Concertos v. Sonatas

I’ve been listening to a fair amount of classical music lately.  Unsurprisingly, most of it is cello-related.  I have decided that I don’t like many sonatas.  Specifically the “piano and a stringed instrument” variety.  I feel like the piano gets in the way.  Vivaldi uses very little piano, which is nice, but other composers have equal amounts of piano and strings in their sonatas and I hate it.  (Especially Rachmaninoff. shudder)

Note that I am endeavoring to explore classical piano a bit more.  The public library has both the 1955 and 1981 versions of Gould’s Goldberg Variations. They’re supposed to be brilliant.  Actually, I should check out more Beethoven in general.  I only know a few of his pieces.  As I’ve said, I’ve been focusing more on cello music.

But cello concertos!  Also violin concertos.  Droooooool.  I have Ofra Harnoy’s recordings of all of Vivaldi’s cello concertos that she did with the Toronto Chamber Orchestra.  There’s something like two dozen, give or take a few.  Dear god they’re gorgeous.  I am, admittedly, a total Vivaldi slut.  He wrote over 600 pieces of music.  Most people only know “The Four Seasons”, but he did so many other, beautiful things.  Vivaldi and JS Bach are the reasons I love the Baroque period so much.  I think I still have some CDs of both composers from the 90’s.  As a little kid I had “The Four Seasons” on cassette and listened to it so much that I can still hum the whole thing more or less accurately.  Baroque and the formal Classical period (Mozart, Haydn, et al.) are my favorites.  Lately I’ve been on a Boccherini kick thanks to a hunt for Jacqueline du Pre’s recordings.

A lot of Romantic-era composers turn me off completely.  But, then, so do most books and poems from that period.  I just don’t dig the aesthetic, which is probably hilarious since I’m an old goth.  (Still love goth music though.  Mmmm Bauhaus.)  The earlier periods are more… structured and intellectual.  Not boring, just more precise and less moody.  Still, I am going to look for some Romantic-era cello concertos and see if anything strikes my fancy.

I need to experience more modern composers.  Some of what I’ve heard so far is, frankly, a bit confusing for me.  A lot of 20th century composers are as far from the Baroque as one can get, in terms of musical structure.  As in, it’s hard to see any structure in some of the moderns.  On the other hand, you have things like Max Richter’s The Blue Notebooks that I can’t get enough of.  And I like du Pre’s recording of the Elgar in E Minor, and some of Britten’s cello suites. Like I said, I need to learn more.

I’m going to point a friend who knows far more than me at this post.  Maybe she’ll have some ideas.

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