I’m not very familiar with classical music and I would like to expand my classical music favorites.
Have to admit that my taste of classical is somewhat limited.
I don’t like opera or large scale orchestras and one instrument music bores me quickly.
I like small assemblies, chamber music, and love piano and cello.
Huge fan of Qobuz and I would love to hear what kind of artist/albums you guy would recommend based on my taste.
Richard, where are you ? I ask as one of the best ways of learning about classical music is listening to BBC Radio 3. If you are in the UK you will ger a 320kb stream which sounds way veyond your expectations for an AAC source. I can give you some tips of what to listen to and why but first I need to know if you can hear it.
Thanks for your location information. As you know you are an hour in advance of us in the UK but the times I am giving are GMT/UTC or BST (depending when you read this).
Why Radio 3? First I am not going to recommend any particular record as a way of expanding your interest in classical music. We are dealing with several centuries, many styles, national differences etc. Works from the “canon” may be superb but may also hold no interest for you currently. I say currently as this should prove a lifelong interest and what you find relevant to you is going to change over time. So I am recommending radio as there is no financial investment and it allows hearing a huge range of music. Radio 3 as it is not a simple DJ plus recordings station. The recommendation is not due to just the music but its curation. You don’t just hear music but often learn what the music is about, why it was created and its essential factors which can be very different from those that are considered important in other genres.
I would suggest that Saturday during the day has three programmes which are fantastic for learning and for expanding your horizons.
First at 09:00 there is Record Review. Each week experts discuss current new releases (a different field is tackled each week) and at around 10:30 there is a segment called Building a Library when a single work is examined, usually by a professional player of or other expert in it, via all currently available recordings ending with a preferred version chosen. The reasons for choices or rejections form a great education. This coming programme on Saturday will examine Haydn’s Creation ( Die Schopfung).
At 12:30 there is a vibrant programme with the young saxophonist Jess Gillam when she has a young musician guest and they discover music new to one or the other of them. Brief extracts but even though this is aimed at young folks even an old man like me is stimulated by what I hear. Then at 13:00 this is followed by Inside Music when a player or composer plays recordings and talks about music of their choice.
This is brief. Other gems are Mon-Fri 12:00 Composer of the Week. Five one hour long programmes about a composer’s life and works (edited podcast available on Mosaic). There are live concerts every evening etc.
That’s just to be getting on with. The sound quality in the UK online is excellent but I hope that what you may get outside of the UK (which I think may be 160 Kb/s using Mosaic) is acceptable to you.
Second @PAR suggestion of listening to BBC radio 3 - the BBC sounds app is just fantastic, as it lists the entire playlist per programme (often with links to the recording in Apple Music or Spotify). This takes a lot of the guess work out of finding a recording when you hear something you like!
It is almost impossible to find one’s way with Classical music without some sort of curation. BBC Radio 3 helps a lot. BBC magazine and The Gramophone Magazine are also useful guides to what’s new https://www.gramophone.co.uk
I also was not raised on classical music but was exposed and my interest continues to grow. Pete is a connoisseur and of tremendous help. This is a cd that i have found particularly attractive and easy to listen to. The two performers are both tops and the recording quite good.
Kim Kaskashian and Robert Levin. ECM
I hesitated even writing this, but despite Janos Starker being a legend, this is not the recording I would start with for the Bach Suites. (I’d start with Steven Isserlis on Hyperion but more in a moment).
The Starker recording is of historical value - Starker plays the Lord Aylesford Stradivarius - this is very very large cello (often referred to as a Bass - most cellos pre 1700 were large ones like this, and sadly most were cut down in size during the 19th C to be more manageable for modern players). And sadly this one was also cut down some time after it left Starker’s possession. I think he plays 3 of the suites on the Strad and 3 on his Goffriller. The performances are fine but some appear very closely mic’d and unnatural sounding to me at least.
The recording I’d recommend starting with is Steven Isserlis on Hyperion. Why? He seems to capture the dance movements perfectly. Wonderful tone and cohesiveness between the suites. Nice sound too - recorded in Henry Wood hall if memory serves. He plays the de Munck Strad a very narrow Strad (The complete opposite of the Lord Aylesford). You can see them both in the video below.
This is a rather long way of saying it is hard to make recommendations for classical recordings. So much comes down to personal preference. Although in the case of Isserlis’s Bach, I haven’t heard anyone say they don’t like his performance!
One of the hardest things about classical for me is the sheer volume of it out there.
I don’t mean that there’s too much classical music. (I might mean that one day, but I’m not leaping to conclusions just yet )
My issue is that a recommendation from one of my non-classical-fan mates will be along the lines of “you should try Spoon’s Hot Thoughts”
Ten seconds later it’s playing.
Classical recommendations in the “What’s spinning” thread normally need ten minutes of careful typing, retyping, cover scrutiny (“nope, wrong one — this one’s in Vienna, or involves someone else/another orchestra/conductor/soloist I’ve never heard of”) and however many other disambiguation steps.
Our recent change to providing more than just a screenshot has helped enormously () but I wonder if we couldn’t go even further for classical tips. I bet @PAR@struts001@Urbanluthier@T38.45 and others better versed in classical know exactly what sort of search term works best for Qobuz, Tidal, Roon and the like. Would love something along the lines of this after each tip:
I am happy to try Ben but this is (at least sometimes) easier said than done.
First there is the issue of metadata quality. Which artists/performers are tagged and which aren’t? Especially with compilations and re-releases this can be very hit-and-miss. Then there is the issue of a bug in Roon (which is my preferred UI, can’t remember if you use it) and the way it interprets the metadata from (in my case) Qobuz. All of this is summarised in this post from the end of last year so I won’t regurgitate it all here. Roon has confirmed the existence of the bug but not yet fixed it.
So to comply with your request we will have to go into Qobuz and see exactly which of the metadata are tagged and which aren’t.
Thankfully most of the time this isn’t an issue, but Sod’s Law holds that it will probably affect at least some of my recommendations!
PS Searching on “Gyorgy” îs not going to help you much, it is György Sebők’s given name not his surname. It is the Hungarian version of George and pretty common.
Here’s the bad news: That is what it is like. I can spend a long time searching Qobuz. Each work may be available in different recordings using editions of the score produced by different editors over many years. The same work may have resulted , not only in recordings by different artists but by the same artist at different points in their careers ( so the search terns are more or less the same). Let alone the same recording having different releases at different times and which differ in mastering ( mind you that affects all genres).
The main issue in learning to like classical music is that it will only have any relevance to you if the music and performance create a meaningful experience for you. I cannot predict what pieces may do this or what pieces just bring tedium instead. What does either has little to do with the music but with your life experience. That is why I will not make specific recommendations, at least in this context.
Even after many decades , I still have no idea what much classical music is like. As you say there is such a volume of it out there. For example every Friday I look at the new releases section in Qobuz classical. I recognise only some music. However I know that, for example, I have no particular emotional connection with most late 19th century large scale orchestral music from the German/Austrian tradition or soprano recitals. So that, and other prejudices, cuts the potential choices down. Nothing to do with the music but my likely interest in it. On the other hand I love late 19th century and early 20th century French music.Why? Because my personal experiences form a connection to it ( e.g as a 20 year old being alone in Paris at night and later hearing “Nuages” by Debussy which produced ( and still does) intense memories of that experience. Of course it may well be completely meaningless to another irrespective of how good the performance and recording may be.
That is why I am recommending hearing a wide range of music e.g. via radio rather than saying “hear this as it’s a great record”. A good chance it may bore you as you are not yet “ready” for it.
It does not matter at all why you are attracted to the music. You are not expected to somehow have a specific reason or be in a position to produce a rational argument like a review in Gramophone (yes, read that too). It may just be a great tune that you heard in a TV ad.
Once you have a small repertoire of favourite pieces then you can work out from there. and maybe seek advice. I started in the mid 1960s with no knowledge and 4 records which, frankly, were partly bought because I fancied the covers.
Hint: Don’t search Qobuz using Mosaic. Download the Qobuz desktop player and search there .