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Which Composition Captured your Imagination the most?

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(@eldarboy)
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I will presume to speak for most of us and state that one particular work captured my imagination and has held it not in jail, but in Nirvana since. It has been Bach's Goldberg Variations, in particular, Glenn Gould's 1981 recording. It is a work that populates my mind and its bars pop into my mind often. Whenever I wake in the middle of the night to turn over, it is frequent that some part of the Goldbergs are playing [and often many other assorted works from jazz, rock, etc.].

It seems a work that, to phrase Kierkegaard, presents the "stages of Life's way" in each variation beginning with birth, and ending with a sort of birth in the lonely opening and closing arias. There are moments of struggle, frustration; moments of happiness and joy; moments of contemplation and reflection; moments of dance and celebration; exuberance and remorse.

I once started a poem that was to be 32 sections, based on the moods and psychical states of each variation: it will be my retirement goal to focus on it and complete it before I am at the end of my closing aria.

Which work has captured most your imagination? Which piece, performed by whom, holds court in your heart?


   
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 Jen
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What a challenging question!

I can think of few works that express the gamut of human emotion as eloquently as Goldberg Variations, although it took me many years to fully appreciate that.  And yes, I too would choose Glenn Gould’s 1981 recording.

But the work that has most captured my imagination and my heart? Bach’s B Minor Mass is a contender for so many reasons, or Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time (specifically the performance at the Aldeburgh Festival by Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Isabelle Faust, Mark Simpson and Jean-Guihen Queyras).

But I’m going to plump for two tiny works, that for me forever epitomise perfection: Arvo Pärt’s Fratres in this version for violin and piano

https://app.idagio.com/recordings/37244654

And the performance of Purcell’s Anthem Hear my Prayer that plays in my mind.

 


   
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(@capriccio)
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Posted by: @eldarboy

I once started a poem that was to be 32 sections, based on the moods and psychical states of each variation: it will be my retirement goal to focus on it and complete it before I am at the end of my closing aria.

Wow! If we all happen to be around together when you finish it, I do hope you'll share it with us, @eldarboy.

As for my "favourite" piece, damn, couldn't you let me choose a hundred? I'm not sure whether I can pick one, because when I'm listening to something that makes me swoon, at that moment that piece becomes gloriously consuming.

Contenders at the moment would be Strauss's Four Last Songs sung by Jessye Norman; Handel's Dixit Dominus (Harry Christopher's earlier version); Bach's B Minor Mass; Vaughan William's Mass in G Minor; Liszt's Un Sospiro; Beethoven's 'Waldstein'; Elgar's Enigma Variations; Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini played by Artur Rubenstein; Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D played by Angela Hewitt and the Australian Chamber Orchestra; Arvo Pärt's Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten; Liszt's Les Préludes, Oh, the Goldberg Variations, yes. 😉 

You see, I just can't stop at one, which tells me how deep your devotion to the Goldbergs must be, Lewis.


   
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(@eldarboy)
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Posted by: @capriccio

when I'm listening to something that makes me swoon, at that moment that piece becomes gloriously consuming.

I wholeheartedly agree with this. Mozart’s Great C minor mass comes to mind; the list is exhaustively long😳🎶🎶

Because it reveals itself to me so often, unconsciously, it sits on the throne 🏆


   
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 Hugh
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There is no single work that has captured my imagination in the lasting way that Lewis has described. Different works (even Wagner's Ring 🙂 ) grab my imagination at different times, and I turn to different pieces to suit different moods. 
 
Currently, the one work that best fits his bill is Die schöne Müllerin. The version I first bought (and which I still love) is sung by Ian Partridge accompanied by Jennifer Partridge.
(I can't find it on either Apple or Idagio.)
 
As usual the BBC Building A Library review offered a range of interesting alternative versions to consider including one by Christoph Prégardien with Andreas Staier on fortepiano, but the reviewer (Laura Tunbridge) also mentioned the unusual folk-style version (with guitar, cello, tuba or trumpet and percussion accompaniment) by The Erlkings:
 
The quirkiness of this version has helped me listen afresh and to appreciate even better the work's range of emotions, its strong narrative arc, the variety of song structures, and above all its tunefulness.
 
(I've also enjoyed the Erlkings' other Schubert album. I imagine that their approach might not be to some Schubert lovers' taste, but they clearly love and respect his music. They always sing in English using paraphrases that generally follow the original text quite closely. One exception, with some quite outrageous departures from the original meaning, is this blissful song ... my current ear-worm:)
 
(Unfortunately, Idagio doesn't seem to have the Erlkings albums.)

   
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 Jen
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The conversations here often trigger lovely memories 😊

Years ago I was walking in the Lake District and, from nowhere, heard someone singing Die Schöne Müllerin. In German, unaccompanied, and so gloriously appropriate in that setting.

The voice seemed to be travelling with me, so I paused by the lakeside hoping its owner might appear.  They did: a young man who, I discovered, loved to sing simply for his own pleasure.  My pleasure too, on that day.  He seemed surprised to meet someone who recognised what he was singing.

We chatted for a while, said our goodbyes and with that, the müller disappeared into the hills  🎵 🎶


   
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 Hugh
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I wonder which song the wanderer was singing. There are so many different moods encapsulated in those 20 songs. 


   
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 Jen
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If only I could remember which he sang before we met.  

But he disappeared into the distance singing my favourite, Der Müller und der Bach…  “Ah dear brook, please sing on”


   
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 Hugh
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Posted by: @jen

“Ah dear brook, please sing on”

".... up in the clouds above the full moon in disgrace
from men's eyes shies away to hide the tears upon his face,
and all of the angels will close their eyes and weep
and gently start singing his weary soul to sleep ..."

The words on their own may be a bit corny, but with the music are so moving.


   
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(@dinah)
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Posted by: @hugh

".... up in the clouds above the full moon in disgrace
from men's eyes shies away to hide the tears upon his face,
and all of the angels will close their eyes and weep
and gently start singing his weary soul to sleep ..."

The words on their own may be a bit corny, but with the music are so moving.

How lovely! Never heard these before! Now I definitely have to! I think I'll listen to the Partridge recording first. Thanks @hugh 🙏


   
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 Hugh
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@dinah In case you find that you might prefer a different version the 6 shortlisted in the BBC Building A Library are shown here BBC Radio 3 - Record Review, Schubert: Die schöne Müllerin (I hope there are no regional restrictions preventing you seeing this web page.) The Fischer-Dieskau/Moore version was the one they recorded in about 1962. The Prégardien/Gees sounds interesting because it includes some ornamentation of the vocal line.


   
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@hugh the page you linked is viewable indeed. 👏👍

I bookmarked it for a later reference. Thanks Hugh. 🙏


   
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 Hugh
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The reviewer said that, rather than recommending a single version, if she was allowed she would have recommended a playlist of songs from different versions!


   
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Posted by: @hugh

Different works (even Wagner's Ring 🙂 ) grab my imagination at different times, and I turn to different pieces to suit different moods. 

I'd have to agree with @hugh on that one. The piece that persistently plays in my head would differ from time to time, usually determined by the weather conditions, and the place I'm at!!

But there're some pieces I find myself remembering, and visualizing, over and over again. They would pop into my head no matter my mood or state: Vaughan William's The Lark Ascending (I especially like Sarah Chang's interpretation 👇)

https://app.idagio.com/recordings/22412314

; Grieg's Morning Mood from Peer Gynt; and bits and pieces from Dvořák's Stabat Mater (it was the very first choral work I heard live in a concert hall, so it holds a special place in my heart! 🥰)

 


   
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