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 Post subject: OK, Favorite Symphony
PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2004 9:05 pm 
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I just discovered this website. It seems like a great way to communicate our passions about music.

What is your favorite symphony, and why?
Just choose one!


Tchaikowsky's Fifth

Aside from the fact that I'm a clarinet player, I greatly appreciate Tchaikowsky's use of color, especially in the introduction of the first movement. Next, he beautifully integrates his themes into a flowing and contrasting roller-coaster. You wouldn't even suspect that it's just another sonata format.

Of course the second movement speaks for itself. One could argue that this movement contains the most passionate and emotional melodies in all of the literature. Typical 2nd movement Tchaikowsky ternary form...but hey, the melodies are great.

This man must have been the most emotionally unstable person ever. The third movement is a happy-go-lucky free dreamland waltz. After the particularly heavy second movement, it is a nice repose.

Finally, we approach the end of our saga. The triumphant return of the introductory theme is extraordinarily majestic. Then, all of the voices in the orchestra join together to form a full and exciting last movement.

I particularly enjoy this symphony due to Tchaikowsky's exploration of a single theme. He does not really develop the theme very much, but it returns in every movement as if we are following it through all of its turbulations. The theme is Tchaikowsky himself.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2004 8:27 pm 
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Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony (1953)

The ONLY flaw I can find with it is that the first movement is unnecessarily long (25+ minutes) and doesn't seem to mesh up quite as well as the other three. The second (an aggressive scherzo), third (an awkward waltz-type), and fourth movements are all very nearly flawless. The last two minutes of Shostakovich's Tenth is probably the most exciting finale in all of classical music. It's also incredibly technically demanding, requiring virtuoso performances from almost every section.

The first movement forms the bulk of the symphony, and is ultimately a rather depressing and somber "call in the wilderness." It begins quietly on the lower strings, and finishes just as quietly on the piccolo. This movement reflects the loneliness and isolation Shostakovich felt under Stalin's oppressive hand, and, I think, misleads many into thinking that the ENTIRE symphony is about Stalin.

The second movement is a violent, exhilarating piece of music. It is claimed that this represents Stalin himself, but I'm not sure I agree with that: it's fast and brusque, but it moves too well... besides, this is a very personal and (surprisingly) romantic symphony. I think it deals with a smaller, more intimate problem in his life, perhaps the trials and tribulations of relationships? More on that later. Rhythmically exciting, the music never really comes to a rest until the very end of the movement.

The third movement is what single-handedly leads me to label this as a very "personal" symphony. In a letter dated August 10, 1953, Shostakovich comments about his "seeing" or, more precisely, "hearing" the music of the Third Movement, Allegretto, in a dream. Eleven days later, Shostakovich wrote the stunning news that he had depicted her name in the melody! "This is the result," he writes in this letter. "Even if I had not arrived at such, I would be thinking of you constantly - whether or not this fact is recorded in my worthless manuscripts." The woman in question was a young Azerbaijani pianist by the name of Elmira Nazirova (more on her in a bit). Essentially, he had introduced two alternating musical signatures, D-S-C-H (Shostakovich's initials: corresponding to the notes D, Eb, C, B) and E-A-E-D-A (Nazirova's initials) alluding to the depth and profundity of his feelings, expressed as the enigmatically beseeching qualities of the motif E-A-E-D-A, that denoted its unattainability.

In the fourth movement the DSCH theme appears and though it has to struggle to assert itself it is this which makes a triumphant finale to the whole symphony, almost grinding the other themes into submission, particularly at one impressive point when all the horns blare out the theme in triumph (the aforementioned "best finale ever"). Thought by some to represent Shostakovich's triumph over Stalinism, it is actually a simple reflection of the irrepresible joy of a man who was madly in love.

Fact of the matter: the symphony was written in 1953, right after Stalin's death, but also corresponding with Shostakovich's blossoming love interest with a young Azerbaijani pianist by the name of Elmira Nazirova. They had originally met in 1947, when Elmira arrived at the world-reputed Moscow Conservatory to study piano there with Yakov Zak and composition with Dmitri Shostakovich. Their relationship didn't pick up steam until 1952, when Shostakovich visited Baku, Azerbaijan twice. Correspondence started in April of 1953, and by July Shostakovich had a full-fledged crush (even though he was married at the time to Nina Vasilyevna Varzar). In fact, it was in a letter to Elmira on July 25th, 1953, in which he first announced that he was starting work on his Tenth Symphony, eight full years after his Ninth.

Correspondence between the two lessen in 1954. Shostakovich's wife died in December of 1954, and by the time Shostokovich remarried in 1956 to Margarita Kainova his letters to Elmira Nazirova had all but ceased (although they continued to meet at various performances and premiers up until 1972). Still, his crush on Elmira cannot be understated: it was to her that Shostakovich presented the original, hand-written scores to his Preludes and Fugues, and 7th and 8th "War" Symphonies. The Tenth Symphony, thought by so many to be a piece about the liberating "release" from being under Stalin's reign, is actually more about a brief, summer crush.


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 Post subject: So many, I can't choose just one!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2004 1:43 pm 
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Some of my favorites are:
Symphonies 3 and 5 by Gustav Mahler
Symphonies 2 (London), 4 and 7 (Sinfonia Antartica) by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Symph. No. 8 (Unfinished) by Franz Shubert
Symph. No. 2 by Jean Sibelius
Symph. No. 5 by Dmitri Shostakovitch
Symph. No. 5 by Sergei Prokofiev
Symph. No. 2 by Alexander Borodin
Symphonies 6, 7, 8 and 9 by Antonin Dvorak
Symph. No. 6 Peter Tchaikowsky
Symph. in D minor by Ceasar Franck

There also symphonies by Arnold Bax, Ludwig van Beethoven, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland and Granville Bantock that I like, a lot. But this list is already too long. Yes, I know it was not supposed to be a list. Sorry!

I would have to say my favorite (this week :wink: ) is the 2nd or Romantic Symphony by Howard Hanson.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2004 12:08 am 
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Schubert's Unfinished Symphony (Symphony No.8)

and I know this is not a symphony but I love The Firebird Suite by Stravinsky. It's my dream song to play on flute with a philharmonic.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2004 2:25 am 
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Well, PGOK, if we're going to make LISTS... :wink:

Phantom's Phavorite Symphonies (the best of the best)
Mahler - Sym. #1
Bruckner - Sym. #0
Bax - Sym. #1
Bizet - Sym. in C
Mendelssohn - Sym. #4
Borodin - Sym. #2
Dvorak - Sym. #9
Tchaikovsky - Sym. #6
Khachaturian - Sym. #2
Rachmaninoff - Sym. #1
Shostakovich - Sym. #1, #5, #7, #8, #10, #11, and #15

My TOP FIVE:
1. Shostakovich #10
2. Shostakovich #5
3. Rachmaninoff #1 (the best symphony no one ever listens to)
4. Dvorak #9
5. Bruckner #0 (the second-best symphony no one ever listens to)


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2004 9:47 pm 
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Oh no! Now I'm a trouble maker! :oops:


Phantom:
I've heard OF the Khachaturian Symphony, But I have never heard a recording of it. What can you tell me about it?

I thought about listing Rachmaninov symphonies, but I do not know them well enough. In general, I love Rachmaninov, Symphonic Dances (just a little off topic) being my favorite piece.
And as soon as I have the cash, I will be buying a box set of all of the Bax symphonies, with an interview of Vernon Handly (from Chandos).

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2004 11:02 pm 
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DUDE, I LOVE RACHMONINOV'S PIANO CONCERTO NO.2 ANDANTE.... It's a really nice piece, escpecially the flute solo and clarinet solo at the beginning.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2004 4:56 am 
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Phantom's short synopses:

Bruckner - Sym. #0
- Masterful work, opens with a quiet but very well structured "marching song" in the strings. Builds beautiful but never gets overpowering. Third movement is an nice, aggressive scherzo. Fourth movement has the most adventurous writing, with ridiculous intervals and virtuoso demand placed on the brass. In my opinion, this symphony is a must have for any brass player just for the last movement. My recommended recording, Ricardo Chailly conducting the Berlin RSO, I believe is now out of print.

Khachaturian - Sym. #2 - Unfortunately, I do not have this work committed to memory yet, as I only discovered it last year. I have the finale memorized, though, and it is full of the brilliantly orchestral color Khachaturian is famous for. One minute into the last movement, the strings start peeling off what sound like layered or staggered arpeggios while the brass hits the soaring melody above them. It's absolutely mesmerizing. Based on World War II, this symphony is unusually dark and severe for Khachaturian; it sits in tremendous contrast with pieces like Sabre Dance and Lezghinka. My recommended recording (Khachaturian himself conducting the USSR State Symphony Orchestra in 1977, shortly before the composer's death.)

Rachmaninoff - Sym. #1 - This was the symphony, ill-received at its premier (thanks in no small part to a drunken Glazunov's inept conducting), that scarred Rachmaninoff so severely that he stopped composing for several years. Only in his early 20s when he wrote this, Sergei already shows a masterful control of orchestration. While later works like his Second Symphony, Third Piano Concerto, and Symphonic Dances show him to be a more mature composer, nothing he ever wrote matched the fiery, raw emotion of his First Symphony (written on the original score by Rachmaninoff was a quotation: "Vengeance is mine, I shall repay saith the Lord"). The themes of the symphony are based on traditional chants of the Russian Orthodox Church called "Oktoekhos." The same four note motif opens each of the four movements: movement I is stately and severe, and midway through has a quarter-note brass fanfare that will thrill you to your toes; movements II and III are a bit more relaxed and scenic, and it is here that the many folk melodies shine through. Movement IV, however, is the epiphany. I rank it right up there with the Finale to Shostakovich's 5th and 10th, Beethoven's 9th, and Dvorak's 9th in terms of greatest finales of all time. Marked "Allegro vivace," much of the movement seems to be in a rushed panic after a boisterous opening fanfare on the trumpets. The movement works itself into a literal bacchanalian frenzy before the adventurous young composer brings everything to a sudden and slamming halt with a monstrous gong crash. The symphony then concludes with a tragic processional, with mind-bogglingly fantastic chord progressions.

I am willing to make a small (1-2) MP3 file of the Bruckner brass mastery, the Khachaturian arpeggios, and the Rachmaninoff bacchanale and send them to anyone who asks: they are truly worth listening to.


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 Post subject: How could I forget?!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2004 10:58 pm 
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SYMPHONY NO. 3 by Camille Saint-Saen

One of THE most glorious symphonies ever written. :D


And you know, I should have included Mahler's 1st Symphony on my original list.

As you may have guessed, I'm no good at selecting one favorite of anything. :?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2004 1:53 pm 
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Well hrm.
Mahler's Second
Brahms First
Mozart's Sixth
Tchaik 4,5
but i'd have to say that my favorite classical work is Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgesky


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 Post subject: Mussorgsky
PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2004 10:07 am 
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SCTOOBA wrote:

but i'd have to say that my favorite classical work is Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgesky


My other favorite, Night On Bald Mountain and Ballet of The Chicks In Their Shells (or something like that) by Mussorgsky

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 Post subject: Re: Mussorgsky
PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2004 11:52 am 
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Ace wrote:
SCTOOBA wrote:

but i'd have to say that my favorite classical work is Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgesky


My other favorite, Night On Bald Mountain and Ballet of The Chicks In Their Shells (or something like that) by Mussorgsky



In fact, the chicks are PART of Pictures at an Exhibition. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Mussorgsky
PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2004 4:21 pm 
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PGOK wrote:
Ace wrote:
SCTOOBA wrote:

but i'd have to say that my favorite classical work is Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgesky


My other favorite, Night On Bald Mountain and Ballet of The Chicks In Their Shells (or something like that) by Mussorgsky



In fact, the chicks are PART of Pictures at an Exhibition. :)


Cool :!:

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 Post subject: Re: Mussorgsky
PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2004 9:48 pm 
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Ace wrote:
PGOK wrote:
Ace wrote:
SCTOOBA wrote:

but i'd have to say that my favorite classical work is Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgesky


My other favorite, Night On Bald Mountain and Ballet of The Chicks In Their Shells (or something like that) by Mussorgsky



In fact, the chicks are PART of Pictures at an Exhibition. :)


Cool :!:


I wonder how long we can keep a string of quotes going? :twisted:

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 Post subject: Re: Mussorgsky
PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2004 12:23 am 
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PGOK wrote:
Ace wrote:
PGOK wrote:
Ace wrote:
SCTOOBA wrote:

but i'd have to say that my favorite classical work is Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgesky


My other favorite, Night On Bald Mountain and Ballet of The Chicks In Their Shells (or something like that) by Mussorgsky



In fact, the chicks are PART of Pictures at an Exhibition. :)


Cool :!:


I wonder how long we can keep a string of quotes going? :twisted:


I wonder :hum: Interesting

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