Thread: hey, i need suggestions for classical collection

Posts: 10

Post by iamtheowl March 8, 2007 (1 of 10)
Hey, what's up, i'm new to the forum. glad to be here.

i've been into sacd for a long time, of course, starting early on, then getting beat down ever since. i was really hoping i would get more rock music, but that doesn't look as though it'll ever happen. people like crappy quality, so it's what they get. we have to suffer meanwhile.

meanwhile, i was going to start building a nice multichannel calssical collection.

the problem being, there are thousands of them, and i'm not expert. i don't know specifically which are good and bad, when there a 30 differnet versions of beethovens symphony number 5, which do you choose?

as you all seem to be experts of varying degrees, i thought i'd consult.

my favorite composers are the typical ones, your beethovens, your bachs, your mozarts, your dvoraks, and lately stravinskys. the rite of spring is amazing, and i want a superb version of it.

the key is, i want it multi-channel. and i want it done well, naturally.

if you any of you guys or gals could help me out, that would be awesome.

thanks, -lee.

Post by krisjan March 8, 2007 (2 of 10)
I would suggest you start by going to the drop-down box on the upper right of the home screen and selecting "Top Recommendations". This will provide you with a list of the most recommended SACD's on this site. There are plenty of mainstreem composers there to get a nice collection started. You can click on the titles of interest and read the actual reviews.

Another way on this site is to use the search function. Type in "Dvorak" for example and up will pop all the titles that have Dvorak's music. You can then check the review of the titles that interest you most.

Now, as to which specific works from these composers you should explore and in which performances, you will find a greater diversity of opinion. You specifically mentioned Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. Just the other day I pulled out Jarvi's Telarc recording of this and enjoyed it very much. It has great sonics and is coupled with Neilsen's 5th symphony (a less common work in the classical repertoire).

Good luck.

Post by The Seventh Taylor March 8, 2007 (3 of 10)
I'm by no means an expert on classical music either, but this site can definitely help you.

If you go through the database and press 'recommend' with the ones you know you like, this can now give you 'smart recommendations' (see drop-down box in the top right corner), based on so-called collaborative filtering: it tells you what people with a similar taste like.

Post by snowman March 8, 2007 (4 of 10)
iamtheowl said:

my favorite composers are the typical ones, your beethovens, your bachs, your mozarts, your dvoraks, and lately stravinskys. the rite of spring is amazing, and i want a superb version of it.

the key is, i want it multi-channel. and i want it done well, naturally.

if you any of you guys or gals could help me out, that would be awesome.

thanks, -lee.

Some of the respondents suggested "top recommendations" which unfortunately I don't think would serve your purpose. Lots of us are old goats who were kids when the great "Living Stereo" recordings featuring Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony or when some of George Szell's Cleveland Orchestra recordings were made back in the early days of stereo and into the seventies. Well they are far from "state of the art" multi-channel recordings. Nevertheless, those old 3 channel and stereo recordings are among the very top recommendations! Why - because all we old duffers recommended them, but there was no such consensus on the other recommendations!

Some of the reviewers here have strong opinions (to the point of prejudice - probably).

Anyway, if you use top recommendations check any of the titles by clicking on it and reading the reviews of that title to get an idea of what people say about it. I suspect that high quality sound is more important to you right now than the most "scholarly" performance of any particular work.

Personally I recommend the Haitink "LSO Live" Beethoven symphonies, particularly the 3rd (Eroica), the fourth is another real winner - ah well so is the sixth and the seventh. You can save money and get the entire set. None of those performances is less than really good and most are the best I ever heard.

Here is a dilemma; The German violinist Anne Sophie Mutter has done a really nice recording of Korngold's Violin Concerto and I am certain you would really like the piece. The problem is that her Tchaikovsky, also on the disc is (in my opinion), mannered to the point of crudity. Another, much younger, German violinist has done the perfect recording of the Tchaikovsky concerto in state of the art recorded sound and that is Julia Fischer's PentaTone recording.

If you like soulful but exciting violin playing Fischer's disc is nonpareil - there simply is no better! Also recommended is her PentaTone recording of the Bach Sonatas and Partitas for unaccompied violin. That may not be a beginner's album however.

(All of Julia Fischer's PentaTone recordings are eminently recommendable, but maybe not all of them would appeal to a beginner) Her Russian Violin Concertos disc however is probably something you would like.

The Chandos Bach: The Conductors' Transcriptions sounds right up your alley.

I recommend the Tchaikovsky Symphony#1 on BIS - excellent sounding and excellently performed. All the BIS recordings of Tchaikovsky symphonies are recommendable but so are the Harmonia Mundi ones of the numbers 4.,5 and 6

Bartok's concerto for orchestra should really appeal to you. It is one of the masterpieces of the 20th century and it is easy to listen to. The one to have is Kocis on Hungaraton.

Saint Saens Organ Symphony for part of the work perhaps the one I am going to recommend lacks "drive" not in the last movement, however. The Eschenbach / Philadelphia Orchestra recording on Ondine is maybe the most superb recording I ever heard.

Stravinsky - Rite of Spring Paavo Jarvi's Cincinnati Symphony recording has been praised and damned on this site. I have it and admit to not having played it much. I should give it a new listen before commenting. There is a Membran recording that got high praise and it is a bargin from jpc. Another Membran is the Bernstein music from Fancy Free, West Side Story and On the Town. Not the most refined sound but pretty exciting stuff. Loud and boisterous.

Something else by Stravinsky you are sure to like is Petrushka. There is an excellent recording by Naxos and you should get it sooner than later because Naxos stopped making SACDs last year. This also has the Firebird

Mahler's Symphony #1 is sure to please. My personal favorite is the San Francisco Symphony recording under Michael Tilson Thomas - but there is a new one coming soon on SonyBMG and also the Telarc by Zander and the London Symphony got high praise here.

Shostakovitch's Symphonies 5 and 9 with the Russian National Orchestra under Yakov Kreizburg will be released on March 27 according to CD Universe. I will be surprised if it doesn't become the top recommendation for those Shostakovitch symphonies and surely you will like them...maybe more than Beethoven!

I recommend the PentaTone recording of the Dvorak New World - to me it is just right but the Paavo Jarvi recording has a wonderful performance of the Martinu Symphony #2 which is a unique piece you may have to "grow into".

Smetana's Ma Vlast by Susskind on Mobile Fidelity, which reminds me that there is a really good Holst Planets on Mobile Fidelity, but check the reviews of the other performances.

I would recommend Dvorak's symphonies 8&9 on Philips but a Kreizburg performance of the 8th is due out later this year so I would wait. Others however will recommend the Philips over my recommendation of the Kreizburg. You have to make up your own mind on that one. Ha ! Dvorak's wonderful 'cello concerto - I like the Harmonia Mundi recording with Jean-Guihen Queyras on 'cello. This as you may know is one of Dvorak's masterpieces.

I really like Brahm's Horn Trio and his 'cello sonatas as well. You may find this chamber music opens up new vistas and I would suggest them as a venture into something new. PentaTone for the Horn Trio and Channel Classics for the 'Cello sonatas.

I should think that may be enough for now....unless you are much better heeled than I.

Post by Beagle March 9, 2007 (5 of 10)
Ditto to Snowman's remarks. Yes we are grizzled old geezers with hardening of the brainways. You need to find YOUR corner of the vast classical universe. If your original inclination is towards rock, then maybe Bach, Beethoven and Brahms can wait...

Edvin and I exchanged ideas a while ago, about which classical pieces might be a good entry-point for a rocker going over to the Dark Side. Edvin aptly suggested Stravinsky's Rite of Spring* (heavy percussion), I suggested Carl Orff's Carmen Burana (good for x-rated lyrics and driving rhythm). Both rock.

And don't worry so much about buying THE ULTIMATE Rite of Spring -- they're all pretty damned good. Just use the remarks on this forum to avoid the real losers.

*As does Snowman above.

Post by raffells March 9, 2007 (6 of 10)
The Seventh Taylor said:

I'm by no means an expert on classical music either, but this site can definitely help you.

If you go through the database and press 'recommend' with the ones you know you like, this can now give you 'smart recommendations' (see drop-down box in the top right corner), based on so-called collaborative filtering: it tells you what people with a similar taste like.

The best advice is to take your time.If you are attracted by surround sound then the whole stock of MLP and LS are front 3 channels only and not genuine surround.They are mostly USA based appreciaters.
As a dealer I can sell the orignal 50 year old heavy Lps at a fair price to people in USA and Japan.However No one else wants many of these old recordings for many reasons and second prints of these releases are not worth anything.Some performances are good but have been supersceded often.If EMI Lyrita or Decca opened up its vaults to sacd then virtually NONE of these would be on anyones hit list.
The lists you have been provided are all good.Though why Greig Sibelius and Tchaikovsky are not to the fore I cannot understand.Also Holst Planets and Rodrigos Guitar concerto is probably a work you a familiar with.
Good idea is to stick to the top 100..Beethovens 5th and Pastoral was always a good start.Try to remember it is a musical work NOT A HIFI piece as you will soon get tired of Tchaikovskys 1812 cannons.
Im afraid the so called collabrative filtering is flawed as I like far too much stuff from Folk C&W Blues R&B Reggae Pop Punk Chamber and quality classical so I doubt if anyone will match mine.Also this only works with sacds and most people have other musical formats. interesting place to start.

Post by Polly Nomial March 10, 2007 (7 of 10)
Myself, I'd recommend the "Top Recommendations" drop-down filtered to show only classical recordings. Then, as you want "true" MCH recordings, ignore almost all LS & MLP recordings (although I'd have to allow a couple of still truly great performances in that have tolerable* sound like: Stravinsky: The Firebird (complete ballet), etc - Dorati, Ravel: Daphnis et Chloe - Munch, Balalaika Favorites - Osipov State Russian Folk Orchestra) and you'll have a fantastic collection!

When faced with a choice, I'd personally favour European based recordings over American ones due to the predominantly less "in-your-face" recordings but this is just my personal prejudice - try some of each and see what you prefer...

*: this is being most uncharitable but you can't really hand-on-heart claim that they're first rank any more.

Post by Windsurfer March 10, 2007 (8 of 10)
Here are some more suggetions. With one exception, I strove to find the best sounding discs. The exception is the finest performance I know of the Beethoven Seventh Symphony and it is mch but by comparison to today's sound is more like a recording than like live music. For your convenience, I provided links to reviews on this site:

Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition is one of the all time favorites for people just getting into classical music Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition, Night on the Bare Mountain - Kuchar

Prokofiev's Classical Symphony arranged for two pianos. I wouldn't have believed it but this is so dramatic and such a spectacular sound experience - two grand pianos in your living room played by one of the greatest pianists of our time and one of her most promising acolytes. Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov - Leschenko, Argerich, Poltera, Lakatos

Prokofiev's Alexander Nevesky was initially written for a motion picture. It is melodic and dramatic The Lieutenant Kije is simply plain fun. Prokofiev: Alexander Nevsky, Lieutenant Kije - Slatkin

Scherazade is a sonic spectacular with superb melodic themes and plenty of drama. Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade, Borodin, Balakirev - Gergiev

Schubert's Symphony #8 is the "Unfinished" a timeless masterwork and easy to like, very melodious, at times dramatic and this is an excellent performance! Schubert: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 7 - Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra

Shostakovitch's Piano Concerto is a must have! Shostakovich/Shchedrin: Piano Concertos - Marc-André Hamelin

The Sibelius violin concerto is one of the great violin concertos, this performance is excellent and the sound is superb. Snatch this up if you can still find it because it will most likely be out of print - thanks to Universal's short sighted policies. You may also find your self enjoying the Walton right away or not - its the Sibelius I recommend to a newbie! Sibelius, Walton: Violin Concertos - Akiko Suwanai

Stravinsky's Petrushka and Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances are both top recommendations to folks new to classical music. This is a disc wity stunning sound and excellent performances Stravinsky: Petrouchka, Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances - Jansons

The Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto has dramatic sweep and beautiful melodies. It is generally a favorite of newcomers to classical music: Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1 etc. - Volodos

Vaughn Williams Symphony #2 - melodic and sonically impressive. The shear Englishness of this is fun! Vaughan Williams: London Symphony - Hickox

Shostakovitch' Jazz Suites - not really jazz but jazz influenced orchestral music and very good - Shostakovich: Jazz Suites - Kuchar

Sibelius's complete symphonies (not all these are going to interest you at first , but getting them in a set like this has the advantage of getting them all and this particular set may become scarce. The first second third and fifth symphonies are immediately likable and once you like those (and I predict you will) the others will follow. Sibelius: The Complete Symphonies - Neeme Järvi

Mahler Symphony #5, The opening is extraordinarily dramatic and this disc has STUNNING sound! Mahler: Symphony No. 5 - Netherlands PO/Haenchen

Caesar Franck Symphony Franck: Symphony in D minor, Chausson: Symphony in B flat - Janowski

Manuel de Falla Three Cornered Hat - spectacular sound but only 4 not 5 channels Falla: The Three Cornered Hat etc. - Pons

Borodin Symphony #2 Borodin: Symphony No. 2, Prince Igor - RPO/Schmidt

Beethoven Symphony # 7 Kleiber live performance - Multi-channel but not the best sound however the performance more than maked up for that Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 - Kleiber

Bizet Symphony in C Bizet: Symphony No. 1, L'Arlesiénne Suites - RPO/Delacote

If you get a lot of Membrans use jpc for the best price but remember that they have a $13 shipping charge that is flat no matter whether you buy one disc or 26.

Post by iamtheowl March 11, 2007 (9 of 10)
Hey, thanks to everyone for the advice so far.

I did neglect to mention, that I do have a couple of classical SACDís in my collection,

Telarcs: The complete orchestral suites of JS Bach, performed on period instruments, (the reason I purchased it) conducted by Martin Pearlman and Boston Baroque.

Living Stereoí Tchaikovsky piano concerto no 1/ Rachmaninoff Piano concerto no. 2 with Van Clliburn (bought because of the high reviews, and I agree. Itís pretty good. a bit hissy, but I didnít expect it to not be.)

Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonicís Dvorak New World Symphony. (Of course because of the Bernstein name, which I hear bandied about, REM made me buy it. disappointing only because itís straight stereo.)

The film scores of Bernard Hermann, conducted by Salonen and LA philharmonic. (also straight stereo, and I debate itís SACD credentials for some reason.

So, I have an inkling of familiarity with some of the labels and what not, but itís just that, an inkling. I canít wait to start buying some of it, and listening to it, and drifting off into a nice little fantasy land.

Itís good to come to the dark side. After all, itís not that dark. Just softer.

Post by Steve Steckel March 13, 2007 (10 of 10)
As you probably know, whether a particular performance/recording of classical music is great, good, bad, or in-diffrent depends on the tastes of the listener. As an example only, Vanskas reading of Beethovens ninth got rave reviews but, I found it very ordinary. Keep this in mind as you read my list of favorites and these are in no particular order. Mousorgsky/Ravel-Pictures At An Exhibition, Reiner/Chicago Symphony, Rimsky_Korsakov- Scherazade, Reiner/Chicago Symphony, Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique, Maazel/Cleveland Orchestra, Telarc ( it's only two channel but, it is a "knock-out" performance. ), the entire Tchaikovsky series, released so far on Bis, Jarvi, Gothenburg Symphony, Tchaikovsky Symphony # 4 on DVD-Video titled "Keeping Score" ( It's not SACD but it is 5.1 and your choice of Dolby or DTS. It starts with a discussion and finishes with the entire performance, which is great.) Saint-Saens Symphony #3, Philadelphia Orchestra/Eschenbach, ( If you don't have a good sub-woofer this disc may make you buy one. The low organ pedals will rattle your rafters and anything else not nailed down.) As for Beethovens Ninth, there are no GREAT performances on SACD, in my opinion. My favorites are Reiner/Chicago Symphony and Abbado/Berlin Philharmonic on DVD-Video ( Like the Tchaikovsky Fourth it is 5.1 and your choice of Dolby or DTS. The bonus here is a very good Beethoven Third.) This should keep you and your wallet busy for a while. Please feel free to post any questions regarding my opinion on a particular piece but, be fore-warned, I am VERY opinionated.