Chamber music - random musings

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slofstra
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Chamber music - random musings

Post by slofstra » Sat May 30, 2020 1:41 pm

Chamber music remains somewhat elusive for me compared to any of the other categories: keyboard, concerto, orchestral, operatic and choral. What I mean by elusive is that my responses to it are somewhat erratic and I often can't make a critical evaluation of the performance like I can for any of the other categories. Mind you, I don't claim to be any kind of a music critic, but I do know what I like, which isn't saying anything, but generally, I also know why, which is, even though my technical command of music is not great.

Here's an example. The other day I slipped in a more recent rendition of Schubert's Piano Trio No. 2 with Vogt/ Tetzlaff x2. Technically it was superb and I liked the performance. I didn't realize this was a live recording until I heard the rapturous applause at the end. There was an issue with the Andante. The rhythm/beat sounded off. (Wish my notes were a bit more detailed). I attributed it to Schubert perhaps having an off moment, which I think he did, sometimes. Anyway, I wanted to listen to a comparative and had one in my Beaux Arts Trio big box. No comparison. Theirs was so much better, and the problem with the Andante was not at all in evidence.

One of the first chamber music recordings I purchased a few decades ago was a 3 CD set with Isaac Stern. I immediately fell in love with the opus 25 (Stern/ Laredo / Ma / Ax) and I've liked Brahms' chamber music ever since. However, I can't warm to Beethoven in the same way. I'm not saying I dislike it, and I have complete sets from Takacs and Tokyo SQ as well as various singles. But it doesn't excite me like the Brahms. And given the general reception to those quartets I do wonder what I am missing.

So, I'm just putting this out there to stimulate some discussion. I wonder how much chamber music you listen to, and how much compared to orchestral, keyboard, opera, et cetera. And where do your tastes run?

At this moment I'm listening to the Beaux Arts Trio, CD #40, Brahms op. 8 and 101. With Brahms AND the Beaux Arts Trio, I know I"m not going to go wrong. It is delightful music.

barney
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Re: Chamber music - random musings

Post by barney » Sun May 31, 2020 7:19 am

slofstra wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 1:41 pm
Chamber music remains somewhat elusive for me compared to any of the other categories: keyboard, concerto, orchestral, operatic and choral. What I mean by elusive is that my responses to it are somewhat erratic and I often can't make a critical evaluation of the performance like I can for any of the other categories. Mind you, I don't claim to be any kind of a music critic, but I do know what I like, which isn't saying anything, but generally, I also know why, which is, even though my technical command of music is not great.

Here's an example. The other day I slipped in a more recent rendition of Schubert's Piano Trio No. 2 with Vogt/ Tetzlaff x2. Technically it was superb and I liked the performance. I didn't realize this was a live recording until I heard the rapturous applause at the end. There was an issue with the Andante. The rhythm/beat sounded off. (Wish my notes were a bit more detailed). I attributed it to Schubert perhaps having an off moment, which I think he did, sometimes. Anyway, I wanted to listen to a comparative and had one in my Beaux Arts Trio big box. No comparison. Theirs was so much better, and the problem with the Andante was not at all in evidence.

One of the first chamber music recordings I purchased a few decades ago was a 3 CD set with Isaac Stern. I immediately fell in love with the opus 25 (Stern/ Laredo / Ma / Ax) and I've liked Brahms' chamber music ever since. However, I can't warm to Beethoven in the same way. I'm not saying I dislike it, and I have complete sets from Takacs and Tokyo SQ as well as various singles. But it doesn't excite me like the Brahms. And given the general reception to those quartets I do wonder what I am missing.

So, I'm just putting this out there to stimulate some discussion. I wonder how much chamber music you listen to, and how much compared to orchestral, keyboard, opera, et cetera. And where do your tastes run?

At this moment I'm listening to the Beaux Arts Trio, CD #40, Brahms op. 8 and 101. With Brahms AND the Beaux Arts Trio, I know I"m not going to go wrong. It is delightful music.
Personal taste is always interesting. I think I listen most of all to instrumental music, mostly piano, followed by chamber, followed by opera, symphonic and choral. I love the clarity of sonatas, the intimacy of chamber music. Opera is overwhelming, which is why I listen to it less often. Symphonies and choral probably stem from my days of not such great hi fi equipment, when the voices blurred a bit and because they are so extraordinarily better live in the concert hall, however good the recording - and before the pandemic I averaged a concert a week.

Beethoven quartets, like Bach Masses (or cello suites), are almost beyond comprehension, they are so profound. And therefore I too can find them esoteric. But if I'm in the mood, nothing else will do. His other chamber works I find quite accessible. So too is Bach, at one level, but not at another.

During lockdown I've been listening to a lot of bel canto opera, so beloved of Lenny, because it is so lovely and simple, and just transports me straight away.

Rach3
Posts: 2010
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2018 9:17 am

Re: Chamber music - random musings

Post by Rach3 » Sun May 31, 2020 10:09 am

I have recordings only of the late LvB string quartets,dont connect much with his earlier.But even the late are only an occasional listen, usually Op 131 and 135. I do listen to the Bach Cello Suites more often than those LvB works.Another challenge would be the Bartok and Shostakovich string quartets, but I do hear them more often than the LvB. Brahms' Op.60 Piano Quartet is one of his greatest works,IMHO,Rubinstein/Guarneri very fine.Huge number of choices,obviously.The Ravel Piano Trio another fav as are the Shostakovich Piano Trios and Debussy's brief Cello Sonata.You might also like to sample lesser known works by composers like Sabaneev,Turnina,Foote ( piano trios ), piano quintets by Elgar, Franck,Shostakovich,Vierne,Chausson,Korngold, quartets of Charles Howells,Mozart's and Brahms' Clarinet Quintets.I came to chamber music late in my CM listening life, but glad I finally did. Here is a recent live video of fine works:


Sharon Kam (clarinet), Jacquelyn Wagner (soprano) and Matan Porat (piano)

Debussy, Rhapsody for clarinet and piano
Brahms, Sonata for clarinet and piano op. 120 No. 2
Ravel, Une barque sur l’océan for piano
Poulenc, Sonata for clarinet and piano
Schubert, Der Hirt auf dem Felsen for clarinet, soprano and piano

May 11, 2020, in Berlin.The only one of the videos in the series now available.Wonderful programme,performances.

https://www.schinkelpavillon.de/exhibit ... ay-8-30pm/ (Scroll down )

slofstra
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Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2007 2:23 pm
Location: Waterloo, ON, Canada
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Re: Chamber music - random musings

Post by slofstra » Sun May 31, 2020 10:47 am

barney wrote:
Sun May 31, 2020 7:19 am
slofstra wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 1:41 pm
Chamber music remains somewhat elusive for me compared to any of the other categories: keyboard, concerto, orchestral, operatic and choral. What I mean by elusive is that my responses to it are somewhat erratic and I often can't make a critical evaluation of the performance like I can for any of the other categories. Mind you, I don't claim to be any kind of a music critic, but I do know what I like, which isn't saying anything, but generally, I also know why, which is, even though my technical command of music is not great.

Here's an example. The other day I slipped in a more recent rendition of Schubert's Piano Trio No. 2 with Vogt/ Tetzlaff x2. Technically it was superb and I liked the performance. I didn't realize this was a live recording until I heard the rapturous applause at the end. There was an issue with the Andante. The rhythm/beat sounded off. (Wish my notes were a bit more detailed). I attributed it to Schubert perhaps having an off moment, which I think he did, sometimes. Anyway, I wanted to listen to a comparative and had one in my Beaux Arts Trio big box. No comparison. Theirs was so much better, and the problem with the Andante was not at all in evidence.

One of the first chamber music recordings I purchased a few decades ago was a 3 CD set with Isaac Stern. I immediately fell in love with the opus 25 (Stern/ Laredo / Ma / Ax) and I've liked Brahms' chamber music ever since. However, I can't warm to Beethoven in the same way. I'm not saying I dislike it, and I have complete sets from Takacs and Tokyo SQ as well as various singles. But it doesn't excite me like the Brahms. And given the general reception to those quartets I do wonder what I am missing.

So, I'm just putting this out there to stimulate some discussion. I wonder how much chamber music you listen to, and how much compared to orchestral, keyboard, opera, et cetera. And where do your tastes run?

At this moment I'm listening to the Beaux Arts Trio, CD #40, Brahms op. 8 and 101. With Brahms AND the Beaux Arts Trio, I know I"m not going to go wrong. It is delightful music.
Personal taste is always interesting. I think I listen most of all to instrumental music, mostly piano, followed by chamber, followed by opera, symphonic and choral. I love the clarity of sonatas, the intimacy of chamber music. Opera is overwhelming, which is why I listen to it less often. Symphonies and choral probably stem from my days of not such great hi fi equipment, when the voices blurred a bit and because they are so extraordinarily better live in the concert hall, however good the recording - and before the pandemic I averaged a concert a week.

Beethoven quartets, like Bach Masses (or cello suites), are almost beyond comprehension, they are so profound. And therefore I too can find them esoteric. But if I'm in the mood, nothing else will do. His other chamber works I find quite accessible. So too is Bach, at one level, but not at another.

During lockdown I've been listening to a lot of bel canto opera, so beloved of Lenny, because it is so lovely and simple, and just transports me straight away.
I'm glad to hear you say that the Beethoven SQ are profound. I think a better strategy for me would be to focus on one or two, say the middle quartets, in a focused listening session. I actually have the entire Takacs set of string quartets on one Blu-Ray Audio disc, and I have on occasion, just stuck that in the player and left it all day. Probably not the best way to approach serious music.
I often listen while I am reading or playing a simple computer game. Then I fade back and forth between listening to the music and whatever else I'm doing. In fact, I am doing that right now, with some Brahms Trio's.
In terms of frequency, I listen to keyboard and early music more than any other kind. I think because it actually is music intended for the 'chamber'. When it comes to symphonies and operas I like to crank the dial a bit. Although my wife says she doesn't mind when I do this, I still do this far less than I feel inclined. If she it out of the house for a while I consider it an opportunity.
(Which reminds me. The room is well insulated, but not the door. We have meant to replace it with a solid one.)

slofstra
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Re: Chamber music - random musings

Post by slofstra » Sun May 31, 2020 10:57 am

Rach3 wrote:
Sun May 31, 2020 10:09 am
I have recordings only of the late LvB string quartets,dont connect much with his earlier.But even the late are only an occasional listen, usually Op 131 and 135. I do listen to the Bach Cello Suites more often than those LvB works.Another challenge would be the Bartok and Shostakovich string quartets, but I do hear them more often than the LvB. Brahms' Op.60 Piano Quartet is one of his greatest works,IMHO,Rubinstein/Guarneri very fine.Huge number of choices,obviously.The Ravel Piano Trio another fav as are the Shostakovich Piano Trios and Debussy's brief Cello Sonata.You might also like to sample lesser known works by composers like Sabaneev,Turnina,Foote ( piano trios ), piano quintets by Elgar, Franck,Shostakovich,Vierne,Chausson,Korngold, quartets of Charles Howells,Mozart's and Brahms' Clarinet Quintets.I came to chamber music late in my CM listening life, but glad I finally did. Here is a recent live video of fine works:


Sharon Kam (clarinet), Jacquelyn Wagner (soprano) and Matan Porat (piano)

Debussy, Rhapsody for clarinet and piano
Brahms, Sonata for clarinet and piano op. 120 No. 2
Ravel, Une barque sur l’océan for piano
Poulenc, Sonata for clarinet and piano
Schubert, Der Hirt auf dem Felsen for clarinet, soprano and piano

May 11, 2020, in Berlin.The only one of the videos in the series now available.Wonderful programme,performances.

https://www.schinkelpavillon.de/exhibit ... ay-8-30pm/ (Scroll down )
I'm much more inclined, at this point, to select chamber music by performer, than by composer. The only massive performer box I have is that from the Beaux Arts Trio, and I'm open to recommendations.
I have listened to the Shostakovich Quartets a number of times, and they don't cause me a great deal of trouble. Perhaps that's because I find the motifs are companionable with the symphonies. Now that you mention it, I'm overdue for another run.
For any Bartok, I need to be in a certain mood. It's among the least accessible of all the majors, behind Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Hindemith or any of the moderns.
Thanks for the references. I likely have much of this in my library, so it has twigged me on a few things.

Rach3
Posts: 2010
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2018 9:17 am

Re: Chamber music - random musings

Post by Rach3 » Sun May 31, 2020 4:36 pm

slofstra wrote:
Sun May 31, 2020 10:57 am
I'm much more inclined, at this point, to select chamber music by performer, than by composer. The only massive performer box I have is that from the Beaux Arts Trio, and I'm open to recommendations.
Then perhaps the Rubinstein/Guarneri set of the Brahms Piano Quartets, which in my lp box also had them in the Schumann Op.44 Piano Quintet, no idea if there is a cd box.Or, the Emerson Quartet DGG cd box of the Bartoks.

slofstra
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Re: Chamber music - random musings

Post by slofstra » Tue Jun 02, 2020 2:33 pm

I guess I have some of the Guarneri as I have the massive Rubinstein box.

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