View Full Version : Classical: solo, duet, quartet starter kit?

03-17-2015, 11:40 AM
Inspired by the "What's your favorite" post on classical music: Please suggest CDs that would make a nice starter kit of classical music, limited to solos, duets, chamber quartets, rather than symphonies. Trios would be fine too!

Here's the story. I love classical music, though I'm not particularly knowledgeable. My wife doesn't care for what she thinks of as "classical music," except for opera. (Go figure.) So, I'm looking for CDs I can buy to add to our collection that would make good dinner music and lure her towards the dark side. ;)

Also, I love guitar and piano solos, and string quartets, but wouldn't know where to begin to start a collection.

All suggestions will be appreciated, but I'd particularly appreciate identifying performers, rather than just composer & piece, when you happen to know good ones.

I'm willing to do a bit of editing, too, to cull "dinner music" CDs from source material. For example, what I've heard of Gould's Brandenburg Concertos sounds great to me, but I wouldn't be surprised if some pieces might be a bit more challenging than I'd want for a dinner CD.


03-17-2015, 12:53 PM
Dvorak's string quartet #12 "American" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxtAHpYIXdU). It's hard to pick a bad version, but I like the one by the Julliard String Quartet (http://www.amazon.com/Dvorak-Quartet-American-Essential-Classics/dp/B0000027VD) (which also had the String Quintet I mentioned in the other thread).

03-17-2015, 01:28 PM
I've always been a fan of Bach's Goldberg Variations. There was also a string quartet version of Art of the Fugue by Emerson String Quartet that I enjoyed for many years. It was an interesting album because the Art of the Fugue was written for the harpsichord. Bach is awesome, and you can't go wrong there. Brandenberg Concertos are great. I actually have a DVD somewhere of a group performing them with period instruments.

If you're looking for simple, beautiful dinner music, get a Chopin CD.

Count me in as another classical music fan who prefers chamber music and concertos to full symphonies and operas. Full orchestras are just too busy sounding for me.

03-17-2015, 01:36 PM
You can't go wrong with Chopin. Everything he composed is a masterpiece. Get a CD of his etudes, preludes, nocturnes, or anything else of his.

Les Espaces Du Sommeil
03-17-2015, 02:11 PM
You're looking for perfomers/ensembles rather than composers, right? OK, the thing is some performers are great playing the music of some composers and not so great with other composers.

With that in mind, here are some suggestions for solo piano. I'll try to do the same thing with other forms. First, my favourites and between brackets other pianists worth considering.

Bach: Richter [piano], Leonhardt. (Koopman, Moroney) [harpsichord].

Beethoven: Gulda, Gilels, Richter, Kovacevich, Lewis. (Kempff, Arrau, Brendel, Ashkenazy).

Chopin: Arrau. (Sokolov).

Liszt: Argerich, Bolet.

Brahms: R÷sel, Gilels, Lupu, Grimaud. (Arrau, Argerich, Ax).

Debussy: Arrau, Benedetti Michelangeli. (Richter, Aimard).

Scriabin: Ashkenazy.

Ravel: Argerich, Tharaud.

Prokofiev: Richter, Gilels. (Sokolov)

Ligeti: Aimard, UllÚn.

03-17-2015, 03:08 PM
For Piano Trios, the Beaux Arts Trio is a good one to look out for.
For String Quartets, there are so many good options, but my favorite is the Guarneri Quartet. The Takacs and Emerson quartets are other good choices.

Also, there's a number of recordings that feature some or all of the group of Emmanuel Ax (piano), Isaac Stern (violin), Yo-Yo Ma (cello) and Jaime Laredo (viola). They have made a number of recordings, mainly of piano quartets, and the ones I have are uniformly excellent.

Les Espaces Du Sommeil
03-18-2015, 08:03 AM
Violin: [older generation] Grumiaux, O´strakh, Stern, Ferras, Milstein [younger generation] Mutter, Mullova, Repin, Tetzlaff, Vengerov.

Cello: [older generation] Rostropovich, Fournier, Ma´sky [younger generation] Queyras, Wispelwey, M°rk.

Flute: [older generation] Rampal [younger generation] Pahud, Bezaly.

For Piano Trios, the Beaux Arts Trio is a good one to look out for.

Good call. Their version of Schubert's piano trios is definitive IMHO.

For String Quartets, there are so many good options, but my favorite is the Guarneri Quartet. The Takacs and Emerson quartets are other good choices.

Yes. I'd also mention the Alban Berg Quartet (especially for early 20th century repertoire), the Amadeus String Quartet and the Juilliard String Quartet for the Classical and Romantic repertoire as well as the Arditti String Quartet for Contemporary works.

03-18-2015, 11:44 AM
Thanks, everyone!

I sense a CD spending spree coming on ...

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