In The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works, Great Courses favorite Professor Robert Greenberg of San Francisco Performances takes you on a sumptuous grand tour of the symphonic pieces he counts, as a highly respected composer and music historian, as being among the very greatest ever written—inviting you to an in-depth contemplation of what makes these works so memorable, and why they live at the center of our musical culture. These 30 masterworks form an essential foundation for any music collection and a focal point for understanding the orchestral medium and deepening your insight into the communicative power of music. While seasoned music lovers will find the lectures a fascinating and revealing journey through the repertoire, the course welcomes newcomers to orchestral music, offering a very accessible point of entry to this magnificent repertoire.
Performed by various soloists with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ryusuke Numajiri. Recorded both in analog and digital versions in the Japanese double-CD release. "Twill by Twilight" is a harmonically and timbrally lush work, which often evokes the tone painting breadth of Debussy and the crystalline delicacy of Webern, an outpouring of "pastel coloring…reminders of the transient nature of twilight, before the coming night and after the sunset" (Takemitsu). It is dedicated to "the memory of my dear friend Morton Feldman." Takemitsu described the work's sub-structure as developed "through strictly measured musical units, through what might be called musical principles before a melody is constituted or before a rhythm is formed." This is a very apt metaphor applicable to Morton Feldman's own compositional style. The small and broad cyclicism of the rhythm patterns in Takemitsu's work is however much more hidden – a kind of phased, elastic, non-clockwork repetition with imaginative variations.
Performed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Yuzo Toyama with soprano Rie Hamada. A beautiful digital recording of several rarely performed works by Takemitsu (the soprano part of the marvelous "Coral Island" is very difficult, for example, and the "Archipelago S" is for an unusual ensemble of instruments). Many of the subtleties of Takemitsu's writing are lost in recording (for example, subtle harmonics behind more foreground material), but the engineers made a good effort here.
This is the second volume in a series from Neeme Järvi and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande dedicated to the orchestral music of the Swiss-born composer Joachim Raff. Although he was a highly popular and prolific composer during his day, his works quickly fell out of the repertoire after his death and are largely forgotten today. The idiomatic performances by Neeme Järvi and his Swiss orchestra in Volume 1, described as ‘peerless’ by BBC Music (*****), suggest that they are the perfect performers to reinvigorate interest in Raff’s music. This second volume features the rhapsody, Abends, and a number of overtures and preludes alongside Symphony No. 5. Subtitled Lenore, the fifth is one of Raff’s so-called programme symphonies, the only one based on a precise extra-musical source: Gottfried August Bürger’s poetic ballad of the same name. The shorter works show very different sides of Raff’s compositional personality.