynt

HANDEL:
Messiah
Water Music

HAYDN:
Trumpet Concerto in E-flat Major
Symphonies No 93-104 ("London Symphonies")
Symphony No 94, in G Major ("Surprise")
Symphony No 100, in G Major ("Military")
Symphony No 101, in D Major ("The Clock")

HOLST:
The Planets

KODALY:
Hary Janos Suite

LALO:
Symphonie Espagnole

LISZT:
Piano Concertos No 1, in E-flat Major, and No 2, in A Major
Les Préludes

MAHLER:
Das Lied Von Der Erde
Symphony No 1, in D Major
Symphony No 2, in C Minor ("Resurrection")
Symphony No 4, in G Major
Symphony No 5, in C-sharp Minor
Symphony No 9, in D Major

MENDELSOHN:
Violin Concerto, in E Minor
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Symphony No 3, in A Minor ("Scottish")
Symphony No 4, in A Major ("Italian")

MOZART:
Clarinet Concerto, in A Major
Piano Concerto No 20, in D Minor
Piano Concerto No 21, in C Major
Piano Concerto No 23, in A Major
Piano Concerto No 24, in C Minor
Piano Concerto No 27, in B-flat Major
Violin Concerto No 5, in A Major
Serenade in G Major ("Eine Kleine Nachtmusik")
Sinfonia Concertante, in E-flat Major for Violin and Viola
Symphony No 35, in D Major ("Haffner")
Symphony No 36, in C Major ("Linz")
Symphony No 38, in D Major ("Prague")
Symphony No 39, in E-flat Major
Symphony No 40, in G Minor
Symphony No 41, in C Major ("Jupiter")

MUSSORGSKY/RAVEL:
Pictures at an Exhibition

OFFENBACH/ROSENTHAL:
Gaîté Parisienne

ORFF:
Carmina Burana

PACHELBEL:
Canon, in D Major

PAGANINI:
Violin Concerto No 1, in D Major

PROKOFIEV:
Alexander Nevsky
Piano Concerto No 3, in C Major
Violin Concertos Nos 1 and 2
Lieutenant Kijé Suite
Peter and the Wolf
Classical Symphony, No 1, in D Major
Symphony No 5

RACHMANINOFF:
Piano Concerto No 2, in C Minor
Piano Concerto No 3, in D Minor
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Symphony No 2, in E Minor

RAVEL:
Boléro
Piano Concertos
Daphnis et Chloë
Rhapsodie Espagnole
La Valse

RESPIGHI:
The Pines of Rome
The Fountains of Rome

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV:
Capriccio Espagnol
Sheherazade

RODRIGO:
Concierto de Aranjuez

ROSSINI:
Overtures

SAINT-SAËNS:
Carnaval of the Animals
Piano Concerto No 2, in G Minor
Symphony No 3, in C Minor

SHOENBERG:
Transfigured Night

SCHUBERT:
Symphony No 8, in B Minor ("Unfinished")
Symphony No 9, in C Major (the "Great C Major")

SCHUMAN:
Piano Concerto in A Minor
Symphony No 1, in B-flat Major ("Spring")
Symphony No 2, in C Major
Symphony No 3, in E-flat Major ("Rhenish")
Symphony No 4, in D Minor

SHOSTAKOVICH:
Symphony No 1
Symphony No 5

SIBELIUS:
Violin Concerto in D Minor
Finlandia
Symphony No 1, in E Minor
Symphony No 2, in D Major
Symphony No 4, in A Minor
Symphony No 5, in E-flat Major

SMETANA:
The Moldau

J. STRAUSS:
Waltzes

R. STRAUSS:
Death and Transfiguration
Don Juan
Don Quixote
Ein Heldenleben
Thus Spake Zarathustra
Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks

STRAVINSKY:
The Firebird
Petrushka
The Rite of Spring

TCHAIKOVSKY:
Piano Concerto No 1, in B-flat Minor
Violin Concerto in D Major
1812 Overture
The Nutcracker
Romeo and Juliet
Symphony No 2, in C Minor ("Little Russian")
Symphony No 4, in F Minor
Symphony No 5 in E Minor
Symphony No 6, in B Minor ("Pathétique")

VAUGHN-WILLIAMS:
Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis

VIVALDI:
The Four Seasons

WAGNER:
Orchestral Music from the Operas

Pbb,
I have found you my friend. Going through the your list of recordings, I see, we both see the moon as it is. No more, no less. Thank you very much.
How could anyone leave out the Elvira Madigan or the Moonlight sonata???