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🎂A triple B-day, today🎉

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(@dinah)
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Today, October 9th, marks the birthday of three great composers, from different musical traditions and eras:

  • Giuseppe Verdi, 9 (or 10?) October 1813, Province of Parma, Italy
  • Camille Saint-Saëns, 9 October 1835, Paris, France 
  • Einojuhani Rautavaara, 9 October 1928, Helsinki, Finland

Do you have a favourite among these giants?

Do you have a composition of theirs that you consider so special we should definitely know about? 

 

 


   
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(@dinah)
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I, for one, of course like Verdi's operas. It's hard to choose a favourite one, but if pressed I'd say it's Tosca (cheesy, I know 🤣) and Nabucco.

That Va pensiero chorus is so beautiful (When I listen to it I'm always reminded of Borodin's Polovtsian Chorus "fly on the wings of wind" from Prince Igor, and vice versa! 🤔)

 

Saint-Saëns wrote so many beautiful works it's hard to pick just one, or a few. But the first work of his that I listened to was the Danse Macabre, and I still love it. It's so deliciously playful. I also like his opera Samson and Delilah.

But my number one favourite Saint-Saëns work would be The Carnival of the Animals, to which I have listened to for the first time very, very recently!

 

Rautavaara remains, unfortunately, largely unknown to me. I've heard bits and pieces, but I'm still to explore his œuvre! 

 

 

 


   
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 Hugh
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I hardly know Saint-Saëns and don't know Rautavaara at all. So my choice has to be Verdi. He is one of my top composers anyway.

Tosca?!

My favourites are all very mainstream: Rigoletto, Otello and Falstaff. I've been thinking of creating a playlist of operatic ensembles and duets and the quartet from Act 3 of Rigoletto would definitely feature along with, probably, the duet between Otello and Iago half way through Otello. As for Falstaff I just love it throughout. It feels like the work of a man happy in his retirement, relishing his craft.


   
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 Jen
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Happy Birthday all three!

I confess that none of them feature in my Top 10 composers, although I enjoy many of Saint-Saëns works.  Especially Piano Concertos 2, 4 and 5 (with Stephen Hough at the piano, unfortunately on Hyperion), the cello concertos… and this joyful little Tarantella:

https://app.idagio.com/recordings/31826745

[Edit: and I’m smiling, should a tarantella be quite as joyful as this?]


   
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(@dinah)
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Ooops, @Hugh 😂🤪 about Tosca. 

I always get my Verdis and Puccinis mixed up, 😂😂😂

I guess it's because growing up, these two were the most staged where I lived, that I didn't consciously make the distinction between them. Still don't, apparently! (To my younger self they were great operas anyway, so who wrote them was somewhat of an afterthought 🤷‍♀️🤣) 

Oh, yes. Otello is wonderful. (There's also his Macbeth, if I remember correctly?! It left a great impression on me when I first saw it! I love Shakespearean tragedy!) Falstaff I only saw once, and you're right, it was wonderful (Rigoletto none at all, but I hope to rectify that soon).

 

Now, about Saint-Saëns, he's is a delight to listen to I promise 🙋‍♀️

 


   
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(@dinah)
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Posted by: @jen

I’m smiling, should a tarantella be quite as joyful as this

Ya, @Jen. It's one of his fun pieces to listen to. Mr Saint-Saëns' music is rather exceptional, isn't it? 

I remember thinking the same to myself when I first heard Danse Macabre: 🤔, this doesn't sound macabre at all! It's catchy and "dancy" and very, very fun (not at all things one associates with the word "macabre").

I haven't listened to any of his piano concerti, yet. I'll put it on my [ever-growing] list! 


   
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(@capriccio)
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Posted by: @hugh

I hardly know Saint-Saëns

@hugh Do yourself a favour and listen to some of Saint-Saëns’ piano works. The three concerti @jen mentions (2, 3 and 5) are a great place to start. I especially love 2 and 5. Although Stephen Hough’s performances aren’t on streaming services, if you find you like the music, you can always go retro and buy them on CD. You really want someone who knows that you must play the final movement of Piano Concerto No.2 at a cracking pace. Louis Lortie does a pretty good job with that.

I also love his 3rd Symphony. Lots of folk diss Saint-Saëns for being too showy, but I love him at his showy best. And those piano concertos - best driving music!

https://app.idagio.com/recordings/26652437?trackId=26652466


   
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(@capriccio)
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Posted by: @dinah

 

  • Giuseppe Verdi, 9 (or 10?) October 1813, Province of Parma, Italy
  • Camille Saint-Saëns, 9 October 1835, Paris, France 
  • Einojuhani Rautavaara, 9 October 1928, Helsinki, Finland

 

  • John Lennon, 9 October 1940, Liverpool, England

I know, I’m crossing genres, but! 

 


   
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(@dinah)
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@Hugh

I guess the Verdi I mixed up with Tosca would be La Traviata, equally cheezy, in my humble opinion. The reason I say that is that this one (as well as Tosca actually) is so much performed, that after a while things turn a little "clichéd" as @capriccio once reminisced about Für Elise. That doesn't in any way make these less great masterpieces or anything, it's just that you sometimes want to "rebel" and try lesser known, underperformed œuvres! 


   
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(@dinah)
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Posted by: @capriccio

I know, I’m crossing genres, but! 

It's OK. Variety is good sometimes, though I confess: I haven't "actively" listened to Lennon before. I think I should try and broaden my scope a little bit?! 


   
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(@dinah)
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Posted by: @capriccio

Lots of folk diss Saint-Saëns for being too showy, but I love him at his showy best.

Fine by me. He can be showy all he wants. 👍🤪


   
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 Jen
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@capriccio  I remember many years (decades?) ago, hearing S-S 3rd Symphony at the Proms in the Royal Albert Hall.  I went with a friend; we were sat behind the orchestra in the choir stalls, right next to the bottom C organ pipe.  I looked at the pipe… and knew how the final movement began…  C minor… and wondered.  And was still not prepared for the sensation of the huge first chord on the organ.  I’m not sure how far the two of us jumped from our seats, then we couldn’t contain our giggles.  I’m astonished we weren’t thrown out 😂. But what a great concert!


   
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(@capriccio)
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@jen The proms are the perfect place for a fit of the giggles, I reckon. What an experience!

I do love concerts where you have a whacking great sound from a concert hall organ. Or where you have instruments, usually brass, placed behind you. Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem in the Sydney Opera House gave me such shivers!


   
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 Hugh
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I've listened to the Saint-Saens 2nd piano concerto 4 times now. I'm gradually getting there. Smile


   
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(@dinah)
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@hugh I knew you'd like him. 👌

How about Carnival of the Animals?

And here's a nice album containing some of his most famous pieces, by the excellent (in my humble opinion) Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

https://app.idagio.com/albums/4ff77dc1-a5f5-4d97-a0dc-8a738f74e771

 

(by the way, do you have access to Idagio? Or Apple Music? We need to know what platform most of us use so as not to leave anyone behind when posting links! 🤔 )

 


   
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