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04.17.22 Pon's Top 50 ov2k2104.10.22 2021: Rejects
01.21.21 Jac's Top 50 m/ ov2k20 10.08.20 Every Ulcerate Song Ranked (Again)
05.19.20 some classical jamz05.03.20 some metal jamz
05.05.19 For BlushfulHippocrene 05.02.19 Recent 2019 jams
04.19.19 Some 2019 Classical 04.18.19 Some 2019 m/
01.16.19 Jac's Top 50 m/ ov2018 07.25.18 Hard as Feck Riffs
07.08.18 Classical in 2018 04.23.18 Jac's (late) 1st Quarter 2018
12.27.17 Jac's Top 30 of 2017 10.20.17 Classical in 2017
04.01.17 Every Ulcerate Song Ranked 03.29.17 Dissonant Tech
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For BlushfulHippocrene

Some 'pensive instrumental' tunes and/or beginner modern classical that I hope will help you get into the genre a little more. I'm far from the most knowledgeable person on the subject but I think these should suffice for the time being.
1Ludovico Einaudi

First few of these aren't really classical, but more "crossover, i.e. classical presentation with pop structures" or "neoclassical" post-rock that includes a myriad of influences from electronic music. This is the former and one of the most common starting points for people wanting to ease into classical, particularly modern.

2World's End Girlfriend
Hurtbreak Wonderland

Here's an example of the latter. Strings playing saccharine melodies, backed up by drum machines and synth lines and pads, occasionally peppered with elements of glitch and breakbeat.

3Yasushi Yoshida
Grateful Goodbye

Electronics are peeled back a little on this one and the arrangements are a little less immediate, but the welcoming sound palette and more conventional instrumentation (including some guitar, both electric and acoustic) mean it can function just as well as background music as it can an attentive listen.

4Kashiwa Daisuke
April. #02

Daisuke's work is more along the same lines as World's End Girlfriend's, only he's better at it.

5Kashiwa Daisuke
Program Music I

This album is the absolute zenith of neoclassical post-rock and "Stella", to this day, remains one of my favourite songs of all time. Strings, keys, acoustic guitar, vocal snippets, synths, real-world samples and drum machines all steadily coalesce, chopped-and-skewed yet paced to absolute perfection in a half-hour journey that's engrossing yet in no way exhausting. "Write Once, Run Melos" has more of a jazz-fusion bedrock and, in isolation, is extremely impressive, but is overshadowed by the the opening track.

6Arvo Part
Tabula Rasa

Minimalism and post-minimalism can also serve as great introduction to classical and are generally better for people who are interested in the long-form compositions you're going to find as you dive deeper.

7Steve Reich
Music for 18 Musicians

It also tends to be quite repetitive and rigid in its mood, which can make it a bit of a slog to sit through sometimes. This is generally loved despite embodying those attributes, probably due to being very uplifting and more varied (texture-wise) than most minimalism (that I've heard at least).

8Max Richter
The Blue Notebooks

If you enjoy Einaudi's work then I'd recommend this. Very filled-out, glistening production, affecting melodies and generous amounts of time allotted to different instruments to avoid stagnation.

9Max Richter
Three Worlds: Music from Woolf Works

Very much the same.

10Johann Johannsson

One of the more authentic-sounding "pop classical" records, as it tends to shirk a lot of the electronics that can make similar works feel as though they're trying too hard appeal to a broader audience.

11New York Philharmonic
Le Sacre du printemps

Some obligatory mentions include this. It's not all that accessible, in fact it was considered so radical that its first public performance is said to have caused a riot. Nevertheless, it's quite tame in comparison to some of the stuff that came after it; and if you're interested in where the genesis of extensive use of dissonance and atonality can be traced to, this along with Schoenberg's early work is essential.

12London Sinfonietta
Gorecki: Symphony No. 3 [Zinman]

Representing the complete opposite end of the modern classical spectrum is Gorecki's 3rd Symphony. Sometimes criticised as being too simple and sickly sweet, while others consider it to be achingly beautiful or heartbreaking.

13Beth Gibbons and The Polish National Radio Orchestra
Gorecki Symphony No. 3: Symphony of Sorrowful Song

A recording featuring Beth Gibbons of Portishead was also released less than two months ago.

14Belcea Quartet
Shostakovich: Quartet No. 3 + Piano Quintet

Shostakovich was quite heavily influenced by Stravinsky, and that penchant for dissonance comes through in his works. Difference I find is there is a much greater sense of resolve in Shostakovich's work, which allows for more powerful emotional payoffs in and between movements.

15Emerson String Quartet
Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 8

Don't @ me for that previous comment btw
16Takacs Quartet
Bartok: The 6 String Quartets

An essential recording of essential pieces. Bartok's work is little more abstract and loiters on the edge of tonality quite frequently, but doesn't feel zany for the sake of it. If you end up recognising some of this, it's probably because these works were sampled heavily by Venetian Snares.

17Silesian String Quartet
Weinberg: String Quartet No. 7 + Piano Quintet

I'm not all that familiar with Weinberg's work so I'll hesitate before making comparisons to other composers, but I felt like including this specifically as it's a recent fave of mine. The quartet at the start is enjoyable, but I think the juxtaposition of (very) tense string arrangements, with the gentle timbres of the piano, will be a great way to ease yourself into more "out there" works - like those of the Second Viennese School.

18Robert Black
Scelsi: The Works for Double Bass

The only Scelsi I'm game to recommend here, as the double bass is easier on the ears. If you end up liking this then Scelsi has a pretty incredible body of work to sift through.

19Vadym Kholodenko
Preludes, Etudes and Sonatas nos. 4 + 5

Scriabin started off emulating a lot of late-Romantic era composers, but later started to develop a more dissonant, idiosyncratic style. This album covers that transition chronologically and makes for a very interesting listen.

20Vladimir Sofronitsky
Scriabin Recital

21Steven Osborne
Vingt regards sur l'enfant-Jésus

I'll admit that I've never been able to connect with this piece (or Messiaen's work at large), but given the praise that it routinely receives, there's a good chance you might.

[can't find a link anywhere rip]
22Yordanoff / Tetard / Desurmont / Barenboim
Messiaen: Quatuor pour la fin du temps

It's probably just because of the interplay between the strings and piano that I find this more palatable than Messiaen's other stuff, but there are some seriously affecting moments throughout. It's by no means inviting, but then again I can't imagine it's supposed to be; it's a coming-to-terms with your final days, as written by a French prisoner of war who presumably had done just that. If you're after something contemplative, this is it.

23Arditti String Quartet
Schoenberg: La Nuit Transfigurée

Schoenberg would come to be known for his development of the twelve-tone technique and spearheading serialism. His later work broke with tradition so fiercely that he, like many Jewish composers throughout Europe in the '30s and '40s, was persecuted for making what was called "degenerate music" by the Nazis. "Transfigured Night" or "Verklärte Nacht" is an example of his earlier work that, while containing some of the elements that would characterise his more abstract work, has palpable warmth amid the destitution.

24Aki Takahashi
Feldman: Triadic Memories

Triadic Memories is the only Feldman composition I'd rec to somebody unfamiliar with modern classical in general. It's pensive and quite creepy, though not in any way hard to sit through. This is the shortest (to my knowledge) and best interpretation.

25Munchener Kammerorchester
Sofia Gubaidulina

A good portion of modern classical since Penderecki, Ligeti and Scelsi can be characterised as having a "horror movie" vibe to it, avoiding familiar tonality like the plague and hinging on massive dynamic shifts (read: jump scares) intended to frighten and shock. This album is an increasingly rare example of that modus operandi utilised with tact, paying dividends as you're often coaxed into a false sense of security. tl;dr it's spooky

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