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Feb. 5th, 2008 | 09:17 am
posted by: jesuspic in classical_music

hello everyone,

i am just starting to get into classical music and was hoping for some recommendations. i've heard some of the big names, beethoven, mozart, etc. but am hoping too find something dark and complex. contemplative or avant-garde maybe. and if it's from france, that's a major plus. 

thank and ANY suggestions are greatly appreciated! john

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(no subject)

from: idunno_w
date: Feb. 5th, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC)
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Chopin, Rachmaninov?

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Malkhos

(no subject)

from: malkhos
date: Feb. 5th, 2008 03:23 pm (UTC)
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Debussy, Nocturnes

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Joe Shelby

(no subject)

from: acroyear70
date: Feb. 5th, 2008 03:26 pm (UTC)
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dark, complex, and specifically French tends to lead to some Ravel (La Valse, Ma Mere L'Oye, Piano Concerto for the Left Hand), then later Messiaen (his non-vocal/non-religious works) and most especially his one-time student (and one-time critic) Pierre Boulez. I would note that aside from being "French", these three composers actually sound almost nothing alike.

"complex" is relative. there's the overt tonal and structural complexity in a Mahler, Strauss, Debussy, Shostakovich, or early Stravinsky work, but then there's the complexity of harmony inherent in the small gems produced by serial composers like Schoenberg, Webern, Boulez, and Stravinsky post-1951 (mostly religious works). Webern's 5 Pieces for Orchestra seemingly has very little going on, with tiny orchestrations and short segments (some no more than 45 seconds), but harmonically there's enough going on in there to warrant a thesis of analysis.

Somewhere in between those two is Alban Berg's Violin Concerto - a 12-tone work whose row is full of tonal harmonic implications and potentials.

then there's the insane complexity of Stockhausen's Gruppen.

diving from Beethoven into the 20th century is not something I'd recommend at first.

my top orchestral recommendations when i think "dark/complex":
Stravinsky - Rite of Spring, Symphony of Psalms, Variations (Aldous Huxley in memoriam)
Mahler - Symphony 6 and Symphony 7
Liszt - Faust Symphony
William Schuman - Symphony 5 (for Strings)
Ives - Central Park in the Dark
Shostakovich - Symphony 4
Bartok - Music for Strings Percussions and Celesta
Berg - Violin Concerto

at least half of those would give a typical 18th century "classical" listener a heart-attack, of course. even something as (to our ears) genteel as Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun had people streaming out of the Boston concert hall complaining about "crazy modern music" in 1896. nevermind the riot that greeted the Rite of Spring's 1913 premiere...

dark is also a relative term - the complexity in some of those pieces doesn't lend itself to a one-word image like "dark"...

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سيزيف

(no subject)

from: cibeles
date: Feb. 5th, 2008 05:40 pm (UTC)
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I'm seconding the Liszt Faust Symphony. Hungarian, but what can you do? Utterly fantastic. I like Liszt quite a lot and am too lazy to break out the massive list.

So, in summary - what was said above.

And what's said below - why does it have to be French?

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5 against 4

(no subject)

from: 5_against_4
date: Feb. 5th, 2008 03:35 pm (UTC)
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"...something dark and complex. contemplative or avant-garde maybe. and if it's from france, that's a major plus."

Olivier Messiaen, Edgard Varèse, Gerard Grisey, Tristan Murail & Pascal Dusapin would all be wonderful composers to begin with.

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whisper_lover

(no subject)

from: whisper_lover
date: Feb. 5th, 2008 03:44 pm (UTC)
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Whatever acroyear70 said... I was going to put something similar, but they went to much greater depth. Very well done.

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Spookykat

(no subject)

from: spookykat
date: Feb. 5th, 2008 04:09 pm (UTC)
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Bella Bartok's Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm is very contemporary, very out-there and currently making my life er, interesting...as I am working on it for my junior recital. Also, Brahms' Ballade in G Minor (Opus 118 No. 3) is a FANTASTIC peice. Let's see..you should definitely check out pretty much anything by Chopin if you haven't already or Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C.

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pax_homninibus

(no subject)

from: pax_homninibus
date: Feb. 5th, 2008 05:02 pm (UTC)
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I second the Bartok recommendation. Oh, and the Chopin one. Can't miss Chopin.

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Spookykat

(no subject)

from: spookykat
date: Feb. 5th, 2008 04:14 pm (UTC)
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Also, Mozart's Fantasy in D Minor is really beautiful, and not compleltely typical of Mozart.

I personally love Mendelsohn's Fantasy in F Minor, which is not terribly French, but minor keyed, mysterious...and just...wow.

Also, Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 3...I'm sorry if this is all piano-oriented. I'm a pianist, so I'm a little biased.

Oooo! You should also check out pretty much everything by Grieg.

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5 against 4

(no subject)

from: 5_against_4
date: Feb. 5th, 2008 05:28 pm (UTC)
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"...Someone posted the Turanglia symphony..."

that wasn't someone - that was me! :)

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pax_homninibus

(no subject)

from: pax_homninibus
date: Feb. 5th, 2008 05:01 pm (UTC)
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Check out Alexandre Desplat. He's a French film composer, but at least one of his scores have been recorded in association with Deutche Grammaphon [sp?] You'll have to look him up in the CD store by the movies he's composed for, notably Girl With a Pearl Earring and The Painted Veil, and not by his last name. I like his music a lot. It's haunting and romantic and very modern all at the same time. Of the "classical" French composers, you can't miss Debussey and Ravel, who are both very innovative and so much more than Prelude to the Afternoon of the Faun and Bolero.
Camille Saint-Saens (another Frenchie you shouldn't miss) wrote some really moody piano and violin concertos that you should check out. And Shostakovich's string quartets can be describe as "dark, complex, and complicated" times 1,000. Same thing with Bartok. For some people, their music is an acquired taste, but if you like more avant-garde stuff, you'll probably like them a lot. Just don't play their music while you're stressed out.

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سيزيف

(no subject)

from: cibeles
date: Feb. 5th, 2008 05:42 pm (UTC)
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Saint-Saëns' Introduction et rondo capriccioso, Op. 28 is fantastic. :D

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Deborah

(no subject)

from: ceallaighgirl
date: Feb. 5th, 2008 05:23 pm (UTC)
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Out of curiosity, why French?

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(no subject)

from: jesuspic
date: Feb. 5th, 2008 05:49 pm (UTC)
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i feel some weird affinity for french culture and plan on teaching there next year

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(no subject)

from: jesuspic
date: Feb. 5th, 2008 05:50 pm (UTC)
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thank you everyone! i'm going to be backed up for weeks downloading all this.

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mytza

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from: mytza
date: Feb. 5th, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC)
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Messiaen indeed - Turangalila, La Transfiguration, Quatuor pour la fin du temps. You can also try Satie... and the Concerto pour orgue by Poulenc.

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asleep_in_arms

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from: asleep_in_arms
date: Feb. 5th, 2008 06:11 pm (UTC)
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Highly recommended (and french):
Ernest Chausson - Concert for Violin Piano and Strings

Also, if you have not heard it you might dig on 'The Firebird' by Igor Stravinsky which was, I believe, premeired and/or written inf rance (by a non-french composer).

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Joe Shelby

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from: acroyear70
date: Feb. 5th, 2008 06:38 pm (UTC)
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Firebird, Petroushka, Rite of Spring, Les Noce, and Pulcinella, plus his opera the Nightingale, all premiered in Paris. The time time his neo-classical period was in full swing (Octet, Piano Concerto), his works were premiered across the globe rather than strictly locally.

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(no subject)

from: purgatoryreject
date: Feb. 5th, 2008 09:35 pm (UTC)
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K, sorry for multiple comments, I'm going to compile them all into this one :-)

Lutoslawski jag lately...3rd Symphony, Les Espaces du Sommeil, Concerto for Orchestra,...

I'm not always a big fan of Naxos recordings (super-cheap) but their recordings of Lutoslawski are usually mighty fine.

You might try Honegger too if you're into modernist Frenchies...(all of the "Les Six" composers are interesting, I have a hunch Honegger is best-suited to what you're looking for)

You might also give Leo Ornstein a shot...weird dude, less well-known but worth a listen IMHO.

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