Thursday, August 5, 2010

Any Classical Heads Out There?

I've been listening to classical music more or less casually since I was a kid - my mom wanted me to be "cultured" so she made me listen to Handel's Water Music & Scheherezade & things like that. Not that she ever listened, mind you . . .

I'm getting to the point where I'm starting to discern between versions of my favorite pieces. So my question is this: are there any hard core classical heads out there who can give me tips on good versions of famous works? For instance, I wore out my old cassette of Verdi's Requiem, and the version I Captain Crawled isn't nearly as good. Ditto for the Brahm's German Requiem I just downloaded. I've got three versions of Faure's Requiem on vinyl, and they're all fairly different (yes, I've got a thing for Requia, stemming from a project I worked on about 20 years ago). Any help out there? Some of the things I'm looking for are Mozart's Don Giovanni, all Mahler, Shostokovich symphonies, Ravel's Daphnis & Chloe, and a few others.

Help a brother out if you can.


Gabino said...

Well not me, that's for sure. I know a handful of pieces well enough to prefer the cassette I had in college to the disc I have now, but being a classical music buff is way out of my pay scale. Those dudes are the upper crust of music geekery. Wouldn't you rather just drop the needle on Tyranny & Mutation?

rootless said...

Yeah, I'm in a similar place, I really like classical but I don't have a sophisticated enough knowledge to drop science about the merits of one version over another, I think I can offer more in the way of opinions of composers I dig. But I will say that the version I have of Artur Rubenstein doing Chopin's "Nocturnes" is someone I have listend to regularly for years now, mostly at night, though hard to say if it is his particular rendition or just the music that does it for me.

Bill Zink said...

Well, Tyranny & Mutation is always an option.

I can actually get the ball rolling a little bit: if anybody wants to start looking into Charles Ives, then the first stop is Michael Tilson Thomas with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, Sony Classical, Symphonies 1 & 4. Symphony 1 was a student work while he was at Yale, Symphony 4 is his most infamous work, featuring 2 (or three) pianos tuned a quarter tone apart, the largest percussion battery ever requested for a classical piece, etc. Tilson Thomas's version is clear and unafraid.

ator said...

I wish i was at that level, but usually end up just going with the most well-known record label when looking for some new classical music to peep. ALong these lines, I used to work at Tower records, and the classical music buyer there had an uncanny encyclopedic knowledge of composers/pieces/performances. He was a young guy, too. Wish I was still in touch with him.

If you can't find anything online, might be worth checking out a record store that has a good classical section (like Amoeba Records) and see if you can just talk to the buyer there and pick his or her brain a bit. I know it sounds crazy to actually *talk* to someone in a *record store* these days ;)

Thanks for the heads up on Charles Ives btw, that sounds really interesting.