Thursday, August 17, 2006

"Musically Speaking"

Have you heard of this series of Western classical music releases called "Musically Speaking"?

I was really *desperate* to hear some Bach yesterday. I can't quite explain that mood, but there are days when I can almost hear notes in my head and I simply. must. play that music. It's like the music is calling me (CUT TO: me waking up from bed at night, arms outstretched like a zombie and walking up to an open window. Lightning and thunder. And then...)

So Bach it had to be. After nearly 40 minutes of poring over the CD racks, I found an interesting CD: it had the Brandenburgs (2 and 5), Concerto for Two Violins in D minor and the Orchestral Suite No. 3. What's more, it had a supplemental disc featuring commentary on Bach and his music by Gerard Schwarz.

The commentary is just fantastic (as is the conducting by Sir Neville Marriner and the performance by Academy of St. Martin in the Fields - btw, why are they still out in the fields? It's a joke, ha ha.) It covers Bach's biography and a very erudite but easy-to-understand lecture on Bach's composition style, the Brandenburgs - their structure, highlights, the Fugue etc.

All the major points in Mr. Schwarz's talk are punctuated by short musical excerpts from the actual performance and for this, one cannot thank enough the producers of the series. So when you play Disc 1 and hear some Universe-altering (no exaggeration) contrapuntal figure, you know exactly what the the right hand and the left hand are doing on the piano.

Even if you don't care much for music theory, the performances are more than solid.

Just in case you didn't notice, Musically Speaking is giving away their "Beethoven" CD for almost nothing.

But for now, it's Brandenburg #2.


I am quite certain there's a significant market for a series like this for Indian classical music (which, btw, suffers from a lack of well-written liner notes, let alone musical analysis.) Anyone know if there's something already available?


Tabula Rasa said...

music today (i think) was peddling an eight or ten disc box set on hindustani classical appreciation a few years ago. i remember listening to the first few minutes. no specific recollections, though, sorry.

this musically speaking thing sounds interesting but i was a little let down when i discovered it's one of those mail order club things. my little mind wants to feel it's grown out of the bmg and columbiahouse days!

GhostOfTomJoad said...

Music Today is still around -

Can't say whether their CDs have informative (or, even uninformative) notes. But, in case you want to try, the site does list a lot of music

km said...

Well, TR, I know what you are saying, but they do feature A-grade performers, not to mention excellent production - notes, design etc. And it's not like that this will be the ONLY interpretation of a Bach or a Beethoven in your collection.

(BTW, that Music Today box-set is just OK. At least from the pedagogy perspective.)

Tabula Rasa said...

i agree. i just wish it were available without any strings attached.