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View Diary: Thursday Classical Music, Opus D105: Behold, La Mer (42 comments)

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  •  The opening blast of the Sea Symphony (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    texasmom, radarlady, ProvokingMeaning

    Is quite the fanfare, isn't it? Youthful optimism at its finest. And then that coda—going out with a bang . . . until he decides to drift away instead.

    A Sea Symphony is my all-time favorite symphony (and certainly my most collected—I think I have around a dozen recordings!). It's got something for everybody: choir, soloists, and orchestra.

    The best modern recording I know is the recent Chandos LSO recording by the late Richard Hickox, with soprano Susan Gritton and baritone Gerald Finley. My favorite recording is the early Previn recording, with Heather Harper and John Shirley-Quirk.

    However, with respect to the comment of telling rather than showing—I don't think it's really possible to do impressionistic settings of Whitman. I think it's largely because Whitman's texts themselves are so expressive.

    •  I was raised on the Previn/Shirley-Quirk recording (5+ / 0-)

      and it still takes my breath away.

      As does the Serenade to Music recording with Sir Adrian Boult.

      It was this latter work--and recording--that made me decide, as a freshman in high school (1967) that I had to spend my life making choral music.

      Today (46 years later) I have not a single regret. Sometimes the right music will show you your entire life opening up in front of you, if you let it.

      In times like these, we cannot make too much music.

      by ProvokingMeaning on Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 07:27:25 PM PST

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      •  It was the Serenade that began (4+ / 0-)

        My own RVW mania—but it was a recording I made of a radio broadcast. The moment where the "choir" reaches "And draw her home with music" made my jaw drop. To this day, it's still the most exhilarating musical discovery I've ever made. While I like the Boult recording, my preference has to be for the Matthew Best recording on Hyperion. (The recording with the original soloists is also cool, but is of course in rather poor sound.)

        Likewise, one of the most frustrating moments of my musical life was learning that the conductor of one of the symphonic choirs I had sung in had passed up the opportunity to do A Sea Symphony with the orchestra so that the choir could do a "Subscriber Appreciation Concert" full of absolute dreck. ("Polly Wolly Doodle" and Ives's "Concert Band" instead of "The Explorers?" Seriously?) It would have been a "hulking out" moment, if ever there was one. I still get mad thinking about that.

        •  Ives' "Circus Band," y'mean? Which is a fun piece (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dave in Northridge, Dumbo, lone1c

          ... and better than watching-paint-dry Serenity, but not nearly as much of a romp as Gen'l Booth.

          Matt Best does a wonderful job with the Serenade to Music, I must agree. I just like to think that AB got the tempi and espressivi precisely right because he got them from the horse's mouth, as it were.

          I love the moment you're talking about in the Serenade, but Rafe totally owns my soul from the very first choral entrance, "How sweet the moonlight." I've had the chance to both sing the bass solos in that piece and conduct it (the latter many but not enough times). It's what I reward a new choir with, once they've got to the point where they "get" what I'm asking them to do, vocally and emotionally.

          As for passing up the Sea Symphony ... at least he didn't do Carmina Burana, eh?

          In times like these, we cannot make too much music.

          by ProvokingMeaning on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 04:42:22 PM PST

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          •  Yes, "Circus Band" (2+ / 0-)

            I was working from memory instead of looking it up in my iTunes library.

            As for Carmina Burana, I wouldn't have minded that so much, seeing as I still haven't done that piece yet! (Carmina, Bach's Magnificat, and Die Schöpfung are just about the only major works that I "should have done" by now that I haven't. Verdi, Britten, Mozart, Brahms Requiems? Check. I've even done Mahler's Second on three separate occasions.)

            •  Carmina is generally a crowd pleaser, (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Dave in Northridge, lone1c

              but a choir exhauster,
              and an orchestra boredom inducer.
              The cheeks in the seats love it, tho.

              Gotcha beat: 4 Mahler 2s, and 2 Mahler 8s.
              Plus Stravinsky Symphony of Psalms and Les Noces.
              But then again, it's my profession, so not fair.

              In times like these, we cannot make too much music.

              by ProvokingMeaning on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 09:48:31 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

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