27 oct. 2009

My "classical" music obsession are very few, but very intense. Bach's unaccompanied cello and violin works, along with the Goldberg Variations. Mozart's "Haydn" string quartets and Haydn's own string quartets--the half dozen of them I'm listening to right now. The music of Morton Feldman.

Beyond that I like the standard orchestral repertoire of Beethoven, Brahms, and Mahler, Stravinsky. I prefer the concert hall for orchestral music and my own private space for chamber music, etc... I like or actively tolerate most canonical composers, but am not too fond of Benjamin Britten.

To be an obsession, the music has to get to me. It has to get me, understand me at a deep level and anticipate what I want out of it.

The way I "understand" music is pretty elemental. For example, I might be saying to myself: "Here's the main theme, four bars of question and four bars of 'answer.' Then that's repeated. Here comes the cadence. Here's some 'stalling' for four measure. Now here's the main theme in a minor key. Some complication of all that. Return to the main theme. Some conclusive sounding stuff to let you know it's about to end, then a little more of that, then it is really ending." In other words, I listen structurally, rhythmically, and thematically, responding pretty much to standard tension/resolution and simplicity/complexity sorts of things.

The Endellion Quartet has a recording of some Haydn quartets that is superb: both the music itself and the performance. Opus 74 # 2 in F Major is a wonderful piece. The 2nd movement, an "andante grazioso" gets me every time. The timbre of these players here is extraordinarily "sweet," which seems to fit the music nicely.

10 comentarios:

Vance Maverick dijo...

If you're really looking to get comments, you'll have to heighten the rhetoric a trifle -- stake out a position, or at least ask a question. Are you looking for recommendations?

Jonathan dijo...

Not every post is designed to get tons of comments. Here I'm not asking for recommendations but simply initiating a new "tag" which may or may not lead to more interesting reflections.

Jordan dijo...

Yes, I see.

Vance Maverick dijo...

BB has a point, of course. It's not just that the low peeks into even the highest of the high (the boogie-woogie bit in late Beethoven), but that cliché, repetition, quotation are part of what classicism means in music.

Have you read Rosen's Classical Style?

Jordan dijo...

Meaning to. I like his pieces in the NYRB (same guy, right?).

Vance Maverick dijo...

Yes, the same. He is/was also a fine pianist -- I still remember a concert in SF, 15 years ago or so. But the writing's the thing, and that book in particular.

Jonathan dijo...

I've looked at the book, even checked it out from the library, but I can't say I've read it in terms of being able to follow the analysis of musical examples. I've been following Rosen's less technical writing in the NYRB since I was a kid.

Matthew Thorburn dijo...

"very few, but very intense" -- um, I would never have guessed! (Anyway, enjoying your thoughts on music, as usual...)

Jonathan dijo...

Surprised that I have so few, or surprised that I have them at all? Or that they are intense?

Judy dijo...

Given your description of how you "understand" music, I'm wondering what you do with the slow movement of Bach's Italian Concerto.