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Old 07.01.2011, 10:07 AM   #1
demonrail666
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I read Alex Ross' book The Rest is Noise which is excellent but a bit too exhaustive to really know where to begin with this stuff. I know there are a few posters here that are into it and ask if they could recommend say five 'essential' CDs. No massive 'collected works' box sets or anything like that but preferably some 'key' individual pieces. And by 'modern', I suppose I mean anything from the 20th Century onwards.

So far, the only things I have that might qualify are the Deutsche Gramaphone versions of Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time, Chronochromie and Des Canyons Aux Etoile. Oh, and a Naxos CD of Erik Satie.

So yeah, five or so essential pieces of modern classical music is what I'm after. Not necessarily your favourites but the ones that might in some way be thought of as key - and if you can stretch to it, some reasons why would be even better.

Muchas Gracias
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Old 07.01.2011, 10:36 AM   #2
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Does rhapsody in blue count?
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Old 07.01.2011, 10:50 AM   #3
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I dunno, maybe. If it does that's another one I've got.

Either way, it's an interesting question: is Rhapsody in Blue a piece of modern classical music? I suppose it depends on what we mean by 'modern' (and to a degree 'classical') I don't know what I mean in terms of classical but I suppose by modern I mean something that's in some way influenced by modernism. George Gershwin is touched by jazz which I suppose qualifies him to a certain degree. Same as Scott Joplin.
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Old 07.01.2011, 11:12 AM   #4
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schoenberg-pierrot lunaire (expressionism)
bartok-concerto for orchestra, or music for strings percussion and celesta (folklore with modernism)
alban berg- violin concerto (12 tone, but not strict like webern)
boulez-structures (not my favorite, but essential for strict serialism)
ligeti-lux aeterna, atmospheres (micropolyphony)
alfred schnittke-symphony 1 (postmodernism)
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Old 07.01.2011, 11:39 AM   #5
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Perfect. Exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for. Thanks.
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Old 07.01.2011, 12:01 PM   #6
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I'm no expert, but I would certainly suggest these excellent CDs:

 


 


 


I read The Rest Is Noise last year and really enjoyed it - however I agree it's a little difficult to throw yourself into it by going to the CD store and purchasing CDs. I also suggest Ligeti - Disc 2 of The Ligeti Project is simply sensational. I also really like this disc as well:

 


I'm a big "fan" of Mozart (I use quotes because it seems kind of preposterous when I say fan in the context of Mozart) and Berg and the pieces on this disc are fantastic.

I second the Messiaen as essential, and perhaps dipping into The Planets by Holst, although these suggestions may not be as contemporary as you'd like.

Also really important in my mind is the Shostakovitch Edition box set, the chamber symphonies and concertos are fantastic and the performances are exception. I was lucky enough to find it very cheap and I suggest downloading it because a) he's dead and b) I've seen it priced at $170 smackaroos.......

I'd also say that while they aren't contemporary pieces Goulds Goldberg Variations should stray far enough out of the realm to be considered.......

Oh and there's a great double disc set from Penderecki that's fantastic.
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Old 07.01.2011, 12:34 PM   #7
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SHOSTAKOVICH! Yes!!!!!

I actually didn't know he was modern haha.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlMHjo7Jwhk

One of my favorites! Please suggest me anything as brilliant as this, in the same vein
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Old 07.01.2011, 12:37 PM   #8
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I would say the part of rhapsody in blue that kicks in here is definitley classical, while the rest is a mixture of classical and jazz...but I don't know that much about this style of music, I just like it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyMhg...eature=related

1:50 onward

the first time I heard this piece of music and switch, after the super long repetative main section and variations of rhapsody in blue I almost died...

it was like dying and being reborn

It was also a dark time in my life and I was real sick, maybe that had influence on the movements effects
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Old 07.01.2011, 02:12 PM   #9
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Don't forget John Cage's "Music for Marcel Duchamp". (Serialism with silences)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMP6aAMatj8
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Old 07.01.2011, 02:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fugazifan
schoenberg-pierrot lunaire (expressionism)
bartok-concerto for orchestra, or music for strings percussion and celesta (folklore with modernism)
alban berg- violin concerto (12 tone, but not strict like webern)
boulez-structures (not my favorite, but essential for strict serialism)
ligeti-lux aeterna, atmospheres (micropolyphony)
alfred schnittke-symphony 1 (postmodernism)

Some other pieces by movement:

Tristan Murail - Gondwana (spectralism)
Bernard Parmegiani - De Natura Sonorum (musique concrete)
Helmut Lachemann - Gran Torso (musique concrete instrumentale - arguably a one-man movement)
Alvin Lucier - Music on a long thin wire (Uh... electro-acoustic sound installations?)
Steve Reich - music for 18 musicians (minimalism)

The last one is a great starter for 10 - you may have heard it already. I find Reich intolerable but often forget 18 is actually very good.
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Old 07.01.2011, 03:02 PM   #11
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This may be controversial, as Gustav Mahler is generally thought of as a 19th Century Romantic, but his Symphony No. 10 might be seen as borderline Modern.
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Old 07.01.2011, 03:45 PM   #12
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This is great. Thanks for these so far.

So did a similar thing happen to modern classical as happened to the major isms of the avant-garde, namely developing a centre in the US after WWII? I say this because there seems to be a dramatic shift from mostly European figures prior to the war and largely American ones after it.
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Old 07.01.2011, 04:15 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by demonrail666
This is great. Thanks for these so far.

So did a similar thing happen to modern classical as happened to the major isms of the avant-garde, namely developing a centre in the US after WWII? I say this because there seems to be a dramatic shift from mostly European figures prior to the war and largely American ones after it.


There was a lot of musical ferment here in the US beginning in the 1890's with Charles Edward Ives' experimentalism, plus the development of the Blues and Jazz. This music, plus European influences, shaped the compositions of Aaron Copeland, who became famous prior to WWII. After WWII, New York City became the major center of the arts worldwide. In other words, I don't think it's the US, but New York that bloomed after WWII.
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Old 07.01.2011, 04:34 PM   #14
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I forgot to provide an example of Charles Ives' music.

Here's a (very) brief introduction:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Cro8xaVy5E
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Old 07.01.2011, 04:36 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by demonrail666
This is great. Thanks for these so far.

So did a similar thing happen to modern classical as happened to the major isms of the avant-garde, namely developing a centre in the US after WWII? I say this because there seems to be a dramatic shift from mostly European figures prior to the war and largely American ones after it.
a lot of, if not most of the major jewish (and non jewish as well) cultural figures in europe, namely vienna moved to los angeles. sp there was a period where schoenberg and adorno, stravinsky and many more were hanging there. so i think that influenced a lot of what was going on in the states and also moved the cultural focus to that side of the world for a bit.
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Old 07.01.2011, 04:37 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Schunk
I forgot to provide an example of Charles Ives' music.

Here's a (very) brief introduction:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Cro8xaVy5E
his fourth symphony is one of my favorites.
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Old 07.01.2011, 04:42 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fugazifan
his fourth symphony is one of my favorites.



Same here, but it's a little lengthy, so I thought "Ann Street" would be Ives in a nutshell.

I especially love the third movement, with the organ.
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Old 07.01.2011, 04:45 PM   #18
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I'll second Charles Ives and recommend Symphony No. 2 and also Violin Sonatas 1-4.

And of course Edgard Varèse deserves a mention. I was lucky enough to see Ameriques performed live.
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Old 07.01.2011, 04:47 PM   #19
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Thanks. Yeah, when I said America I was pretty much thinking of New York. But then there's the whole Black Mountain College thing so I didn't want to ignore that. Equally, the entire European avant-garde could for the most part be reduced to a few key cities.

But the big question remains unanswered: is 'Rhapsody in Blue' a piece of modern classical music?
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Old 07.01.2011, 04:48 PM   #20
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And Louis Andriessen is worth checking out, if only for De Staat a live performance of which blew me away earlier this year.
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