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Teasing the Korean

Suggest Modern or Modernist Orchestral Music

27 posts in this topic

And by "modern," I do not mean "contemporary."

I love the orchestral music of Debussy and Ravel. This music was my gateway into classical music as a teen, because the harmonies and chord voicings were similar to those used in a lot of the jazz I liked.

I love modernist "primitive" works along the lines of Le Sacre, Night of the Mayas, Scythian, etc.

And I know the major serial composers.

I have lots of Bartok. Villa Lobos is hit or miss for me.

And I am very into modernist film composers such as Alex North (who studied with Revueltas), Jerry Goldsmith, Leonard Rosenman, and Jerry Fielding.

I am looking for music with lots of orchestral color, and bold or lush harmonies. Looking for 20th (and perhaps 21st) century stuff, Debussy/Ravel and later.

I realize that this this a pretty broad category I'm describing.

What are some gems, not the obvious ones , that I may have missed?

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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Vaughan Williams - try symph 5 for the lush, modal harmonies; No. 6 for something starker (but with one of the most beautiful soaring melodies you'll ever hear).

Britten - Four Sea Interludes and Passacaglia from 'Peter Grimes'. Might lead you into the very distinct world of Britten - luminous, see-through orchestration.

Falla - El Amour Brujo; The Three Cornered Hat; Nights in the Gardens of Spain - should fit with your Debussy/Ravel liking; he didn't write a great deal so you can get most of his orchestral pieces on a couple of discs - the Harpsichord concerto is wonderful but much more restrained.

Delius - any collection of his shorter pieces like 'In a Summer Garden' - again, not a million miles away from Debussy. The same tendency to avoid direct repetition.

Sibelius - start with 5; then 6, 7, 4, 3; 1 + 2 are good but more 19thC. The tones poems are awash with orchestral colour but more brooding than Debussy.

Jongen, Cras and Koechlin are also worth investigating from the French/Belgian angle.

There's so much....

Edited by A Lark Ascending

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And by "modern," I do not mean "contemporary."

...

What are some gems, not the obvious ones , that I may have missed?

More Villa-Lobos, starting with Choros 11... Uuno Klami ballets & symphonies ... Milhaud symphonies ... lots of Delius, choral music included... Dutilleux... Messiaen obviously... Casella ... Szymanowski... Tubin... lesser known Profkofiev inc. cantatas... tons of Martinu... MacMillan ... Sally Beamish ... how well do you know-- and I mean really know-- your Ives? Ives lives! There are Spanish composers, Portuguese composers, Greek composers-- Skalkottas !!! (some serial, lots not)... Leevi Madetoja ... How well do you know-- and I mean really, really know-- your Nielsen ? Take a whiff of Roy Harris sometime, not just Symphony #3.

******* LOU HARRISON !!!!!!! *********

Edited by MomsMobley

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Second Bev's recommendations. I'm not familiar with all of Brian's recommendations, but yes (seconded) on Dutilleux, Szymanowski, and Neilsen.

And perhaps Scriabin too?

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This one (below) gets raves on Amazon. I haven't heard it.

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Not what you asked for, but if you haven't yet heard Uchida's Schoenberg Piano Concerto with Boulez, it really is quite good, and I'm generally not a huge fan of Uchida.

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I'm probably more equipped to recommend chamber music (Xenakis, Dusapin, etc.) than orchestral music. Ives I'm still wrapping my head around.

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Late, if you like Toradze's Scriabin-- which I do-- check out his Prokofiev PCs, also with Gergiev.

I'm great admirer of Ahmed Adnan Saygun, roughly 'the Turkish Bartok'--

Here's some ace later Casella --

Edited by MomsMobley

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Arlene Sierra, if you're willing to gamble on possible futures rather than presently finished.

Also, I've found this a good one to get tangled up in:

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Honegger- Pastoral D'ete

Chas. Koechlin- Las Bandar Log

Howard Hanson- Symphony #2

Arnold Bax- Tone Poems (Tintagel

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Takemitsu 2 CD orchestral set on Brilliant Classics

Dutilleux Symphonies 1&2 on Chandos

Gubaidulina Offertorium on DG

Ligeti Project 5 disc set on Teldec

Laszlo Lajtha Symphonies 3&4 on Marco Polo

Honegger Symphonies on Apex

Penderecki Symphony No. 8 on Naxos

Penderecki- Te Deum; Polymorphia on Naxos

Lutoslawski Symphonies/ Salonen on Sony

Prokofiev-Romeo & Juliet complete ballet Maazel/Cleveland Orchestra

Prokofiev piano concertos 2CD set on Chandos

Hindemith Orchestral works 3 CD on Decca

Schnittke - Requiem/Piano Concerto on Chandos

Samuel Barber Orchestral Works/Marin Alsop 6 CDs on Naxos

Nielsen - The Danish Symphonist 10 CD set retailing for 15 dollars

The quality of this set is very good, Performances by Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.

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I'm not sure how useful these lists (I include myself there) are.

You're probably better keeping an eye on the 'what are you listening to' thread. I find every now and then I catch a poster getting really excited about someone I don't know and trying to articulate the reason for their engagement with the composer's music. That's the point I get interested.

Having said that, someone not mentioned...Malcolm Arnold.

If you don't know him, a British composer of the second half of the 20thC who wrote diatonic music when it was not fashionable to do so. Lots of colour, some fine tunes. He suffered from severe mental illness (several suicide attempts) - in his writing you often get quite jaunty passages suddenly disturbed by bleak, '3 in the morning and what am I doing with my life?' sections. In his 5th Symphony he creates a gorgeous melody early on, brings it back in the last movement and then, rather than ending in triumph, smashes it to bits with dischords.

A good way in are through the various sets of 'Dances' like on this disc:

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Short pieces and alluding to the areas in the titles but much more than just picturesque music.

Symphony 2 and 5 are the two I'd recommend for starting. This Naxos set is good (individual discs also available):

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A very down to earth composer who regularly took the mickey out of the pomposity of the classical music establishment - try "A Grand Grand Festival Overture (featuring three vacuum cleaners and a floor polisher, all in turn polished off by a firing squad)" (there are performances on Youtube...it's short!).

He also conducted the Deep Purple Concerto for Group and Orchestra, encouraging Jon Lord and defending him against the snootiness of some of the orchestral musicians.

Think Shostakovich for a very rough parallel - Arnold is rarely as intense but there are similarities in the way he uses conventional harmony but in a very contemporary way; and in the use of parody.

Most of this should be there to sample on Spotify.

Edited by A Lark Ascending

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I'm not sure how useful these lists (I include myself there) are.

I only listed recordings that I personally own and enjoy. It's all just a reference, as everyone has to follow their own path. But since the OP mentioned his love for Debussy/Ravel, I naturally thought of Takemitsu first, and kept going.

Edited by starthrower

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Not meant as a criticism - I read your list as personal favourites. In fact it reminded me of Takemitsu who I have on now as a result.

More a general thought - these sort of threads generally become lists. I tend to react (or steer away!) when there's a bit of explanation. Not necessarily erudite analysis; but I'm always interested in the reasons why a listener is stirred by the music they admire, the context that enjoyment is set in (because that will be very different for everyone of us and affect how we hear it).

But that's just me. I'm sure lists are very useful too.

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Some explanation of three of the ones I mentioned:

Robert Di Domenica's music might be described as a highly personal offshoot of Alban Berg's. There's a profoundly mediative tone to it.

Jon Leif's music is, by and large, that of an elemental wildman. Like it or not, you've probably never heard anything like it.

I picked Michael Finnissy's piano concerto in part because the soloist is my friend, the brilliant Nicolas Hodges.

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Amirov's Arabian Nights. Colorful, wild late Romantic orchestrations. Should fulfill everything on your needs list.

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The "reasons why" could make for a very long discussion. And I'm not sure I know exactly why, or if I could verbalize why I'm stirred by a particular piece of music? But I'll give a few examples.

When it comes to particular forms such as concertos, I could never get interested in the older music. For example, most romantic concertos feature dazzling virtuosity, but this bores me to tears. I find the modern rhythms and harmonies of 20th century concertos to be more engaging and interesting. So the violin concertos of Ligeti, Schoenberg, or Gubaidulina are much more engaging for my ears and brain than say, Beethoven's monumental work.

And I mentioned the Ligeti box particularly for the concertos, as I feel like he wrote a bunch of great and original sounding pieces for that form. For me, his violin concerto is one of the most beautiful pieces I've heard. The piano concerto is not as easy on the ears, but just listening to the complexity and ideas in this work, and admiring the ability of the musicians to perform this incredibly challenging composition is inspiring for me as a listener.

Some other modern composers I'm still working on and trying to enjoy such as Per Norgard. And I guess he would be considered contemporary, as he is still with us. His music is quite colorful, and sounds highly original to my ears, but it doesn't always move me as a listener. At this point. the piece I enjoy the most is Terrains Vague from the Chandos CD paired with his 6th symphony. It's an exciting and vigorous piece with some ominous sounding bass trombones.

OK, I won't bore you with any more...

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Thanks all for these replies!

I am familiar with many of the composers that have been mentioned, and, of course, others are completely unknown to me. Lots to explore.

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Malipiero - if you like Debussy, Ravel, early Prokofiev and early Stravinsky, most likely you will enjoy him too. Great melodies. Perhaps start with his shorter symphonies, ##3-4.

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My list of four pieces were composers who were not ashamed to admit that they were followers of Debussy/Impressionism.

I don't know about the inclusion of a composer like Hovhaness in the category of lush harmony. Most of his music avoided lush harmony in favor of mainly monophonic and some polyphonic texture.

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You may also like some Paul Dukas, a contemporary and friend of Debussy, who was also Messiean's composition teacher. His famous work is "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", which Stravinsky Quoted in his early work "Fireworks". Dukas also wrote a symphony, and a ballet, "La Peri". You don't get much more colorful then his music.

Also, as far as colorful music, check out Rimsky-Korsakov. He is Stravinsky's teacher. In Particular, check out his "Russian Easter Overture". Also another Russian, who was a big influence on Debussy is Modest Mussorgsky. Debussy liked his opera "Boris Godunov". Mussorgsky was very original, but not as colorful orchestral-ly. Ravel also orchestrated his "Pictures at an Exhibition".

I know these people are a little earlier time was then what you are looking for, but musically, I think you will like them. You can think of it like checking out Monk's influences and discovering Duke Ellington, and checking out Dukes influences and discovering Willie the Lion Smith. Etc..

I hope this is helpful! All of the people listed in other's posts are also fantastic.

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I'll add support for those Russians - Rimsky, Balakirev, Borodin, Mussorgsky etc...full of bright colour.

My musical heartland is the 20thC (though I've learnt to enjoy music either side). Where I find a lot of mid-19thC a bit hard to connect with, the Russians have never been a problem. I can hear their influence not just in the composers mentioned by piano DAn but in many of the early 20th English composers I mainline on.

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Ture Rangstrom, Rangstrom, Rangstrom it's true

 

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the Saygun revival continues, all discs on CPO exemplarary or seemingly so--

 

 

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