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What are you currently listening to?


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Author Topic: What are you currently listening to?  (Read 14719 times)
kyjo
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« Reply #345 on: December 28, 2013, 02:08:31 pm »

Totally agree with you about there being a lack of rhythmic clarity in PMD's 1st. It's just too formless and nebulous to fully grasp onto. Have you heard any of Max's symphonies after the 3rd? I've only heard the first three-they seem to get progressively better from the 1st.
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kyjo
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« Reply #346 on: December 31, 2013, 04:45:46 am »

Just listened to Lev Abeliovich's Symphony no. 3. It's influenced by Shostakovich, but not heavily so. Abeliovich's musical language is lighter and more playful than Shostakovich in serious mode, and the fast movements (especially the scherzo) have a nervous, skittish quality to them. The composer is obviously quite fond of the wind instruments in this work. The slow movement is rather dull, but the symphony is quite fine overall, especially the slow, lyrical epilogue, which ends the piece in a peaceful B-flat major. There's also a marvelously intense passage near the beginning of the piece with some great horn writing.
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dyn
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« Reply #347 on: December 31, 2013, 05:36:51 am »

Totally agree with you about there being a lack of rhythmic clarity in PMD's 1st. It's just too formless and nebulous to fully grasp onto. Have you heard any of Max's symphonies after the 3rd? I've only heard the first three-they seem to get progressively better from the 1st.
I found the 6th mostly long and dreary, though there was a striking passage for high trumpets near the end of the first movement. Haven't heard 1 through 5 though, so no basis for comparison. I do find it somewhat astonishing that someone can be a professional and highly regarded composer for decades without ever developing a good sense of rhythm.

Anyway, heard Shostakovich 11 ("The Year 1905") last night—second listen ever. I think my first experience with the work must have been a rather inferior performance since I found it a much more compelling piece this time around. It's less of a symphony and more of an extended dramatic tableau, so purists might take exception to the title, but I do think it is one of DSCH's better works.

Next on the list are Symphonies 2, 3 and 4 in some order, & possibly a revisitation of The Nose, though I find Shostakovich works best for me in small doses >.> so might be a couple of weeks.
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kyjo
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« Reply #348 on: December 31, 2013, 05:41:35 am »

Tonight, I also listened to Maxwell Davies' Mavis in Las Vegas, a hugely enchanting theme-and-variations which couldn't be more dissimilar to the same composer's difficult Symphony no. 1. There are some novel instruments thrown into the mix, such as a banjo and an unusual-sounding organ (I am not familiar with the different varieties of organs). There's also a bell-like instrument (which could very well be regular bells) used near the beginning of the piece that I cannot identify. Anyway, great fun!

I ended the night on Elgar's Piano Quintet, a work which I had largely forgotten about. It is a simply glorious work, and its neglect is quite hard to fathom. From the first movement's unsettling, mysterious opening to the slow movement's emotional outpourings, this work is a masterpiece of the late-romantic chamber repertoire.
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kyjo
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« Reply #349 on: December 31, 2013, 05:46:41 am »

I found the 6th mostly long and dreary, though there was a striking passage for high trumpets near the end of the first movement. Haven't heard 1 through 5 though, so no basis for comparison. I do find it somewhat astonishing that someone can be a professional and highly regarded composer for decades without ever developing a good sense of rhythm.

Thanks for your reply. "Long and dreary" would also characterize the First Symphony, for the most part. I'm certainly no expert on PMD's music, but I'm beginning to think symphonic writing was not his strong suit. To me, symphonies just don't "work" if there aren't any clear-cut themes or development. I have yet to hear any of his Strathclyde Concertos, which I'm hoping to acquire sometime down the road. I really enjoyed Mavis in Las Vegas, and will keep an eye out for more of his "lighter" works. I have the CD of the first and second "Naxos Quartets" but recall them being pretty tough going.
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dyn
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« Reply #350 on: December 31, 2013, 08:12:54 am »

I found the 6th mostly long and dreary, though there was a striking passage for high trumpets near the end of the first movement. Haven't heard 1 through 5 though, so no basis for comparison. I do find it somewhat astonishing that someone can be a professional and highly regarded composer for decades without ever developing a good sense of rhythm.

Thanks for your reply. "Long and dreary" would also characterize the First Symphony, for the most part. I'm certainly no expert on PMD's music, but I'm beginning to think symphonic writing was not his strong suit. To me, symphonies just don't "work" if there aren't any clear-cut themes or development. I have yet to hear any of his Strathclyde Concertos, which I'm hoping to acquire sometime down the road. I really enjoyed Mavis in Las Vegas, and will keep an eye out for more of his "lighter" works. I have the CD of the first and second "Naxos Quartets" but recall them being pretty tough going.
The Strathclyde Concertos I've heard are pretty much the same—formless, undistinctive, grey, and never getting off the ground rhythmically. I gave up after 1, 2, 7 and 8. Imagine a combination of the harmonies of Shchedrin, the tunefulness of Schoenberg, the large-scale architecture of Delius and the joie de vivre of Pettersson, all interpreted from the podium by an old man with Parkinson's disease. Perhaps I'm being too harsh, but I really can't hear any appeal.

The lighter works are a mystery to me so far. Along with Mavis the other "hit" is Orkney Wedding with Sunrise but I haven't heard either. If Mavis is indeed completely dissimilar to the Symphony No. 1 I suppose that's a good sign though.
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« Reply #351 on: December 31, 2013, 08:20:33 am »

I do find it somewhat astonishing that someone can be a professional and highly regarded composer for decades without ever developing a good sense of rhythm.

If you listen to a piece like St Thomas Wake, you'll hear a good sense of rhythm. The problem is more one related to doctrine rather than ability.
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Jolly Roger
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« Reply #352 on: December 31, 2013, 08:41:34 am »

I found the 6th mostly long and dreary, though there was a striking passage for high trumpets near the end of the first movement. Haven't heard 1 through 5 though, so no basis for comparison. I do find it somewhat astonishing that someone can be a professional and highly regarded composer for decades without ever developing a good sense of rhythm.

Thanks for your reply. "Long and dreary" would also characterize the First Symphony, for the most part. I'm certainly no expert on PMD's music, but I'm beginning to think symphonic writing was not his strong suit. To me, symphonies just don't "work" if there aren't any clear-cut themes or development. I have yet to hear any of his Strathclyde Concertos, which I'm hoping to acquire sometime down the road. I really enjoyed Mavis in Las Vegas, and will keep an eye out for more of his "lighter" works. I have the CD of the first and second "Naxos Quartets" but recall them being pretty tough going.
The Strathclyde Concertos I've heard are pretty much the same—formless, undistinctive, grey, and never getting off the ground rhythmically. I gave up after 1, 2, 7 and 8. Imagine a combination of the harmonies of Shchedrin, the tunefulness of Schoenberg, the large-scale architecture of Delius and the joie de vivre of Pettersson, all interpreted from the podium by an old man with Parkinson's disease. Perhaps I'm being too harsh, but I really can't hear any appeal.

The lighter works are a mystery to me so far. Along with Mavis the other "hit" is Orkney Wedding with Sunrise but I haven't heard either. If Mavis is indeed completely dissimilar to the Symphony No. 1 I suppose that's a good sign though.

I too, have been having difficulties coming to grips with PMD's symphonic music and I'm glad to see someone express a similar opinion, especially in light of so many positive reviews of it. Once hearing one of the symphonies, I feel like I must have missed the message, and I return to the well for another drink...but to little avail.. Even when it has passages that sound promising, it just seems to fizzle without saying something memorable. For me, little of it has much impact or staying power for me. Perhaps he is best in smaller non-symphonic doses. And if you can listen to his Antarctic Symphony without falling asleep, more power to you..  
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kyjo
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« Reply #353 on: January 01, 2014, 06:23:51 am »

Kicking off the New Year with Atterberg's Second, a work whose life-affirming heroics I hope are a beacon for the year to come!
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cjvinthechair
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« Reply #354 on: January 01, 2014, 04:02:49 pm »

Something new (to me !) for the New Year:
 Jacob Avshalomov - Symphony of Songs, Raptures for Orchestra on Madrigals of Gesualdo, Praises from the Corners of the Earth.
To be followed by: Paul Ben-Haim - Joram Oratorio, then Petr Eben - Symphonia Gregoriana for organ & orchestra.

Hope it offsets the horrendous rain we've got right across the UK; what a start to '14...how are you faring elsewhere ?
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Clive
kyjo
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« Reply #355 on: January 04, 2014, 04:58:51 am »

Just finished listening to Ernst Levy's (1895-1981) Symphony no. 15 (1967, his final symphony) in our downloads. Levy's musical language is thoroughly tonal and is characterized by restraint and long, flowing lines. It's quite individual; the closest comparison to Levy's style is perhaps Rubbra. This symphony is unusual for its structure: the final movement is just about as long as the first three combined. The scherzo is especially enjoyable, with its inquiet opening in 5/4 time. The mood brightens with a delightful, almost Hispanic theme in 7/4. The slow movement is notable for its beautiful oboe solo. The finale is dominated by ebbing and flowing string and wind lines, creating tension and release along the way. Halfway through the movement, the timpani introduces an quietly ominous rhythm over which the brass enter with a chorale-like subject. The idea is then repeated forte, creating a moment of grandeur. The ending, however, is soft and gentle, with a flute solo over a pedal note in the cello and bass.

On the basis of this and other works I have heard by Levy, he is certainly an important figure in 20th-century symphonism. If you're looking for powerful symphonic music that isn't bombastic or emotionally draining, Levy is your man!
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cjvinthechair
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« Reply #356 on: January 04, 2014, 10:49:50 am »

Trying it now, Mr. K.. Could definitely get to like it, I think !
 So, 15 symphonies...pretty prolific; but v. little of him on YT. Are his works just not recorded/played ?
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Clive
kyjo
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« Reply #357 on: January 04, 2014, 02:54:27 pm »

A couple of Levy's symphonies and other orchestral works were recorded by the Opus One label. Naxos recently reissued these recordings, but, for some odd reason, only decided to release these reissues in mp3 format Roll Eyes The original Opus One recordings are still in print but a bit expensive.
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Gauk
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« Reply #358 on: January 04, 2014, 11:01:46 pm »

I just had a listen to Levy's 11th, courtesy of the Naxos website. I can see (just) why kyjo is reminded of Rubbra, but Levy is nowhere as individualistic or original. It reminds me much more of Copland in his more introverted moods. I could probably get to like it, but at first hearing it is rather academic.
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kyjo
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« Reply #359 on: January 04, 2014, 11:13:14 pm »

I can see why you think Levy's music is on the "academic" side. But I think it has enough moments of inspiration and beauty to make up for that! Levy (like Rubbra) is not one of those composers that everyone will "get" at first hearing. He's certainly not a "flashy" composer (not that that's a bad thing)!

P.S. Apologies if I sounded too over-enthusiastic about the Levy 15th in my post. I tend to over-glorify things Grin
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