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Beethoven
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2004 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

9th -- music to LIVE by Smile
5th - whenever I feel close to despair, this is what I listen to Smile
6th -- a perfect day of spring after a long and snowy winter

I would finish now, but my kids are calling me away. Laughing
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2004 2:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lord Foul wrote:
Oh, and what about this?

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000001VVY/qid=1079800423/sr=2-1/ref=sr_2_1/102-3674801-5778554

Pretty cheap price for all 9 symphonies, if you ask me.
Could be good. I can't comment on the performances, because I've never heard of them. But Laserlight has some great stuff. And how bad would they have to be to considered a waste at that price? Anyway, music of this stature pretty much demands more than one version. If you get this, you'll see which ones you truly love, and want another version of.

And this one is a must for every fan of Beethoven sympohonies: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000001GPX/qid=1079920389/sr=2-1/ref=sr_2_1/102-9473083-5028153 As good as the 5th and 7th can be, $10.99 at amazon.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2004 3:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a great pick, F&F! Carlos Kleiber & the Vienna Philharmonic do an awesome job of the 5th & 7th Symphonies.

Thanks for the kind words, edinburghemma. Glad that Ludwig's music holds meaning for you, too. Smile
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2004 3:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anybody got an opinion on what the best version of the 9th is?
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2004 5:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lotsa opinions here, I'm sure, but can you trust us, Lord Foul? Wink

From the beginning, my favorite interpreter of Beethoven's symphonies has been the late great Herbert von Karajan. I think he consistently had a better handle on the symphonies than anyone else. He and the Berlin Philharmonic were made for Beethoven. Especially on the Ninth!

I don't think you could go wrong with Karajan's 1977 recording: it has been newly remastered and re-released as part of a 2-CD set that also includes arguably his best recording of the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies.

Here's a link:

http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/karajan
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2004 8:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Furtwangler conducted a great recording of the Ninth, leading the Berlin Philharmonic, during WWII.

Since it was recorded in 1942, the technical aspects of the recording aren't the greatest, but it is the most emotional version I've heard.

Yes, Fist, I have, and agree with you about Kleiber's 5th and 7th. Cool
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2004 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, thanks. I'm guessing this would be what I'm looking for:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B000001GBQ/qid=1079967582/sr=8-2/ref=pd_ka_2/104-7711194-9317507?v=glance&s=music&n=507846

Also, here's another thing I wonder about: what recording of the 9th was used in A Clockwork Orange, when Alex was playing it in his room? It sounded awesome, and Kubrick always chose the best performances around.

One last thing. I was wondering: why are the symphonies out of order, numerically? I mean, symphony 1 goes into symphony 3 on all the track listings I've seen.

Well, maybe not one last thing. Sorry, I love talking about Beethoven! When Beethoven was alive, did he use different instruments--I mean, like the Baroque stuff Bach used? Are there period performances, or did Beethoven use the same stuff we use today just about?

Thanks all!
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2004 3:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, Beethoven's instruments were different. A big example is when Beethoven calls for the damper pedal to be held down on the piano for extended periods, which means the strings are allowed to vibrate until they stop on their own. Try that with a modern piano, and it sounds like mud from all the different notes that are played within a short time. But his piano strings didn't vibrate nearly as long as ours do. Even later, Liszt would break the keys and strings during performances. Sure, he did it intentionally, to WOW the audience (the women used to have fistfights over the cigar butts he left behind), but just try to break them on today's piano. (And again, after Beethoven, Schumann called for the newer style trumpets and the older ones to be used at the same time, because they set up some kind of resonance, or something like that.)

I'm crazy about the 9th performed by The Academy of Ancient Music, conducted by Christopher Hogwood. As I was checking amazon for the disc I have, I see that the complete symphonies by this group are available for $36, on 5 discs. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000004CYT/qid=1080009375/sr=2-1/ref=sr_2_1/002-0339938-7807250 I'd absolutely get this if I hadn't gotten most of the individual discs when they came out.

Then there's Roger Norrington conducting the London Classical Players. Their complete symphonies http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00005A9O0/qid=1080009886/sr=1-4/ref=sr_1_4/002-0339938-7807250?v=glance&s=classical is $34, and also very good.

As for why the symphonies are paired the way they are, it usually has to do with running times. Some compositions didn't fit in the 80-ish minutes that they could put on a disc at the time. Other times, if any two of four pieces could fit together, they'd try to team them up so that the total times would be about the same. So instead of two 40-minute pieces together, and two 30-minute pieces together, they'd have a 30 and a 40 on each disc. I suppose there might be other reasons too.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2004 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've read that Beethoven helped bring about the development of the modern piano. His less-than-delicate style of playing supposedly forced piano-makers to develop more durable models that wouldn't break under the stress.

Roger Norrington: ah, yes, I remember when he caused a ruckus among Beethoven traditionalists with his radical interpretation of the symphonies using period instruments. I agree that the "authentic" approach can bring a fresh perspective, but it can also sound underwhelming. For example, I think Norrington's version of the Ninth is both weak and invigorating. The 1st Movement sounded limp to me, because no period ensemble can convey the epic power of that movement the way a modern orchestra can. Lack of firepower in Beethoven is criminal. Yet in the choral finale, Norrington and company delivered one of the greatest Ode To Joy's ever, IMO. The very leanness of the ensemble and the choir's transparent sound allowed those beautiful notes to come through in a way I had not heard before. Not only that, but instead of the usual frenetic rush, Norrington turned the finale into a stately march, and it worked beautifully.

Don't know about A Clockwork Orange. Answer might be in the credits, but I don't currently have a copy of the movie to check it out.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2004 8:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A little fact. When the original cd design was on the drawing board, one of the design requirements was that it could hold a complete performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

As for the symphonies being paired the way they do, I'm sure it has more to do with the running time of each performance. The Third (about 50 to 55 minutes) and the Ninth (between 65 and 70 minutes) are too long to pair with the others and are often sold alone, or as a two cd set. The other seven are of similar length, between 25 and 40 minutes. It seems like any two of the other symphonies plus an overture, like the Egmont, can be paired together as a cd.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2004 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks all! Very interesting stuff, indeed.

I think I'm going to get the one Fist mentioned--the Hogwood one. I'm just crazy about period instruments.

After getting these symphonies by Beethoven, I'm going to get some Mozart. Here's the two I'm looking at:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B000004CYS/ref=pd_bxgy_text_1_cp/104-7711194-9317507?v=glance&s=music&st=*

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000069KJ3/qid=1080055051/sr=2-3/ref=sr_2_3/104-7711194-9317507
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2004 2:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't much comment on those Mozart collections. Pinnock is another favorite of mine, but, not being the biggest Mozart fan, I haven't shopped around too much. I have another period performer, John Elliot Gardiner, doing some of his symphonies, including the last 2, and I also have & love recordings of his from pre-Bach, Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms. (His Brahms German Requiem is one of my favorite cd's of all, though Shaw's is as good.Smile) But though I have tons of all three of these guys doing Bach, I haven't heard too much of Hogwood or Pinnock after Bach.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2004 4:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stay away from a box set of Mozart's symphonies. He wrote 41 of them, but only about 10 are worth owning. The earliest ones are from his youth, and might be of interest to someone who loves Mozart, but you wouldn't find them played often in a concert hall.

I own a set of some of Mozart's symphonies conducted by Daniel Barenboim with the English Chamber Orchestra. It consists of Symphonies 29-36 and 38 - 41. It isn't listed in an Amazon search.

No. 29 is the earliest recogniseable symphony. No's 39, 40 and 41, his last ones, were written within a short period of time, and are definately worth owning, as is 38 which is often called the Prague symphony and No. 36, the Linz symphony. Other than that they can be safely skipped.

I would check if you could find these, or any classical music your interested in, on the Naxos label. They are cheap, and the performances are usually of good quality. So if you are experimenting, you don't have to plunk down a fortune.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2004 4:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, in that case I'm going to forgo Mozart. Might download some of what you mentioned, though.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2004 4:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, Naxos! Good show, Damelon! Smile Yes, Naxos has won lots of awards for their recordings. There are good reasons that they are so good, yet so inexpensive, and some of their performers are as highly regarded as anybody. Jeno Jando's complete Beethoven piano sonatas; Idil Biret's complete Chopin; the Kodaly Quartet for their complete Haydn and complete Beethoven quartets... In fact, a few people from major labels started recording for Naxos after it developed such a name for itself. The cellist Wallfisch comes to mind. If nothing else, get a second copy of any piece you love on Naxos.

They don't have any period performances. At least they didn't when I was last in the business, but that was years ago. But that's hardly as important as getting a good, or even fantastic, performance for those prices.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2004 5:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As an aside, after listening to the 9th's first movement, I think I prefer the second. But I'm not totally sure yet. The real verdict will come out once the CDs arrive.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2004 7:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is no hidden gem; you've probably all heard it, but it is the most melancholy and stirring piece of piano work ever (imo)

Beethoven
Fuer Elise
http://www.doremifasoft.com/befuel.html
(click to listen)
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2004 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah yes, Fur Elise...... Cool

Foul, you'd probably recognize the opening to Mozart's symphony no. 40. It's sometimes used to accompany tense scenes in movies.

Fist brought up, in the opera thread, the Penguin Opera Guide. The one I use for classical music is the Rough Guide to Classical Music.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1858287219/qid=1080128128/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/103-3860508-9061413?v=glance&s=books
It gives short biographies of each composer, listing their major works with commentary on each, giving recommendations of good recordings that are usually close to the mark.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2004 6:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For his piano music, you can't possibly go wrong with Moonlight Sonata. Cool
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2004 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oooh, Beethoven's piano music is another meaty subject. I've barely explored his 32 piano sonatas. My favorites so far are the Moonlight, the Pastorale and the Pathetique--trust me, it's not pathetic! Smile

By the way, the title "Fur Elise" is erroneous. Beethoven had actually written the dedication as "Fur Therese", but because his handwriting was so bad, Therese was misread as Elise. It was only in recent years that expert analysis of Beethoven's writing finally revealed the error and established Therese as the true dedicatee. Here's a synopsis on Therese Malfatti:

http://www.madaboutbeethoven.com/pages/people_and_places/people_friends/biog_malfatti.htm
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