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.
"Gemeaux" (1971-1986) is one of Takemitsu's grandest works in terms of musical arc, scoring and length of gestation. It is written for two orchestras with two conductors, and with solo trombone at one orchestra and solo oboe at the other. As half of it was written during Takemitsu's "modernist apogee" of the turn of the '70s, we find a host of extended techniques, and at one point the soloists even speak through the mouthpieces of their instruments. As the other half of the work belongs to Takemitsu's late period, we find a successful of elegant self-contained gestures, his musical "gardens". The synthesis of two creative periods, however, makes for a piece singular in its impact in Takemitsu's oeuvre.
Berlioz was the first Romantic master of the orchestra. His music hasn't been surpassed in terms of sheer brilliance and accuracy of effect. This set includes all of the overtures, the Symphonie fantastique, Harold in Italy, the Royal Hunt and Storm from Les Troyens, orchestral music from The Damnation of Faust and Romeo and Juliet, and the completely insane Grande Symphonie funebre et triumphale. Davis achieved his reputation as a conductor as a Berlioz specialist, and he proves an expert advocate on behalf of this stimulating, bizarre, and totally original genius.
…If you haven’t heard this music, let’s just say that Zelenka wrote some of the most enjoyable and colorful music of the Baroque era, and he is supremely well served by CPO’s engineers, conductor Sonnentheil, and his New-Eröffnete Orchestre.
Arturo Tamayo's recordings of the works of Iannis Xenakis on the Timpani label are among the finest available, for they are finely interpreted, expertly performed, and brilliantly recorded. Xenakis' music is always different from piece to piece, because the composer never wanted to repeat himself, and his works always present unique challenges, depending on the nature of his evolving techniques and changing expressions. Whether it is in the stark text and extreme vocalizations of Aïs (1980), or the densely dissonant aggregations of Tracées (1987), Empreintes (1975), Noomena (1974), and Roáï (1991), Tamayo keeps the energy levels high and shapes the sound to have a sharp edge and forceful impact.