Schubert essentials

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knotslip
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Schubert essentials

Post by knotslip » Mon Sep 10, 2007 9:41 am

Hello again to everyone.

I am busy with school but still listening to my new classical CD's every chance I get. I've actually had the opportunity to listen to every new CD at least once. I have enjoyed all of them and even found some surpises (pieces I REALLY enjoyed) along the way.

I would like to start exploring Tchaikovsky, Rach and Schubert next. I have a good idea of what to explore by the first two but I'm not familiar with any of Schubert's works. So, I am hoping to get some good recommendations from you folks. What Schubert pieces/CD's do you recommend?

Many thanks.

Barry
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Post by Barry » Mon Sep 10, 2007 9:54 am

I personally don't think most of Schubert's orchestral music is essential, but his 9th symphony (sometimes labeled as 7.......the numbering of the last two is screwed up..........and also subtitles "the Great") certainly is. It's one of the most towering symphonies from a century that was full of towering symphonies.
My personal favorite performance is Furtwangler's live '42 with the BPO, but for a beginner, you'd be better off with Szell (the disc also includes the Unfinished Symphony, which many people also consider essential):

link

Schubert was also one of the all-time great composers of chamber music. There was a series of Philips duo releases that covered most of the major pieces. The piano trios are a good place to start (the trio d. 929 was probably the first piece of chamber music that I really came to love):

link
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Post by arglebargle » Mon Sep 10, 2007 9:59 am

Alfred Brendels 7 CD set of Piano Works, on Phillips.

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Re: Schubert essentials

Post by moldyoldie » Mon Sep 10, 2007 10:08 am

knotslip wrote:What Schubert pieces/CD's do you recommend?
Begin with the chamber works:
-String Quintet in C
-Piano Quintet in A major "Trout"
-String Quartet No. 14 "Death and the Maiden"
-Piano Trio No. 2 in E-flat


A fine bargain is the 3-CD set of Schubert's Late Quartets and Quintet in C performed by the Emerson String Quartet (plus Rostropovich on the Quintet) on Deutsche Grammophon.

The Trout Quintet in a very fine digital recording; originally on Deutsche Grammophon, but now re-issued at budget price on the new Universal label; features James Levine, Gerhart Hetzel, Wolfram Christ, Georg Faust, and Alois Posch. It's paired with an older analog recording of "Death and the Maiden" by the Melos Quartet. Another fine low-priced option would be Emanuel Ax, Pamela Frank, Rebecca Young, Yo-Yo Ma, and Edgar Meyer on Sony. The latter is the "peppiest" performance I've heard on record.

The Piano Trios performed by the Beaux Arts Trio on Philips and the Stern-Rose-Istomin trio on Sony are both very fine.

Then work on the symphonies, which aren't nearly as affecting, in my opinion, though they certainly have their moments. Symphony No. 8 "Unfinished" and Symphony No. 9 "Great C Major" are probably his masterpieces in the symphonic medium; they're often paired on one CD.

Leonard Bernstein/New York Philharmonic and George Szell/Cleveland Orchestra, both on Sony, are fine low-priced options. I'm not certain if the latter is still in print.

However, the very finest recorded performance I've heard of the "Great C Major" Symphony is the early '50s mono recording by Furtwängler/Berlin Philharmonic on Deutsche Grammophon, paired with one of my personal favorites and a favorite of many, Haydn's Symphony No. 88.

The much lighter Symphonies No. 3, No. 5, and No. 6 are performed exquisitely on a recording by Thomas Beecham/Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on EMI.
Last edited by moldyoldie on Mon Sep 10, 2007 11:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Philoctetes » Mon Sep 10, 2007 11:04 am

Yudina playing Schubert's Piano Sonatas
Richter playing Schubert's Piano Sonatas
Afanassiev playing Schubert's Piano Sonatas
Schmidt singing Schubert's Lieder
Abbado conducting Schubert's Symphonies
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The energy leaves the wine, and the minister falls leaving the church."
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Sapphire
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Post by Sapphire » Mon Sep 10, 2007 1:18 pm

In many peoples' estimation, Schubert is a top 5 composer. He is my favourite.

Schubert’s works are usually numbered according to the D (= Deutche Thematic Catalog) system, which is an approximate chronological listing. They run from D1 to D965. Many of these are short songs, but still he was a very prolific composer.

Among my favourites are:
  • Song

    Schubert was the supreme song-writer of all time. However, this category of music tends to be of limited interest to newbies so I will not dwell on this except to suggest you might listen to a few like: Erlkonig (D 328), An die Musik (D 547), Im Abendrot (D 799), Die Junge Nonne (D 828), Im Fruhling (D 882), An Silivia (D 891), The Shepherd on the Rock (D965). His most famous song cycle is Winterreise, D 911, which comprises a string of 24 songs to form a very moving story.

    Orchestral (the best versions are by large European orchestras, eg VPO)

    Symphony No 5, D 485
    Symphony No. 8 in B minor “Unfinished”, D 759
    Symphony No. 9 in C major “Great", D 944
    Overture to Zauberharfe, D 644 (the happiest piece of music I know, I just love it)

    Chamber

    String Quintet in C major, D 956 (the second movement of this truly magnificent work has a valedictory air as Schubert by this time knew that his days were numbered)
    String Quartet No. 14 in D minor "Death & the Maiden", D 810
    Piano Quintet in A major "Trout", D 667
    Piano Trio No 2 D 929
    Notturno D 897 (this piece is absolutely splendid, one of my favourite classical music pieces)


    Piano Works (eg Artur Rubinstein, Richter, or Maria Joao Pires). All piano sonatas from No 11-21 are worth getting, but Nos 18 and 21 are my favourites. The Imprompus are pure magic.

    Piano Sonata No. 21 in B flat, D 960
    Piano Sonata No 18, D 894
    Impromptus D 899, D 935
    Wanderer Fantasy, D760 (the Richter version is best)
    Fantasie, D 940
    Grand Duo, D 812

    Duets

    Rondo Brillant in B Min, D 895
    Fantasia for Violin & Piano in C Maj, D 934

    Sacred Music (Schubert’ Masses are superb. The first one below is simple and short; the last is a major work, one of Schubert's last large scale works before his death in November 1828)

    Mass 2 (D 167)
    Mass 6 (D 950)
For a newbie with some knowledge of orchestral music, who wants to try new forms (eg Chamber), Schubert is probably the best choice to start with. Most of Schubert's music is very accessible, and yet much of it is full of emotion. There is no doubt that Schubert's works generally improved as he matured. I consider that Schubert's premature death was one of the biggest musical disasters in history.


Sapphire

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Post by jbuck919 » Mon Sep 10, 2007 3:08 pm

I generally agree with Barry. I might add, though this might be more cryptic than useful, that Schubert, like Mozart is a composer with a rough chronological cutoff between his less and more important works that can be useful to the listener even though it is not entirely reliable. Where that is is hard to say, but the Trout Quintet is on one side of it and the "Death and the Maiden" Quartet is on the other. Both contain a set of variations on one of Schubert's own songs but of radically different levels of profundity.. It may be hard to think of someone who died at the age of 31 as having a "late period," but Schubert certainly did. In other words, I would work backward in time through his works

An exception to this is of course the Lieder, at which he was literally a master from Opus 1, Erlkoenig, which he wrote when he was I think 16.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by Sapphire » Mon Sep 10, 2007 5:05 pm

jbuck919 wrote:I generally agree with Barry. I might add, though this might be more cryptic than useful, that Schubert, like Mozart is a composer with a rough chronological cutoff between his less and more important works that can be useful to the listener even though it is not entirely reliable. Where that is is hard to say, but the Trout Quintet is on one side of it and the "Death and the Maiden" Quartet is on the other. Both contain a set of variations on one of Schubert's own songs but of radically different levels of profundity.. It may be hard to think of someone who died at the age of 31 as having a "late period," but Schubert certainly did. In other words, I would work backward in time through his works

An exception to this is of course the Lieder, at which he was literally a master from Opus 1, Erlkoenig, which he wrote when he was I think 16.
Schubert was 18 when he wrote Erlkonig, D 328.

Regarding his non-lieder works, I wouldn't like to set a fixed point in time as the cut-off separating good from bad. He's not like Mozart where a lot of his early (pre 1782) material is definitely well under par compared with what came later. In Schubert's case there was a more gradual transition, and the starting point in relative terms was also higher in quality than in the case of Mozart.

For example, Schubert's early symphonies are a delight in comparison with many of Mozart's. No 3 (D 200) is especially enchanting, and Schubert wrote while still only at the age of 18. A wonderful sacred piece, the Magnificat in C (D 487), was written when was 18. He was 22 when he wrote Trout, and by no means can this be judged to be a weak work as suggested. The work which eventually comprised Rosamunde, which is truly splendid material, was composed between 1820-23 when he was 23-26. The Unfinished Symphony came in late 1822 when he was 25.

Granted that Schubert's later works contained a greater profundity, we're talking about a composer of such outstanding ability that many of earlier works still comparison with more mature offerings of other big name composers.

I'm now waiting for Jack to come in and tell us that Schubert was too "prolix" and wrote a lot of soppy Viennese tunes. We've been down this road so many times before, especially each time some newbie asks for a set of recommendations. That's the funny thing about such threads; they can go forever while the original questioner gets completely bamboozled and has probably left the forum to have kids, or something.


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Re: Schubert essentials

Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Sep 10, 2007 7:34 pm

knotslip wrote:I would like to start exploring *** Schubert next.
I second the string quartets and songs recommendations. I'd throw in his song cycles Die Winterreise and Die Schoene Mullerin. If you can find either by Fritz Wunderlich or Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, go for it. Modern interpreters have never improved on their readings.

I also recommend the charming piano trios, which can be had on a cheap Philips 2fer along with some other Schubert played by top artists.
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Post by Yi-Peng » Mon Sep 10, 2007 7:49 pm

jbuck919 wrote:I generally agree with Barry. I might add, though this might be more cryptic than useful, that Schubert, like Mozart is a composer with a rough chronological cutoff between his less and more important works that can be useful to the listener even though it is not entirely reliable. Where that is is hard to say, but the Trout Quintet is on one side of it and the "Death and the Maiden" Quartet is on the other. Both contain a set of variations on one of Schubert's own songs but of radically different levels of profundity.. It may be hard to think of someone who died at the age of 31 as having a "late period," but Schubert certainly did. In other words, I would work backward in time through his works

An exception to this is of course the Lieder, at which he was literally a master from Opus 1, Erlkoenig, which he wrote when he was I think 16.
Yes, the Lieder is a wonderful place to start knowing Schubert. For the Lieder, perhaps it would be a wonderful choice to consider one of the individual collections of better-known songs available, like the Fischer-Dieskau or Terfel recitals on DG.

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Post by jbuck919 » Mon Sep 10, 2007 7:55 pm

Sapphire wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:I generally agree with Barry. I might add, though this might be more cryptic than useful, that Schubert, like Mozart is a composer with a rough chronological cutoff between his less and more important works that can be useful to the listener even though it is not entirely reliable. Where that is is hard to say, but the Trout Quintet is on one side of it and the "Death and the Maiden" Quartet is on the other. Both contain a set of variations on one of Schubert's own songs but of radically different levels of profundity.. It may be hard to think of someone who died at the age of 31 as having a "late period," but Schubert certainly did. In other words, I would work backward in time through his works

An exception to this is of course the Lieder, at which he was literally a master from Opus 1, Erlkoenig, which he wrote when he was I think 16.
Schubert was 18 when he wrote Erlkonig, D 328.

Regarding his non-lieder works, I wouldn't like to set a fixed point in time as the cut-off separating good from bad. He's not like Mozart where a lot of his early (pre 1782) material is definitely well under par compared with what came later. In Schubert's case there was a more gradual transition, and the starting point in relative terms was also higher in quality than in the case of Mozart.

For example, Schubert's early symphonies are a delight in comparison with many of Mozart's. No 3 (D 200) is especially enchanting, and Schubert wrote while still only at the age of 18. A wonderful sacred piece, the Magnificat in C (D 487), was written when was 18. He was 22 when he wrote Trout, and by no means can this be judged to be a weak work as suggested. The work which eventually comprised Rosamunde, which is truly splendid material, was composed between 1820-23 when he was 23-26. The Unfinished Symphony came in late 1822 when he was 25.

Granted that Schubert's later works contained a greater profundity, we're talking about a composer of such outstanding ability that many of earlier works still comparison with more mature offerings of other big name composers.

I'm now waiting for Jack to come in and tell us that Schubert was too "prolix" and wrote a lot of soppy Viennese tunes. We've been down this road so many times before, especially each time some newbie asks for a set of recommendations. That's the funny thing about such threads; they can go forever while the original questioner gets completely bamboozled and has probably left the forum to have kids, or something.


Sapphire
The issue is not so much a date cutoff, which I said would always be imperfect (perhaps highly imperfect), as the need to give a newbee some arbirtrary handle on an almost unmanageable body of work. The Trout Quintet, for all that it is played every day on classical radio, is a relative piece of fluff. One knows it as a matter of musical literacy where one knows the C Major Quintet as a matter of deep appreciation. When you go with the masters, you go with where they are masterful.

I agree with you that people who ask these things probably tire quickly of the debate that ensues because they wanted a simpler answer, but sometimes there is no simple answer. That is why I keep telling them to go to the library and just check out a lot of stuff and see what draws them in a certain direction. The idea that you can start by investing in a select number of recommended CDs is simply a false lead unless one is not worried about funds.

Schubert for all his genius is a problematic composer. I cannot agree with you about the Masses, late or early; they are dreadfully mediocre (why do you think they are never performed?). His piano sonatas suffer from a condition which dear old Mrs. Troidle called "dontknowwhentoquitness." I just hear the Fourth Symphony for the first time the other day and it is beautiful, but suffers from the same disorder. So there is a genre boundary as well as a chronological one, and both are highly questionable except as arbitrary guidelines. But they are guidelines when none at all is not the preferential option.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Mon Sep 10, 2007 7:57 pm

For a 2fer of the trios, the Borodin trio on Chandos is cheaper and much, much better, IMHO.

link

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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Sep 10, 2007 8:04 pm

Brendan wrote:For a 2fer of the trios, the Borodin trio on Chandos is cheaper and much, much better, IMHO.

link
I was going to get that, but it's not a 2fer. Is there another?
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Brendan

Post by Brendan » Mon Sep 10, 2007 8:19 pm

Damn. The Amazon blurb says it has both trios. I picked up the Borodin Trio rec of D929, so didn't go for this disc. Only the Busch-Busch-Serkin recording matches or beats Borodin, IMHO.

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Post by moldyoldie » Mon Sep 10, 2007 8:27 pm

Brendan wrote:Damn. The Amazon blurb says it has both trios.
I think by two-fer, Corlyss meant two CDs in a single-width jewelcase for about the price of one.

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Post by Barry » Mon Sep 10, 2007 9:54 pm

I learned the Schubert piano tries, along with those by Brahms and one by Mendelssohn from this set a number of years ago:

link

I used to play it to death. It's a nice introduction to anyone who would be looking to explore the piano trio in general.

I see the two Schubert trios are also available at a decent price used from Amazon on one disc:

link
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Post by knotslip » Mon Sep 10, 2007 10:00 pm

Thanks for all of the great suggestions. I don't mind the ensuing discussions. I enjoy reading what everyone thinks.

I tried the library, but I live in a fairly small town and my library had a very small selection of classical. No Schubert.

The recommendations are great and I simply add all of them to a VERY long list and usually pick a few to purchase and listen to. Unfortunately, I don't have unlimited funds for purchasing all of this music, nor the time to listen to all of it until I finish graduate school.

I think I will start with symphonies 8 and 9 - some of the recordings mentioned and some of the piano music. I'd like to find Overture to Zauberharfe, D 644 also if I can on CD.

Thanks again!

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Mon Sep 10, 2007 10:23 pm

Barry Z wrote:I see the two Schubert trios are also available at a decent price used from Amazon on one disc:
Once again, the Borodin Trio disc is cheaper, and I much prefer them to Rose-Istomin-Stern.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Sep 11, 2007 2:33 am

Brendan wrote:Damn. The Amazon blurb says it has both trios. I picked up the Borodin Trio rec of D929, so didn't go for this disc. Only the Busch-Busch-Serkin recording matches or beats Borodin, IMHO.
It's got both trios on it, but it's not two discs. The one I recommended is two discs and has the delightful Notturno on it as well, plus some filler stuff.
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Post by Sapphire » Tue Sep 11, 2007 2:40 am

knotslip wrote:Thanks for all of the great suggestions. I don't mind the ensuing discussions. I enjoy reading what everyone thinks.

I tried the library, but I live in a fairly small town and my library had a very small selection of classical. No Schubert.

The recommendations are great and I simply add all of them to a VERY long list and usually pick a few to purchase and listen to. Unfortunately, I don't have unlimited funds for purchasing all of this music, nor the time to listen to all of it until I finish graduate school.

I think I will start with symphonies 8 and 9 - some of the recordings mentioned and some of the piano music. I'd like to find Overture to areZauberharfe, D 644 also if I can on CD.

Thanks again!
You can get D 644 on a Ricardo Muti/Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra version of Symphony 9. Be warned that D 644 is sometimes referred to as the overture to Rosamunde (which was a theatrical work). What you really want is the whole of Rosamunde, D 797, including both (yes both) overtures, one of which is D 644. I'll explain further in a PM if you are interested either now or later.

May I suggest that, funds permitting, you next investigate what many consider to be Schubert's best (non vocal) work which is the String Quintet, D 956. This work is outstanding, and a very good introduction to chamber music. With chamber music, one has to be very careful in choice of musicians if only because mistakes are much less easy to conceal. The two versions of D 956 I like the best are (i) the Melos Quartet with Mstislav Rostropovich, and (ii) the Guarneri Quartet.

You will have seen various references above to Schubert's Piano Trio No 2, D 929. This is also excellent. The version I like the best is by Trio Fontenay. With this you also get "Notturno", D 897, which is drop-dead gorgeous.

One thing about Schubert is that you can sometimes play it in the company of non-classical fans and, provided they're not the hostile variety, they'll normally listen because it's mostly very accessible material. Schubert's melody creating ability was top drawer.


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Post by Sapphire » Tue Sep 11, 2007 3:30 am

jbuck919 wrote: Schubert for all his genius is a problematic composer. I cannot agree with you about the Masses, late or early; they are dreadfully mediocre (why do you think they are never performed?). His piano sonatas suffer from a condition which dear old Mrs. Troidle called "dontknowwhentoquitness." I just hear the Fourth Symphony for the first time the other day and it is beautiful, but suffers from the same disorder. So there is a genre boundary as well as a chronological one, and both are highly questionable except as arbitrary guidelines. But they are guidelines when none at all is not the preferential option.
I cannot remotely agree with the suggestion that Schubert's Masses are "dreadfully mediocre", or "never performed". This is heresy. For example, at this year's PROMS Schubert's Mass 6, D 950, was performed, and not one any other composer as far as I recall. Incidentally, you might check out here (see previous link) what you some people are missing out on in their ex-Colonial cultural backwaters.

As for "just hear (sic) the Fourth Symphony for the first time the other day ... ", this work has been around long enough. What's kept you? See last sentence above.

As for "dontknowwhentoquitness", I accept that some get folk quite paranoid about the length and repetitiveness of some of Schubert's late piano works. But I find that if the material is managed well the desired effect of timeless, almost hypnotic-trance can be achieved. Thus, it doesn't bother me in the slightest to hear the repeats in Schubert, and in discussions on this subject elsewhere this seems to be majority view. In short, Schubert was a brilliant melodist and orchestrator.

Some allowance has to be made for the fact that very many of his late works were just dashed off, never performed or revised, and simply piled in a box for posterity to discover. I'd like to see some of Beethoven's or Brahms' efforts in a similar state of readiness. I bet many were junk.



Sapphire
Last edited by Sapphire on Tue Sep 11, 2007 3:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Sep 11, 2007 3:37 am

jbuck919 wrote:Schubert for all his genius is a problematic composer. I cannot agree with you about the Masses, late or early; they are dreadfully mediocre (why do you think they are never performed?)
No kidding. I can't stand 'em, even when my favorite mezzo sang in them. Don't think much of his large vocal works like that. They have a pasty English mushyness that cries out for some Italian verve and color. The guy was a miniaturist with all the genius for capturing the fine intimate detail and none for the grand gesture.
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Post by jbuck919 » Tue Sep 11, 2007 3:47 am

Sapphire wrote:
jbuck919 wrote: Schubert for all his genius is a problematic composer. I cannot agree with you about the Masses, late or early; they are dreadfully mediocre (why do you think they are never performed?). His piano sonatas suffer from a condition which dear old Mrs. Troidle called "dontknowwhentoquitness." I just hear the Fourth Symphony for the first time the other day and it is beautiful, but suffers from the same disorder. So there is a genre boundary as well as a chronological one, and both are highly questionable except as arbitrary guidelines. But they are guidelines when none at all is not the preferential option.
I cannot remotely agree with the suggestion that Schubert's Masses are "dreadfully mediocre", or "never performed". This is heresy. For example, at this year's PROMS Schubert's Mass 6, D 950, was performed, and not one any other composer as far as I recall. Incidentally, you might check out here (see previous link) what you some people are missing out on in their ex-Colonial cultural backwaters.

As for "just hear (sic) the Fourth Symphony for the first time the other day ... ", this work has been around long enough. What's kept you? See last sentence above.

As for "dontknowwhentoquitness", I accept that some get folk quite paranoid about the length and repetitiveness of some of Schubert's late piano works. But I find that if the material is managed well the desired effect of timeless, almost hypnotic-trance can be achieved. Thus, it doesn't bother me in the slightest to hear the repeats in Schubert, and in discussions on this subject elsewhere this seems to be majority view.



Sapphire
Oh, the Proms! Well, that makes all the difference. And thank you for forgiving me my typo when I forgave you yours without comment for a long time. :)

I was baring my breast by admitting that I had only heard the Fourth Symphony for the first time at the age of 52. I trust people here not to stab me in the heart, which you have not done. It is not a question of repeats. I can take and even insist on the repeat of everything in Beethoven and Brahms. The Schubert we are talking about is a question of longueurs in "passages" that do not involve repeats.
Last edited by jbuck919 on Tue Sep 11, 2007 4:43 am, edited 2 times in total.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by Sapphire » Tue Sep 11, 2007 4:32 am

I have just recalled the amazing good value 50 CD sets of Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, launched by EMI earlier this year.

HERE’s the Schubert set for $79 from Amazon. It should in theory contain just about everything worth having, but I haven’t checked out the details.


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Post by hautbois » Tue Sep 11, 2007 4:40 am

Schubert -
Song cycle "Winterreise", Ian Bostridge/Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
Symphonies No. 2,3,5,9/"Great" and 8/"Unfinished", Harnoncourt/RCO or
Abbado/COE

Rachmaninoff -
Piano concertos No. 2 and 3, Rubinstein/Reiner, Argerich/Chailly
Symphonic Dances (Orchestra version), Symphony No. 2. Ashkenazy/RCO

Tchaikovsky -
The Seasons for solo piano, January and June in particular, Ashkenazy
String Quartet No.1, I don't think many people mess this up, and i am not knowlegable in that genre to give a recommendation.
Symphonies No. 4 and 5, Karajan/VPO, BPO
Piano Concerto No.1, :roll:

Except for the early symphonies of Schubert, i think most of the selections i recommended are highly accesible and pretty much standard, have you started digging into Mendelssohn yet? You might want to very soon if haven't, the concerto for fortepiano and strings in A minor is amazing.

Howard
Last edited by hautbois on Tue Sep 11, 2007 4:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Sapphire » Tue Sep 11, 2007 4:41 am

jbuck919 wrote: Oh, the Proms! Well, that makes all the difference. And thank you for forgiving me my typo when I forgave you yours without comment for a long time. :)

I was baring my breast by admitting that I had only heard the Fourth Symphony for the first time at the age of 52. I trust people here not to stab me in the heart, which you have not done. It is not a question of repeats. I can take and even insist on the repeat of everything in Beehovoen and Brahms. The Schubert we are talking about is a question of longueurs in "passages" that do not involve repeats.
Me, pick you up on typos? Never. I'm far too English, prim and proper for that. I make too menny myself to look for others!

Cheers.


Sapphire
Last edited by Sapphire on Tue Sep 11, 2007 4:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Jack Kelso » Tue Sep 11, 2007 4:42 am

Sapphire wrote:I'm now waiting for Jack to come in and tell us that Schubert was too "prolix" and wrote a lot of soppy Viennese tunes. We've been down this road so many times before, especially each time some newbie asks for a set of recommendations. That's the funny thing about such threads; they can go forever while the original questioner gets completely bamboozled and has probably left the forum to have kids, or something.


Sapphire
Now, Sapphire---don't put words into my mouth. "Prolix" and "diffuse" are from musicologists; I just quoted them here.

And besides, what does it matter when Schubert can charm us so completely? I love ALL his symphonies (just listened to No. 2 yesterday with Muti, who takes ALL of the repeats!) and just bought another complete recording of the "Rosamunde" music (on Berlin Classics with Willy Boskowsky, cond.). I don't know of a song, chamber work or piano piece of his I didn't like almost right off.

My advice: Get all the Schubert you can as long as you enjoy his works. But the same applies to Beethoven, Schumann, Wagner and other major 19th-century masters!

Tschüß!
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Post by Sapphire » Tue Sep 11, 2007 5:08 am

Jack Kelso wrote:
Sapphire wrote:I'm now waiting for Jack to come in and tell us that Schubert was too "prolix" and wrote a lot of soppy Viennese tunes. We've been down this road so many times before, especially each time some newbie asks for a set of recommendations. That's the funny thing about such threads; they can go forever while the original questioner gets completely bamboozled and has probably left the forum to have kids, or something.


Sapphire
Now, Sapphire---don't put words into my mouth. "Prolix" and "diffuse" are from musicologists; I just quoted them here.

And besides, what does it matter when Schubert can charm us so completely? I love ALL his symphonies (just listened to No. 2 yesterday with Muti, who takes ALL of the repeats!) and just bought another complete recording of the "Rosamunde" music (on Berlin Classics with Willy Boskowsky, cond.). I don't know of a song, chamber work or piano piece of his I didn't like almost right off.

My advice: Get all the Schubert you can as long as you enjoy his works. But the same applies to Beethoven, Schumann, Wagner and other major 19th-century masters!

Tschüß!
Jack
Jack, my ploy was merely to lure you out of your lair this week. Too late, though, as Jbuck beat you to it. I think it was Dvorak who first used the dreaded word "prolix" in the context of some contemporary descriptions of certain Schubert works, but only to rubbish the concept.

The Rosamunde suite is really very good, isn't it? Which of the two overtures does the Berlin Classics set include? IMO, the best is D 644, but the other (from Alfonso & Estrella) is also very nice. Regards D 644, I think its orchestration is truly masterful, and the three or 4 separate melodies are a delight.

I especially agree with you that we should be encouraging our new classical fan to get interested in Schumann ASAP. In the hope that he doesn't go into overload mode, I'd suggest the Piano Concerto and the Sawallisch set of Symphonies as a starter. Yes?

Beethoven hardly needs any introductions. As for Wagner, I'd suggest Mozart opera first. This is not to belittle Wagner, but merely to give a simpler start.

I trust you spotted my link to this year's Proms, which ended last Saturday. It was really splendid. I only got to see one live performance this year which was Claudio Abbado conducting Mahler's S3 with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. What a combination. Otherwise, I listened to a lot on Radio 3. Lots of modern stuff which I'm not keen on. Lots of old too, but no Dittersdorf. One day I guess it may happen.



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Post by Sapphire » Tue Sep 11, 2007 7:31 am

Corlyss_D wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:Schubert for all his genius is a problematic composer. I cannot agree with you about the Masses, late or early; they are dreadfully mediocre (why do you think they are never performed?)
No kidding. I can't stand 'em, even when my favorite mezzo sang in them. Don't think much of his large vocal works like that. They have a pasty English mushyness that cries out for some Italian verve and color. The guy was a miniaturist with all the genius for capturing the fine intimate detail and none for the grand gesture.
Verve and colour? I don't really know what to say in further response. As far as I know (I’m no expert on these detailed issues) Schubert, in the writing of his last Mass, D 950, followed Viennese tradition in liturgical music quite rigorously in terms of using only a quite restricted range of instruments. However, I still find the work rich in textures, harmonic modulations, and contains some beautiful melodic lines, the “Et Incarnatus Est” being really lovely. The version I enjoy most is that by Sawallisch with Helen Donath and Fisher-Dieskau. It’s one of my occasional Sunday favourites, and I find it spell-binding. To me this work sounds far more fitting for an R.C service, for which it was intended, than any efforts by other composers, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Bruckner included. I guess one or two Masses by Mozart get close, and possibly one or two of Haydn as well, but as for Bach's Mass in B Minor, I find that just a long winded bore from beginning to end. Generally, all but Schubert's Masses sound just like tarted up orchestral pieces, with hardly any genuine litugical feel to them. Schubert gets closest to the correct flavour, that I enjoy and am familiar with.



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Post by Bösendorfer » Tue Sep 11, 2007 7:47 am

Hi knotslip,

I suggest for starting (repeating previous suggestions mostly):

Death and the Maiden string quartet (#14) (and all other quartets 10-15)
both piano trios
symphony #8 ("unfinished")
late piano sonatas, impromptus, moments musicaux
Arpeggione Sonata (usually piano/cello)
string quintet D956

For the piano sonatas and miniatures, there is an excellent and very cheap 4cd set by Radu Lupu (containing most of the important sonatas). Less than $20 at newburycomics.com. Arthur Schnabel has a great recording of both sets of impromptus, which are not on Lupu's set. Both pianists are considered among the best for Schubert piano works (as far as I know).

As for symph. #9 "The Great" - I remember it really did not impress me when I first listened to it when I was new to Schubert! I think it's because it's very long and takes some time to take in (I think it's longer than an hour). There's a very cheap "50's" 2cd set with the Schubert quartet #15 (Amadeus Q) and his 9th Symph. (Furtwaengler) which I like a lot. Maybe not available in the US?

Florian[/b]

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Post by mickey » Tue Sep 11, 2007 8:17 am

personally, i recommend the 2006 recording by the Takacs Quartet of Schubert's Death and the Maiden (str. quartet 14) which is paired with his 13th string quartet... the recording is simply beautiful and has been incredibly well received by critics... definitely first rate
http://callmeclassical.blogspot.com

My Favorites:
Shostakovich: Cello Concerto || Adams: Harmonelehre || Dutilleux: Symphony No2 "Le Double" | Part: Cantus in Memorium of Benjamin Britten

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Post by knotslip » Tue Sep 11, 2007 9:34 am

Wow, the list just keeps getting longer :D

I definitely have Mendelssohn and Schumann on my list but it will be a few weeks or more before I can get to them.

Thanks again for all of the great recommendations and comments.

Sapphire - I think I understand now about D644 and Rosemunde. Does this CD cover both overtures? http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/alb ... _id=138484

Do you recommend a different one? Link please :-)

Thanks again to everyone and I will be letting you all know what I buy and how I like it as soon as I get the chance to listen to it. I have really been enjoying my Debussy Preludes and I LOVE La Mer.

Cheers!

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Post by knotslip » Tue Sep 11, 2007 9:47 am

Actually, I think I will grab this box - it is inexpensive and gets me all of the symphonies and the two overtures.
http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/alb ... _id=118743

What do you think? Good choice? I believe several have recommended this composer for these works...

Thanks.

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Post by Donald Isler » Tue Sep 11, 2007 10:18 am

While I believe that Schubert Piano Sonatas can be performed without some of the repeats (ie especially of the first movements), and I have usually left them out in my own performances and recordings, I will say that people who believe that Schubert is no more than a miniaturist, and that these are weak works, because of their length, have either a fairly superficial acquantance with them and/or have never heard great performances of them.
Donald Isler

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Post by Barry » Tue Sep 11, 2007 10:22 am

knotslip wrote:Actually, I think I will grab this box - it is inexpensive and gets me all of the symphonies and the two overtures.
http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/alb ... _id=118743

What do you think? Good choice? I believe several have recommended this composer for these works...

Thanks.
I'm not a particularly big fan of Muti's Schubert. I know it's a good deal, but I think you're better off getting top notch recordings of the last two symphonies. The Szell 9th on Sony really is outstanding and can be had for a very low price (and comes with the 8th). My recommendation would be to spend $7 on that and pass on the Muti.
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Post by Donald Isler » Tue Sep 11, 2007 10:30 am

I want to add that I think that the String Quartet in G Major, D. 887 is a very great work, on the scale of the String Quintet. My favorite recording is by the Busch Quartet. The sound is old but the playing is great.

In my opinion, some of the best recordings of Schubert pianists of the past are of Hungerford (on Vanguard Classics), Aeschbacher (on KASP Records) and of Artur Schnabel (probably available on several labels).

I've also heard a recording of the Ninth Symphony conducted by Furtwanger which was overwhelming.
Donald Isler

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Post by jbuck919 » Tue Sep 11, 2007 10:44 am

Donald Isler wrote:While I believe that Schubert Piano Sonatas can be performed without some of the repeats (ie especially of the first movements), and I have usually left them out in my own performances and recordings, I will say that people who believe that Schubert is no more than a miniaturist, and that these are weak works, because of their length, have either a fairly superficial acquantance with them and/or have never heard great performances of them.
If Schubert wrote anything important for the piano, it is the sonatas. I didn't mean to imply otherwise. His neat miniature works actually number few, comparatively speaking. And I know, Donald, that Schnabel, a hero of yours, played Schubert in addition to his famed Beethoven. I'm not about to second-guess such a situation in any belligerent fashion. The piano sonata per se was a problematic form after Beethoven, and not Schumann, not Chopin, not Brahms found much of a way around the problems, though there is an element of greatness in all their contributions.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by Chalkperson » Tue Sep 11, 2007 10:58 am

Without Doubt, Schubert is one of the Truly Great Composers, I prefer him ' over Brahms as Number 4/3/5/2...I would suggest the following...

The Impromptu's and Music Musicaux, are great pianistic starting points, they are sweet pieces, then try the Late Sonatas, by Pollini, Hough, Kovechavich, Brendel and as long as you don't fall asleep between the notes, Richter...an odd recommendation for all the Symphonies would be Neville Marriner and the ASMF, also Abbado or Bohm on DG...Beecham is great in 4+5+6 and try Gunter Wand or Colin Davis in No.9 'The Great' Symphony, either way No.9 is certainly one of my favourite orchestral works of all...the Chamber music is also superb, perhaps the Trout Quintet is most famous, but the String Quintet is one of the most masterful of his compositions, as is the Arpeggio Sonata, plus the String Quartets, Trios and even Piano Duo's, and never forget his Opera, Fierbrass, Abbado recorded it on DG...as for his Leider discs, I have the Hyperion Bex Set of all of them, plus dozens of other individual discs, I would second Corlyss's recommendations on that one...that should do for now methinks...over to you Lance ...

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Post by Sapphire » Tue Sep 11, 2007 12:03 pm

Knotslip

I see that a few more Schubert fans are coming out, and we're not just getting the half-hearted sceptics.

I do agree with a comment above that you may not take to S9 immediately. It is rather a long work, and slightly repetitious, but it's very good indeed. I can see Bruckner looking back at this work for inspiration.

A much surer bet for starters is the S8, the very famous Unfinished Symphony. This is, as the name implies, shorter, comprising just two movements. No-one is really sure why Schubert didn’t finish it. Most people like it, and for me its second movement is among my top 10 orchestral pieces. The version I like best is by Sir Colin Davis, Staatskapelle; I generally like this conductor.

You asked whether the Harnoncourt version of S8/Rosamunde/D644 includes both overtures. No it doesn't. It only contains two sections: the "ballet" pieces. THIS Wikipedia article explain the story behind Rosamunde, and how it came to have two overtures. I think you will find instead that the best bet is THIS CD as referred to by Jack Kelso, which looks very good. The more I think about it the more I'd say that Rosamunde is ideal for a newcomer to classical music, and to Schubert. Some people reckon that within this work can be found the missing movement of the Unfinished Symphony.


Sapphire

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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Sep 11, 2007 3:51 pm

Sapphire wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:No kidding. I can't stand 'em, even when my favorite mezzo sang in them. Don't think much of his large vocal works like that. They have a pasty English mushyness that cries out for some Italian verve and color. The guy was a miniaturist with all the genius for capturing the fine intimate detail and none for the grand gesture.
Verve and colour? I don't really know what to say in further response.
De gustibus non disputandum est usually works. We can't all enjoy the same things. I'm glad you like Schubert masses. I wouldn't tred on your enjoyment for anything. They leave me dying to switch back to the 40s channel.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Sep 11, 2007 3:53 pm

Donald Isler wrote:I will say that people who believe that Schubert is no more than a miniaturist, and that these are weak works, because of their length, have either a fairly superficial acquantance with them and/or have never heard great performances of them.
I defy both your characterizations, and I stick to my contention.
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Post by CharmNewton » Tue Sep 11, 2007 10:54 pm

knotslip wrote:Actually, I think I will grab this box - it is inexpensive and gets me all of the symphonies and the two overtures.
http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/alb ... _id=118743

What do you think? Good choice? I believe several have recommended this composer for these works...

Thanks.
You may want to check out this box from EMI. Menuhin's recordings of the symphonies have stood the test of time and are the equal of anyone's. These are vintage EMI recordings, mostly from the 60s and 70s and includes all the works mentioned in this thread and much more.

link

John

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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Sep 12, 2007 12:27 am

Sapphire wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:
Sapphire wrote:I'm now waiting for Jack to come in and tell us that Schubert was too "prolix" and wrote a lot of soppy Viennese tunes. We've been down this road so many times before, especially each time some newbie asks for a set of recommendations. That's the funny thing about such threads; they can go forever while the original questioner gets completely bamboozled and has probably left the forum to have kids, or something.


Sapphire
Now, Sapphire---don't put words into my mouth. "Prolix" and "diffuse" are from musicologists; I just quoted them here.

And besides, what does it matter when Schubert can charm us so completely? I love ALL his symphonies (just listened to No. 2 yesterday with Muti, who takes ALL of the repeats!) and just bought another complete recording of the "Rosamunde" music (on Berlin Classics with Willy Boskowsky, cond.). I don't know of a song, chamber work or piano piece of his I didn't like almost right off.

My advice: Get all the Schubert you can as long as you enjoy his works. But the same applies to Beethoven, Schumann, Wagner and other major 19th-century masters!

Tschüß!
Jack
Jack, my ploy was merely to lure you out of your lair this week. Too late, though, as Jbuck beat you to it. I think it was Dvorak who first used the dreaded word "prolix" in the context of some contemporary descriptions of certain Schubert works, but only to rubbish the concept.

The Rosamunde suite is really very good, isn't it? Which of the two overtures does the Berlin Classics set include? IMO, the best is D 644, but the other (from Alfonso & Estrella) is also very nice. Regards D 644, I think its orchestration is truly masterful, and the three or 4 separate melodies are a delight.

I especially agree with you that we should be encouraging our new classical fan to get interested in Schumann ASAP. In the hope that he doesn't go into overload mode, I'd suggest the Piano Concerto and the Sawallisch set of Symphonies as a starter. Yes?

Sapphire
This "Rosamunde" recording includes both overtures, played nice and tight.

The Sawallisch set of the Schumann symphonies is no-nonsense but a bit clip for my tastes. Muti/Vienna Phil is also excellent---but NO ONE does the complete set to my complete satisfaction; best for me are:

2nd Symphony: Levine, Herreweghe, Bernstein.
3rd Symphony: Karajan, Giulini/L.A. Phil. (NOT Philharmonia/Angel, as that one uses the Mahler orchestration!)

The 1st and 4th have many fine ones, but Klemperer/Philharmonia is exceptionally beautiful in tone and tempo.

Tschüß!
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Post by knotslip » Wed Sep 12, 2007 7:51 am

Does anyone here recommend the Bernstein 8th and 9th of Schubert?
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00003 ... 85-4201425

Was just considering it just because of the nice price. Let me know what you think...I'll be placing an order today. I plan to order the CD recommended by Jack for the Rosamunde and a symphony disc(s). I ordered my Beethoven Box of Sonatas yesterday :D

Thanks.

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Post by moldyoldie » Wed Sep 12, 2007 9:28 am

knotslip wrote:Does anyone here recommend the Bernstein 8th and 9th of Schubert?
Yes, it was one of my recommendations in my earlier post on page 1, mainly because of the performance/recording/price comparison. Know that it's a more expansive rendition (more drawn out in tempo) than the George Szell version of similar vintage, also on Sony, which is much more "full-bore forward" than Bernstein. In fact, I'd consider the two recordings to be fine complements to each other in a novice listener's collection.

I've found that oftentimes a more straightforward interpretation is easier for a novice listener to get his/her ears around, so to speak, and thus make an informed determination as to whether its a work he/she would ultimately return to. I've also found the No. 9 "Great C Major", especially, to be inherently repetitious and often monotonous, something that might "turn off" a novice listener -- it approaches an hour in length. Furtwängler's recording ultimately "cured" me of that assessment.

I'd also like to reiterate that the symphonies are probably not where I'd start with Schubert, but you seem to have your mind made up. The Bernstein has fine performances and I'd consider it a bargain (I listened to it just the other day and enjoyed it immensely), it's just not as "conventionally performed" as someone such as Szell or others.

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Post by knotslip » Wed Sep 12, 2007 10:24 am

Thanks. My mind isn't made up about anything regarding classical music...I'm finding it extremely difficult just trying to find some direction and organization to the madness and expansiveness of the genre. My method currently is to ask questions, ask for recommendations, see what others have to say or recommend, see what I can actually find and then make a purchase based on those things in addition to price. Sometimes, I change my mind about exploring a certain composer's works based on what folks have to say and so I'll move on to another composer. This happened with Brahms. I've decided to wait and explore him later.

I don't even know how I decide who to explore next but i seem to have a way because I know who I'm currently exploring and I have a good idea of where to go next...slightly based on suggestions and questions in this post I suppose. It seems the next logical step would be to explore Schumann and Mendelssohn. I'm currently exploring Rach, Schubert and Tchaikovsky. And it never ends...I started wth Dvorak and I'm still exploring and purchasing works by him.

Thanks again for the suggestion and advice.

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Post by Bösendorfer » Wed Sep 12, 2007 1:31 pm

Hi knotslip,

Just one short comment: I also don't think that the symphonies are the best place to start, especially not with all of them. You remind me of my own first explorations a few years ago when I used a library and started taking out symphonies by various composers to see what I like. Later I realised that some composers were much better in other forms, maybe (like Debussy) they didn't even care about writing symphonies.

As for Schubert, it seems the concensus is that where he was best is Lieder, solo piano music, and chamber music. From all I've heard and read, his last two symphonies are much better than the others (but I don't know those).

Florian

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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Sep 12, 2007 2:12 pm

knotslip wrote:but i seem to have a way because I know who I'm currently exploring and I have a good idea of where to go next
IMO that's the only way to do it. Call me when you decide to go to Monteverdi and before. :D 8)

I agree with Florian about the symphonies. The only one I like overtly is the 5th. If it hadn't been for the songs, the string ensembles, and the sonatas, I probably wouldn't have cracked Schubert myself.
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Post by knotslip » Wed Sep 12, 2007 2:33 pm

Thanks Florian and Corlyss.

I've decided to get a CD of Schubert's 8th and 9th symphonies and a greatest works compilation. Now I'll concentrate more on the chamber music with him (maybe use the compilation to see what I like). I definitely want to check out his solo piano stuff. I've really been enjoying DeBussy's solo piano stuff and I am awaiting my Beethoven Sonatas box. :D

As for vocal works -I'm finding that I enjoy choral works and masses, etc. but I haven't been able to get into operas as of yet. They just don't appeal to me right now. It's kind of hard figuring out what is and isn't opera. Like I don't know if the Rosamunde Overture by Schubert is opera or not. I know it's an overture, but does it contain opera signing in it? I still feel quite stupid when it comes to classical music - even though I've learned a great deal in the past few months. I mean, I see threads where folks are listening to a piece of solo piano music by several different pianists and able to recognize each version by the pianist playing it...That's insane! I still can't tell the difference between Vivaldi's Four Seasons and Mozart's Einie Kleinie Nacht Musik :D

Thanks again.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Sep 12, 2007 2:44 pm

knotslip wrote: It's kind of hard figuring out what is and isn't opera. Like I don't know if the Rosamunde Overture by Schubert is opera or not. I know it's an overture, but does it contain opera signing in it?
It's incidental music, i.e., it leavened the performance of a play. I don't think the average recording contains any singing, but I don't guarantee that there weren't songs involved in the original - songs were Schubert's forte.
I still feel quite stupid when it comes to classical music - even though I've learned a great deal in the past few months.
Stop that! Just keep listening and asking questions. You're fine.
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