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The New Maria Callas Remasters: Good or Bad?

The other day, I posted about the new box set of Maria Callas’ Complete Studio Recordings being available for download on the iTunes Store. I had a few exchanges with Andrew Rose, of Pristine Classical, which restores historical recordings, and Andrew said that he thought the Callas remasters were not good. He told me he […]

New Classical Box Set: Maria Callas Remastered

I’m not a fan, but it’s worth highlighting this new box set of Maria Callas’s complete studio recordings, in a remastered edition. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) This is an expensive set: $275 or £211, but it contains 69 CDs, plus a CD-Rom with texts. (It’s even cheaper from Amazon.fr, at €199, and, if you’re in Europe, […]

The paradox of Charles Ives

“Viewed from just about any perspective, Charles Ives represents a tangle of paradoxes, and his reception has been consistently fraught. For many, he stands as the father of musical composition in the United States, yet he is by no means a frequently programmed composer today. In fact, readers of this review might know his name without ever having heard his music.”

Ives is one of the most astounding composers in history. But his music is not easy to listen to, and takes a while to get into.

via The paradox of Charles Ives | TLS.

New Box Set of Rameau’s Operas Released

I’ve long been a fan of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s operas. His music is exquisite and joyful, being the highest form of the French baroque. Warner Classics has released a box set of these works, with 12 operas on 27 CDs, from their back catalog of Erato recordings. Performers include Les Arts Florissants and Les Musiciens du […]

Audiences hate modern classical music because their brains cannot cope – Telegraph

“For decades critics of modern classical music have been derided as philistines for failing to grasp the subtleties of the chaotic sounding compositions, but there may now be an explanation for why many audiences find them so difficult to listen to.

“A new book on how the human brain interprets music has revealed that listeners rely upon finding patterns within the sounds they receive in order to make sense of it and interpret it as a musical composition.

“While traditional classical music follows strict patterns and formula that allow the brain to make sense of the sound, modern symphonies by composers such as Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern simply confuse listeners’ brains.”

At the risk of making a bad pun, this really is a no-brainer. Music follows a path of evolution, with gradual changes over the centuries, each composer varying slightly from what preceded them. It was only in the 20th century that these changes became revolutionary – as they did in the visual arts and literature – and listeners were left without landmarks.

“Mr Ball believes that many traditional composers such as Mozart, Bach and Beethoven subconsciously followed strict musical formula to produce music that was easy on the ear by ensuring it contained patterns that could be picked out by the brain.”

Not so much strict musical formulas, but a way of making music that was familiar. No one wrote down the rules; composers simply figured them out from what worked.

I’ve written that a lot of contemporary classical music is boring, and that’s not because I don’t understand the styles, but, simply, because it’s not written to be enjoyable in the first place.

While I’m not a fan of the serialists – twelve-tone composers – because I find their music sterile, there is some dissonant music that I do appreciate. It took me a long time to learn to understand Charles Ive’s Concord Sonata, which is full of dissonance, but now that I do understand it, I can appreciate his music.

via Audiences hate modern classical music because their brains cannot cope – Telegraph.

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