Suggestions For Classical & Symphonic CDs

I’m not interested in opera and I have not developed enough of an appreciation for classical music to understand the different multi-movement structures and related musical forms of the genre. I’m not even sure if music performed by a symphony is necessarily classical. I do know that I like the grand movements of a full symphony with all the varying dynamics and passages. I can’t site any specific samples because of my naiveté with classical music. I do appreciate a solo violin, and I especially like passages involving all of the strings (violins, viola, cello and bass). I have acquired some fuller-range speakers and I would like to listen to some “full-range” string movements/symphonic movements). I have also been listening to music at a much lower volume lately – I listened to the Cowboy Junkies Trinity Sessions last night, in the dark with the volume at a very moderate level (as not to disturb my sleeping cherubs). It was a wonderful experience. I think I would really appreciate duplicating this listening experience with the type of music mentioned above. I do not have an SACD player and I am only interested in the very best of Red Book (production value).

Thank you.
Dvorak, Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op 95, From the New World. EMI, The Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch. A good performance. Covers most of the mentioned bases. Always a winner.

The Reference Recording of Copland is outstanding for its incredible horns, but that's in HDCD.
If you especially like massed strings, try:

Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings
Dvorak's Serenade for Strings
Richard Strauss, Metamorphosen

Also, Wagner's Siegfried Idyll for small orchestra.

Many good recordings of the above are available.

And here's a tip for a gorgeous collection on the budget label, Naxos, beautifully performed and well-recorded, and perfect for the late-night session alternative to Cowboy Junkies: "Swedish Orchestral Favorites Vol. 2," CD # 8.553715. Do yourself a favor and order it immediately -- if I'm wrong (and I don't think I am), you're only out a few bucks.
A further thought after my previous post -- for that late-night listening session, you should move beyond orchestral to chamber works. If you're feeling adventurous, try a CD by Arvo Part called "Alina" (on the ECM label) -- it takes you through sound to a place of stillness beyond sound. Simply beautiful and beautifully simple.
Thanks for the suggestions. I have always appreciated certain types of orchestral music. I love a hauntingly beautiful violin solo - something so beautiful and touching that it truly moves you. I'm not sure a can get into a lot of brass. There's a DVD titled, Music For Montserrat, in which Mark Knopfler performs the song, “Brothers in Arms,” with a full orchestra. While Mr. Knopfler’s performance is not all that great, the orchestral passages are excellent. I’ll put this DVD on just to hear those orchestral movements. More suggestions appreciated.

Thank you.
A hauntingly beautiful violin solo -- try "The Lark Ascending" by Ralph Vaughan Williams. It's available on a great CD with other gorgeous Vaughan Williams works for strings, including the Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, and the Fantasia on Greensleeves. With Neville Marriner conducting the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. Order it now -- your life is poorer without it.
I second Dvorak's 9th. My favorite recording is with the full collection of Dvorak's symphonies (Dvorak: The Symphonies) with Istvan Kertesz and the London Symphony Orchestra.

Also, try Brahms 3rd and 4th. Consider the set with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Brahms' double concerto is a must for string lovers (try the one with Oistrakh, Rostropovich, and Richter with Beethoven's triple concerto).

And don't forget Mendelssohn's string symphonies, as well as Dvorak's string symphonies.

There is LOTS of great classical music out there. Give some of these a shot and try listening to classical radio, either on FM, the Internet, or your cable provider, as these give you more of an exposure to music you might not otherwise hear.

Good luck!

For some of the most incredibly beautiful music for strings Samuel Barbers Adagio for Strings is right on the top. It is included on lots of Barber CD's. Slatkin's on EMI is very good and also includes some other very popular Barber music.
This is helpful. Thank you all. I haven't had a chance to pick up anything yet. Hopefully, I can find time tomorrow between the kids' soccer games, softball practice and the yard work I've been "postponing." After last night, I have something to reference. I pulled out the old Stereophile Test CD 2, from 1992 - Track number seven, Franz Schubert's Ave Maria, performed by a solo violinist and accompanied by an organist playing an Aeolian-Skinner organ. I don't know what you call this, but I found it to be deeply moving. A piece so beautiful it was almost tangible, or should I say it was sublime. I sat there in the dark and kept hitting the repeat button. I definitely want to explore more music of this type. I can't wait to get the kids to bed and listen to that one piece again. Please...more suggestions.

Thanks again.

1) Bruch Viloin Concerto #1. I like Heifetz best on this. if you pick up the RCA SACD you will also get Vieuxtemps Violin Concerto as well, which is another masterpiece.
2) Dvorak Cello Concerto. I like Dupre with Barenboim conducting or Rostropovich with Karajan conducting.
3) Elgar Cello Concerto. Get the one with Dupre, Barberolli conducting on EMI.
4) Brahms Piano Concerto #1 with Radu Lupu or Daniel Barenboim
5) Schubert Piano Music for Four Hands with Kissin and Levine
6) Tchaikovsky Symphonic Poems with Pletnev conducting, it's a set on DG
7) Beethoven 5th and 9th Symphonies w/Karajan
8) Tchaikovsky 6th Symphony w/Karajan
I picked up a nice compilation CD featuring many of the aforementioned performances and a Sarah Chang release - Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. I'm going to purchase some more disks over lunch today. I love the large sweeping movements in some of the Vivaldi performances, which are better recorded than the compilation CD released by Denon. I still haven't found anything that is as moving (for me) as the violin/organ performance of Ave Maria, mentioned above. That performance simply moves me. I can think of no other way to describe it than "hauntingly beautiful." I’m going to look for those types of solo violin performances and more performances with full orchestral movements –t he former for late night listening in the dark, at low volume levels and the later for cranking it up to live performance volume levels. The responses have been very helpful. This is a new genre for me. One which I never realized I would appreciate so much. Unfortunately, it’s like reading a novel by a great author only to discover that the pulp fiction you’ve been absorbed with no longer interests you.

Note: Jhold, per your recommendation I almost picked up Arvo Part’s “Alina’, but I wasn’t feeling adventurous enough to pluck down $20 for something I am totally unfamiliar with. Is it all piano?


2chnlben: try here. It might help with your search.
Thanks Calbrs03. Jhold, I went ahead and picked up Part's Alina during lunch today. The oh-so brief samples that I heard were compelling.

Thanks to all.

I recently got a new cycle of Beethoven symphonies by Mikhail Pletnev on DGG. These are exciting performances that are well-recorded.
kyung-Wha Chung violinist, with Andre Previn and the London Symphony on Decca - Tchaikovsky and Sibelius violin concertos. Many feel (myself included) that the string section along with the entire orchestra of the Berlin Philharmonic in the 1960's, particularly the early 60's, under Karajan has never before or since been equaled. Criticisms of later (late 70's and 80's) recordings essentially deride the orchestra as being too perfect. Von Karajan was, incidently, instrumental in the development of the CD. A man fascinated with recording - imagine going from recording on 78 rpm vinyl (short sides) to LP's to CD's in a lifetime.