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What Classical Music Are You Listening To?


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Now playing:
Joseph Haydn
– Quartet for Strings No.67 in D major Op.64/5 Hob III:63 "Lark"
– Quartet for Strings No.39 in C major Op.33/3 Hob III:39 "Bird"
 Smetana Quartet

Felix Mendelssohn
– Octet in E-flat Major Op.20
Smetana Quartet & Panocha Quartet (Denon / Nippon Columbia Japan)

[IMG]

Recorded live in Japan in 1980.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 
– Divertimento for 2 Horns and Strings No.17 in D major K 334 (320b)
– Serenade No.13 in G major K 525 "Eine kleine Nachtmusik"
Chicago Symphony Orchestra – Fritz Reiner (RCA Victor Red Seal / Sony Classical)

R-7715010-1507808695-6429.jpeg.jpg  81ktJiW5uuL._SX400_.jpg  
 

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Fascinating works, all of them, especially the Sonata in F Minor (1948). Avowedly based on classical models, especially late Beethoven, this work ran so counter to then prevailing "progressive modern" compositional  fashion that the work was hissed and booed by members of the audience  at its 1949 NYC premiere (young serialist composer George Perle stood up and shouted either "Hurrah Beethoven!" or "Viva Beethoven!" -- accounts differ.) In any case, this hostile reception -- most of the those who booed and hissed were, like Perle, fellow young composers -- "...was enough for Shapero  (b. 1920) to lapse into creative silence for many years," retreating into academic life to teach at Brandeis University from 1951 to 1988.

I knew of this story and also knew of Shapero's similarly neo-classical Symphony for Classical Orchestra, which Andre Previn revived and recorded in the 1980s; there also was a previous recording  of the Symphony from the early '50s or late '40s cond. by Leonard Bernstein.

What I didn't reckon on is that while the language of these works is staunchly tonal and that there is the late-Beethoven skeleton to the Sonata in particular, the results sound quite unique and quite American to boot. Primarlly this is a matter of what might be called spacing. The harmonic relationships are tonal, but there is quite often so much distance in pitch (and even register) between one figure or gesture and the next that the music typically seems to be taking place in mid-air and at some height ... above, say, the Grand Canyon. Further, the emotional effect of this music and its methods -- at once so "open air" and with such a sense of calmly striding purposefulness --  is unique, too. Again, Shapero was an avowed neo-classicist, and the example of Stravinsky's personal transformative version of that mode was before his eyes, as were some aspects (in terms of spacing) of Copland. But then Shapero doesn't sound much like Stravinsky or Copland either. (BTW, Copland earlier on had spoken somewhat negatively of Shapero's "compulsion to fashion his music after some great model.... he seems to suffering from a hero-worship complex -- or perhaps it is a freakish attack of false modesty...." Be that as it may, just listen to these works and tell me they don't sound unique  -- and, I think, terrific.)
 

61QnQM6hvTL._AC_US218_.jpg

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BTW, on Amazon there's a an enthusiastic customer's review of the above Shapero album that's purportedly from "George Perle." I assume that was someone's idea of a joke, though it's not impossible that over time the real George Perle's view of the work turned 180 degrees. But if that were the case, I would think that the real Perle would say a little something about how what he shouted at the premiere of the work and the apparently dire effect the resulting ruckus had on Shapero.

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2 hours ago, Larry Kart said:

Fascinating works, all of them, especially the Sonata in F Minor (1948). Avowedly based on classical models, especially late Beethoven, this work ran so counter to then prevailing "progressive modern" compositional  fashion that the work was hissed and booed by members of the audience  at its 1949 NYC premiere (young serialist composer George Perle stood up and shouted either "Hurrah Beethoven!" or "Viva Beethoven!" -- accounts differ.) In any case, this hostile reception -- most of the those who booed and hissed were, like Perle, fellow young composers -- "...was enough for Shapero  (b. 1920) to lapse into creative silence for many years," retreating into academic life to teach at Brandeis University from 1951 to 1988.

I knew of this story and also knew of Shapero's similarly neo-classical Symphony for Classical Orchestra, which Andre Previn revived and recorded in the 1980s; there also was a previous recording  of the Symphony from the early '50s or late '40s cond. by Leonard Bernstein.

What I didn't reckon on is that while the language of these works is staunchly tonal and that there is the late-Beethoven skeleton to the Sonata in particular, the results sound quite unique and quite American to boot. Primarlly this is a matter of what might be called spacing. The harmonic relationships are tonal, but there is quite often so much distance in pitch (and even register) between one figure or gesture and the next that the music typically seems to be taking place in mid-air and at some height ... above, say, the Grand Canyon. Further, the emotional effect of this music and its methods -- at once so "open air" and with such a sense of calmly striding purposefulness --  is unique, too. Again, Shapero was an avowed neo-classicist, and the example of Stravinsky's personal transformative version of that mode was before his eyes, as were some aspects (in terms of spacing) of Copland. But then Shapero doesn't sound much like Stravinsky or Copland either. (BTW, Copland earlier on had spoken somewhat negatively of Shapero's "compulsion to fashion his music after some great model.... he seems to suffering from a hero-worship complex -- or perhaps it is a freakish attack of false modesty...." Be that as it may, just listen to these works and tell me they don't sound unique  -- and, I think, terrific.)
 

61QnQM6hvTL._AC_US218_.jpg

Very interesting background info. Thanks for sharing, Larry.  I'd never heard any of this before.

 

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Robert Schumann 
– Concerto for Piano in A minor Op.54 — Warsaw National Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra – Witold Rowicki
– Introduction and Allegro appassionato for Piano and Orchestra in G major Op.92 — Warsaw National Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra – Stanislaw Wislocki
Franz Liszt 
– Harmonies poétiques et réligieuses S.173/7 Funérailles
– Hungarian Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra S.123 – Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra – János Ferencsik

Sviatoslav Richter  (piano)

91bvJ78LH2L._SX522_.jpg


Béla Bartók – Concerto for Orchestra Sz 116
— Chicago Symphony Orchestra – Fritz Reiner (RCA Victor Red Seal Living Stereo / Sony Classical)

apsar1934.jpg
 

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Sergei Rachmaninov – Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No.2 in C minor Op.18 — Philippe Entremont (piano), 1960
Sergei Prokofiev – Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No.2 in G minor Op.63 — Isaac Stern (violin), 1957
— New York Philharmonic – Leonard Bernstein (Sony Classical)

21.jpg  0004270994.jpg

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