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Modern & 20th Century
|Ravel: Bolero / Ma Mere L'Oye / Rapsodie Espagnole / Une Barque sur L'Ocean / Alborada del Gracioso
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Ravel: Bolero / Ma Mere L'Oye / Rapsodie Espagnole / Une Barque sur L'Ocean / Alborada del Gracioso
The Berlin Philharmonic never has had much opportunity to play Ravel, which is a pity because under Pierre Boulez they do it extremely well. Under their current music director, Claudio Abbado, the orchestra more often than not sounds positively comatose. How gratifying then, that with a dynamic conductor and music that's fun to play, they rouse themselves to sound like the world-class ensemble they really can be when they're not resting on their laurels. Boléro is really smashing, with a knockout final cadence, and the solo players in all of these works cover themselves with glory. This is a great Ravel disc. --David Hurwitz
|Bernstein: Candide Overture / Symphonic Dances from West Side Story / On the Waterfront - Symphonic Suite / Fancy Free Ballet
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|The Ultimate Most Relaxing Classical Music In The Universe [2 CD]
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This collection features more than two hours of relaxing Classical compositions to help you kick back, unwind and relax.
|Stravinsky Conducts Stravinsky: Petrushka / Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring)
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Whatever the limitations of Stravinsky's baton technique, no one else on disc conjures the same bustling excitement at the outset of Petrouchka. Overlapping, polyrhythmic textures in Petrouchka and in Le Sacre du Printemps come off with Mozartian lucidity, Mendelssonian lightness, and, well, Stravinsky-esque rhythmic exactitude (notwithstanding a few hesitant entrances). The clarity partly stems from the composer's use of his leaner revised scores, helped by close-up, analytical mike work by CBS. There are, of course, slicker, more sonically opulent versions of these 20th century landmarks. And then there are Stravinsky's. --Jed Distler
|Flute for Relaxation
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JAMES GALWAY - FLUTE FOR RELAXATION - CD
|Stravinsky: Le Sacre du printemps (Rite of Spring) / The Firebird / Jeu de cartes / Petrouchka / Pulcinella
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CLAUDIO ABBADO - STRAVINSKY: SACRE DU PRINTEMPS - 2 CD SET
This is an excellent Stravinsky collection on all counts. Claudio Abbado's recordings with the London Symphony Orchestra represent the high-water mark of his career, and DG captured the partnership in generally fine sound. This recording of the complete Pulcinella, with the songs included, set an entirely new standard for the work, and its excellence has worn very well in the couple of decades since its initial release. The performance of Jeu de Cartes (Card Game) also should win many new friends for this entertaining late work. As to the Big Three ballets, all of them were among the most recommendable versions when they first came out, and they still are. --David Hurwitz
|The Copland Collection: Orchestral & Ballet Works, 1936-1948
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Aaron Copland made numerous recordings of his own music, including an extensive series for CBS during the 1960s and '70s, mostly with London orchestras. He was not an especially proficient conductor--consequently, the performances he conducted often lacked pace and rhythmic punch. His last recordings of his most popular scores have been reissued by Sony on an exceptionally well-remastered 3-CD set. These accounts do a good job of conveying the overall shape of the pieces, and they deliver telling characterizations of many episodes. Details emerge that are lost in some other accounts, and there is an appealing gentleness and sweetness to the approach. But the readings do not have as much grip as those of Bernstein and Slatkin, among others, and in spite of the authority they automatically possess, they are not necessarily preferable. --Ted Libbey
|Debussy: La Mer / Nocturnes / Jeux / Rhapsodie pour Clarinette et Orchestre
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Pierre Boulez made his early reputation as a Debussy conductor, and with good reason. Debussy's reputation as a musical "impressionist" led most people to think of him as a sort of musical Claude Monet--all blurry outlines and fuzzy images--but Boulez changed this perception, bringing an analytical clarity and razor-sharp definition to the composer's musical mosaics. What he has achieved in this second series of Debussy recordings is an additional naturalness and spontaneity of expression. The Cleveland Orchestra is the ideal vehicle for this sort of interpretation, being perhaps the most technically precise band in the world. The result is just about perfect. -- David Hurwitz
|First Steps in Classical Music: Keeping the Beat
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Brand: Gia Publications, Inc.
2001 GIA PRODUCTIONS CD
|The Art Of The Theremin
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In 1927, two remarkable people arrived in the United States after lengthy and successful tours of Europe: Lev Sergeivitch Termen (anglicized to Leon Theremin) and Clara Rockmore (whose maiden name was Clara Reisenberg). Theremin was a young Russian physicist who was demonstrating a new musical instrument that he invented. The instrument was played by the motion of the musician's hands in the space surrounding the instrument. Clara Rockmore, a professional violinist from the age of 9, became aware of the musical potential of Theremin's invention. She spent several years collaborating with Theremin during which time he developed his invention into a sensitive, wide-range musical instrument. Clara subsequently embarked on a performance career that encompassed well over a hundred concerts, including appearances with major symphony orchestras, and set the definitive standard for theremin performance technique.
To play the theremin, the performer stands in front of the instrument, a little left of center. The feet are spread slightly to keep the body as motionless as possible. To determine the pitch of the instrument's tone, the player varies the distance between her right hand and the pitch antenna. When the instrument is properly tuned, the pitch goes from lower than two octaves below middle C when the player's right hand is back at her shoulder, to approximately 2 1/2 octaves above middle C when the player's hand barely touches the pitch antenna. To determine the loudness of the instrument's tone, the player varies the distance between her left hand and the middle of the volume antenna. Maximum loudness occurs when the hand is removed from the antenna; complete silence occurs when the hand is an inch or so from the loop.
The thereminist must move her hands with incredible precision as well as speed if she wishes to play distinct notes with correct intonation. Ms. Rockmore actually uses fingering patterns to play the most rapid passages. For instance, if she were to play an upward arpeggio, she would start on the lowest note with right hand tilted back and fingers withdrawn. To play the next note she would abruptly move her hand forward from the wrist, while keeping her right arm motionless. The third note would be played by rapidly extending the little finger, and the fourth note by extending one or two more fingers while simultaneously turning the wrist sideways to bring the newly-extended fingers nearer to the pitch antenna. She would then continue the arpeggio by moving her whole arm closer to the pitch antenna while drawing her hand and fingers back, then repeating the above-described succession of movements. At the same time, she may articulate each individual pitch by rapidly shooting the fingers of her left hand into the volume antenna loop, then withdrawing them, to silence the tone during the very short periods of time that her right hand moves from one pitch to another. No other theremin player has ever mastered this difficult and intricate technique for playing rapid successions of precise pitches - "aerial fingering" as one reviewer termed it.
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