Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The End

And so this blog comes to an end. I need more time for other things in my life, and for blogging, my two original blogs get preference. In addition, statistics show not much response on this blog and the parallel one on seventies music. So be it. Bye.

Friday, 26 June 2015

James Horner - Willow's Elora Danan

Horner (1953-2015), who died in a plain crash earlier this week, was one of Hollywood's most important movie composers. Whether or not film music for orchestra is part of classical music is a long standing debate, but for me it counts at least in some cases. One of my favourite scores from his work is Willow from 1988, from which I have selected the opening track Elora Danan. Relevant links below.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Kalevi Aho - Symphony 7

Aho (1949) is a Finnish composer, who is widely regarded as one of the most important contemporary composers. He excels in chamber music and especially orchestral works, with so far 16 symphonies and 24 concertos. I have selected his postmodern masterpiece Symphony No. 7 ("Insect Symphony") from 1988. Relevant links below.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Paul Gilson - La mer

Gilson (1865-1942) was one of a handful of Belgian composers whose works have been recorded in the past decades. Perhaps his most important work is La Mer (the sea), symphonic sketches for orchestra (with male choir ad libitum), from 1892. Intriguingly it was composed more than 10 years before the famous Debussy work of the same title and almost identical subtitle. Relevant links below.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Karlheinz Stockhausen - Stimmung

Stockhausen (1928-2007) was a German avant-garde composer, who had a far reaching influence on modern classical music. Much revered by some, much maligned by others. I have selected his beautiful vocal composition Stimmung from 1968. Relevant links below.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Aaron Avshalomov - Hutongs of Peking

Avshalomov (1894-1965) was a Russian-born Jewish composer, who spent most of his life in China. His music is a fascinating amalgamation of Western classical music and Chinese influences. I have selected a representative work, the symphonic poem Hutongs of Peking (based on Chinese Street Sounds and Cries) from 1931. Relevant links below.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Edward Elgar - Piano quintet

Elgar (1857-1934) was a late romantic British composer, who wrote many pieces that have become popular classics, such as the two symphonies, the cello concerto, the violin concerto, the Enigma variations, and the Pomp and circumstance marches (including "Land of hope and glory"). I have selected his Quintet for piano and strings in A minor, Op. 84, from 1918 - one of the pieces in which he comes to terms with the events of the Great War. Relevant links below.

Monday, 1 June 2015

John Williams - Cello concerto

Williams (1932) is best known for numerous and highly successful movie scores, including Jaws, ET. Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Superman, and Schindler's List. His oeuvre in more traditional classical music is interesting as well, and I quite like his cello concerto from 1994. Relevant links below (YouTube in four parts, 1, 2, 3, 4).

Thursday, 12 March 2015

On hold for a while

With a lot of things going on my life these coming weeks, I need to put this blog on hold for a while. I will resume posting some time in April.

EDIT: the blog will resume early June, albeit possibly with a lower posting frequency than achieved before the time out.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Anton Webern - Variations for orchestra

Webern (1883-1945) was an Austrian composer and prominent member of the second Viennese school, based on Schoenberg's 12-tone techniques. For lovers of conventional classical music, his works are not easy to crack, but repeated listening is very rewarding, and they have been highly influential. I have selected his variations for orchestra, op.30, from 1941. Relevant links below.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Ernest John Moeran - Cello concerto

Ernest John Moeran (1894 - 1950) was an English composer who had strong associations with Ireland. In my opinion he may be the most underrated composer of all time (his AllMusic page is limited to his name). His small repertoire is exquisite, featuring a fabulous symphony and one of the best violin concertos of the 20th century. His best work is for me his cello concerto from 1945, the most beautiful concerto for this instrument of all time, even outshining Dvorak, Elgar and Finzi. Relevant links below.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Charles Koechlin - Seven Stars Symphony

Koechlin (1867-1950) was a French composer, whose extensive output is still not fully valued by classical music lovers. His was a very original voice, which rewards exploring. I have selected the Hollywood inspired Seven Stars Symphony for orchestra, Op. 132, from 1933, a modern romantic masterpiece. Relevant links below.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Keiko Abe - Dream of the Cherry Blossoms

Abe (1937) is a Japanese composer and marimba player. Her compositions usually involve the marimba, often as a solo instrument. Perhaps her most famous work is Dream of the Cherry Blossoms for solo marimba from 1983. Relevant links below.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

John Luther Adams - Dark waves

John Luther Adams (1953) is an American composer, not to be confused with John Adams. The works of JL Adams are often inspired by the nature of Alaska, and are gaining popularity in classical music circles. I have selected Dark waves from 2007 in the version for orchestra and electronics. Relevant links below.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Rued Langgaard - The Music of the Spheres

Langgaard (1893-1952) was a Danish composer, whose unconventional works have been receiving more attention in recent decades. This highlight in his uneven repertoire is the bafflingly modern sounding Sfærernes Musik (The Music of the Spheres), for soprano, chorus, orchestra and distant orchestra, from 1918. Relevant links below.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - String quartet 1

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) was a romantic Russian composer, generally regarded as one of the all-time greats. Most people will know his later symphonies, concertos, and ballet music. I have selected the beautiful String Quartet No. 1 in D major, Op. 11, from 1871. Relevant links below.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

George Dyson - Violin concerto

Dyson (1883-1964) was a British composer, whose works were once described aptly as "skillful, sometimes deeply felt, but never forward-looking in idiom". I have selected his beautiful concerto for violin and orchestra from 1941. Relevant links below (YouTube in 4 parts, 1, 2, 3, 4).

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Reinhold Gliere - Symphony 3 "Ilya Muromets"

Gliere (1875-1956) was a late romantic Russian composer of German-Polish ancestry. His rather conventional style made life easy for him in Stalin's Russia, yet his compositions are well worth exploring. His best work is the monumental programmatic Symphony No. 3 in B minor ("Il'ya Muromets"), Op. 42, from 1911. Relevant links below.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Wilhelm Grosz - Afrika songs

Grosz (1894-1939) was an Austrian composer, who fled from the Nazis to the UK in 1934, and composed a number of pop songs there that became evergreens (such as Harbor lights and Red sails in the sunset). His earlier classical music works do not get the attention they warrant. In particular Afrika songs, for soprano, baritone and jazz chamber ensemble, Op. 29, from 1929, is a fascinating work. Relevant links below.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Toshio Hosokawa - Landscape 5

Hosokawa (1955) is a contemporary Japanese composer. His works are of a shimmering beauty that rewards repeated listening. I have selected Landscape No. 5, for sho and string quartet, from 1993. Relevant links below.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Ottorino Respighi - Church windows

Respighi (1879-1936) was an Italian composer, who is mainly remembered for his three Roman symphonic poems: Fountains of Rome (Fontane di Roma), Pines of Rome (I pini di Roma), and Roman Festivals (Feste romane). Beyond these one can find lots of fascinating music - I consider him the greatest Italian composer. I have selected the exuberant Vetrate di chiesa (Church Windows), four impressions for orchestra, from 1926. Relevant links below.

Friday, 27 February 2015

He Zhanhao and Chen Kang - Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto

He (1933) and Chen (1935) are two Chinese composers who collaborated to write one of the most popular violin concertos of the 20th century (taking into account its immense popularity in China). The work, inspired by a famous Chinese Opera, dates back to 1959, but it sounds much older (yet, in spite of its anachronicity, it is really very attractive). Relevant links below (YouTube in 2 parts, 1, 2).

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Frédéric Chopin - Polish songs

Chopin (1810-1849) was a romantic Polish composer, whose piano works ensured him a place among the all-time greats. I have selected a virtually unknown aspect of his oeuvre, the 17 songs for voice and piano, op.74, from 1829-1836. Relevant links below.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Franz Schmidt - Symphony 4

Schmidt (1874-1939) was a late romantic Austrian composer, whose reputation has suffered from his Nazi sympathies. His music is excellent though, and the tragic Symphony No. 4 in C major from 1933 is one of the best of the post-Mahler era. Relevant links below.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Ferruccio Busoni - Piano Concerto

Busoni (1866-1924) was an Italian composer, who is mainly known for his Bach transcriptions and the piece I selected, his colossal concerto for piano and orchestra with male chorus in C major, Op. 39, from 1903. Relevant links below.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Gerard Grisey - Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil

Grisey (1946-1998) was a French avant-garde composer who specialized in spectral techniques. His works may not be easy on the ear, but they are very rewarding, and none more than Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil for soprano and ensemble, from 1998. Relevant links below (YouTube links in 7 parts, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7).

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Charles Griffes - The pleasure dome of Kubla Khan

Griffes (1884-1920) was an American composer, whose style was close to French impressionism. His works are not that well known, but always tuneful and good to listen to. I have selected his tone poem for orchestra, The Pleasure-Dome of Kubla Khan, Op. 8, from 1917 (based on an earlier piano composition). Relevant links below.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Zoltan Kodaly - Sonata for cello

Kodaly (1882-1967) was a Hungarian composer, who was unfortunately overshadowed by his contemporary compatriot Bartok. His main claim to fame is his sonata for solo cello, op.8, from 1918, arguably the greatest cello piece after Bach's six suites. Relevant links below.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Paul Hindemith - Mathis der Maler symphony

Hindemith (1895-1963) was a German composer, whom many have heard of without having CD's of him in their collection. Their miss. I had wanted to post his beautiful vocal work When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd (A Requiem for those we love), but there is no good complete version on YouTube. Well, his neoclassical symphony Mathis der Maler from 1934 (based on the opera of the same name) is equally beautiful. Relevant links below.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Hendrik Andriessen - Miroir de peine

Hendrik Andriessen (1892-1981) was a Dutch composer, and father of the more famous composer Louis Andriessen. His style showed a clear French influence. I have selected his beautiful song cycle Miroir de Peine, originally for voice and piano from 1923, orchestrated in 1933. Relevant links below.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Jean Sibelius - Tapiola

Sibelius (1865-1957) was a Finnish composer, generally regarded as one of the greatest symphonists. It is remarkable though that many classical music lovers rarely venture beyond the seven symphonies, the violin concerto and occasional pieces like Finlandia and Valse triste. I have selected what I consider his best work, his final completed composition, Tapiola, Op. 112, from 1926, one of the greatest symphonic poems of all time. Relevant links below.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Toshiro Mayuzumi - Nirvana symphony

Mayuzumi (1929-1997) was a Japanese composer, who like most of his countrymen was doomed to stay in the shadow of Takemitsu. His works are very worthwhile, in particular the fascinating Nirvana symphony for male chorus and orchestra from 1958. Relevant links below.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Joao Bomtempo - Requiem

Bomtempo (1775-1842) was a Portuguese composer who is virtually unknown outside Portugal, in spite of some impressive works, in particular his concertos. His masterpiece is his Requiem for soloists, chorus and orchestra, Op. 23, from 1818. Relevant links below.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Bo Holten - Clarinet concerto

Holten (1948) is a contemporary Danish composer with a substantial oeuvre including six operas, two symphonies, and five concertos. I have selected his impressive clarinet concerto from 1990. Relevant links below.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Léon Boëllmann - Suite Gothique

Boëllmann (1862-1897) was a romantic French composer, known primarily for his organ works. His most famous composition is the Suite Gothique, Op. 25, from 1895. Relevant links below.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Arthur Benjamin - Symphony 1

Benjamin (1893-1960) was an Australian composer, who is mainly remembered for a charming piece of light music (Jamaican rumba). His serious music includes a number of operas, chamber music, several concertos, and a single impressive symphony (from 1945), which I selected for today's post. Relevant links below (YouTube links in four parts, 1, 2, 3, 4).

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Modest Mussorgsky - Songs and dances of death

Mussorgsky (1839-1881) was a romantic Russian composer, with a handful of compositions in the standard repertoire (Pictures at an exhibition, Night on bald mountain, Boris Godunov). I have selected the beautiful song cycle Songs and dances of death from 1877. Relevant links below.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Jacques Ibert - Flute concerto

Ibert (1890-1962) was a 20th century French composer, whose works are always interesting, even though not of the class of Debussy, Ravel or Messiaen. I have selected one of his most popular works, the exuberant flute concerto from 1933. Relevant links below (YouTube link in three parts, 1, 2, 3).

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Lera Auerbach - Dreams and whispers of Poseidon

Auerbach (1974) is a Russian-born American composer. Her works are well worth exploring. Dreams and whispers of Poseidon is a symphonic poem from 2005, in which a theremin and a musical saw add to the usual orchestral pallet quite effectively. Relevant links below.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Erkki Melartin - Symphony 3

Melartin (1875-1937) was a late romantic Finnish composer, destined to remain in the shadow of Sibelius. His oeuvre is quite interesting, especially the six symphonies. I have selected Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 40, from 1907. Relevant links below.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Anton Bruckner - String quintet

Bruckner (1824-1896) was a romantic Austrian composer, who is quite rightly hailed as one of the greatest symphonists of all time. For me, his unfinished 9th symphony is a candidate for the title best symphony ever. His other works have drawn much less attention, but his Quintet for strings in F major, WAB 112, from 1879 deserves to be far better known. Relevant links below.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Thomas Ades - Concentric Paths

Ades (1971) is a contemporary British composer, who is regarded as one of the best of his generation. I have selected his fascinating violin concerto Concentric Paths from 2005. Relevant links below.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Ralph Vaughan Williams - On Wenlock Edge

Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) was a British composer, who is generally regarded as one of the best from that country. His symphonies, concertos, and other orchestral works are well known, but I have selected his beautiful On Wenlock Edge, a song cycle for tenor, piano and string quartet, from 1909. Relevant links below.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Howard Shore - The Lord of the Rings Symphony

Shore (1946) is a Canadian composer, notable for his film scores, first and foremost the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He crossed over into classical music territory by rearranging parts of the LotR sound tracks into an extensive symphony (symphonic suite would be a better name) for orchestra and chorus in 2003. Relevant links below.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Robert Fuchs - Serenade 3

Fuchs (1847-1927) was a romantic Austrian composer and outstanding teacher (his students include Enescu, Mahler, Wolf, Sibelius, von Zemlinsky, Korngold, Schmidt, and Schreker). His own compositions are rarely played, but especially his five orchestral serenades are very rewarding. I have selected his Serenade No. 3 in E minor, Op. 21, from 1878. Relevant links below.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

William Alwyn - Lyra Angelica

Alwyn (1905-1985) was a British composer, possibly best remembered for his dozens of movie scores between 1941 and 1963. His classical music output has seen increasing interest as well, and quite rightly so. The highlight of his repertoire is what I consider one of the best concertos of all time, Lyra Angelica for harp and strings from 1954. Relevant links below (YouTube in four parts, 1, 2, 3, 4).

Monday, 2 February 2015

Gösta Nystroem - Ishavet

Nystroem (1890-1966) was a Swedish composer, whose orchestral works (including six symphonies and three concertos) deserve to be better known than they are. I have selected his symphonic poem Ishavet (Arctic Ocean) from 1925. Relevant links below.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach - Organ concerto in G major

CPE Bach (1714-1788) was for me the most talented of the many composing sons of JS Bach. I especially like his concertos, clearly foreshadowing the famous Mozart ones. I have selected his Concerto for organ (or harpsichord), strings and continuo in G major, H. 444, Wq. 34, from 1760. Relevant links below.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Galina Ustvolskaya - Symphony 5 ("Amen")

Ustvolskaya (1919-2006) was a Soviet/Russian composer and pupil of Shostakovich. Her uncompromising music is not the easiest to appreciate, but I find it is extremely rewarding. Her fifth symphony (Amen) from 1990 is typical of her sparse style. It is scored for reciter, violin, oboe, trumpet, tuba, and percussion (a wooden cube). Relevant links below.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Camille Saint-Saëns - Requiem

Saint-Saëns (1835-193521) was a French composer best remembered for a few works (Symphony 3, Danse macabre, Carnaval des Animaux). There are many other compositions that deserve attention, such as his concertos and his chamber music. I have chosen his stunning and little known Requiem, for soloists, chorus and orchestra, Op. 54, from 1878. Relevant links below.