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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.
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.
|2||World's End Girlfriend|
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.
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.
Daisuke's work is more along the same lines as World's End Girlfriend's, only he's better at it.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Three Worlds: Music from Woolf Works
Very much the same.
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.
|11||New 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.
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.
|13||Beth 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.
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.
|15||Emerson String Quartet|
Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 8
Don't @ me for that previous comment btw
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.
|17||Silesian 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.
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.
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.
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]
|22||Yordanoff / 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.
|23||Arditti 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.
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.
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
|List can work for anyone else looking to go into this stuff but isn't too sure where to start|
|Oh man, this is so much more than I was expecting and I appreciate the hell out of it. Thanks so much, Jac, just started on Einaudi. I should've saved reading the descriptions for later perhaps, because now I'm tempted to skip ahead, but I think I'll listen in order. Looks like most of these are on Spotify, too, which is a big help. Again, thanks a lot, aaa! I'm excited. |
|Gonna bookmark this - v much not in this groove at the moment but can see a phase coming in a few months :] Really nice work putting it together|
|@Blush I think the only one on here that I couldn't find on Spotify was 20, but it shouldn't be too illusive for seekers of souls|
|best feldman to start with is Crippled Symmetry imo tbh fwiw|
|That could work, but I can imagine the flute coming off as grating, so I went with something more bare bones|
|Fuck yeah. If you could rec me one, which would it be, Jac?|
|I know you like sound at full saturation and good ol' dissonance so try 18 and 25 < 3|
|do a list of classical that bangs, as opposed to bore the shit out of people 🙌|
I will report back
|for blush: I LOVE YOU|
|Some fantastic recs here, the Bartok string quartets are fucking incredible |
|Max Richter's recomposition of Vivaldi's the four seasons is my jam.|
|I'm not super into Hurtbreak Wonderland, but that Einaudi album is lovelyyy. |
|List is solid|
Arvo Part - Spiegel Im Spiegel
Philip Glass - Solo Piano
Nils Frahm - Spaces
Olafur Arnalds - discog pretty much
|lovely list ponhoeffer, olafur + arvo |
|brambles - charcoal is the modern classical i’ve dug most this decade|
|I can definitely see Blush enjoying Olafur. Another one I should've included is Sarah Neufeld - The Ridge.|
|Demon of the Fall|
|Considering 'Program Music I' is one of the best things ever I might need to delve a little deeper into this list. Nice.|
|floex and tom hodge's A Portrait of John Doe that they did last year with The Prague Symphony Orchesta is another one worth checking for those that love modern classical with electronica|
other easy listening modern class:
eluvium - copia
Dustin O'Halloran - lumiere
Keaton Henson - Romantic Works
|Hey I’ve got something for Blush too|
Go fuck yourself nerd
|this list is a good starting point to acquire the necessary intellectual background for a Sean and Rob deep dive|
|This is kind of the equivalent of getting Christmas socks|
|Always appreciated when I get socks for Christmas as an adult, so thank you|
|best einaudi is i diorni tbh|
shoulda rec'd satie, would fit in decently here
also i don't care how basic bitch it is, yiruma has some good pieces
|Xenakis is best imo but, yeah, not good for someone just getting into modern classical. Varese is sweet, too.|
|basic bitch stuff = best stuff|
|Oh, man, the Daisuke and Arvo Part albums are excellent, especially April. (Thanks again!) |
|jac acknowledge me pls, i'm asking forreal, i need classical that BANGS|
|there is none|
|I would have but then I saw your "men" post in the CRJ thread so you're dead to me now|
Also no problem bloosh < 3