Tastes in classical music

2023-03-10 @Arts

Spent unusual time with classical music these past months. Particular emphasis on Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Richard Strauss, Schoenberg and György Ligeti. Heavier interest in the modernist: chromatic scale, more atonal expression, rhythm over harmony, harmony over melody.

I guess I’ve come to employ a similar listening paradigm with Jazz. Prefer the analytical exercise of renegade composition method to the appeasing romanticism and classical orchestration.

Though not by any means exclusive. Tone poems, ballets, dance suites: listened to aplenty; many fairly adherent to the older tradition, or at least treading the frontier. Take Strauss’s hypnotizing orchestration; Ernest Bloch’s Jewish thematics; Mahler’s symphonies (most still pending).

But more often prefer the experimental: the earlier to mid-period Prokofiev for starters (ie piano and violin concertos). Almost anything of Stravinsky I’ve enjoyed to some extent, sometimes identifying early traces of avant-garde Jazz and Progressive Rock to surge decades later. Prophetic. Even listened to Oedipus Rex from beginning to end. Have never otherwise endured an entire opera.

Add Schoenberg’s later solo piano works to the list. But by no means neglect the early, still-tonal period (ie Verlächte Nacht, Pelleas und Melisande).

Ligeti’s micro-polyphony blows my mind (ie Lux Aeterna, Lontano, Atmosphères; or the Chamber Concerto). Too much to mention. 2001: Space Odyssey seen a time too many, the score, leveraging Ligeti’s orchestration, heavily impressed upon me.

And I’ve been meaning to explore some of Shostakovich’s symphonies. Though notably pleased by the Piano Quintet (for piano and strings).

But all else equal, prefer smaller orchestration to the larger. Chamber works. Sonatas (in the formal sense). Concerto over a symphony. Better yet, suites and quartet arrangements. Less movements: my facility for identifying themes, leitmotifs or patterns of sorts, still suffers.

Come performance oriented forms, prefer a ballet to an opera; a tone poem to a ballet. Rather minimize to a confined space to facilitate analysis and thus better appreciate. Rather avoid the visual: more energy channeled towards the auditory experience. Always had a problem mitigating the two at once. Vale.

Questions, comments? Connect.