-Bartok "Concerto For Orchestra", Reiner/Chicago RCA. Also partial to the Solti/London Symphony Decca (the finale will knock your socks off).
-Britten "A Midsummer Night's Dream", Britten/London, Decca
-Berg "Lulu/Wozzek Suites", Dorati/London, Mercury
-Poulenc "Piano Concerto", Fremaux/Birmingham, EMI
-Copland "Clarinet Concerto", Bernstein/Drucker/NY Phil, DG
-Messaien "Quartet For The End Of Time", Tashi, RCA
-Walton "Facade", Chicago, Reference Recs.
Richard Strauss- Metamorphosen - written in last days of WW II , as gripping and intense as music gets with masterful counterpoint.
Von Karajan/Berlin Phil
Witold Lutoslawski -Concerto for Orchrestra-1954
Segi Ozawa/Chicago SO Angel S-1 36045
Little heard gem played by the perfect band for it , also has the fabulous Janacek Sinfonietta of 1923 on it but you can skip that.
So much wonderful music. Too little can be covered in just several hours with friends, but I hope to expose them to composers who are not so familiar. Any particular favorite works from among the following?
Malcolm Berkeley (the son of Lennox Berkeley)
George Crumb (Vox Balaenae, or Black Angels, or one of the Makrokosmos)
Sir John Kenneth Tavener
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich
kmccarty, + 1 for the Strauss Oboe Cnt., I was going to mention it but looked years for a vinyl recording and never found one .Seems to be none on Amazon either.
Rushton , a noble effort on your part to call attention to those little played fine composers !
Ned Rorem in particular caught my eye , I believe he is perhaps the best neglected American composer even among classical lovers. His songs are superb and his Violin Concerto is exquisite . I think there was a vinyl of the later on Erato but seems unlikely you’d ever find one .
Schubert, I'll have to keep an eye out for Rorem's Violin Concerto - one never knows. I have his Eleven Studies for Eleven Players, String Symphony, Sunday Morning, and Symphony No. 3. I like them all and have always particularly enjoyed the Eleven Studies.
Kmccarty, also +1 for the Strauss Oboe Concerto. LP: Edo de Waart/NPO, Holliger -ob, Philips 6500 174
A few other American composers you could add to that list would be Roy Harris, Walter Piston, Carl Ruggles. The quintessential American composer for me, however, is Charles Ives. The Concord Sonata is 1939, if that is close enough. If not, then how about his Fourth Symphony, which is a wonderful work?
I would also heartily second Frogman's recommendation of Messaien. The Quartet For The End Of Time is a good place to start with his music - there is a great deal of it, however. You could probably find some solo piano things fairly easily on vinyl.
The separation of Classical and Pop musics can be indefensible in purely artist terms. A fair amount of 20th Century Classical barely qualifies as music at all, imo, and an album of the most artistically ambitious and rewarding music of the Century came from not a Classical composer, but a Pop songwriter, Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys. His 1965 album Pet Sounds was hailed by Paul McCartney as the best album he had ever heard, and was Pauls inspiration for The Beatles Sgt. Pepper (don't blame Brian if you, as I, don't care for Pepper ;-). Pet Sounds is still voted All-Time Number One Album in many poles. But PS is not the album to which I refer.
In 1966, Brian, with the other Beach Boys on the road, and using the best studio musicians in Los Angeles (The Wrecking Crew, found on albums from Frank Sinatra to Sonny & Cher), began the recording of an album he conceived, envisioned, and wrote to tell the story of the expansion of the United States of America from coast-to-coast----Manifest Destiny, in music and lyric. Brian Wrote the music, and he brought in Van Dyke Parks to write the lyrics.
Recording began, but Brian's vision was soon being questioned by the obnoxious Mike Love, lead "singer" (he stinks) of TBB, who not only didn't understand it or Van Dykes lyrics (Mike never progressed beyond "teenage" love songs, and Vans lyrics were rather abstract), but also thought it wouldn't be commercially successful (Mike had already amassed three ex-wives and kids by that time that he had to support, I believe). As the recording dragged on for over a year, Capitol Records started pressuring Brian for "product", something to sell (Groups were putting out at least an album a year at that time, sometimes two!). As the resistance from Mike and the pressure from Capitol increased, Brians inner demons rose to the surface (he had already suffered a nervous breakdown in '64, and is a diagnosed Paranoid Schizophrenic), and that combined with his intake of copious amounts of LSD and Cocaine resulted in his complete and utter implosion, the "Smile" album remaining unfinished. Brian retreated to the bedroom of his Bel-Air mansion, pulled the covers over his head, and stayed there for a number of years.
Needing a new album, Brians brother Carl threw together some of the completed "Smile" recordings and some new, Brian-less material, and Capitol released "Smiley Smile", an album Carl described as being a bunt to the "Smiles" home run. I knew none of this when I first heard SS in early '68, and to say I was left speechless is a gross understatement. It made everything else of the time sound so.....pedestrian. And that includes all the psychedelic music that was supposed to be re-imagining Rock n' Roll. It did no such thing, but "Smile" sure would have. What a shame. In 1968, Leonard Bernstein produced and narrated a one-hour TV Special about the newly-sophisticated Pop music he found so interesting, and Brians solo performance of "Surfs Up" (a song to have been on "Smile") on his living room grand piano was the centerpiece of the show. The clip is viewable on You Tube, and is absolutely mesmerizing.
Over the years, Smile took on a legendary status, with many bootleg LPs and CDs coming out with a lot of the unreleased "Smile" recordings. Finally, a couple of years ago, Capitol paid some professional recording people very familiar with both Brian and "Smile" to find all the tapes, listen to and organize them, and prepare a proper "Smile" release. It is available as a 9-CD boxset, and in a 2-LP or CD version. The boxset is overkill, with an entire disc devoted to every single take, partial and complete, rehearsals etc., of "Good Vibrations", and another for "Heroes & Villains". They're both great songs, but an entire disc of each?! The 2-LP set will do nicely.
learsfool, I agree with you completely about including Lou Harrison, Elliot Carter, Roy Harris, Walter Piston, Carl Ruggles and Charles Ives in any list of great 20th Century American composes. All should be explored by music listeners with any interest in recent classical music.
As you can see from my lists, my focus is not just American composers. I'm really interested in exposing some friends to some of the less well known composers from the second half of the century. But many of the names you've listed are not well know and should be better known.
I am not sure what the diversion into the relative merit of pop music has to do with the OP, but (and perhaps against my better judgment), I would like to ask bdp24 for examples of what he means when he states:
****'The separation of Classical and Pop musics can be indefensible in purely artist terms. A fair amount of 20th Century Classical barely qualifies as music at all,****
Bdp24, you like Brian Wilson, we get it. Would you like to make a contribution a little closer to what the OP is about?
Schubert, that was a brilliantly subtle retort.
Rush, you might want to consider Hyperion A66050, Roger Sessions’ "Concerto for Orchestra" + Andrzej Panufnik’s "Sinfonia Votiva" (Symphony No. 8), Seiji Ozawa conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Both were composed around 1981. The recording was issued, and I believe the works were composed, in commemoration of the BSO’s centennial.
Disclaimer: The LP was digitally mastered, in the early days of such masterings. Although the Soundstream digital recorder that was excellent in its day was used, and engineering was by Tony Faulkner.
... you might want to consider Hyperion A66050, Roger Sessions’ "Concerto for Orchestra" + Andrzej Panufnik’s "Sinfonia Votiva" (Symphony No. 8)...Hi almarg, thanks for the suggestion. I have this LP but haven't listened to it in years. I'll have to pull it out and listen to it again. I've long been a fan of Hyperion's recordings, particularly those engineered by Tony Faulkner.
If you like (mostly solo) guitar you may want to check out Cuban composer Leo Brouwer. He covers a lot of musical ground over the span of his career. There are some recordings of him playing his own pieces (before he had to quit playing). Eduardo Fernandez, among others, does an excellent job of interpreting Brouwer's music.
Hi kmccarty and schubert - I cannot resist commenting that when a musician talks about a performance of a concerto, or finding the same, usually the conductor is not even mentioned. Any concerto recording will be much easier to find with reference to the soloist, or soloist and orchestra, rather than the conductor. Particularly if it is that soloist's only recording of the piece. Saying "the Karajan performance" of a concerto really doesn't even make much sense - he probably conducted the Strauss Horn Concerto No. 1 with a dozen different horn players at least over the course of his career, and probably recorded them with at least two or three.
The mention of Ives by Learsfool really got me thinking about who is the best expositor of America in his music and in what work does he express the American reality best.
I say its Samuel Barber in his 1947 masterpiece " Knoxville ; Summer of 1915" based upon what many think is the Great American Novel , James Agee’s "A death in the family " .
The fact that Barbers "Adagio for Strings" has become the de-facto American anthem in times of tragedy is also a strong argument for him being the most American of composers .
The mention of Ives by Learsfool really got me thinking about who is the best expositor of America in his music and in what work does he express the American reality best.I suppose so many think of Ives in this respect because so many of his compositions were explicitly "Americana", like:
From the Steeples and the Mountains
The Fourth of July
Three Places in New England
Variations on "America"
But, the composer who has always captured the American reality best for me is Aaron Copland, with his compositions like these:
Billy the Kid - Ballet Suite
Fanfare for the Common Man
Symphony No. 3
The Red Pony
Hi Rushton - many people do say that Copland is the most American of composers. He is certainly the most popular, and his music is the most accessible, and he helped define how much American music sounded afterwards, especially in the realm of film music. He did write a great deal of music that had American history as the theme, too.
However, Ives actually used quite a bit more of American folk tunes than Copland did, and was very original, experimenting with bi-tonality pretty much before anyone else did, and with quarter-tones, etc. He was very largely self-taught, after the instruction his father gave him, unlike Copland, who was heavily influenced by the European tradition, having studied with Boulanger and others over there. At least as much of his music was American themed as Copland, as well. So for those reasons I would argue that Ives is more quintessentially American as a composer than Copland. It is an interesting debate, to be sure.
I agree that Ives is without a doubt the most quintessentially American composer. He believed, in the classic American tradition of inclusiveness, that "all sound is potential music". One of my favorite examples of Americanness, and of his genius, can be found in his "Concord" piano sonata. In one of the movements he borrows the famous "fate" motif from Beethoven's Fifth for the main theme, but accompanies it with typical Ivesian dissonance. A German cliche with American looking to the future; a classic American theme.
Another favorite fact about Ives, and not meaning to turn this discussion to politics, is his refusal to have his music copyrighted and he had his publisher make free copies available. For me, a sign of the generosity of America. An amazing genius.
However, Ives actually used quite a bit more of American folk tunes than Copland did, and was very original, experimenting with bi-tonality pretty much before anyone else did, and with quarter-tones, etc.Learsfool, you make some very instructive observations about Ives' music. Thank you. I would not disagree with your and frogman's comments. And, I think I still enjoy listening to Copland! :-)
Jetrexpro, thank you for offering the names of three contemporary composers whose music I don't know. I'm stuck in this time warp of very few new music recordings since the advent of digital recordings because I've continued to maintain a vinyl-only listening room. Sigh... This simply points out that I'll have to look at how to supplement my listening. Streaming media, I suppose - will have to sort out how I want to do that.
For small form (simple songs) I think the most American of composers is Stephen Foster, hands down. He wrote My Old Kentucky Home, Beautiful Dreamer, I Dream of Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair, Oh Susannah, Old Folks at Home (Swanee River), Hard Times Come Again No More, Old Black Joe and Camptown Races. Gershwin excelled in both shorter songs and larger works such as Rhapsody in Blue and Porgy and Bess. Both men gave us a good measure of very American music.
Rushton, you are welcome and thank you for starting this interesting thread. I know that current rock and pop groups are now offering vinyl as well as CD and digital downloads, but I don't know if classical labels are presently releasing on vinyl. One of the reasons I invested in a good CD player was so I could play the many classical CDs we amassed. My CD player has a USB in so I can also play music from my computer, including YouTube which has thousands of classical performances from the past and present. The Berlin philharmonic offers streaming of all their concerts. I felt it was important to both have vinyl and cd since after around 1985 or so labels stopped pressing vinyl and only released cd. Some food for thought. - regards jet
Was Messian mentioned in this thread? His Quartet For The End of Time comes to mind and would been released on vinyl. He wrote this while a German prisoner during WWII and it was premiered in a prison camp. When I listen to it I often think of all the wonderful talented composers and artists who were killed during that war.
jetrexpro, no, I don't think anyone has mentioned Messiaen's Quartet For The End of Time. An amazing work with tremendous impact.
As to labels still making new classical recordings and pressing on vinyl, there are two small interesting labels whose expanding catalog I follow. Both record on analog tape and then release in multiple formats.
Yarlung Records - www.yarlungrecords.com
Fone Records - http://www.fone.it/
Yarlung was recently recognized with a Brutus Award for 2015 by David Robinson, Positive Feedback Online: