Archive for the Classical Category

Pierre-Laurent Aimard – György Ligeti Edition 3: Works for Piano (Etudes, Musica Ricercata)

Posted in Classical on August 24, 2011 by evilpacman18

 Classical; 1997

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As with any Classical album, the pieces were written a while ago and the recordings probably took place over several years. It was just released in 1997. Ligeti is more well known for scoring several Stanley Kubrick movies, most notably, 2001: A Space Odyssey. He wrote Classical too including the first two books of Etudes and the Musica Ricercata pieces included in this section of Aimard’s near complete recording of Ligeti’s keyboard works. (Ligeti continued to write for piano up until 2001 so more pieces were made after this recording was released, it’s possible and likely that Aimard recorded new pieces after they came out but I’m not sure)

They’re avant-garde and experiment in different aspects. These are pieces that examine the science of music. The 11 pieces in Musica Ricercata for instance begin with a first movement where the composer uses only two different “pitch classes” (all the notes on the keyboard with the same name, so in this case he’s allowed every A on the keyboard, of which there’s probably 7 or 8, I’d have to count next time I’m sitting at one), A and D. In the next piece he allows himself 3 pitch classes, E#, F#, and G this time. Only by the final piece is he allotted every single note on the keyboard. The etudes aren’t nearly so confining but they do have parameters assigned to them. L’escalier du diable (The Devil’s Staircase) is constantly moving upwards. In Desordre (Disorder, obviously) the right hand only plays white keys and the left hand only plays black keys.  Even with each piece being a very different and very interesting experiment, Ligeti’s signature sound is present. I can’t give you the theory of it, I’m not that knowledgeable, but in listening to the other pieces I hear a lot of similarities to The Devil’s Staircase, which is the piece on the album I listen to the most.

As always with Classical, it’d be far too tedious to type up an accurate track list.

Stand-out tracks:
L’escalier du diable
Der Zauberlehrling
Desordre

-Jerry

Vladimir Ashkenazy – Prokofiev: The Five Piano Concertos

Posted in Classical on July 30, 2011 by evilpacman18

 Classical; 1997

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I’m just a kid that tries to listen to as much music as I can and I write about it for fun. I’m not gonna mar these masterpieces with my unprofessional, juvenile opinions. Just listen to them. It’s 5 piano concertos on two discs, the 1st, 4th, and 5th are on the first disc and the 2nd and 3rd are on the second disc. In chronological order they’re in D flat major, G minor, C major, B flat major, and G major. Not even gonna pick stand-outs. Really. Listen.

-Jerry

Vladimir Ashkenazy – Shostakovich: Piano Works

Posted in Classical on February 17, 2011 by evilpacman18

Classical; 2004

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^My own upload

It’s a fact. Russians just do Classical music better. Here we have one of the most legendary Russian composers (on par with Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff) played by one of the greatest Russian pianists of all time. It’s not a collection of all of Shostakovich’s piano pieces. It includes his second Piano Sonata, the Three Fantastic Dances and Five Preludes suites, 5 different pieces Shostakovich wrote for films, and the entire Aphorisms suite.

Just about any 20th century Russian work is necessarily dissident. Shostakovich’s music is frequently called “grotesque.” The word has a negative connotation. It means more than just “disgusting” though, especially when applied to art. In this case it really applies to a lot of the dissonance you’ll hear listening to this. Melodies in different keys and scales appearing at the same time are common. I’m not gonna pretend I understand the theory behind such complex pieces, I barely know enough to wrap my head around the technical aspects of popular music. And since it’s all played on one instrument, I can’t exactly describe very many different sounds. So as much as I hate to revert to this, the best advice I can give is to listen to it. The first movement of the Sonata is one of the best things you’ll ever hear.

[The tracklist is listed in suites with the number of pieces in the suite next to it]

Piano Sonata No. 2 in B minor (3)
Three Fantastic Dances, Op. 5 (3)
Five Preludes (5)
Dances of the Dolls – Lyric Waltz
The Gadfly (2)
The Limpid Stream – Nocturne
Aphorisms (10)
The Golden Age – Polka

Stand-out tracks:
Piano Sonata No. 2, 1st Mvt.
Five Preludes – 3. Allegro Moderato
The Gadfly – Spanish Dance

-Jerry

Alexis Weissenberg – Rachmaninoff: Preludes

Posted in Classical on September 8, 2010 by evilpacman18

Classical (Romantic era); 1969

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Rachmaninoff wrote 24 Preludes. The 10 song Opus 23 and the 13 song Opus 32 along with one of his most famous Preludes, Op. 3 No. 2. I prefer 32 slightly. Both are amazing. Alexis Weissenberg plays these very adventurously. He’s not one for quiet playing. He handles a pianissimo well when the piece calls for it but don’t expect it to be part of his dynamic improvisation. The emotion in these pieces is more due to Rachmaninoff than Weissenberg’s interpretations. Weissenberg doesn’t fluctuate in his tempo or volume very often, which I admire. Him and Michelangeli will influence my playing in the future, I can already tell.

Again, don’t expect me to type the tracklist for Classical albums with so many pieces with similar titles. The track titles are just stuff like “Op. 23 No. 5 in G minor”

Stand-out tracks:
Op. 32 No. 8
Op. 23 No. 5
Op. 23 No. 7

-Jerry

Yann Tiersen – Amelie

Posted in Classical on August 15, 2010 by evilpacman18

Modern Classical; 2001

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This album is probably one of the few movie compositions that I love. I will put this on replay over and over just to listen to Yann Tiersen’s genius. Possibly this album holds one of my favorite piano pieces of all time (“Comptine d’un Autre Ete: L’apres Midi”), it smoothly glides through each track as if its one solid life of music. Every song is heavily felt with emotion and goes great with the movie (wonderful movie, by the way, HIGHLY recommended with this album).
1. “J’y suis jamais allé”
2. “Les Jours tristes” (Instrumental)
3. “La Valse d’Amélie” (Original version)
4. “Comptine d’un autre été: L’après-midi”
5. “La Noyée”
6. “L’Autre valse d’Amélie”
7. “Guilty” (Al Bowlly)
8. “À quai”
9. “Le Moulin”
10. “Pas si simple”
11. “La Valse d’Amélie” (Orchestral version)
12. “La Valse des vieux os”
13. “La Dispute”
14. “Si tu n’étais pas là” (Fréhel)
15. “Soir de fête”
16. “La Redécouverte”
17. “Sur le fil”
18. “Le Banquet:”
19. “La Valse d’Amélie” (Piano version)
20. “La Valse des monstres”

Stand-Out Tracks:
“Comptine d’un autre été: L’après-midi”
“La Valse d’Amélie” (Orchestral version)
“La Valse des Monstres”

-Logan

Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli – Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli Plays Debussy

Posted in Classical on August 15, 2010 by evilpacman18

Classical (Impressionist); 1995

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Debussy is my favorite composer, to play (I’m a piano player) and to listen to. This 36 song set, (and there’s no way you’re getting me to type out the track list) includes 5 of Debussy’s piano suites including Images 1 and 2, Children’s Corner, and Preludi I and II. Michelangeli is amazing at interpreting Debussy, he’s a bit cold at times, but I’d rather that then he take too many liberties with the tempo as so many pianists like to do. He takes each piece at face value, which I really appreciate. His tempos are usually faster than you would hear on just about any piece on the record, he’s clearly more focused on technicality than emotion. I find it fantastic.

Stand-out tracks:
The Snow Is Dancing
Mouvement
Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum

-Jerry