Classical Music for Aficionados

I would like to start a thread, similar to Orpheus’ jazz site, for lovers of classical music.
I will list some of my favorite recordings, CDs as well as LP’s. While good sound is not a prime requisite, it will be a consideration.
  Classical music lovers please feel free to add to my lists.
Discussion of musical and recording issues will be welcome.

I’ll start with a list of CDs.  Records to follow in a later post.

Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique.  Chesky  — Royal Phil. Orch.  Freccia, conductor.
Mahler:  Des Knaben Wunderhorn.  Vanguard Classics — Vienna Festival Orch. Prohaska, conductor.
Prokofiev:  Scythian Suite et. al.  DG  — Chicago Symphony  Abbado, conductor.
Brahms: Symphony #1.  Chesky — London Symph. Orch.  Horenstein, conductor.
Stravinsky: L’Histoire du Soldat. HDTT — Ars Nova.  Mandell, conductor.
Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances. Analogue Productions. — Dallas Symph Orch. Johanos, cond.
Respighi: Roman Festivals et. al. Chesky — Royal Phil. Orch. Freccia, conductor.

All of the above happen to be great sounding recordings, but, as I said, sonics is not a prerequisite.

7c67ab18 c2ce 4b45 9523 fc4a71684ce0rvpiano

Showing 50 responses by schubert

I’ll just mention a dozen or so works that everyone agrees are basic to the Classical repertoire.
Over the years I’ve noticed that many come to Classical through smaller
pieces so I’ll start with them .
Used to be some PBS stations would have a listener poll of their favorite chamber(small) works every few years .

Time after time the top choice was Schubert’s Quintet in A "The Trout", a complement of sting trio with added piano and double base .
One of my favorite recording is Rudolf Serkin and company on Sony Classic SMK46252, this has the added gift of also having one of the other masterworks, Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet .
As with all I mention there are many good recordings of everything, the listener
reviews on Amazon are usually helpful .

A string Quartet that has some of just plain beautiful music ever written is
Claude Debussy’s Quartet in G minor Op.10 .
A wonderful recording is by the Guarneri Quartet on RCA, coupled with the great Ravel Quartet in F as is often the case with the Debussy .

My favorite work for the Violin and Piano duo(a lot of peoples favorite duo) is
Cesar Franks , Violin Sonata in A .
Of the perhaps 7-8 thousand recordings I’ve owned if I could have only one for the rest of my life, I’d choose the one of this by the great Korean artist Kung Wha Chung on violin and the stupendous Romanian pianist Radu Lupu .
They bring out the French elegance of this masterpiece in a way that is rare .
.I seldom say anything or anybody is the "greatest" , but this is the greatest
recording I’ve ever heard so there -LOL .

In the bigger Orchestral works a piece I have easily heard a thousand
times and yet remains ever fresh in my ears is something Norway’s greatest composer Edvard Grieg wrote as incidental music for the play "Peer Gyynt" by Norway’s greatest playwright Henrik Ibsen .
A great recording of "Peer Gynt’ is the San Francisco Symphony under Herbert Blomstedt , London 425 448-2 .

Two works by one of the greatest and IMO most original modern composers , the great Czech Leos Janacek, that seem to catch the fancy of new listeners are his "Sinfonietta" and his "Slavonic Mass" .
Strong powerful works that go from the beautiful to the brutal in a flash
that always sounds that’s as it should be !
He writes his music to fit the Czech language so you want a Czech band for these , the Czech Philarmonic/Sir Charles Mackerras are the go-to
for these .

A concerto that everyone seems to like is the "Concierto de Aranjuez" by the modern Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo. A guitar work that is just plain fun .
A nice recording of this is Carlos Bonell with the Montreal Symphony under
Charles Dutoit . There are a lot of wind solo’s in this and at the time the Montreal winds were to die for .

Concerto’s they everybody dies for are the "Brandenburg Concertos ’ by J.S, Bach , the daddy of them all .
The 6 encompass the entire Baroque concerto grosso literature with constantly changing patterns and players playing both leading and supporting roles that many of the great jazz artists have gone to school on .
My fave is the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra / Tom Koopman .
For solo piano great piece to start with is Robert Schumann’s "Carnaval".
Artur Rubinstein made nice work of this on RCA .

Last by not least is Vivaldi’s " Four Seasons "
If you wish to hear same in magnificent sound try Nils-Erik Sparf;
Drottingholm Baroque Ensemble BIS CD-275

ghosthouse, 3k remained in Berlin, another 2 k in Vermont , the rest are pushing me out of my small condo in St .Paul .

rvpiano. as a pro I'd appreciate your take . Both of them are spiritual mystics . I always am open to criticism , useful or no .(really) .

Schubert did more piano duos than any other great composer.
A 4CD set by two fine pianists . Christoph Eschenbach and Justus Frantz
on Brilliant Classics 92858 from HMV originals gives you 4 hours of the best at a cheap price .ADD CD
A dark horse with Evgeny Kissin and James Levine on RCA 8287669283-2
sounds good to me, A DDD recording .one CD .

A cello piece that might be interesting to a jazzman like yourself is Takemitsu's  "Orion " a beautiful piece with piano pizzicatos , very modern classical piece  that could be called avant jazz IMO .
+1 for the Moravec , I heard him play some Brahams live once upon a time , an exceptional  artist .
Al, well you can’t have too many of Op.163 , seems to be the Holy Grail for string players.
I like the Berg/Schiff myself bit I'm not very fussy over sound as a rule .
One I don’t own that I remember had good sound on the ASW label with
the English Lindsay Qt. with a cello player whose name I forget .
My absolute fave is the Hungarian Festetics Qt with the great Belgian player Wieland Kujiken on cello. Arcana label . Hungarian ensembles stay together forever and audiences in Budapest are a tough crowd .Only place I’ve seen in recent times where audiences are mostly young people who are crazy about classical and very knowledgeable !
IMO the trios gave "Barry Lyndon " the greatest soundtrack in the history of
film . If you haven't seen the film you're missing a  treat .
The reason the Jazz post has gone on forever and a day is they link to You Tube  on virtually  every post . That makes it easier for someone to know
 if that's something they might want to purchase or not . Only poster who has done that on here so far is the respected  Mapman .
I would but  have neurological problems that prevent my learning small things . It's hard to recommend specific recording  knowing that one mans
treasure may be another man's trash .

That said, I will anyway .
 Bach is so great that we tend to act as if classical started with him .
 Truth is that from the 11th to 15th century there were  composers at his level  but they wrote  things we don't listen to much today, as in religious
music .

My personal choice as best is Josquin Des Prez  who was Luther's, no mean composer himself,  favorite 
Two of his Masses are sung by The Tallis Scholars on Gimell label CDGIM 206, this was a" Gramophone Record of the Year Award" . 
To get that from the English Bible is  the highest Critical Acclaim !

Claudio Monteverdi is woefully underplayed , his magnificent Vespers are on
 a great recording, Virgin 2x1 5 616662-2  starting the greatest singer
 of period music alive , Emma Kiirkby .  There are many great recording of this , one on BIS has great sound .

Jean Philippe Rameau ,who wrote the book on harmony(literally ) ,
has a nice example of his lighter works on Naxos 8.553746.
Almost anything recorded of him is good really .

Guillaume Dufay a 15th century composer of great eloquence has a fine rendition of his work on Naxos 8.553087 by the Oxford Camerata/Summerly.   Not many dogs on Naxos, for sure the leading bang for the buck label .

John Dowland (1563-1626)  Is surely one of the greatest writers of song in English.
 Sweet recording of that and his lute music on Naxos 8.553326 by Rose Consort of Viols .

Heinrich Schutz(1585-1672) died just before Bach was born .A VERY pious
man who wrote only religious music, he is the equal of Bach in same .
Bach admired him greatly and went to school on him as was usual in those
days and which he freely admitted .
A lovely performance of his Christmas Story()Weihnachtshistorie)
is on Naxos 8.5535514 again with Summerly and his fine Oxford Singers .
Well, I see the Frog has gifted us another example of the art of the link !
Hope more will .
+ 17 on his recommend of the Milstein and the Pittsburgh , neither ever made a bad recording .

Fact, if you brush up a bit on your history you will increase your fun with classical music a lot .
 All music is effected by where and when it was composed  and the language of the composer .
Whilst scurrying around for my Christmas CD’s today I found one I totally
forgot I even had .

"Christmas with Thomas Hampson " + Saint Paul Chamber Orch. under
Hugh Wolff . Teldec 2 73135-2

This is a 1991 recording ,still available, that caught the young American
baritone voice at it’s peak aka Mt. Everest . The SPCO plays about as well as music can be played to further his cause .
Rare for "Christmas" CD’s it is pure class from the first note to the last !

A double treat if you have any German, he sings some in the tongue they were written in in perfect German . In Germany today he is considered one
of the best in the Germanic rep. esp. Mahler’s songs .

newbee, you must have good taste , the Janacek by Firkusny is truly iconic. I wore one out, on my second ..Not totally wrong about  O-10 either .
Al., could not agree more about the Toscannini Brahms .

It bothers me if one jerk  does it but not if the entire audience does it  .
My best moments are when 5 seconds of silence follows the last note .
Some pieces favor this with a great performance and other pieces the audience on the audience on their feet with same .
It is what it is .
It’s so bad with the opera cliquey on "Live from the Met’ I just stopped listening to it .
Opera needs to be seen anyway, it’s half theater after all. .
IMO listening to opera at home is DVD time .
Amen to the vinyl Barbirolli’s Sibelius 2 . I have the album cover in a frame on my wall .

For refined folks in other aspects of life the piece I sometimes recommend as a start is Mozart’s Symphony # 39 , very lyrical and gentle with fantastic clarinet work, as sunny as a day in May .
Best one I have is Sir Charles Mackerras with the Prague Chamber Orch.
Telac CD80148 ,also has Symp.#36 I buy anything Sir Mac does period .

Mozart any lover of classical should have.
Sym.#38 " Prague ". one of his very best + 40 and 41.
Eine Klleine Nachtmusic K. 525
Piano Concertos 9,20,21and 24.
Violin Con 3+5
Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola K.364
Clarinet Quintet K.581
Clarinet Concerto K.622
Requiem in D Minor, one I like a lot is Stattskapella Dresden under Peter Schreier , both for performance and sound

And everything else he ever wrote .
The Eiji Oue/ Minnesota "Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances " recording on Reference is , as Frogman has said , a magnificent recording .
The woodwinds on the first 5 minutes make me play just that over and over.
My other favorite , Simon Rattle with the Berlin Phil. has more drive but the
Minnesota winds play better, IMO than the Berlin ones which surprised the hell out of me , and the Minnesota is more lyrical and refined . Berlin percussion is better but its always better than anyone.
That said, there is a triangle bit that the MN player played better than any triangle piece I ever heard .
veriwide100, great post and right you are !
The Lutoslawski -Concerto for Cello is a fave of mine too .
A truly great recording is Rostopovich on one of the EMI  " Great Recordings of the Century " .
newbee, Thanks for the heads-up for the Malcolm Arnold "Dances and Overtures" on Reference . I has that once upon  a time but he had slipped off my radar .
Yesterday I ran across his Symphonies 5 and 6 on Naxos by the National
Symphony of Ireland in a local store .
Some of the best "modern" music one could hope to hear very well played  + great sound . Real power with something to say .
rvpiano, did you already have it or buy it?
Hampton is in the"force of nature " realm on it IMO .
Well I’ll have to buy a new one myself .
Saturday a couple dropped in to wish me Merry Christmas , the wife is German, from Hamburg .and a teacher of German .
I played the Hampson for them and in one of the German sung pieces she started to cry .
Natch, I had to give it to her and was happy to do so.
Thanks again , newbee.

I have the Uuno Klami's stuff and am fond of it .Iceland SO is OK by me !
Not to worry, anyone who loves the Western Worlds greatest artistic triumph gets carried away with the passion of it all ,be strange if they did not. .
Half-Price books is good source, here in Twin Cities they must have a dozen stores and the price is right .
My secret source is Berkshire Records on net .Don’t tell anyone else !

To me the LP always sounds better and easy to find here in stores plus  the 10 Goodwill stores within 8 miles of my abode,
I’ll like some feedback this, to ME the difference I hear is there is no air in the hall
on CD and there is on LP, and for ME, that makes all the difference .
Of course , I might be nuts .
The music of Brahms is often referred to as "autumnal".
Fifty years ago I thought that meant the color of a leaf or something.
Now , in my old age I see it as genius that still draws between the lines, sort of like Rembrandt compared to modern painters who just throw paint
unto a canvas .
Example #1 is his late piano music that is like comfort food to an old man.

Another composer who is an exemplar, to me anyway, is Faure,
the daddy of modern French music .An example is one of his last works the Trio for piano,cello and violin, Op. 120.
The recording I have enjoyed the most is the great American/Israeli violinist
Gil Shaham and Co. , "The Faure Album" CC03 on the Canary label .
I gather Canary is the Family business on the net, though I found mine at Barnes & Noble . I doubt there is a bad recording of it .

That said , the Canary has the advantage of starting with an early great work , Faure’s "Sonata for violin and piano, Op.13 and ending with the Trio
Op. 120 showing his progression from a young genius to an old one .
Faure , died not long after . His last words were to his son. "I did what I could.Now let God be my judge ".

I've found , after about a dozen amps, that Belles has the goods on what is needed for Classical . Neutrality, clarity , instrumental differrentation, depth
and a tiny dab of warmth .

There were and I ordered 5 CD’s from Amazon I have on Vinyl .
Somebody must agree with me on "The Late LvB Quartets " by the Yale Qt.
A vinyl box is available for only $214 .
The best sounding albums I've ever heard, as in the performance is in my living room, are the Vanguard Classical's from the 50's, 60's . Very close
to live music  The ones with the circle saying"The Bach Guild " are !

I'll have to see if any CD's of them are available .
You made my day rvpiano .
The Frank has always been a favorite of mine , usually have 3-4 different renditions .
I remember the first time I heard this one thinking "so that’s how you do it" !
And I had heard great artists , Menuhin and his sister, do it live .As you
no doubt know, Chung has had many health problems , her technique is nowhere as good as it once was, but hearing her live recently was a masterclass.Still a magnificent musician and damn the technique .
Lupu is Lupu . Like Liszt was Lizst .

P.S. I hope you haven’t forgotten how fine his String Quartet in D is .
Used to have a killer version of that by the Fitzwilliam Qt. on Decca .
 It surely must be one of the hardest Qt's to play in the rep, about like late  LvB .

One of mine as well twoleftears . 117,118 ,119 are comfort food .
 Lupe is at his finest  in  Brahms and Schubert IMO buts he's so good on everything  whose to say .
A fabulous LP I used to have was Lupu doing the piano works of one of  my
very favorite modern composers , Leos Janacek, was to die for but its long
gone .

One that didn't get lost of Janacek's piano music , some of the most original, charming and lyrical music written by any modern composer,
is Rudolf Firkusny playing his 3 most famous pieces on RCA 60147-2RC .
A CD with very good sound that is truly iconic .

Many/most of the CD’s are excellent recordings of great music . The Doc had VERY good taste !

Given that classical music has many different genres within itself I would think you would make more selling one at a time . Few people like all kinds.
One the other hand the market for classical is small and getting smaller and
that might take a long time .
You can just grab a CD and start listening, there are no rules . Most people I know started with Symphonies and moved to
solo piano, string quartets etc. Some do the opposite .
Religious people are often drawn to choir music of a religious bent . IMO the best composers to start with are Mozart, Schubert, Bach , Beethoven ,Tchaikovsky and Monteverdi . If you like solo piano Chopin and Schumann.
If I didn't make it clear the collection is top-notch !
I'd sit on it awhile and see if I get a bite.
If not you can always sell them one at a time .
sevs, you are more than welcome . Does an old mans heart good to read your post !
A composer that is hardly unknown , Ralph Vaughan Williams, IMO still is not recorded or played enough .One of his pieces"The Lark Ascending" if not the most plain beautiful piece ever written is right up there with whatever is .

There are many fine recordings , best deal is Sarah Chang on EMI with Haitink and London SO as 4 other of his most popular works are a bonus .
If you feel like crying{no joke} the recent one with Nicola Benedetti will get you there .

To all , I don’t think Telemann has been mentioned, Bach’s buddy and his near equal wrote about
as much music as anyone has and it’s all worth listening to .A half-dozen
of his works were attributed to Back for several centuries and nobody was the wiser .

A compilation of his best Concertos are on EMI 5 034345-2 with Berlin Baroque Soloists , His One for Oboe d’amore and Viola d’amore is to die for. Sound is excellent, I used this for years as my demo CD for purchases .
November edition of Gramophone has RAVE reviews of  both " A London Symphony "  and "Symphony Antarctica" .
Former on Hyperion with BBC SO/Brabbins , later on Chandos  with Bergen Phil./Sir Andrew Davis . Former "essential listening for all RVW devotees" , later"a distinguished release" .Sound is always good on both labels. Chandos esp.usually has great depth .
I've never forgotten a quip made by Gramophone reviewer many years ago.
"The difference between RVW and Bartok is the difference between English and Hungarian folk-music " .
I have never seen a Nonesuch CD of that .
Another Ristenpart Nonesuch LP I treasure is Haydn’s Symphonies 7,8, 9
"Morning", "Noon" and "Night " . with lovely Sarre CO . There are vinyl of these on Amazon .
Some of Haydn’s most charming works on any label .

I don't doubt as many atheists listen to religious music as believers terry9 , of course its open to all . I’ve known atheists who live more Christian lives than
most Christians do . The 3 or 4 I’ve known well were all lovers of life who were "jilted " lovers by the evil so called believers cause and the good they don’t do .

I have both the LP and CD of the Yale LvB and IMO $214 is too much .
My LP set is now undergoing cryo at -12F in my MN storage locker, maybe that will change my mind .
sevs, I owned that Delos Hovhaness as well .  Great sound !
There is a fine 30 CD set of RVW on Warner Classics, if memory serves about 60$ on Amazon . Vocals works are excellent .Nothing bad .
Boult, Groves and Handley etc, all noted as RVW approved .
Only drawback is no notes , but there is a rundown of same on Amazon I printed out .

The voice of Janet Baker alone is worth 60$

I believe so craig59, but I have misplaced my cheat sheet and can’t say
for sure, in any event I never heard a bad Boult .
My real man with RVW is Vernon Hadley, nobody did more for English composers..IMO Handley was the most sensitive conductor of RVW and the Warner Classics are heavy on him with RLPO. LPO and others .
I like good sound myself but can, and do at times , listen to a scratchy old
78 if the performance merits it .

Well, the old saw the good is the enemy of the best IMO should be the revised to bad taste is the enemy of everything

I don’t know if it’s true or not but a Professor I had once said ."There will never be another Mozart , no one born in the age of television will ever have his clarity of mind " .

As I said I don’t know, but as someone who was around well before TV (and rock) it rings true for a LOT of things .

I hear that craig59, Hanover/ Goodman is an automatic must buy for me .
I have a 13CD Nimbus set of all Schubert’s Symphonies with Goodman and much of his chamber and piano works . A jewel . N I1766.
Well, Artur Rubinstein said the adagio was the greatest piece ever written
and he wanted it played at his funeral . good enough for me .
I can’t even comment on the Quintet, 2 years ago I heard it played live by players of the St Paul CO , world class all , at the end the gent next to me
said to me that the adagio was written by God for a dying man he loved .

Goodman retired last year at age 65, said he was coming back at 70 after he rested up !
To me he’s a wild man who has everything under control , I love him .

Thanks for the links jkittlesen, never heard of Khatia before , the "Standchen" was lovely .
Wish I knew how to link and those who do would do more of it .
 My old brain just revolts when I try. to.

I'll order that LSO Hickox craig56, Hickox is always good .
I've read  articles that listed  dozens of stuff lifted from Buxtehude by Bach . Not unusual .
IMO, and many others as well, the GREAT Swiss oboist , Heinz Holliger, was the greatest instrumentalist of our time . He played with every good symphony of the world and was the most sought after player in the world .
Also taught music, not just oboe. at a top German conservatory for many years and was/is a composer .
Those who have heard him know what I mean when I say it is hard to believe anyone could play anything that well but for those who haven’t a top choice to hear music played as well as it can be played is.
Telemann/ Concerti per oboe/ Academy of St. Martin-in-the Fields under Iona Brown . Phillips 412 879-2 .
It was recorded in 1981 when he was at his pinnacle and has that warm Phillips sound .
Still alive and active at 79 !
I’ve been doing some serious listening to Alwyn the last few days largely because of comments on here .
Of course as a non-musician its hard for me to understand what’s going on
that makes his music so fresh and original .
As best I can understand  he keeps melody and rhythm moving together
nearly all the time, uses 3-4 phrases used by soloists and gives them to whole sections, moves same small bits of music here and there in different
compos , resolves nothing and doesn’t move forward .
What IMO he is trying to do is just make music as beautiful and organic as he can , and he succeeds in that .
His masterpiece is his Harp Concerto which is on Chandos and Naxos .
I have a tendency to get freaky over composers I like but right now I’d put
on a level with Sibelius .

I would really appreciate wiser people correcting me .

No, but same could be said of hundreds at his high level and thousands at well worth listening to level .

I doubt if anyone would not say he is a great composer .
I listen to my favorite work of his , the Masterwork Quintet Op 81 at least once a week and his Mass in D about once a month .The former on a truly great recording, Hyperion CDA 66797 by Gaudier Ensemble , the later on ECM 449508-2
with the wonderful Prague Chamber Choir .
If the Czechs are not the most musical people in the world they are right up there with whoever is .
The pride of Central Europe .
Well newbee, Fisher is among the best , he and his Budapest are world class and he goes for string slides in Slavic music .If you want a superb "New World" check out Marin Alsop with the Baltimore SO on Naxos .

I kinda sort of agree about the Istvan Kertsesv/London SO from the 60"s but he was SO great and SO Czech I’d put him as an exception that proves the rule ! I used to have them on Vinyl, sob. sob .At least they are ADD .

I know a little newbee, but fake a lot . .
Small world !
On my bi-weekly Goodwill vinyl hunt this AM I ran across what looked to be a mint LP of one Alexander Scriabin’s 2 Tone Poems, "The Poem of Ecstasy" Op. 54 and The Poem of Fire : Prometheus Op. 60" .
I enjoyed the former and was downright smitten with the latter !
Heresy I know , but I’d rather listen to Op. 60 than any Mahler Symphony .
I strongly suspect my favorite modern composer , Leos Janacek , was at least a bit influenced by Scriabin , he knew Russian music backwards and forwards, and had the same thing that is required for real musical genius , passion .

I remember liking some of Scriabin"s solo piano I bought back in the 60’s but they are long gone and don’t remember hearing anything else of his .
Played Album twice , pretty sure it was never played, Dallas SO under Donald
Janos, an excellent band and an excellent conductor .
On Candide(one of the better old labels) CE 31039 must be from early 60’s
in the unlikely event you run in to one buy it .
The sound is quite good esp. since is a Dolby, one of the best things I ever bought for $1.99 .

 Got an even better deal today !
 Box of Bach Cantatas, the heart of his work, 19 CD's by  one of the best
 original instrument ensembles , Le Petite Bande/ Sigiswald Kuijken  for 43 bucks on Amazon . Had a few of these already, IMO they are among the best around , one voice to a part as you would have heard in Bach's time .
They were going to do all the Bach Cantatas but the label , Accent , was sold .
Only thing that is ultimately necessary is death .
I understand the OD part , but as a devout Anglican with a good command of German has never happened to me after 50 years  with Bach, esp. the cantatas , to me they are a form of prayer .

Someone who wrote great religious music in English and was born in same year as Bach is , obviously , Handel .
Among people I have known the most neglected of his works are some of his best works , The Chandos Anthems 1-VI .
Chandos Label(no coincidence) has nice box sets for good prices , perhaps the best readily available . After I listened to Vol 1 today, I went and dug out my Volume 1
LP on the Vanguard Everyman Classics label . The Vinyl was so much better the Chandos CD seemed like a toy and I have a modest TT set up .

I think I have said it before but again to all , if you ever run into ANY old Vanguard vinyl just buy it .
One of the foremost pianists alive, Andras Schiff sees either keys or notes in colors . Was a few years ago since I heard the interview, but in any event he see music in color .