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Easing my way into classical music..


Non-Smoking Man
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Formerly a blues enthusisast (plus Rock and bebop), I am now starting to explore a large amount of vinyl I bought at the time when it was being ditched by the new generation of CD enthusiasts. (About 30 yrs ago.)

Records were at the time boasting of 'digital remastering' and 'Direct Metal Mastering' - what does the panel think of this 'digital mastering' compared with oldfashioned analogue?

I ask this question prompted by an article in HiFi World penned by Tony Bolton, if memory serves. In an interview with musicians he reported that they themselves preferred the sound of pre 1973 recordings partly because of the then prevalent Decca style of miking recordings. Apparently the modern style of 'close miking' is considered inferior.

Jack

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I will certainly answer on this thread more extensively either tonight or tomorrow, but you are opening a can of worms talking about close miking! There are a couple of people on here who behave as if they need sectioning whenever it is mentioned.

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Who cares about mike placement.... listen to the performance and if it get you into it, then it works.

I don't think there is any standard way to get into classical music, its different for everyone and either you get it and want to explore more, or you dont. But if you do like it there are books that may help provide some signposts - Howard Goodall's Big Bangs is excellent at the history of western music and is a very convincing historical analysis. I'll have to try his complete history of music at some point.

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Yep, classical music is a very broad genre - from austere solo violin works by Bach (magnificent, though!) to stage-filling Grand Opera blockbusters by Verdi.

I doubt if any "classical music lover" has exactly the same tastes and preferences as any other.

As Alan / musicbox says, forget the mastering gubbins (well, OK, obsess of you must!) and just try a few things. Some will seem worth further investigation, others won't.

I'm sure that most of us started with the old war-horses, and there's nowt wrong with that ....

Vivaldi Four Seasons, Beethoven's 5th symphony, Tchaikovsky 1st piano concerto, try some Schubert songs or Mozart piano sonatas, Mozart's Requiem is just glorious. To drag you into the 20th century (some wonderful classical is still being written, it isn't a purely historical genre at all) try Shostakovich 5th symphony.

Just dip into your existing collection and forget about the mike placement and mastering! ;-)

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It's not just close miking, digital studio effects, compression even newer mixing desks as compared to old valve stuff like Neve desks have all had issues with SQ. Listen to an old pop record, pre digital era. Maybe 10cc's Deceptive Bends & then compare it to today's equivalent pop, Coldplay? There's just SOOoo much more life & a natural sound with the older recording.

But there's good & bad recordings from every era & genre, so it's tricky to blame only one element.

I've got several recordings of Bach Cello Concertos. One, on Hyperion label by Steven Isserlis sounds to me to be very close miked. I like the variation, the close miking on the Isserlis version giving a very intimate, warts & all portrayal, other versions being more relaxed.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Im a sucker for Handel's 'Fireworks' music and the Arrival Of The Queen of Sheba. Also, I'm enjoying some ballet (Swan Lake, Petrouchka). Slightly to the side I enjoy some film music and, browsing the best 100 classical type websites, I see that a number of soundtracks have made it into these.

However, I have a feeling that I havent found my 'genre', or composer yet.

Opera looks a very distant continent..

Jack

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Jack,

don't discount opera - there are some wonderful ones out there. Having said that I personally feel that they are as much about the spectacle as the music, so if you can go and see one for yourself, then give it a go. Something from Puccini or Verdi is a good place to start. Alternatively, Gilbert and Sullivan is good fun, plus, it's in English!

On another thread, someone suggested listening to Classic FM: it's as good a place to start as any, though the adverts do get on my tits.

You can do a lot worse than Beethoven: he's probably my favourite composer.

Frank (F1eng) came around to my place on Tuesday and we had a really good chat about music. He's pointed me towards Mahler's 4th symphony, which coincidentally, I'm listening to now.

We did talk about recordings - as it happens two of the pieces we listened to / discussed are recordings made in the 1960s :)

I find with new music, it's best to let it wash over you rather than concentrate too hard on it. Every so often part of a new piece will grab your attention.

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If you like small groups of instrumentalists in the Blues context, then maybe dip your toe in some chamber music, which is for smaller groups, either groups of strings or strings plus keyboard, or wind plus keyboard or wind ensembles, or basically any combination you can think up. Try a few acknowledged masterpiece works, and see if they are to your liking. You can sample some pretty good recordings for nothing via youtube which will save endless time and heartache.

So perhaps try Schubert's Quintet in C, written in 1828 the extrarordinary last year of his tragically short life when he composed some of his finest music, or Beethoven's Archduke Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello or for something more contemporary the Samuel Barber Quartet in B minor - the slow movement he arranged as the Adagio (think Platoon).

Or perhaps a single performer is of more interest - endless solo piano to consider along with solo cello. Try Bach's Suites for Solo Cello - or for piano, maybe try some Chopin - the Preludes - which gives you a wide range of the different musical moods, colours and emotions that Chopin can draw from the piano, from miniatures lasting barely a minute to more extended pieces.

If you love Swan Lake - try some more Tchaikovsky - the Pathetique Symphony, or the First Piano Concerto. Or try Rimsky-Korsakhov - Scherezade is rightly famous, and there is huge amounts of his music that is not well known today

If you like big orchestral, start exploring from Mozart's Jupiter Symphony, Haydn's London Symponies, Beethoven, say his 7th and 9th symphony, Schubert's Unfinished, Schumann, through to developments such as Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique, Tchaikovsky's symphonies, Brahms, and onwards into the 20th century via Bruckner and Mahler. Until eventually if you follow Viennese composers through you arrive at people like Korngold who, lo and behold, wrote for many Hollywood movies.

But oh my goodness if you love Handel, there is a treasure trove there. Because after Fireworks, Water Music, Messiah - there are some of the greatest operas ever written (out of 40 or so, Giulio Cesare (tells the story of Julius Cesar and Cleopatra) and Rodelinda contain some of the greatest arias). Or Saul - his oratorio, based the bible story around Saul, David and Jonathan - is amazing.

But if you like the sound of Baroque but not voices, there are Handel's Concerti Grossi. And in this vein, Bach - where to begin is hard - some of the Brandenburg Concertos maybe, double violin concertos. Bach is another thing altogether.

The Radio 3 website is stuffed full of information about composers, and if you drill down a bit there are huge numbers of programs and talks about composers and their works that are available for free. It really is quite dreadfully arranged, and you need to persist. This is stuff that isn't on iplayer. You'll find whole half hour programs just talking about one piece of music. They devoted a few weeks to playing every work every written by Schubert a couple of years ago, and quite a lot of the programs about his life and works are available for listen to. And check all their podcasts too - Howard Goodall's history of music in 50 signnificant pieces is still around to listen to - it's clever, and each program is only a few minutes long. No one will agree on all of them, but he isn't afraid to debunk a few myths.

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I'd second Shostakovich No. 5. I thought these notes are worth a read , if you are like me and have no real music education. I liked the idea that the music represents the cracking of tar used to obscure beauty!

http://www.markwigglesworth.com/notes/marks-notes-on-shostakovich-symphony-nos-5-6-10/

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If you like small groups of instrumentalists in the Blues context, then maybe dip your toe in some chamber music, which is for smaller groups, either groups of strings or strings plus keyboard, or wind plus keyboard or wind ensembles, or basically any combination you can think up. Try a few acknowledged masterpiece works, and see if they are to your liking. You can sample some pretty good recordings for nothing via youtube which will save endless time and heartache.

So perhaps try Schubert's Quintet in C, written in 1828 the extrarordinary last year of his tragically short life when he composed some of his finest music, or Beethoven's Archduke Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello or for something more contemporary the Samuel Barber Quartet in B minor - the slow movement he arranged as the Adagio (think Platoon).

Or perhaps a single performer is of more interest - endless solo piano to consider along with solo cello. Try Bach's Suites for Solo Cello - or for piano, maybe try some Chopin - the Preludes - which gives you a wide range of the different musical moods, colours and emotions that Chopin can draw from the piano, from miniatures lasting barely a minute to more extended pieces.

If you love Swan Lake - try some more Tchaikovsky - the Pathetique Symphony, or the First Piano Concerto. Or try Rimsky-Korsakhov - Scherezade is rightly famous, and there is huge amounts of his music that is not well known today

If you like big orchestral, start exploring from Mozart's Jupiter Symphony, Haydn's London Symponies, Beethoven, say his 7th and 9th symphony, Schubert's Unfinished, Schumann, through to developments such as Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique, Tchaikovsky's symphonies, Brahms, and onwards into the 20th century via Bruckner and Mahler. Until eventually if you follow Viennese composers through you arrive at people like Korngold who, lo and behold, wrote for many Hollywood movies.

But oh my goodness if you love Handel, there is a treasure trove there. Because after Fireworks, Water Music, Messiah - there are some of the greatest operas ever written (out of 40 or so, Giulio Cesare (tells the story of Julius Cesar and Cleopatra) and Rodelinda contain some of the greatest arias). Or Saul - his oratorio, based the bible story around Saul, David and Jonathan - is amazing.

But if you like the sound of Baroque but not voices, there are Handel's Concerti Grossi. And in this vein, Bach - where to begin is hard - some of the Brandenburg Concertos maybe, double violin concertos. Bach is another thing altogether.

The Radio 3 website is stuffed full of information about composers, and if you drill down a bit there are huge numbers of programs and talks about composers and their works that are available for free. It really is quite dreadfully arranged, and you need to persist. This is stuff that isn't on iplayer. You'll find whole half hour programs just talking about one piece of music. They devoted a few weeks to playing every work every written by Schubert a couple of years ago, and quite a lot of the programs about his life and works are available for listen to. And check all their podcasts too - Howard Goodall's history of music in 50 signnificant pieces is still around to listen to - it's clever, and each program is only a few minutes long. No one will agree on all of them, but he isn't afraid to debunk a few myths.

This is a tremendous posting, and holds within it many fine recommendations.

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Jack, check out a few of my favourites -

by Richard Addinsell,
by Franz Liszt and a short piece
by Claude Debussy. :^
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This thread (which was a bit of a longshot) has taken off wonderfully. Im very grateful to those of you who have contributed.

I was round chez Montesquieu the other day and we discussed a number of topics including 'the relationship between religion and music'. Tom plays the piano and he played me some Bach, explaining the mathematical structure of Bach's writing.

Im due again this week.

I shall ask Tom to contribute here even though he's having a bit of a rest from the Wam for various reasons.

Meanwhile, its Sunday morning and I'm going to have a delve and see if I can unearth some of your suggestions - keep them coming..

Just a final note - I run an all analogue 5 way horn system and boy does it love the big boned classical stuff.

Anyway, first up - Brandenburg Concertos, played by The Virtuosi Of England, conducted by Arthur Davison, on EMI.

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All of the joy in your discoveries - music is often fantastic, and 'Classical' probably for me even better at times than my 'pop-rock-folk'.

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Got a nice set off ebay. Great composers 52 mags with CD for 10 quid. I know next to nothing about classical but I hope these will be a nice intro

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