Top 10 Orchestral Works

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Top 10 Orchestral Works

Post by Newbie » Sun Dec 04, 2005 9:31 pm

Hello!

I'm new to classical music, but I been caught by the magic och listening to symphony orchestras. It all started with the Metallica S&M concert.
Anyways, now I wan't some expert advice from pros in the music genre.

I wan't your personal Top 10 list of symphoni orchestral works :)
The Best Of The Best :P

Thx / Danny!

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Sun Dec 04, 2005 10:04 pm

The pieces I regard as the best now are not the same works as first appealed to me. Just going straight for Mahler's 9th or Bruckner's 8th rarely works in my experience and from I've seen of others.

Try Mozart's 25th, 40th and 41st, Beethoven's 9th, Schubert's 8th, Dvorak's 9th, Brahms' 1st and Tchaikovski's 4th to begin with and start exploring from there. The one's that are eternally popular are so for good reason.

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Post by ch1525 » Sun Dec 04, 2005 10:14 pm

My top 10 favorite symphonies (in no particular order, because I'm bad at putting things in order like that):

Beethoven's Fifth, Sixth and Ninth Symphonies
Rachmaninoff's Second Symphony
Mendelssohn's Fourth "Italian" Symphony
Mozart's Symphony No. 25
Dvorak's Ninth Symphony
Prokofiev's First "Classical" Symphony
Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony
Borodin's Second Symphony

When your done exploring the realm of symphonies, don't forget to explore Piano Concertos, my favorite classical form.

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Post by Harvested Sorrow » Mon Dec 05, 2005 12:49 am

Look into Beethoven's 5th, some of Mahler's symphonies (try the 1st, 3rd & 5th) and Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, based on your musical background. If you like any of that I can probably formulate a top ten.

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Post by DavidRoss » Mon Dec 05, 2005 6:10 am

An interesting challenge. I'm not sure that I could pick a top ten (maybe a top fifty?), but based on what I listen to most often these days as well as some perennial favorites I'd say these are sure contenders:

Sibelius, 5th Symphony (though a newbie might prefer the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, but all seven are good, plus the tone poems and incicental music--in fact, if I were to list them separately, I could easily fill ten spots with his works alone!))

Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring (go for the other ballets, too, then branch out into his other music)

Brahms, Violin Concerto (then go for his symphonies, serenades, piano concertos)

Prokofiev, Piano Concerto no. 3 (a barnburner--but you can hardly go wrong with his ballets, piano and violin concertos, and symphonies--though no. 2 might be a bit much for a newbie)

Elgar, Cello Concerto

Dvorak, Violin Concerto (the late symphonies are very good, too, as is the cello concerto)

Tchaikovsky, 4th Symphony (also nos. 5 & 6, the 1st Piano Concerto, the Violin Concerto, and especially the ballets)

Copland, Appalachian Spring (and then the other ballets and the 3rd Symphony)

Ponce, Concierto del Sur (or maybe Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez--they're my favorite Guitar Concertos)

Beethoven, 7th Symphony (you didn't think I was going to leave him out, did you? other faves include symphonies 3, 5, 6, 9, the Violin Concerto, and the 4th Piano Concerto)

Gee, and hard to believe that I left Ralph Vaughan Williams's 5th Symphony off the list (his others are also very good) and that none of Mahler's made the list--today. Other notables absent today who could very well appear on another day include Gershwin, Bartok, Debussy, Ravel, Mozart, Barber, Adams, Rautavaara, Bax, Shostakovich, Berlioz, Walton, Piston, Rachmaninov, and even Holst's Planets--which you might like very much.

If you would accept orchestral music with vocals, then I might find a spot for Strauss's Four Last Songs, or Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde, or Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915. And if you would stretch it to include opera, then Mozart's Cosi fan tutte or Marriage of Figaro would certainly make the list. And since you're a Metallica fan, who knows--you might even like Wagner.
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

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Post by val » Mon Dec 05, 2005 6:33 am

Not including Concertos, works for chamber orchestras, ballets and works with human voices, I would chose:

Bruckner, Symphonies 8 and 9
Beethoven, Symphonies 3 and 7
Schumann, Overture Manfred
Debussy, La Mer
Mahler, Symphony 6
Schubert, Symphony 8
Webern, 6 Pieces opus 6
Mozart, Symphony 40

Newbie

Post by Newbie » Mon Dec 05, 2005 9:46 am

A lot of good tips! This forum is very helpfull :P

I'll start to listen to your recommendations :D

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Post by karlhenning » Mon Dec 05, 2005 9:59 am

Well, with the understanding that such a list is really impossible, and that I should give an entirely different list of ten tomorrow:

Prokofiev, Le pas d'acier (The Steel Step)
Prokofiev, Violin Concerto No. 2
Shostakovich, Symphony No. 10
Shostakovich, Violin Concerto No. 1
Sibelius, Symphony No. 6
Tchaikovsky, Capriccio italien
Debussy, Images pour orchestre
Ginastera, Concierto para arpa
Berlioz, Symphonie fantastique
Dvorak, Symphony No. 6
Stravinsky, Orpheus


Oh, that's 11, isn't it? — see "impossible," above :-)

Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by Cyril Ignatius » Mon Dec 05, 2005 3:14 pm

Here are a few additional, but highly recommended possibilities:

Kark Goldmark - Rustic Wedding Symphony
Mili Balakirov Symphony # 1
Any/all of Sibelius' tone poems -Swan of Tuonela, Tapiola, The Bard, etc..
Saint Saens - Symphony # 3 "The Organ Symphony"
Brahms Symphony # 2
Cyril Ignatius

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Post by jserraglio » Sun Dec 11, 2005 7:20 am

Wagner-Maazel, The Ring Without Words
Handel-Beecham, Love in Bath
Bernstein, Overture to "Candide"
Berlioz, Romeo and Juliet
Berlioz, Harold in Italy
Prokofieff, Romeo and Juliet
Tchaikovsky, Romeo And Juliet Fantasy Overture
Tchaikovsky, Francesca di Rimini
Strauss, Don Quixote
Debussy, Prelude to "The Afternoon of a Faun"
Rimsky-Korsakov, Suite from "Le Coq d'Or"
Last edited by jserraglio on Sat Dec 17, 2005 9:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by jbuck919 » Sun Dec 11, 2005 7:37 am

These kinds of lists come up on the other board all the time, and they are usually fruitless exercises that have sometimes gotten me into some trouble. However, if it were a desert island situation and we are talking stricly about orchestral works from the period of orchestral maturity (say late 18th century to present), I would say six of the Beethoven symphonies, dropping three (I suppose 1, 2, and 8) so I could make room for all four of Brahms. Then of course one has to take into account that Beethoven's Ninth is not purely an orchestral work.

Silly and arbitrary? Yes. Unimaginative? Of course. That is in the nature of these kinds of exercises.

Edit: The number "eight" appeared as the "cool" icon without my intending it.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Fugu

Post by Fugu » Sun Dec 11, 2005 1:02 pm

Tchaikovsky Symphonies 1, 4, 5, 6
Schumann Symphony 1
Mendelssohn Symphony 3
Dvorak Symphony 8
Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherezade
Saint-Saens Symphony 3
Brahms Symphony 3

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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun Dec 11, 2005 3:03 pm

jbuck919 wrote:Edit: The number "eight" appeared as the "cool" icon without my intending it.
This result occurs often in lists by well-trained typists. I say well-trained because it requires a conscious effort to break the habits that produce the "cool" symbol. The way to prevent this/fix it is to put a space between the 8 and the ), because without the space, the software interprets the two as a "cool" symbol.
Last edited by Corlyss_D on Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Jack Kelso
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Post by Jack Kelso » Mon Dec 12, 2005 4:55 am

The only advice I can give anyone starting in orchestral music is don't clump the works composer-wise---get one symphony of Beethoven, one of Schumann, one of Mendelssohn perhaps the Fourth of Bruckner (maybe even one by Brahms--heh!) and a couple of tone poems like Smetana's "The Moldau" or Liszt's "Les Preludes". Piano concerti are good---Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Chopin, Grieg or Rachmaninoff.

The more DIFFERENT composers you listen to, the more intelligently you can chose your favorites later on.

GREAT LISTENING!

Jack
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Post by dirkronk » Mon Dec 12, 2005 9:55 am

Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade (Reiner/Chicago or Kondrashin/Concertgebouw)

Rossini: Overtures (Reiner/Chicago)

Bruckner: Symphony 4 (perhaps Klemperer or Bohm)

Beethoven: Symphony 9 (Szell/Cleveland or Fricsay/Berlin...you'll become addicted and later possess dozens and dozens of versions, both historic and modern. No, really.)

Mendelssohn: Symphony #4 "Italian" (Cantelli or Szell or--if you can find it--Van Beinum)

Bizet: L'Arlesienne & Carmen suites (Stokowski or any of several other fine versions)

Mozart: Symphonies 35, 40, 41 (they're all on one CD by Szell...listen and love)

Sibelius: Symphony #2 (Szell/Cleveland from Tokyo)

Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra (Reiner/Chicago)

Shostakovich: Symphony #5 (Bernstein/NYP 1959)

Note: All are pure orchestral. Tune in next time for orchestra-plus-solo-instrument concertos, such as Beethoven: Piano Concerto #4 (Fleisher/Szell), Brahms: Piano Concerto #2 (Richter/Leinsdorf), Beethoven: Violin Cto. (Heifetz/Munch), Mendelssohn: Violin Cto. (Oistrakh/Ormandy) and on and on...

:D

Dirk (who'd probably pick a different 10 on any other given day)

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Post by lmpower » Mon Dec 12, 2005 1:55 pm

Mozart #41
Beethoven ninth and fifth
Schubert eighth
Mendelssohn Italian symphony
Brahms first
Tchaikowsky fifth
Mahler fourth
Sibelius second
Dvorak new world symphony

These are not all necessarily my very favorite symphonies, but they should provide a good representative introduction to the form. I guarantee they are all worth hearing.

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Post by Volodya » Mon Dec 12, 2005 4:29 pm

Dvorak Symphony #9
Mahler Symphony #9
Prokofiev Symphonoy #5
Beethoven Symphony #3 :D
Shostakovich Symphony #5
Brahms Symphony #4
Bartok Concerto for Orchestra
Stravinsky Rite of Spring
Pictures at an Exhibition (arr. Ravel)
Ravel Bolero
Bruckner Symphony #4
The Mighty Five:
1.) Beethoven
2.) Prokofiev
3.) Shostakovich
4.) Brahms
5.) Stravinsky

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Post by Charles » Mon Dec 12, 2005 10:23 pm

I vote for what I consider to be the unjustly neglected here, and wonderful, Symphonies #2 and #8 of Beethoven.

And you really should hear some Bach, even though he came too early in music history to write symphonies (the form was not invented yet). Two excellent purely instrumental pieces by him are his Suites for Orchestra, #1 and #3.

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Post by Jack Kelso » Tue Dec 13, 2005 1:44 am

I guess I going to have to break down and make my listing, which is based on the premise that if you can digest THESE works--- then you'll be able to understand practically all symphonic styles, or at the very least be able to move fairly well onto others:

1. HAYDN: Symphony No. 102 in B-Flat

2. MOZART: Symphony No. 38 in D Major ("Prague")

3. BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat ("Eroica")

4. SCHUMANN: Symphony No. 2 in C Major

5. LISZT: "Eine Faust-Sinfonie"

6. BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 4 in E-Flat

7. BRAHMS: Symphony No. 4 in E Minor

8. MAHLER: Symphony No. 2 in C Minor

9. VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Symphony No. 4 in F Minor

10. HINDEMITH: Symphony "Mathis der Maler"

I purposely left off baroque music (no symphonies); and 12-tone composers, as they don't generally have "symphonies" (Searle, Wellesz, Henze, Penderecki and a few others excepted) and represent a rather too "different" world.

I think those mentioned above gives one a great overview.

Best regards,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Post by gfweis » Tue Dec 13, 2005 7:30 am

Agreeing with Karl Henning that tomorrow's list might be substantially different, and leaving out concerted works to make things easier for my early-morning brain, here are 11 symphonies in alphabetical order. (Sorry, I got to 11 and found I couldn't take one away.) Ranking here is simply not possible for me).

Beethoven, Nos. 3, 5
Brahms, No. 2
Bruckner, Nos. 8, 9
Dvorak, No. 8
Mahler, No. 9
Mendelssohn, No. 4
Prokofiev, No. 1
Shostakovich, No. 10
Sibelius, No. 2
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Post by BWV 1080 » Tue Dec 13, 2005 2:48 pm

The authoritative top ten list:

Bach: Brandenburg 4
Mozart: Linz Symphony
Beethoven: 7th Symphony
Brahms: 4th Symphony
Debussy: Images
Mahler: 6th Symphony
Stravinsky: Le Sacre du Printemps
Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra
Messiaen: Chronochromie
Ligeti: Atmospheres
Lutoslawski: Symphony #3
Carter: Concerto for Orchestra

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Post by Cyril Ignatius » Wed Dec 14, 2005 11:08 am

If nobody will put Mahler's 3rd in, than I must. What a symphony!!
Where better to see Mahler's genius.

And Bruckner's Fifth, Sixth and Ninth are also at the top (Each of Bruckner's 4-9 are tremendous artistic achievements) It is good to see Bruckner has begun to get some of the attention he deserves. Bu, he's still among the underrated symphonic composers.
Cyril Ignatius

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Post by Jack Kelso » Thu Dec 15, 2005 1:25 am

Cyril Ignatius wrote:Bruckner's 4-9 are tremendous artistic achievements) It is good to see Bruckner has begun to get some of the attention he deserves. Bu, he's still among the underrated symphonic composers.
Here in Germany, Bruckner is very highly rated. His symphonies are nearly as popular as those of Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms. And many here regard nos. 4-9 as "reaching more over to the other side (spiritually)" than the four of Brahms.

I still abide by the best idea being: one symphonic work per major composer---as an introduction to many important styles (e.g., if three or four Brahms or Mahler symphonies make the list, then it makes it more difficult to discover Schumann or Bruckner.)

Tschüß,
Jack
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Post by karlhenning » Thu Dec 15, 2005 8:51 am

Jack Kelso wrote:I still abide by the best idea being: one symphonic work per major composer---as an introduction to many important styles (e.g., if three or four Brahms or Mahler symphonies make the list, then it makes it more difficult to discover Schumann or Bruckner.)
Absolutely!

Though you know there are going to be Mahlerians who furnish the obligatory list:
Top Ten Symphonies! Of All Time!!:

(1) Mahler First
(2) Mahler Second
(3) Mahler Third
(4) Mahler Fourth
(5) Mahler Fifth
(6) Mahler Sixth
(7) Mahler Seventh
(8) Mahler Eighth
(9) Mahler Ninth
(10) Das Lied von der Erde
:-)
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Post by Cyril Ignatius » Thu Dec 15, 2005 11:03 am

That's pretty good, Karl. But I have to quibble. Mahler completed the Adagio of his Tenth Symphony, and it is one of the greatest pieces he wrote, in my humble opinion. Moreover, at 28 minutes or so, and artistically complex, it is fully a symphony in its own right. My own list of the truly great Mahler symphonies would therefore be:

Symphonies # 1-4 (In no particular order)
Symphony # 9
Completed Adagio of Symphony # 10

It seems any of these could compete for a spot on the short list of the greatest symphonic works.

I mentioned Symphony # 3 yesterday, because I believe that it has suffered comparative neglect. It not only has compelling individual pieces within it; it is a symphony that strongly embodies what Mahler wanted the symphony to be.
Cyril Ignatius

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Post by karlhenning » Thu Dec 15, 2005 11:13 am

Cyril Ignatius wrote:I mentioned Symphony # 3 yesterday, because I believe that it has suffered comparative neglect.
You mean, there are only 15 versions of this available at Borders, as against the 25 versions of No. 1? :-)
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Post by DavidRoss » Thu Dec 15, 2005 11:27 am

Cyril Ignatius wrote:My own list of the truly great Mahler symphonies would therefore be:

Symphonies # 1-4 (In no particular order)
Symphony # 9
Completed Adagio of Symphony # 10
It's so good and refreshing to see a Mahlerite (Mahlerian sounds like one suffering from a disease common in sub-Saharan Africa) recognize the virtue of the 4th symphony. Youse guys usually give it short shrift. Perhaps because it's the least grandiose? (One of it's many virtues, in my book. BTW, seems odd that number 6 didn't make your list.)

I recently acquired the Brilliant set pairing Barshai's completed 10th with his justifiably praised 5th. I thought his rendition of the 10th was superb, maybe the best thing Mahler (n)ever wrote.
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

"Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either." ~Albert Einstein
"Truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it; but, in the end, there it is." ~Winston Churchill

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Post by karlhenning » Thu Dec 15, 2005 11:35 am

And, this week's impossible list:

Prokofiev, Symphony No. 6
Prokofiev, Piano Concerto No. 2
Shostakovich, Symphony No. 4
Shostakovich, Cello Concerto No. 1
Sibelius, Symphony No. 4
Tchaikovsky, Manfred Symphony
Ravel, Alborada del gracioso
Glinka, Jota aragonese
Dutilleux, Symphony No. 2, Le double
Dvorak, Symphony No. 5
Bartók, Concerto for Orchestra


Cheers,
~Karl
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Post by Jack Kelso » Fri Dec 16, 2005 1:53 am

If we don't save Karl pretty soon, by the middle of January his list might look like this:

BALAKIREV: Symphony No. 1
RAFF: Symphony No. 3 ("Im Walde")
VOLKMANN: Symphony No. 1 in d Minor, op. 44
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Symphony No. 7 ("Antarctica")
TOCH: Symphony No. 2
Gordon BINKERD: Symphony No. 1
SINDING: Symphony No. 4
HARRIS: Symphony No. 7
PENDERECKI: Symphony No. 1
PENDERECKI: Threnody (by the way, an excellent work!)

:lol: No offense, Karl!

Best regards,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Post by Cyril Ignatius » Fri Dec 16, 2005 4:11 pm

With respect to Jack Kelso's one works per composer, and erring towards large symphonies that traverse great horizons, here is my alphabetized, but not ranked, list:

Beethoven, # 9
Brahms, # 2
Bruckner, # 7
Elgar, # 1
Mahler, # 3
Rachmaninov, # 2
Schubert # 9
Shostakovich # 5
Sibelius # 5
Vaughan Williams, # 5
Cyril Ignatius

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Post by Cyril Ignatius » Fri Dec 16, 2005 4:13 pm

But with the understanding, of course, that Johann Strauss Jr. was the true king of small symphonic compositions!!! :D
Cyril Ignatius

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Post by Jack Kelso » Mon Dec 19, 2005 2:16 am

Hi Cyril---

Nice list, too. But mine was ranked only chronologically.

Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Post by david johnson » Sat Dec 24, 2005 5:04 am

newbie:

for the new listener, i list the music that first got my attention. it's not everyone's best, nor even a special top ten...it's just what got me interested.

rimsky-korsakov - russian easter overture
rimsky-korsakov - scheherazade
stravinsky - the rite of spring
tchaikovsky - 1812 overture
beethoven - sym 5
mendelssohn - fingal's cave
shostakovich - sym 5
mahler - sym 1
chopin - prelude in c minor
dvorak - new world sym

if you're brand new, it doesn't even matter who plays these. go with whatever is in the public or school libraries. the main thing is to listen & enjoy, then you will want to refine your tastes.

dj

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Post by karlhenning » Tue Dec 27, 2005 8:57 am

This week's impossible list:

Prokofiev, Symphony No. 2
Prokofiev, Violin Concerto No. 2
Shostakovich, Symphony No. 15
Shostakovich, The Execution of Stepan Razin
Sibelius, Symphony No. 5
Tchaikovsky, Solemn Overture '1812'
Rakhmaninov, Symphony No. 2
Rakhmaninov, Piano Concerto No. 3
Wuorinen, Third Piano Concerto
Dvorak, Symphony No. 9 'From the New World'
Bartók, Piano Concerto No. 2


Cheers,
~Karl
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Composer & Clarinetist
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