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I'd tell you about the magic that can make you glisten

But it's like trying to tell a stranger about Viennese Classicism.

 

How about the Second Viennese School? :blink:

 

OK:

 

I'd tell you about the magic that can curl your toes

But it's like trying to tell a stranger about twelve-tone rows.

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I was raised on classical music and played classical cello and piano in my high school and college years. My mother had me hooked on Bach, Beethoven, Weber, and Rachmaninoff by the time I was 5; for some reason she eschewed Mozart, which has made my passion for his music that much stronger. I think I tend to keep my classical music interests to myself because I've never had (as a grown-up) family, friends or lovers who shared my interest (my mother died when I was 20).

 

I have recordings of Glenn Gould playing Bach's Goldberg Variations (his late recording, not the early one) and Yo Yo playing Bach's Cello Concertos that, were they not preserved impervious as digital files, would have been worn through long ago for the frequency of my listening. I require big serious choral music at the holidays, and I spent a goodly few hours last week weeping in emotional overload (inability to fully absorb utter beauty) to several of Mozart's Vespers – specifically the Dixit Dominus, Beatus Vir, and Magnificat from the Vesperae Solennes de Dominica, K. 321. Beethoven's 7th Symphony is his finest, in my opinion, and I can't begin to list my favorite Mozart pieces (though his Sinfonia Concertante and his Clarinet Concerto in A Major could together keep me entertained for months, I've died many times over certain movements of the Requiem, and the Overture to The Abduction From The Seraglio is more fun than a barrel of monkeys and if you ever meet me in person, be sure to ask about the time I saw The Magic Flute performed live...and don't get me started on the Symphonies or the piano sonatas and concerti).

 

And for my stupid money, the Brahms piano concerti are the most fun to play.

 

 

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I wanted to be a rebel as a kid so when my family was listening to folk and country, I insisted on classical. That turned into French Horn lessons which I played for over a dozen years (it got me a scholarship to play with a youth symphony in Cambridge). Like Stephanie does now, I used to also sing classic choral music and dearly miss it. I love a good requiem!

 

Later, when I got into food and wine, one of my most loved/hated jobs was as the catering coordinator for the Music Center in Los Angeles. I got free tickets for every symphony and opera, but it was the rehearsals that I cherished -- I could go into the kitchen, put together a fabulous lunch, and sit alone in the performance hall noshing away to Essa Pekka-Salonen's conducting or Placido Domingo's direction.

 

I don't follow the industry of who is recording what except when it is "radically" new. The last time I actually remember buying something newsworthy was John Eliot Gardiner's stunning Beethoven symphonies on period instruments, instrumentation, and based on historical notes. That was 1994 and it is still my favorite recording (even though I have half-a-dozen others).

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I have recordings of Glenn Gould playing Bach's Goldberg Variations (his late recording, not the early one)

 

Well his early ones were clearly much better than his later ones, being infused with the spirit of the Absinthe that young Glenn was fond of sipping all day. Gould followers, of which I count myself among the foremost, remember a recital he gave at a small apartment on Featherbed Lane in the Bronx, where he played several fugues with one hand, playing all parts with such speed it was impossible to realize his left hand was busily tucked into a cute brunette who sat next to him turning pages. A scratchy recording made on a small dictaphone made a brief appearance, but the owner was found mysteriously strangled with a cat gut string from a double bass and the tape has not been heard from since.

 

Later Gould recordings were marked by a slowing of tempo which some took to mean he was becoming rather romantic in his middle years. He also took to wearing a dirty raincoat, somewhat like Columbo, that encumbered his glissando.

 

As for Mozart, Gould made an absolute hash out of his sonatas, transforming them into unrecognizable form, much like that egoist Horowitz did with everything he played.

 

Bill Evans now, there was a guy who could play payana.

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I have listened to both Gould Goldbergs quite a lot -- they make for interesting comparison. I don't have a favorite. Both the first and second recordings are favorites of mine.

 

I agree with MT that Gould didn't have much feel for Mozart. I don't think he liked Mozart.

 

As for his becoming a romantic and not as interesting as a romantic, I'd generally agree. In terms of innovation or technique, I don't think he got much past his initial burst. But he could still play. I do like his Haydn recordings quite a bit. The second Goldberg is standout.

 

 

As for Horowitz, I think he did Scarlatti nice enough.

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I'm a little drunk and I've been immersed in the George Clinton P-Funk nexus for the last hour or so, but...I'll say this about Gould and the Goldberg Variations: his early reading seemed – to me – to be more about the technical challenges of the piece. In his later, slower reading, he seems to be parsing the nuances of the music more deeply. And for me, that's a more gratifying approach.

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GG -- thanks for that wonderful post upthread and insights into some of your classical music loves.

 

I grew up in a house where Beethoven and Toscanini had pride of place on Dad's record shelf (and still do). I remember receiving as a gift a hefty LP boxed set of Beethoven's piano music (Brendel, on Vox) when I was around 14 or so and becoming quickly entranced by the Waldstein, the Emperor and the Choral Fantasy. Playing piano bolstered my interest; in high school I accompanied a friend in her NYSSMA audition (the Mozart Clarinet Concerto) and though it's been many years since I touched a keyboard, she still plays professionally -- the last time I saw her perform was with Orpheus in Carnegie Hall.

 

College study in Leningrad gave me my first exposure to live opera -- Aida and Eugene Onegin at the Kirov -- and there was no turning back.

 

Now in New York I go to Carnegie Hall regularly, supplemented by the Philharmonic and the Met. Too many beloved composers, works and performers to begin to name in any meaningful way, but Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Verdi are constant aural companions, and in live performance I especially enjoy the piano, violin and vocal repertoires. In a bit of a Russian phase now, listening to Pletnev, Gilels, Richter, Kissin and Volodos; Kogan, Heifetz, Oistrakh and Milstein; and exploring some old Bolshoi filmed operas (Eugene Onegin, Queen of Spades, Tsar's Bride) recently released on DVD.

 

Today I watched the 1992 Richard Strauss Gala New Year's Eve Concert with Abbado and the Berliner Philharmoniker and as starry a quartet of soloists one could ask for: Argerich, Battle, Fleming and von Stade. Phenomenally good, especially the Act III Trio and Finale from Der Rosenkavalier.

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I'm another one of the Orpheus subscribers. We also often attend StephanieL's concerts and go to Tanglewood and Music Mountain in the summer. At Tanglewood we've enjoyed the contemporary operas for the past couple of years.

 

I've had years of piano lessons (with little result) and no longer play, but when I did, I liked Bach's two-part Inventions, Chopin Waltzes, etc. and Bartok's Mikrokosmos.

 

During my teens and early twenties, I never listened to classical music for pleasure. Then, one day, the sound of a Haydn trio on the radio cut through me like a knife, and I really got it (the magic that curls your toes, upthread).

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I'll say this about Gould and the Goldberg Variations: his early reading seemed – to me – to be more about the technical challenges of the piece. In his later, slower reading, he seems to be parsing the nuances of the music more deeply. And for me, that's a more gratifying approach.

 

I thought that at first too, but changed my mind after listening for a while.

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I'll say this about Gould and the Goldberg Variations: his early reading seemed – to me – to be more about the technical challenges of the piece. In his later, slower reading, he seems to be parsing the nuances of the music more deeply. And for me, that's a more gratifying approach.

 

I thought that at first too, but changed my mind after listening for a while.

 

GG, I agree with you. Taking my tongue out of my cheek, Gould's energy in the first recordings were such a revelation to me as a 20-something, they were the single most important works to draw me into classical music other than baroque, which was ubiquitous in the early 1960s. I used to listen to "Watson" on WNCN practically all night. He would play Rampal and Veyron-Lecroix recordings, Bach organ fugues, Mozart, Handel and Haydn. I would go into the Record Hunter or Liberty Records and buy half what he'd played in the previous week. My LP shelves are full of records I bought in the early 60s--Le Discophile Française was one label that was partiulcarly elegant. The sleeves had wooden dowels to enable you to pull them out of the covers from the shelf.

 

Bill Watson was my ambassador to classical music. Were he alive and on the air now, I'd be listening to him.

 

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html...751C1A964958260

 

William E. Watson, whose eccentric style as the host of a classical music program on WNCN radio drew a devoted audience in the 1960's, died Oct. 27 at a nursing home in Hawthorne, N.Y. He was 77 and lived in Moonachie, N.J.

 

Relatives said that Mr. Watson, whose death came to the attention of The New York Times only last week, died of brain cancer.

 

Mr. Watson's antics broke the traditionally staid mold for presenting classical music.

 

Once he played Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavier," a piece about four hours long -- then promptly played it again. During a tiff with management, he lowered the volume on the commercials until they were inaudible.

 

He often read poetry and literary works. Occasionally he read the news, adding a passage from "The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire" introduced as a dispatch from Edward Gibbons, "our Roman Empire correspondent." A Disdain for Schedules

 

His broadcast music was chosen on impulse, disdaining scheduled programming. Sometimes he told listeners that if they carefully examined their printed guide, they would discover that "you are tuned to the wrong station." He ridiculed modern music and even some classical works he disliked.

 

Here's a comment about Watson by an Amazon customer.

 

How well I remember that earlier recording of nearly 40 years ago! On the Command Classics label founded by Enoch Light, it featured Virgil Fox playing organ transcriptions much like the ones on this new "Magic" release. At the time of its release, I lived close enough to New York City to be a regular late-night listener to Bill Watson's WNCN show, "Listening with Watson."

 

Bill Watson was nothing if not an iconoclast in the field of classical music broadcasting. If he liked something, REALLY liked something, one could expect him to "play it again, Bill." So, one spring evening in 1965, when he came upon that Virgil Fox recording of the Wanamaker Grand Court Organ, he played Fox's transcription of Bach's "Komm Süsser Tod" (Come, Sweet Death). Twice. And I was simply transported into a realm of sonic bliss, literally reduced to tears by its ethereal beauty (as had the original audience been in 1939, when he premiered the transcription at a celebrated concert in the John Wanamaker [Philadelphia] store).

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Then, one day, the sound of a Haydn trio on the radio cut through me like a knife, and I really got it (the magic that curls your toes, upthread).

I've probably said before Mozart's Cosi fan tutte is beautiful to my ears but much classical music makes me think of over-dramatic opera.

 

I was in the school choir for a time and we once sang "Oh holy night" in a church:

 

Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!

Oh night divine, Oh night when Christ was born;

Oh night divine, Oh night, Oh night Divine.

 

I loved it. But classical music does not connect with me.

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My ex-husband used to say that baroque music was my "musical drug of choice" (his was reggae). My mother calls me a Bach addict. Like Liza, I learned a lot about music via Balanchine, whose "see the music, hear the dance" aesthetic speaks to me.

 

My mother used to play the piano at night after we'd gone to bed, and though I knew every note of Debussy's Claire de Lune, I had no idea who'd composed it or what its title was until many years later.

 

I have no training in music whatsoever, I just know what I love to listen to, whatever category it falls into (and classical is a big part of it).

 

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