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What are you currently listening to?


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Author Topic: What are you currently listening to?  (Read 65963 times)
cilgwyn
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« Reply #3000 on: September 23, 2021, 02:00:34 pm »



Grant Still: Symphony No 1 "Afro-American". I remember playing this to my late mother,after this cd came out! It seemed a bit mind blowing at the time. Full of all those blues-y sounds,ragtime & jazzy influences that a certain far more famous composer is known for! And,best of all,full of hummable tunes! And a lovely,soulful,slow movement. My mother loved it! It was like,why isn't this composer better known (or even,known,at the time!). And,as if that isn't enough,his Second Symphony is even finer,imo.
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Lionel Harrison
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« Reply #3001 on: September 23, 2021, 03:13:37 pm »



Grant Still: Symphony No 1 "Afro-American". I remember playing this to my late mother,after this cd came out! It seemed a bit mind blowing at the time. Full of all those blues-y sounds,ragtime & jazzy influences that a certain far more famous composer is known for! And,best of all,full of hummable tunes! And a lovely,soulful,slow movement. My mother loved it! It was like,why isn't this composer better known (or even,known,at the time!). And,as if that isn't enough,his Second Symphony is even finer,imo.

I have been following your posts on your traversal of American symphonies but I've not commented because I don't know any of those you've cited. I have recordings of some: Hanson 2; Harris 1 and 3; Mennin 7; Piston 2, 4 and 6; and Schuman 3, 5 and 8, but if I've listened to them (which isn't altogether certain -- I have tons of recordings I've never listened to  Roll Eyes ) I can't say they've made much of an impression, probably because I wasn't paying sufficient attention at the time. Barber's two are another matter: I have recordings of them (in both their original and revised versions) and if the others are anywhere near the qualiy of his, I really ought to revisit what I've already got!

William Grant Still is yet another matter. I have the Neeme Järvi recording you picured as well as a couple conducted by Paul Freeman (one with the Chicago Sinfonietta and the other with the LSO -- a cracking performance, this). His second symphony is also a favourite of mine but I'm sorry to say I don't know the other three: another omission I ought really to rectify... Embarrassed
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #3002 on: September 23, 2021, 04:19:20 pm »

Grant Still's Symphony No 3 "The Sunday Symphony"  is rather nice. I would say it's not on quite the level of inspiration as the first two,but it's still a very nice listen. The recording I have is played by The North Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. I can't help wondering what it would sound like with lush sounding strings and Chandos' sound quality? The Cambria cd I have includes some other short instrumental pieces,an overture & some spirituals. It's a very enjoyable collection & the performances are good.
I don't know his Fourth & Fifth Symphonies.
I have a Collins cd of William Grant Still vol 2 of choral/vocal works & a ballet,Miss Sally's Party,which is rather nice & at times,moving. I think Symphonies 1 & 2 are the cream of Grant Still. But,then again;I could imagine better performances of some of these other works. Not that they're bad! I just think some of his best music deserves better orchestras,choirs and
soloists,than it gets. 
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #3003 on: September 23, 2021, 04:38:57 pm »



Getting smaller! Roll Eyes Grin I think this is,possibly,my favourite Schuman symphony. A one movement work. I particularly like his,at times,thrilling use of strings brass and percussion,and the way it builds up. Not a wasted note!

According to,Lawrence A. Johnson of the Chicago Classical Review: (I got this from Wikipedia)

"Schuman was not a tunesmith and this is not music that is easy to love. Astringent, densely woven and knottily contrapuntal, the music seems to reflect a damaged world haunted by the devastation of the war. Jagged shards of military fanfares and a breakout timpani solo burst out and the agitated fugal writing builds to a frenetic climax. Yet the prevailing mood is one of elegiac bleakness with slow, searching music framing the symphony, which closes with a slow ebbing away in an expression of exhausted despair."

I think he described it a bit better than " wot I could,if you know wot I mean?!! Roll Eyes Grin  At any rate,I think it's a very impressive edifice & very well though out. I actually prefer it No 3,which is generally,regarded as his best symphony! Not sure if I love it,though? That would be going a little too far! Shocked Grin And no,I won't be whistling it,when I go shopping!! Shocked Grin
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #3004 on: September 23, 2021, 05:33:16 pm »



William Grant Still: Symphony No 3 "The Sunday Symphony" (1958)  The North Arkansas SO / Carlton R. Woods   Cambria

Very nice! That's Grant Still on the front,at Knotts Berry Farm California,with his granddaughter,Celeste c.1972. Apparently,this was,actually,the last of his symphonies.  The original Symphony 3,from 1945,was discarded. It was the only symphony not performed during Still's lifetime. The William Grant Still Festival performance in 1984 & this recording were world premieres. According to the booklet,"The use of programmatic titles here,describing the worship activities of a typical Sunday". This really is rather lovely. The slow movements have that soulful quality,you will recognise from the earlier symphonies.  If this is a step down in inspiration from the earlier ones,it's a good one! Smiley This is more like a little symphony. It's only around twenty minutes long (just over). The rest of the music on this cd is,also,very enjoyable. I love his use of the orchestra! Smiley These performances are all very spirited,actually! A lovely collection! I haven't listened to this for a while! More fool me!! Roll Eyes Smiley
I might even look out for the Naxos cd,on this basis?!

Now Playing! (same cd): Romance for Saxophone & Piano   This is nice,too! Smiley

Not one review for this cd on Amazon! Shocked

Now Playing: (Same cd) Three Rhythmic Spirituals   The Schola Cantorum of the University of Arkansas / Jack Groh

Ooh,lovely!! Forget that Tippett crap! Grin This is the real deal! Smiley Smiley Smiley

This is a lovely collection. Spirited performances. I take back all my nit picking (about lush strings/Chandos sound) on my previous post! Smiley Smiley Smiley
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Lionel Harrison
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« Reply #3005 on: September 23, 2021, 06:16:57 pm »



Now Playing: (Same cd) Three Rhythmic Spirituals   The Schola Cantorum of the University of Arkansas / Jack Groh

Ooh,lovely!! Forget that Tippett crap! Grin This is the real deal! Smiley Smiley Smiley

This is a lovely collection. Spirited performances. I take back all my nit picking (about lush strings/Chandos sound) on my previous post! Smiley Smiley Smiley

A kindred spirit! I never found A Child of our Time at all convincing. The spiritual sections are lovely but that's no real thanks to Tippett; even he couldn't wreck those. Everything surrounding them is a snooze-fest to my way of thinking, despite the deeply tragic set of circumstances which set Tippett off in the direction of this oratorio.

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« Reply #3006 on: September 23, 2021, 08:11:42 pm »

Indeed! And fair play,to some of the fine choirs who have sung the spirituals on recordings of the Tippett,but....... Roll Eyes Roll Eyes!! There's something very tortuous about Tippett's writing for orchestra & voices. I was going to say,the corn on my foot is more enjoyable! But,maybe not?!! Roll Eyes Grin As you know,I'm not as averse to his music as you,but I still have problems with his music! The cringe-worthy pretentiousness of his librettos Roll Eyes Roll Eyes Roll Eyes and concepts,like his Symphony No 3 with those awful,self penned lyrics (aaaaaaaagh! Roll Eyes) & the Beethoven 9 quotation,thrown in (aaaaaaaagh!!! Roll Eyes)...........breathing noises in No 4!! (Noooooooo! Roll Eyes) Need I go on?! (No! Grin)

I must admit,I haven't played this Grant Still cd of his Symphony No 3,for a while;but I can't imagine the Naxos cd would improve on this rendition,that much. The whole collection is lovely. I would recommend it,but it's bit pricey on Amazon,I note! This has cheered me up a bit after an unpleasant experience with a seller on ebay! Yet,his feedback was all very good!! And I look through page after page before I buy from anyone and read all the small print!! Roll Eyes 
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Lionel Harrison
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« Reply #3007 on: September 23, 2021, 09:05:23 pm »

Indeed! And fair play,to some of the fine choirs who have sung the spirituals on recordings of the Tippett,but....... Roll Eyes Roll Eyes!! There's something very tortuous about Tippett's writing for orchestra & voices. I was going to say,the corn on my foot is more enjoyable! But,maybe not?!! Roll Eyes Grin As you know,I'm not as averse to his music as you,but I still have problems with his music! The cringe-worthy pretentiousness of his librettos Roll Eyes Roll Eyes Roll Eyes and concepts,like his Symphony No 3 with those awful,self penned lyrics (aaaaaaaagh! Roll Eyes) & the Beethoven 9 quotation,thrown in (aaaaaaaagh!!! Roll Eyes)...........breathing noises in No 4!! (Noooooooo! Roll Eyes) Need I go on?! (No! Grin)

I must admit,I haven't played this Grant Still cd of his Symphony No 3,for a while;but I can't imagine the Naxos cd would improve on this rendition,that much. The whole collection is lovely. I would recommend it,but it's bit pricey on Amazon,I note! This has cheered me up a bit after an unpleasant experience with a seller on ebay! Yet,his feedback was all very good!! And I look through page after page before I buy from anyone and read all the small print!! Roll Eyes 

For what it's worth, I agree with you about Tippett's third and fourth symphonies. He was a noble figure but he did write some tripe.

On a much brighter note, I see the Naxos CD of Still's third symphony is available as a download from Presto at £4.51 a throw, as is that of his fourth and fifth symphonies by the same forces. As it was pension day yesterday, I shall treat myself to those on the morrow!  Grin
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #3008 on: September 23, 2021, 10:40:26 pm »

I hasten to add,that wasn't meant as an attack on Tippett! I have every respect for the man. He seemed a genuinely,nice person. And,even if I don't love his music and his writing is a tad tortuous Roll Eyes,he was obviously a talented man who knew his craft,and it is,recognisably music,unlike some I can think of! Roll Eyes As to pretentiousness,I was just referring to the librettos & texts (or lyrics).And some of his loftier ideas & philosophising. But,I suppose like all of us,he had beliefs and views like all the rest of us;and unlike most of us,he was able to set them to music! I do quite enjoy.....quite like,some of his music when I'm in the right mood,though. I did quite enjoy The Midsummer Marriage,recently. But I haven't the faintest clue what it was all about!! I don't think he'll ever be among my favourite composers,though!! Roll Eyes Apologies,if I got a little carried away,though! A man who can barely play chopsticks,too! (Although to be fair to me,I can also play,The March of the Wooden Soldiers! Roll Eyes Grin)

I did enjoy the music on that William Grant Still pictured below! It's a pity it's so pricey! I think I might buy,at least one,of those Naxos cd's myself! (The shiny,silver version with the hole in the middle! Shocked Grin) I'm still a bit of a dinosaur (albeit,a small one!) when it comes to downloads. Also,at the moment,my pc is very puny & my only external drive is over ten years old,so I'm looking at buying a back-up drive,before I 'get into' streaming,as it's called!
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« Reply #3009 on: September 23, 2021, 11:02:43 pm »

I decided to buy the shiny,silver version of the Naxos cd of Grant Still Symphonies 2 & 3! I did try and resist.........for a few seconds!! Roll Eyes Grin
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #3010 on: September 24, 2021, 01:01:35 am »



Another very enjoyable collection! I enjoyed this allot more than the Gramophone critic (you can read most of their older reviews by clicking on 'cached') Maybe,some of the music here is a little uneven;but at it's soulful and poignant & moving,at times. Wailing Woman and And they Lynched Him on a Tree are for soloist chorus & orchestra. The latter includes a narrator,but not too much of him!And Miss Sally's Party is light music (and what's wrong with good light music?!) but I enjoyed it,with ragtime & a cake walk. As a matter of fact,imo,it's an absolute delight! Smiley What not to like,unless your a Gramophone critic?!! Roll Eyes Grin I especially like Still's use of a piano as part of the orchestra & a saxophone,I think? (It's a bit late,now!)  I'm sure Classicstoday gave this cd an enthusiastic review;but I can't locate it! I enjoyed the music on this cd,very much,anyway! On the basis of these cd's I think Grant Still was a very talented composer and deserves attention from some of the more major ensembles & orchestras. And,yes,I prefer it to Tippett! Roll Eyes Grin
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Lionel Harrison
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« Reply #3011 on: September 24, 2021, 10:30:39 am »

my only external drive is over ten years old,so I'm looking at buying a back-up drive,before I 'get into' streaming,as it's called!

I think that would be very wise. I have duplicate copies of everything I've downloaded on two separate external drives, "just in case"...
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Lionel Harrison
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« Reply #3012 on: September 24, 2021, 10:32:25 am »

I decided to buy the shiny,silver version of the Naxos cd of Grant Still Symphonies 2 & 3! I did try and resist.........for a few seconds!! Roll Eyes Grin

Well, you did try and you have my sympathy as, like Oscar Wilde, I can resist everything except temptation.
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Lionel Harrison
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« Reply #3013 on: September 24, 2021, 10:34:18 am »



Another very enjoyable collection! I enjoyed this allot more than the Gramophone critic (you can read most of their older reviews by clicking on 'cached') Maybe,some of the music here is a little uneven;but at it's soulful and poignant & moving,at times. Wailing Woman and And they Lynched Him on a Tree are for soloist chorus & orchestra. The latter includes a narrator,but not too much of him!And Miss Sally's Party is light music (and what's wrong with good light music?!) but I enjoyed it,with ragtime & a cake walk. As a matter of fact,imo,it's an absolute delight! Smiley What not to like,unless your a Gramophone critic?!! Roll Eyes Grin I especially like Still's use of a piano as part of the orchestra & a saxophone,I think? (It's a bit late,now!)  I'm sure Classicstoday gave this cd an enthusiastic review;but I can't locate it! I enjoyed the music on this cd,very much,anyway! On the basis of these cd's I think Grant Still was a very talented composer and deserves attention from some of the more major ensembles & orchestras. And,yes,I prefer it to Tippett! Roll Eyes Grin

Once I have absorbed the symphonies (which are now on my PC, awaiting copying to those external drives) I shall have to investigate Still's vocal music. As always, thanks for the steer.  Grin Wink
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #3014 on: September 24, 2021, 10:57:39 am »



These are classic performances. One minor gripe. Some of these old cbs recordings have dry sound quality. Your ears adjust after a while,though & it is the musicianship here that's important.

I find some of Tippett's music interesting,when I'm in the right mood. I definitely prefer his earlier ,more 'lyrical' phase. Symphonies 1 & 2,Concerto for Double String Orchestra,Fantasia Concertante on a Theme of Corelli. The Fourth Symphony is okay. The breathing sounds is an interesting idea & I can understand what he was doing;but it obviously creates problems in performance,and 'breathing' noises,inevitably,bring to mind a certain kind of phone call,which I've thankfully never had! I did,quite enjoy listening to The Midsummer Marriage recently. The libretto is intriguing,but it reminds me why Britten and Richard Strauss,and going further back,Mozart,got people who had expertise in this field to to the job for them. His later stuff crosses the line for me,with all these plinkety-plonk,crash,wallop sounds & the librettos and text's just seem full of howlers! And it's not as if I dislike eccentricity. It's just when it's so po-faced! As I said before,I don't think he'll ever be one of my favourite composers!

Unlike you'Lionel,I do enjoy allot of Britten's music. Not everything,though! But I like his operas,and,whatever you think of the music,his librettos are (generally) model's of their kind. He understood that his strength lay in the actual music making,itself. Even his more eccentric efforts,like Our Hunting Fathers (a favourite of mine) work,because he got other people to sort out the texts (WH Auden,in that instance).

Havergal Brian wrote his own libretto for his opera,The Tigers. It's very eccentric;but there's a humorous,self deprecatory quality (it's been compared to The Goons and Dads Army) which is part of it's appeal and enables one to forgive Brian for the shortcomings of his,frankly,wacky libretto!

Franz Schreker,a favourite of Albion,I know,wrote his own librettos. I'm no expert on his operas;but I get the feeling that the music and text go hand in hand. Maybe,they wouldn't have been so good if he'd got someone else to write the librettos for him? Or,maybe they'd be performed more? But then again,there were political factors and the nazis,which contributed to his decline. It also helps that they're in German,so I don't have to worry about the words,so much! One things for sure (imo) Schreker was a fabulous orchestrator. I find his command of the orchestra in (for example) Prelude to a Drama quite awesome! I often wish he'd concentrated more on purely orchestral works,in this respect. He seemed to have a good grasp of structure,judged from what I've heard,and I'm sure a Schreker symphony would have been well worth my time!
Albion is the Schreker expert here,of course!
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