Violins, Fine Wine, and Your Classical Music Recommendations — Vince

 

My wife and I were trying to unwind after a work week full of fighting murders and child molesters (we are both prosecutors). We opened a lovely bottle of pinot from the Willamette Valley and retreated to our patio to enjoy an amazing Arizona evening. Despite the gentle breeze, we wanted music to accompany our time. We turned on classical iTunes Radio and just sat. 

I’ve always enjoyed the violin, but when the second movement of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Winter (Max Richter version) played, my appreciation soared. There is nothing more memorable than when music perfectly captures feeling. It was then that I realized that classical music—really good classical music — is a lot like being introduced to fine wines. It’s an intimidating education, full of lingo and infinite choice, but still very rewarding. I don’t know why I love the pieces I do, but I do. When Jay Nordlinger and Mona Charen discuss music I always listen closely. I hope they do another music episode of their podcast soon. 

In the interim, I’ll reach out to you all. Any classical music selections to recommend, particularly those featuring the violin? The more haunting, lonely and sorrowful the violin the better.

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  1. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    Always our choice for cocktail hour after a long, hard day — Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major Allegro assai !

    • #1
  2. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    EThompson:

    Always our choice for cocktail hour after a long, hard day – Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major Allegro assai !

     I second that.  And if you want to mix it up, the fifth one.  

    My favorite violin piece is Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins:

    • #2
  3. Southern Pessimist Member
    Southern Pessimist
    @SouthernPessimist

    I envy you so much. I really do. I have tried so hard to learn to appreciate classical music but to me it is a foreign language that doesn’t have words. I don’t know if  it is a right brain/ left brain issue but music without words rarely moves me. The primary exception for me is the sound of the human voice. The Midget Faded Rattlesnake posted some Lenten songs sung in the Armenian language ( I think) where the words were meaningless to me but the sound was inspirational.

    • #3
  4. Boomerang Inactive
    Boomerang
    @Boomerang

    MarciN:

    EThompson:

    Always our choice for cocktail hour after a long, hard day – Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major Allegro assai !

    I second that. And if you want to mix it up, the fifth one.

    My favorite violin piece is Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins:

    I third the Brandenburg (all of it) and second the violin concerto for two violins in D, and addBach’s violin concertos in A minor, E, and G minor. The Adagio in the concerto in E will satisfy your yearning for haunting, lonely, lovely violins.

    • #4
  5. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    My “desert island” piece is the Elgar Violin Concerto.  It is rarely performed, because it is 45 minutes long.  But it is just gorgeous, try it.   Also get Haydn string quartets (he practically invented the genre).  As far as the analogy with fine wine, good violins do improve with age, though with a violin you can really have your cake and eat it too!

    • #5
  6. Boomerang Inactive
    Boomerang
    @Boomerang

    Southern Pessimist:

    I envy you so much. I really do. I have tried so hard to learn to appreciate classical music but to me it is a foreign language that doesn’t have words. I don’t know if it is a right brain/ left brain issue but music without words rarely moves me.

    A classical music appreciation class in college unlocked that door for me. I don’t know if it is the same for you, but an unfamiliar piece does not thrill me much. If you’re willing to continue your quest, try checking out symphonies by Beethovan (3rd, 5th, 6th, 9th), by Mozart (40th & 41st are my faves) by Haydn (1 & 2), The 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky, and the above Bach violin pieces  and playing them until they become familiar.  See if they grow on you.  That is my advice.   :)

    • #6
  7. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I didn’t learn to appreciate classical music until I was a mother of a flutist and a violinist and a percussionist.  I can’t read music, but I learned to love it watching the youth orchestra conductors work with the kids.

    • #7
  8. GFHandle Member
    GFHandle
    @GFHandle

    Scottish music can be called “classical’ in the 18th century, so I will recommend Aly Bain, the fiddler for The Boys of the Lough.  You want “haunting, lonely, and sorrowful”? Nothing like a slow air.  Try Lonely Bird.

    And in CLASSICAL classical music, even if he is actually a romantic, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto (in D?) is great, too. Not quite as sorrowful as some of Neil Gow’s compositions, though.

    • #8
  9. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings

    [and I’m throwing in His Marche Slave just because I love it]

    • #9
  10. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    Jimmy Carter:

    Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings

    This is beautiful.

    • #10
  11. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    There are varying definitions of “Classical.”  There is the broad brush with almost any organized music before 1900, plus symphonic works since.  There is also the more narrow definition of a period of symphonic music somewhere between Baroque and Romantic periods.  I’m more of an Early Music to Baroque man, but there are a few more contemporary pieces that might fit your description.  Here is one of my favorites:

    Dvořák – Symphony No.9 ‘From The New World’ (Largo)

    • #11
  12. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    My Tchaikovsky bust on the bookshelf:

    Tchaikovsky

    The dog collar is a long story…..

    • #12
  13. Julia PA Member
    Julia PA
    @JulesPA

    MarciN: My favorite violin piece is Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins:

     2nd movement is glorious. get Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zucherman playing it.

    • #13
  14. Julia PA Member
    Julia PA
    @JulesPA

    Southern Pessimist: music without words rarely moves me.

     That is so interesting, I am just the opposite, when listening to classical vocal music…the words, the vowels, consonants etc, are just musical texture to my ear. I can only pay attention to the words and their meaning when I read them as they are sung. Could be a right brain/left brain issue after all!

    • #14
  15. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    Vince: For whatever the reason, the more haunting, lonely and sorrowful the violin the better.

     For haunting, lonely, and sorrowful, you can’t do much better than Barber’s Adagio for Strings. It’s originally a movement of a string quartet (worth listening to in its own regard), but the full orchestration stands apart.

    Here’s a recording made just after Sept. 11, 2001:

    • #15
  16. Susan in Seattle Member
    Susan in Seattle
    @SusaninSeattle

    Just another reason I hang out at Ricochet.  I will get busy pursuing these recommendations; thank you all!

    • #16
  17. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    Vince: Any classical music selections to recommend, particularly the violin?

    IMO, the Beethoven violin concerto can never be overplayed. Ditto for the Brahms symphonies, particularly #4. If you like these, you’ll probably also enjoy the Tchaikovsky violin concerto.

    I’m a sucker for Dvorak, especially his symphonies (try #7) and chamber music (piano quintet, “American” quartet). Also anything by Schubert — try the “Trout” quintet or “Death and the Maiden” quartet for good string music.

    One underplayed composer is Faure. Try his Elegie for cello and orchestra. (It’s not violin, but pretty close ;-) He also wrote some interesting sonatas for violin & piano — though the texture may not be to your taste. (And that reminds me: Consider the Beethoven sonatas for violin & piano, too.)

    • #17
  18. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    Son of Spengler: Here’s a recording made just after Sept. 11, 2001:

     Bravo, Spengler.

    Thank You for the video. I truly enjoyed it.

    • #18
  19. Julia PA Member
    Julia PA
    @JulesPA

    I highly recommend Joshua Bell, Voice of the Violin. It is a collection of vocal pieces from assorted eras of classical music, arranged with the violin as the “vocalist.”   http://youtu.be/bha9qQICjwU
    In his recent SOTD, Lance shared a gorgeous violin collection by Oliver Schroer called Camino. Oliver performed in churches on unaccompanied violin as he traversed the path of Camino de Stantiago throughout France and Spain. http://youtu.be/8fVnFzjRJKU
    One last suggestion, 12 Fantasias for Violin Solo, performed by Andrew Manze.  http://youtu.be/UOnA2w0XEZA   They are works with similar structure to many of Bach’s unaccompanied violin, but they are short, the longest of the twelve pieces is 8 minutes long. My favorite is #1.
    I think all of the items shared by the Ricochetti would be well suited for many of your amazing Arizona evenings.

    • #19
  20. Julia PA Member
    Julia PA
    @JulesPA

    Son of Spengler: Beethoven violin concerto can never be overplayed.

     I’m such a dork that I spent a good portion of my teenage years listening to a record (vinyl) of Isaac Stern performing the Beethoven Concerto. It is among my favorites. Also in the collection is the Mendelssohn, Brahms and Tschaikovsky Concertos as well.

    • #20
  21. Carey J. Inactive
    Carey J.
    @CareyJ

    anonymous:

    I love The Four Seasons and even produced a video based upon it, which I hope did not desecrate this masterwork.

    For pure virtuosity on the instrument, see Maxim Vengerov‘s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major (op. 35)—he makes those 16th and 32nd notes seem almost effortless.

     Vengerov makes everything sound beautiful and seem easy. His performances of Bazzini’s “Dance of the Goblins” are the best ever.

    • #21
  22. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    Julia PA:

    Son of Spengler: Beethoven violin concerto can never be overplayed.

    I’m such a dork that I spent a good portion of my teenage years listening to a record (vinyl) of Isaac Stern performing the Beethoven Concerto.

     I must have the same vinyl!!! When I bought my surround sound system a few years ago, and a decent turntable, it was the first thing I put on…. The sound was 3D, and I could hear the opening timpani coming from the back of the room, like the orchestra was right there…. I nearly cried, it was like Isaac Stern was brought back to life, playing the concerto just for me.

    • #22
  23. Julia PA Member
    Julia PA
    @JulesPA

    Son of Spengler: I nearly cried, it was like Isaac Stern was brought back to life, playing the concerto just for me.

     the good thing about a recording, and the vinyls of our youth…the closest thing we can get to enjoying the ‘immortality’ of the greats! 

    • #23
  24. Belok Member
    Belok
    @Belok

    Many of my favorite violin pieces have already been mentioned. I’ll just add a recommendation to try the Beethoven violin sonatas (this time of year, give the “Spring” sonata a listen), the Bach sonatas and partitas for solo violin, and the Franck sonata. For something orchestral, try the Sibelius concerto.

    • #24
  25. Carey J. Inactive
    Carey J.
    @CareyJ

    For violin solo pieces, as opposed to regular orchestra works, I would recommend the following as a good start:

    Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
    Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
    Massenet Meditation from Thais
    Butterfly Lovers’ Violin Concerto
    Bach Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor, BVW 1043
    Dvorak Humoresque No. 7 

    Violinists I recommend highly:

    Maxim Vengerov
    Itzhak Perlman
    Mischa Elman – Fabulous tone, willing to ease up on the tempo and really work a piece. His Dvorak Humoresque is amazing.
    Isaac Stern
    David Oistrakh

    • #25
  26. Vince Inactive
    Vince
    @user_659173

    Susan in Seattle:

    Just another reason I hang out at Ricochet. I will get busy pursuing these recommendations; thank you all!

     I agree completely! I knew this would be a gold mine. We’ve been downloading all night. Truly in awe at the depth of this community. 

    • #26
  27. Jackal Inactive
    Jackal
    @Jackal

    Here’s a fun quiz on famous concertmaster solos (i.e., orchestral works with great solos for the first violinist).  (4/7, is what I got.)

    And for haunting (and 20th century, but still classical-type) I like The Lark Ascending.  

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLhpkvQLDt0

    • #27
  28. user_656019 Coolidge
    user_656019
    @RayKujawa

    A composition based on an old English Hymn by Thomas Tallis, “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” by Ralph Vaughan Williams. This piece fascinated me for years. I attempted to arrange for concert band. For two string orchestras (one acting as a diskant choir), and four players serving as a quartet. 

    Sir Adrian Boult’s recording with London Philharmonic Orchestra in 1975 is considered best by Grammophone magazine. I’m not sure how close this comes.

    • #28
  29. user_656019 Coolidge
    user_656019
    @RayKujawa

    When it comes to violin artists, I can’t recommend James Ehnes highly enough. His musicianship is uncanny. We get to see and hear him regularly as part of the Seattle Chamber Music Summer and Winter Festivals. Whatever he plays, it feels compelling to me.

    • #29
  30. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Susan in Seattle, this means YOU! (see above)  Faure’s Piano Quartet in C Minor is one everyone should listen to at least once.  He wrote two, and they are both great, just exuding passion.  I also just love Prokofiev’s two sonatas for Violin and Piano-they just make you want to get up and dance.
    Ray brought home some CDs by American composer Morten Lauridsen (choral works), and his Lux Aertna is simply transcendent, perfect for Easter listening.

    • #30

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