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31  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: The opera thread on: February 11, 2014, 07:36:23 pm
I found the Croatian opera Adel i Mara by Josip Hatze (1879-1959) posted at YouTube (a separate video for each of the four acts):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12IHwhVafEE

I am listening to this right now and finding it engaging. Anyone who likes Central and Eastern European nationalistic operas with folk culture elements should be right at home.

It is interesting that the idiom of this opera premiered in 1932 could easily be taken as a manifestation of a period fifty years earlier. When the opera appeared, this conservatism was the subject of much comment in the Yugoslav press (according to Jim Samson's Music in the Balkans, which sounds like it might be a useful book for a number of members of this board). But I cannot see that this is particularly germane to our listening experience today, although of course it is interesting historically. If the piece sounds like a good 1882 opera, what does it matter if it is actually 1932?
32  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: The opera thread on: February 09, 2014, 12:38:16 am
Speaking about fun. I'm listening to an opera of Unsuk Chin: Alice in Wonderland.
Sung in english. I don't know if she actually wrote in in english, but I expect she did.

The soprano voice is changing from a usual soprano to a very girly-like voice (and vice versa). The orchestration makes it a pretty light work. It is very much in line with the sphere of the book (IMHO).

Here is some more info:
http://www.boosey.com/pages/opera/moredetails.asp?musicid=30989


This reminds me of David Del Tredici's huge cycle of Alice works, which I haven't heard much about in a while.
33  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: The opera thread on: February 08, 2014, 12:03:57 am
I would certainly be interested in more discussion of obscure and less often performed operas, from all eras. It is an area of profound interest to me.

I will offer one recommendation right away - Jean Cras' 1922 opera Polypheme, available in a complete recording conducted by Bramwell Tovey for Timpani Records. A dazzling piece.

http://www.amazon.com/Marin-Degor-Val%C3%A9rie-Corbier-R%C3%A9gional-Vittoria/dp/B002MWAMKC/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyph%C3%A8me
34  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: What is your favorite ballet (famous or not)? on: December 19, 2013, 11:55:51 pm
Possibly Prokofiev's The Stone Flower, for a somewhat extra-musical reason. When I was in college, I mentioned to my brother that I had gotten pretty good at identifying composers by their sound. We turned on WQXR, the "radio station of the New York Times," and there was a piece in progress. I listened hard. It was a symphonic work, but obviously episodic, which put me on the idea that it was a ballet. It sounded like Prokofiev, but not early Prokofiev. I did not know the piece. I had heard Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella. So after ten minutes, I said to my brother, "I think it is a late Prokofiev ballet, possibly The Stone Flower, which I've never heard." We had to wait a while until the announcer came on. When he did, he said "You've been listening to Act II of the ballet The Stone Flower by Sergei Prokofiev." I'm sure I must have fist-pumped. Nailed it!

I don't play an instrument, read music, or have any technical musical training.

35  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: Notable 21st century violin concerti on: December 17, 2013, 03:25:00 pm
I was very impressed by James MacMillan's Violin Concerto (which you mentioned), when I heard it played by Vadim Repin on a Proms broadcast this year.
36  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: Composer Societies on: December 14, 2013, 05:06:24 pm
Elaborate websites dedicated to a single composer are just inches away from being an "organization" of some kind, and probably deserve to be included in the enumeration. For example, this website devoted to Andres Gaos, completely worked up in both Spanish and English:

http://www.andresgaos.com/home.html
37  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: Non-Symphonic Works About WW2 on: December 12, 2013, 09:24:58 pm
Alfred Schnittke's cantata Nagasaki has been commercially recorded by Owain Arwel Hughes for BIS, and can also be heard in a scalding performance by Valery Gergiev recently posted at YouTube by pomip926.

Nagasaki is an oratorio composed by Soviet composer Alfred Schnittke in 1958, at the age of 25. It was Schnittke's graduation composition in the Moscow Conservatory, and the topic was suggested by his teacher Evgeny Golubev. The work was considered formalistic, and Schnittke was accused of forgetting the principles of Realism in music. Thus, he suppressed the expressionistic central movement depicting the nuclear explosion and modified the finale. It was recorded by the Moscow Radio Symphony in 1959 and broadcast to Japan through Voice of Russia, but it wasn't printed and it didn't receive any subsequent performances. Nagasaki was finally given its public premiere in its original form in Cape Town on 23 November 2006, eight years after Schnittke's death, by Hanneli Rupert and the Cape Philharmonic conducted by Owain Arwel Hughes.
38  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: Was Stravinsky really arrested in Boston in 1940?? on: December 12, 2013, 04:00:49 pm
More from Wikipedia:

<Delage's best known piece is Quatre poèmes hindous (1912–1913). His Ragamalika (1912–1922), based on the classical music of India, is also significant in that it calls for prepared piano; the score specifies that a piece of cardboard be placed under the strings of the B-flat in the second line of the bass clef to dampen the sound, imitating the sound of an Indian drum.>

So Delage fits in the "Exotica" category being discussed in another thread, as well as being a technical innovator.
39  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: Four levels of obscurity on: December 12, 2013, 03:54:59 pm
Quote
For what do we need these obscurity levels?

A few decades back, some prominent German musicologists engaged in what I've always thought were valuable discussions of the relationships between cultural centers and cultural peripheries. Other historical studies of cultural dissemination such as Fischer's Albion's Seed have shed light on many of the patterns in the lives of modern cultures.

Center/periphery and dissemination mechanics are two ways to generalize aspects of the community of creative artists that constitute musical culture. Two of many ways. Another way is to discuss perceptions of obscurity as measured by the availability of works in performance and studies.

In a forum about "obscure composers," why wouldn't we need a proposal to refine a dichotomy of obscure vs well-known when a member finds that dichotomy too simple to capture his own insight? The proposal is simply another thread of intellectual inquiry not unlike those seen in some late 20th-century German musicology. Of course this forum isn't intended first and foremost for professional scholars (though it doesn't exclude them either). But when, after decades of listening, forum members try to find better ways to articulate something that no doubt many others have sensed, the thread of discussion is well worth pursuing, even if the original proposal is eventually regarded as an important first step towards a more robust formulation.

Nicely said. Center-periphery studies are "hot" in a number of fields. I recently read a collection of articles about border studies in political science.
40  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: Remarkable String Quartets by Lesser-Known Composers on: December 12, 2013, 03:02:49 pm
Marc Wood identifies a number of "pure" concert works from Durey's later years - a Fantaisie-concertante for cello and orchestra from the Forties, a Concertino for piano and wind instruments from the Fifties, a Mouvement symphonique for piano and strings and a Sinfonietta for strings from the Sixties. He also mention's Durey's lone opera, the 1929 L'occasion (one act or full-length?), from a story by Prosper Merimee.
41  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: Remarkable String Quartets by Lesser-Known Composers on: December 12, 2013, 02:07:00 pm
One of those dreaded left-wingers, wasn't he? Setting poems of Mao and Ho Chj Minh.

That is part of what would make his biography interesting to me, that he was part of the French socialist/communist tradition (which re-invigorated for a while there in the Sixties, when he wrote those songs). He suffered for this in terms of his "career," which was also under-powered by his non-self-promoting nature. But he never stopped composing, for films (I was interested to learn this) as well as for the concert hall.

Not all his political music is so easily pigeon-holed as "setting poems of Mao and Ho Chi Minh" might indicate. For one thing, it is easy to forget that Ho initially rose up against French colonialism, which is something that Durey and many French intellectuals applauded (and I am sure I would have, too). This anti-colonialism found other expression as well, such as Durey's "powerful plea for Tunisian and Algerian independence, the Cantate a Ben-Ali of 1952, [which] was deemed subversive by the authorities and rehearsed by the choir clandestinely." (I would link to the Marc Wood article from which I'm getting these quotations, but unfortunately it is only available through JSTOR.)

I find artists' political commitments interesting to consider, without making them a litmus test for whether I am willing to look at an artist's work. That seems silly to me. I am creatively interested in Albert Speer, Leni Riefenstahl, and Hans Pfitzner; I am just as interested in Bertolt Brecht, Hanns Eisler, and Louis Durey. 
42  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: Remarkable String Quartets by Lesser-Known Composers on: December 11, 2013, 04:28:50 pm
A  profile of the least remembered of Les Six, Louis Durey (1888-1979), appeared in the Winter 2000 issue of The Musical Times, and the author, Marc Wood, especially recommended Durey's String Quartets No. 1 (1917) ("a marvellous work that deserves to be much better known") and No. 2 (1922) (the final movement of which "allies adventurous and expressionistic harmony to increasingly fluid rhythmic development"). (There is also a third quartet, from 1928.)

I have long been curious about Durey, and hope to learn much more about him. There does not appear to be any full-length biography yet, in any language.   
43  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: Concerti for unusual instruments on: December 10, 2013, 09:02:24 pm
Meyer Kupferman's Libretto (1948) is subtitled "Concerto for Conductor and Orchestra."
44  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: Remarkable Symphonies by REALLY Lesser-Known Composers on: December 10, 2013, 07:14:39 pm
Would it be possible to mention what is remarkable about one/any of these symphonies rather than just supplying a list? I find it difficult to believe that they're all remarkable, but (probably like other members) would be interested in searching out those which have intriguing recommendations.

I think this is an apt suggestion. As stimulating as the lists are, and I'm happy to see them keep coming, even a few words that try to pin down what is remarkable or interesting about the pieces, and provide some context, would be most welcome.

It is more difficult than it sounds, of course. Music is notoriously difficult to describe and discuss, purely instrumental music even more so, and many of us, alas, lack the technical vocabulary that might be helpful. (Although those who have it should not hesitate to use it; the rest of us can probably follow what you're saying reasonably well.)

I keep listening notes for myself; would that I did a better job of it, but it is still better to have the sketchy indications I write down than to rely solely on my memory (which as we all know, can play tricks). Looking at these notes, I see that my adjectives are often more vague than I would like. Good to know that I found a work "impressive," but it would be better to know why.

So I am very far from being the model in this respect that I would like to be. But it is always good to aim at the highest level of informationality that one can muster, and sometimes, when one is aware of writing for others, even rather informally, that concentrates the communicative effort. 
45  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: Four levels of obscurity on: December 09, 2013, 03:00:06 pm
With respect to Level 3, does anyone have a sense of whether more vanishingly obscure composers are discussed in the various editions of Grove's than make it onto Wikipedia? I would imagine so (but I don't have the volumes at hand to check).

I am very interested in this issue with respect to writers, philosophers, painters, as well. I prize reference sources and critical works that provide details about the truly uncelebrated.
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