Thursday, February 24, 2011

Musically Speaking

Quote from the Musically Speaking official site: "Out mission: To present classical music of the highest quality performed by internationally recognized symphony orchestras and to produce educational products that encourage more people to appreciate and enjoy the art form." "The original series of CD packages, each covering a different classical composer, was developed in the early 1990's by Maestro Schwarz and musicologist, Paul Schiavo".

Here's the Spotify playlist: Musically Speaking (101 tracks, total time: 14 hours) To keep the playlist neat I only included the Listener's Guide, for full length recordings of the works in discussion, click the album title. Also check out my previous post for Leonard Bernstein music lectures playlist and an excellent video lecture on Mozart's Symphony No.40.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Most Significant Piano Work of the Millennium

At least the eminent Charles Rosen said so.

If you are interested in this magnificent composition, J.S. Bach's The Musical Offering, and Prussia history of Bach's time in general, I recommend this book: Evening in the Palace of Reason: Bach Meets Frederick the Great in the Age of Enlightenment.

Here's the Spotify playlist: The Musical Offering: Ricercar in 6 Voices (21 tracks, total time: 2 hours) It features the ricercar played on piano (by Rosen), organ, harpsichord, and by various kinds of ensembles, plus orchestra arrangement by Anton Webern, and a triple orchestra version by Igor Markevitch. Yes it's the same music played 20 times (one version is not available in the UK and one in Sweden), but this is probably the best example of a piece of music that bears, deserves and benefits from repeated listens. Enjoy.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Greatest Opus One Ever?

Berg by Schoenberg
A bit of an exaggeration, perhaps, but the title may not be far off the mark,  provided we don't take Bach's last word on the keyboard suite, the Six Partitas as his Opus one as the composer intended. Glenn Gould argued that many composers's first works are their best, and he used the Berg sonata op.1 as a major example. It is also one of his favourite pieces, so we have three recordings from him in this playlist, placed at the beginning, followed by interpretations from fourteen other pianists, arranged alphabetically. At the end, two recordings of the string sextet arrangement and an orchestra version.

Here's the Spotify playlist: Berg Piano Sonata Op.1 (21 tracks, total time: 3 hours) And Analysis of Piano Sonata, Op. 1 (1907-8) by Andrew Kuster. Tomorrow is the first day of the Year of the Rabbit,  an especially great time to enjoy this great opus one :)

P.S. I recently updated my Schoenberg Op.1-50 playlist.