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Recommended recordings

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message 1: by Florita (new)

Florita (ms_rita) | 220 comments Mod
The quality of recorded performances can vary alarmingly and these days 'cheap' does not always mean 'bad'.

Let us know which recordings you particuarly recommend and, if you like, why. Links to sites such as amazon would be useful.

Here are three to start off with:

Martha Argerich: The Début Recording
Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin (Composer), Martha Argerich (Performer)

Argerich's famous 1965 Chopin competition-winning performance.

Amazon link:


Purcell: Odes for St Cecilia's Day · Music for Queen Mary
Henry Purcell (Composer), Andrew Parrott (Conductor), Taverner Choir (Orchestra), Taverner Consort (Orchestra), John Mark Ainsley (Performer), et al.

Wonderful performances from Emma Kirkby, David Thomas and others.

Amazon link:


~ Franz Liszt (Composer), Francis Poulenc (Composer), Claude Debussy (Composer), Erik Satie (Composer), Kun Woo Paik (Performer)

I especialy like the Satie recordings. Most pianists gabble Satie, treating him as a light composer, but Kun Woo Paik imbues his work with an extraordinary gravity. Breathtaking. Lovely Debussy too.

Amazon link:

message 2: by Florita (last edited Feb 06, 2008 07:27AM) (new)

Florita (ms_rita) | 220 comments Mod
If you like your Chopin less muscular, a favourite of mine is the budget price Chopin Nocturnes Vols 1 and 2 on Naxos, played by Idil Biret.

I am not sure if it is technically any good but it has a lovely ethereal quality.

Amazon links:

message 3: by Robert (new)

Robert | 19 comments My favorite recording of all time is probably Aaron Copland's two "Old American Songs" suites, sung by William Warfeld and conducted by the composer. Originally recorded in the early 1960s and treated largely as a kind of "b-side" to a performance of Copland's "Clarinet Concerto" played by Benny Goodman. (Warfeld also recorded the two suites in the 1950s with Copland on piano.) It was very hard to find on CD for years, but about 6 years ago Sony reissued three 2-disc sets called "A Copland Celebration" which included these.

message 4: by Florita (new)

Florita (ms_rita) | 220 comments Mod
Do you like Samuel Barber? Like Copland, I always think of him as being a quintessentially American composer. The violin concerto is one of my very favourite pieces of music and I love his choral work.

message 5: by george (new)

george (george99) | 17 comments Mod
Anything with Simon Standage playing Vivaldi. Some people claim Vivaldi wrote the same concerto 10,000 times. Even a casual listening to Standage would change their minds.

message 6: by mara (new)

mara Hi everyone - this is a great thread.

I was pleased to see Emma Kirkby mentioned. I love her and have listened to her "Portrait" for years. However, my one regret is that her Dai Pio Alte Sfere (not sure of the spelling) is not included. It is an absolutely ethereal piece by Cavalleri that I've only found on an old anthology of wester music, but it's indescribable.

Also the recent Pride and Prejudice (2004) uses Ravel's Concerto in G but mixes in a lot of Hollywood swells. The original is more subtle and rambling and for that reason I think is more affecting when it does "swell" naturally. It's a favorite

message 7: by george (last edited Feb 07, 2008 03:39AM) (new)

george (george99) | 17 comments Mod
"Emma Kirkby"

I remember when she first was making a name for herself, listening to her with a traditional 'big noise' soprano who became visibly upset at the sound Kirkby was making, and started muttering:

'Disgusting... like a choir boy... no depth... where's the vibrato...? shameful display for a professional musician...' etc etc

Very funny in retrospect. What reputable director would now use a belle canto soprano for, say, a Bach Cantata or Vivaldi's Gloria? It would be like walking through treacle.

message 8: by Florita (last edited Feb 07, 2008 03:41AM) (new)

Florita (ms_rita) | 220 comments Mod
Hi Mara,

Who is playing the Satie? I bought several recordings last year of the same pieces and the difference in interpretation was huge, as I was saying: Kun Woo Paik is miles ahead of anyone else in terms of skill and interpretation. His renditions of Gnossiennes 4 and 5 are really gobsmacking.

As for Emma Kirkby, I recommend Hail, Bright Cecilia on that Taverner Consort recording I mentioned.

Cavalleri sounds interesting. It's always great to discover new composers. Annakey and I went to the International Festival of Early and Baroque Music in Greenwich, south London last year, where I heard the French baroque composr Forqueray for the first time. He is fantastic. I find Vivaldi, for example, rather predictable a lot of the time but with Forqueray you really don't know what is going to happen next.

message 9: by mara (last edited Feb 07, 2008 04:23AM) (new)

mara Emilio Cavelieri is the right spelling (Dalle piu alte sfere)

Emma Kirkby as treacle is exactly what I think of Sarah Brighten's wheezing honking kind of warbling

I've heard Kirby's voice described as "pure" which I think captures it better

On Portrai too her Nightengale song is impressive. I'm not educated in music so I don't know the term for it, but towards the end she mimics the birds trills up and down - always gives me goosebumps

message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

GG's Art of Fugue.

The Kun Woo Paik Rita mentions.

Georg Solti's Der Ring des Nibelungen.

John Barbirolli's Mahler 9.

message 11: by Robert (new)

Robert | 19 comments Rita,
aside from the lovely "Adagio", I don't really know much about Barber. Almost any time I hear something on the radio by him I like it, but I haven't really immersed myself in his work and can't claim any expertise. But oddly, I don't really think there's anything particularly "American" about him, at least not in the same way as Copland.
I like Satie quite a bit and am more familiar with the older recordings (Ciccolini especially) but I recently read a comment that most recordings misinterpret his work so I too would be interested in any recent recommendations.
Finally, I should have added earlier that while it doesn't fall under the category of favorite recordings per se, my vote for the greatest piece of music ever goes to the Brandenburg Concertos. But I have no strong preference for any recording - I love them all, from "authentic instrument" versions to Wendy Carlos and the Nice.

message 12: by Florita (new)

Florita (ms_rita) | 220 comments Mod
Barber's sublime choral music has, to me, an American-folky feel, though maybe that is just me.

If you like the Adagio (and who doesn't?) I strongly recommend you find a recording of Agnus Dei, which is the Adagio scored by Barber for voices. It is incredibly beautiful. His other really great choral pieces include The Monk and His Cat, the libretto of which is an 8th century Irish poem translated by WH Auden. Wow the cat lover in your life with this!

I also recommend Twelfth Night and Sure on this Shining Night, but they are all wonderful.

message 13: by Florita (last edited Feb 16, 2008 01:35PM) (new)

Florita (ms_rita) | 220 comments Mod
A Feather on the Breath of God: Gothic Voices, feat. Emma Kirkby.

I got this out of the library years ago and just got round to buying a copy.

Hildegarde von Bingen was an absolutely extraordinary character and composer in the 11th century and this is sublime. It is mind boggling to think this music is almost a thousand years old.

A word of caution, though: I mistakenly bought a cd of Bingen compositions last year that turned out to be some awful ambient computer sounds with bits of a woman singing sampled over the top. It's dreadful.

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