does anyone have recommendations for chamber music to start with?
Good question. Others will know more, and it isn't perhaps traditional chamber music, but one I would try for sure is Vivaldi's Four Seasons. The version conducted by Fabio Biondi and the ensemble Europa Gallante really brings this piece to life.
When you are thinking of chamber music, are you just thinking of string quartets and quintets, or small scale pieces more broadly?
Yes good choice.
Back in 2001, I was asked to suggest 10 Top Chamber Music Recordings for the magazine, and I've copied that recommendation below. Obviously, plenty of other worthy performances with good sound have come along since then, but most of these 10 are still asily obtainable...
[b]Iâ€™m not saying these are the ten best chamber music CDs - that would be asking for trouble - but they are ten of the best. If chamber music is a genre youâ€™ve neglected in the past, with these ten you would definitely be in the game. The tilt here is towards more recent releases. Performances are all excellent; sound ranges from very good to fabulous. Ten different labels - thatâ€™s intentional, to underscore that this list is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. In no particular orde
Apparently, the whole piece wouldn't fit here. So just the list of CDs....
Shostakovich: Complete String Quartets. Emerson String Quartet. Deutsche Grammaphon 289 463 284-2 (5 CDs)
DvorÃ¡k: The Two Piano Quartets. Ames Piano Quartet. Dorian DOR-90125
Beethoven: String Quartets Nos. 10, 11, and 16. Eroica Quartet. Harmonia Mundi (USA) HMU 907254
Debussy: Complete Chamber Music. Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Delos DE 3167 (3 CDs)
Messiaen: Quartet for the End of Time. Tashi. RCA 7835-2-RG
Songs My Mother Taught Me. Arturo Delmoni, violin; Meg Bachman Vas, piano. John Marks Records JMR 1.
Mendelssohn: String Quartets Nos. 1 and 2. Julliard String Quartet. Sony SK 60579
Bravo! The Best of the 1998 Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Mozart: Piano Quartet No.1. Elgar: Piano Quintet. Neikrug: Pueblo Childenâ€™s Songs. Stereophile STPH014-2
Schubert: Arpeggione Sonata. Schumann: Five Pieces, Op.102. Debussy: Sonata. Mstislav Rostropovich, cello; Benjamin Britten, piano. Decca 460 974-2
Brahms: Sonata No.1. Debussy: Sonata. BartÃ³k: Rumanian Folk Dances. Satoh: Birds In Warped Time II. David Abel, violin; Julie Steinberg, piano. Wilson Audiophile WCD-8722
Is this the music you'd start with, or the best recordings?
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Both, actually. All the pieces listed are core chamber music repertoire, representative of the best from the Classical, Romantic, and modern eras. But the recordings are first rate as well, which is a lot of fun for listeners with carefully configured audio systems. Unlike orchestral music, you have the chance to recreate the illusion of reality, making 3 or 4 or 5 players seem to materialize in your room or, if it was the engineers intent, transporting you to a good seat in a small hall.
Some additional things to hear early on, off the top of my head:
Beethoven: String Quartets Op.18
Haydn: String Quartets, Op.76
Tchaikovsky: Piano Trio
FaurÃ©: Piano Quartets
Schubert: Quintet (th one with 2 cellos)
Schumann: Piano Quintet
Choosing 10 albums probably left some painful omissions :wink:
I would be hard-pressed not to include Bartok's string quartets in a list that includes 20th Century chamber music.
More good stuff (w/ emphasis on accessibility):
Schubert: Octet. Gaudier Ensemble. Hyperion. (engineered by Tony Faulkner) Tuneful, with a variety of rich colors and moods.
Ravel: Tzigane et al. Enescu: Impressions d'enfance, Sonata No. 3. Leonidas Kavakos, Peter Nagy. ECM. Early modern music redolent of gypsy culture. Stunning recording.
Saint-Saens: Le Carnaval des Animaux, others. Renaud Capucon, Gautier Capucon and friends. Virgin Classics. Of course the "carnival" is fun, but the "others" are mo' bettah! Marvelous chamber music for harp, violin, cello, and a septet.
Brahms: Clarinet Sonatas. Martin Frost. BIS SACD. Gorgeous.
Brahms: Violin Sonatas. Dumay, Pires. DGG. Also gorgeous, consoling, peaceful. There are other good recordings of this repertoire too.
Beethoven: Complete Sonatas & Variations for Cello and Piano. Wispelwey, Lazic. Channel Classics SACD. Musically I prefer the new set by Menahem Pressler and Antonio Meneses, but the SOUND here is to die for.
You will notice that a lot of these selections are for two instruments. One of the great joys of chamber music is its intimacy, and I think a great way to found your way into chamber music is through duos that have wonderful tunes and rich harmonies. Bartok can come later (although the Enescu in here should warm you up for that). Enjoy
Glad you mentioned the Capucon brothers. These guys are amazing - you wouldn't think that a CD-length program of music for two melody instruments (violin and cello) could be so absorbing. Two recommended discs: "Inventions" and "Face a Face" - both on Virgin.
Also want to remind hose investigating chamber repertoire off the beaten track about eighth blackbird, a group of young musicianss (flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion) that plays the hell out of all manner of new music. Check out "Strange Imaginary Animals" or "Thirteen Ways" or "Fred". They're recorded, quite well, by Cedille.
Sorry to interrupt, but I am looking for Andy Quint, that used to go to Westchester Music and Arts Camp? If you are he, please wrote back.
craigdesu [at] gmail [dot] com
Are you the same Andy Quiny who attended Westchester Music and Arts camp, back in the '70's?
If so, please write to: craigdesu [at] gmail [dot] com